Suggestions for starting a small event photography business?
August 15, 2009 8:34 PM Subscribe
Considering freelance event photography as a sideline. The kind where you take the photos, and then sell them later online. Any advice - including talking me out of this - is appreciated.
posted by tkolstee to Work & Money (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm considering doing something in addition to my 9-5 job in order to bring in some extra income, or maybe just have some fun trying. My main concerns are low up-front cost, and nothing that will commit me too heavily in case it doesn't work out or I decide I don't like what I'm doing.
Photography has been a hobby of mine for a while, and although I'm nowhere near professional-quality, I've taken some great shots and learned a lot about exposure and some tricks of the trade.
I'd like to stay away from art or stock photography, and focus on shooting events and the people in attendance. I don't think I can commit to doing this work for hire, like a wedding photographer. Instead I'd like to do what I've seen some others do on the web - show up at an event that's open to the public, shoot the event, and hand out cards telling people where to look for their pictures to order prints or downloads. I might consider taking shots of opportunity for stock or to sell to a news agency, but my main focus would be on individual sales. The nice part about this is that I can be flexible about when, where, and how often I want to work.
How feasible is this, and what do I need to get started? More specific questions and details below, but really I'm trying to keep this open-ended. Any and all advice or warnings would be very helpful.
I'm in unincorporated Orange County, Florida. IIRC, you can make X amount of dollars per year before it stops becoming a hobby and requires a business license. Can I wait until I hit X before applying? Any problems with going sole proprietorship to keep things simple? I know my personal assets can be subject to business liability this way, but how much am I really exposed to risk? Will I have to charge sales tax, even when it's still a hobby?
Website Hosting / Sales Operation:
My main career is in running UNIX(ish) servers, and I've dabbled in website design and programming enough to know I can take care of that end of things, if I have to. I'm fully willing to design my own website, upload sample watermarked versions of the images, set up PayPal, even have the printing and mailing done myself. However, I know there are services out there that will do much of this for you. Any particular hosts of this type that are good or bad in your experience? How much of this work can I offload, and how cheaply can I do so?
Getting into the events themselves:
How easy is it to get permissions to photograph and market at events? Do I have a chance at getting into children's athletic club events, school-sponsored events, festivals, etc? What's the best way to keep up-to-date about things coming up that I might be interested in shooting?
How will I know how to set my rates? How can I protect my gear? Will I encounter problem people while "in the field"? What kinds of legal risks might I encounter?
Thanks in advance for your advice.