Photo Attorney

Jul 15, 2008

Five Great Resources to Help You Set Up Your Photography Business

Everyone loves to take pictures! As a professional photographer you work hard to learn about depth of field and chromatic aberration, but what do you do when you want to start your own photography business? Fortunately, there are many great resources to help.

1. The IRS website - taxes are the most unpleasant issue, but at least it's easier today to learn about them. The IRS website is surprisingly user-friendly. The business section addresses subjects such as how to start and operate a business and includes a special section on small and self-employed businesses.

2. Your state's secretary of state website - each state has a website directed to topics such as establishing and registering your business and state tax requirements. Check my October 7 blog on how to find your state's website.

3. Your county's website - many county governments also have websites so that you can learn about the requirements to operate a business in the county. Conduct an Internet search on your county's name to find it. For example, here's the website for Los Angeles County, California. Click on "business" to find information on licenses and how to register your "fictitious name," also known as your "doing business as" (when you operate your photography business under a name other than your own or a state registered corporation or company).

4. Your own CPA - even with these great resources, it's still difficult to know how to organize your business and pay your taxes. Find your own CPA to help you with those issues. Several accountants who specifically work with photographers have been recommended on this blog, such as Howard Choder. Use the Google search function in the right-hand column on this blog to locate them or check with photographers in your area.

5. Your own lawyer - despite the plethora of legal advice available from web forums, your legal circumstances are unique. The legal answer that worked for one photographer may not work for another. Find an attorney who can help you with your specific legal concerns. You may find attorneys who practice in intellectual property (including copyright and trademark law) using or get referrals from photographers in your area.

Also check out the books recommended in the right-hand column for additional education on these topics.

While the business of photography is not as fun as photography itself, fortunately there are good resources to help you so that you can get back to shooting.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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