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The Typical Business Mistakes Made By Photographers

Photographers aren’t superheros, and we do make mistakes from time to time. If the mistake has something to do with business, you could be puttin...

Photographers aren’t superheros, and we do make mistakes from time to time. If the mistake has something to do with business, you could be putting opportunity and income at risk. Thanks to the help of photo business expert John Harrington, we assembled a list of the most common business mistakes made by photographers – so you can avoid them.

During the research phase for the free guide “Starting a Photography Business” I interviewed Harrington about the mistakes that photographers routinely make.

The interview was done via Skype (and I recorded the whole thing, you can watch it below).

Harrington is a Washington DC-based photographer and the author of the book “Best Business Practices for Photographers.” During the interview, we had a nice back and forth that touched in these typical mistakes:

1) Starting out with a rate that’s too low.

Harrington uses the analogy of “the corner store.” When a new store opens up, they don’t sell their inventory at a loss and hope to make up for it over time just because they’re new to the neighborhood. Instead, they know what their cost of doing business is, and they they start out with a rate that’s profitable for them.

2) Photographers who don’t pass expenses on to the client.

Harrington uses real-life examples (including shipping and parking fees) and explains how he passes those expenses onto his clients, and the dangers of not doing so. He also talks about digital service fees, an expense charged for digital image processing.

3) Photographers who show up to an assignment unprepared – without gear failure backup plans.

Harrington talks about the importance of having the appropriate photo equipment, and always having a backup strategy.

4) Photographers who don’t check their gear during the shoot.

Harrington explains his system to prevent disaster with bad memory cards, and how building redundancy into your workflow is a critical thing.

5) Photographers not having insurance.
“Not having insurance is a huge mistake, on so many levels,” Harrington said.

Health insurance is critical because one visit to the hospital can set you back $20,000 – $30,000 in fees. But more specifically, he said, it is important to have insurance for your business.

“If something goes wrong, you need to have insurance in case a light stand falls into a priceless piece of art, or falls into a kid in a portrait shoot and the child gets hurt, or something gets damaged,” he said.

There are a lot of venues where they require you to have a certificate of insurance in order to come to the venue and photograph.

If you have business insurance, this would also cover theft of your equipment.

Don’t think that you will be able to use your homeowner’s insurance or your renters insurance for this purpose.

“Not only will that not cover professional level equipment, it generally will cover point-and-shoots and a couple of pieces of camera [gear] up to [a certain] number of dollars, but it also, in many cases, doesn’t cover what’s called ‘reimbursement costs’.”

Thanks John.

By the way – John Harrington, and PhotoShelter CEO Allen Murabayashi, will be speakers at the NPPA 2011 Business Blitz seminar in Washington DC. Just the lineup alone is telling me it’s gonna be a very worthwhile event.

Learn more by downloading our free guide “Starting a Photo Business”

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