Thursday, October 29, 2020

So you want to start a photography business?

How to start a photography business

 Hello friends, 

I wanted to hop on and answer a question I get all the time... How do you start a photography business? 

Yep, I know it's kind of a broad question but believe me I get tons of emails, Facebook messages, and Instagram DMs with people flat out asking for me to help them get started. 

I don't mind, really I'm happy to help but if I really truly shared every bit of information with every single person who reached out it would take me hours and hours to put it all together and I would be giving away everything I have done/learned. That is coaching or mentoring and if you are looking for a business coach I know some amazing ones and I'd be happy to connect you or if you'd like to hire me as your photography business coach, I'd be happy to work with you.

It's so much more than taking pretty photos or setting up cute backdrops and props. If you don't have a good understanding of how to run a business it can be incredibly challenging. 

I have done countless hours of continuing education, online workshops, mentoring with other photographers, photography boot camps, webinars, in-person workshops, conferences, and more. With lots of coaching, training, and constant self-improvement I have made it 10 years in business and my business is doing awesome. I absolutely fought to get to where I am today and I'm very proud of my business.  I want to be a resource, leader, and mentor for my peers and I'm not worried about competition. I believe there is enough business for all of us. I'm happy to share a few general tips to help photographers get started out the right way and if you need more stay tuned for my next post where I go into more details about things I wish I knew starting out. If you want more help consider  1 on 1 coaching and mentoring with me, I'd love to work with you and help your business thrive. 

1. Research, research, research:

If you have not done any research at all about starting a business 

Start here:>>>>>>>>>>>

What do you know about running a business? Marketing, accounting, networking, creating a business plan, federal and local tax Ids, business banking, trademarks, copyright, etc.  Is the business name you want to use already being used by someone else in another state?  It's important that you know what you are getting yourself into before you buy that cute logo on etsy, build your website and start up your new business Facebook page.

 2. Get a Business License

If you are going to be doing business you need to make sure you are operating within the laws of your state. Do your research and avoid being fined. 

"Most small businesses need a combination of licenses and permits from both federal and state agencies. The requirements — and fees — vary based on your business activities, location, and government rules."

Family Photographer Vancouver WA

3. Talk to a CPA and Bookkeeper:

It is so important to set up a proper system to make sure you are tracking your revenue. You don't want to owe tons of money for failing to report your income to the IRS. Make sure you are tracking and reporting your income and expenses and filing your state and local tax returns. Talk to a tax professional to ensure you are doing correctly from the get-go and you will be set up for success. 

I highly recommend Wayne Rivers CPA in Battleground, WA for Tax and accounting services. 

Once you have a system in place you can your financial goals, pricing, and other business decisions around your reports. It's critical to your success to understand this part of your business. 

4.. Talk to an Attorney.

Consider your liabilities. It's not a matter of if you will get sued but when you will get sued. No one ever realizes how important insurance is or an LLC until they need it. Figure out what you need to do to minimize your risk of being sued. If someone trips and falls in your studio. If you are sick and don't show up to a wedding. If you are driving a client and you get into a crash and they get injured. If your memory card fails and you lose all the images. If your camera is stolen out of your car with your client's wedding images still inside... All of these scenarios could happen and you need to make sure you have the right kind of contracts, business license, and insurance to protect you, your business, and your assets. Clearly, I'm not a lawyer so I recommend you seek out expert advice and hire an attorney to help you. is an excellent resource for photographers. 

5. Get insured. 

Business insurance for a photographer does cost much at all but the peace of mind it can bring you is invaluable. Don't cut corners here. Your clients trust you to operate a legit business. What is your plan for when things go wrong? More resources from

I could go on and on and get into more of the specific details about running a successful photography business but I will save those tips for a few more future blog posts. Until then, start with the steps above and make sure you are running a legal and legit business. Check out the resources below to get more information and education. 

More Resources for photographers:


Tara Thackeray
Vancouver WA-Portland OR Photographer
Family Photographer Vancouver WA

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Why I say no to "Exposure" as a form of payment

Here's a fun topic for the day:

Exposure as a form of payment..... 

This is a tricky subject but I think it's worth discussing. I often get approached for different collaboration opportunities that involve trading for my time, talent, and creative images and I must respectfully decline. They typically are from very sweet people with good intentions and the requests often look like this: 

"Hey Tara, 

"Would you be interested in partnering with my company. We are in need of professional photos for our office staff as well as some upcoming events. We are looking for someone to come in and take the photos for FREE and in return, we will promote your business to our clients via our newsletter, social media and signage at our events." 

~Jane Doe 
Director of marketing
BIG Huge Company

There are several reasons why I typically say no to non-paying photo gigs:

1. I have 3 kids. -

Sure, I can find child care and I love doing fun photoshoots but let's be honest I am in business to make money. I have 3 kids, who eat and grow constantly and my income helps support and provide for my family. Working for exposure doesn't put shoes on my kid's feet or fill my pantry. Yes, I love what I do but that does not mean I should do it for free for other people. Time away working is time taken away from my family. My family is the reason I got into this business and they come first always. I value my time with my kids because I know their childhood is fleeting. When it comes to my kids, I don't want to miss a thing which is why I also love working with families because I know how quickly time goes raising kiddos. 

2. no guarantees for return on investment-

You might have thousands of clients or followers but that doesn't mean any of them will do business with me. I appreciate referrals, I really, really do but I know that quality referrals come from people who know, like, and trust me. I work very hard to build relationships with my clients so that they keep coming back and they tell their friends. This works incredibly well for my business and I am as busy as I need to be.  I'm not interested in working for free so that I get tagged in social media posts with the hopes that one or two people might book with me when they see a post. My clients already gladly do this and they pay me.... and I freaking love them so much!!!

3. I already have an established portfolio-

I have been in business for over 10 years and at this point, I don't need to build my portfolio anymore. My portfolio is of real, paying clients. If I choose to collaborate on a project or styled shoot- where I trade my time and images, it will be for something that I feel called to creatively. I am all about collaborations if there are clear expectations, creative vision, mutual benefits, and at the same time in line with my personal and professional values.

4. I'm not a starving Artist (or photographer)

Don't get me wrong, I love getting new clients and I appreciate any business that comes my way. After over a decade of building my business, I can comfortably say no to non-paying gigs because I'm super busy. I'm busy networking, shooting, running my business, and hanging out raising my family. I value my time and my clients do too.  There is no refund on time and I am choosing to use the time I have carefully.

If you are a photographer or creative and you trade your time, talent, and products to promote your business or trade for exposure, that's totally your choice and I respect. Maybe it's working for you. I totally did it in the early years of my business and sometimes it worked out really great and lead to amazing partnerships. 

Over the years, I have discovered my version of success looks different than others and how I spend my time is a huge part of how I define success. I am choosing to only invest my time in activities and work that are in line with my personal and professional goals and values. Faith, family, fun then- finances. I'm ok saying no to opportunities that may lead to something big if it means I get to spend more time doing what I love, with the people I love and clients who value my services. 

If you are a business owner, I encourage you to set some boundaries for your business too. 

1.  What must you say No to in order to say Yes to the activities/work/people you love?

2.  What projects, organizations or causes are you willing to "volunteer" your time for?

3.  How will you respond next time you are asked to give your work away for free? Write out a script. 

Here are a few scripts you can use:

"Thank you so much for reaching out. I really appreciate your interest in my company. At this time, I must respectfully decline your offer. If you would like me to put together a quote for your projects please reply with more details."

"Thank you so much for reaching out. I really appreciate your interest in my company. I have a very full schedule right now and I cannot commit to volunteering anymore of my time to unpaid work. Please keep me in mind if you are looking to hire a photographer for any upcoming projects."

Thanks for reading! I hope you have an awesome!! 

~Tara Thackeray

Tara Thackeray Photography
Vancouver WA Photographer