Protect your photography business

 26 July 2018

Research carried out by professional indemnity insurance brokers PolicyBee finds that the vast majority of photographers enjoy their job. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t come without risks and challenges. Making sure you have the correct business insurance can offer protection and peace of mind.

Photography is about more than just taking pictures
Photography is about more than just taking pictures

View the PolicyBee research infographic 

Starting out

A career in photography seems to attract people at all stages of their lives. In a survey of just over 300 professionals, 16 per cent went directly into photography as their first job; 28 per cent switched from a previous career that gave them less satisfaction and a further 23 per cent fell into photography by accident.

Interestingly a fifth of photographers had their eye on a career change many years before they switched, saying it was always a long-term plan for them to move into this industry.

Only thirty-six per cent of professional photographers thought they had enough experience when starting their own businesses

Only 36 per cent of professional photographers thought they had enough experience when starting their own businesses. Just over half (53 per cent) admitted to being lacking in experience, which could have made their first few years in the industry quite problematic.

Kerri-Ann Hockley, Head of Customer Service, who commissioned the survey for PolicyBee said: “Being a professional photographer is surprisingly risky. For example, there’s only one chance to capture a couple’s special day, and getting it wrong can mean the kind of trouble that hurts both your wallet and your reputation.

“While it’s very honest for some photographers to admit they were ill-prepared when they first started out, making your professional life more risky from day one isn’t something we’d wholeheartedly recommend.”

High levels of career satisfaction

However, this lack of experience has not dampened photographers’ enthusiasm for their profession: nine out of in ten photographers profess to either ‘absolutely loving’ their career or having greater job satisfaction than friends in other industries.

The main reason cited for enjoying their jobs was ‘capturing special moments in people’s lives’. Other reasons were more about the photographer’s personal enjoyment and included:

  • Being creative
  • Being their own boss
  • A healthy work-life balance & flexibility
  • Meeting clients

72 per cent of professional photographers would also recommend their industry to others.

When asked about any specific advice they would pass on to those considering a similar career, photographers shared the following tips:

  • No matter how basic, make a business plan to stay on track
  • Find a niche rather than being a jack of all trades
  • Value yourself and make sure you charge what you know you’re worth
  • Know your camera and kit inside out and don’t stop trying out new things with it

Challenges: more comfortable behind the lens

99 per cent of professional photographers agreed with the statement “there is a lot more to running a photography business or being a professional photographer than simply taking a great picture”.

Many say that promoting themselves and their business is the biggest day to day headache they face. Second to that is general small business red tape such as tax return and HR matters.

Having the right business insurance can be a really important part of a photographer’s kit

Other stressors include being commercial & charging a competitive amount; doing their accounts; and ensuring they allocate the right amount of time to different clients. Getting the right insurances is also a challenge for many professional photographers.

Hockley said: “With so many photographers admitting to not being experienced enough, having the right business insurance can be a really important part of a photographer’s kit. For example, professional indemnity insurance pays out if the photographer makes a mistake on the shoot, or if some other mishap means the results aren’t quite what the client was expecting.

“Similarly it will pay to defend the photographer for any accusations of professional wrongdoing - whether or not they are founded.”

Trade associations valued for networking opportunities

In order to feel supported in an industry largely comprised of people working on their own, many photographers choose to join a trade association or industry group: 58 per cent of photographers are part of a trade association from which they enjoy networking opportunities, training, discounts on products and services. They also believe it helps them be seen as more professional, differentiating them from others.

If they are a member of the British Institute of Professional Photography or Master Photographers Association, professional indemnity insurance is compulsory, as is public liability insurance. When a photographer is out on a shoot, public liability covers them if a person is injured or if their property is damaged.

Portable equipment and equipment breakdown insurance will replace or fix a professional photographer's tools of the trade (cameras, laptop, phone, lights, etc) and cover electrical or mechanical malfunction, which includes that all-important data recovery. Some insurance providers offer packages covering all of these policies at a reduced rate, and being a member of a trade association can also mean further discounts.

More photography content can be found on PolicyBee’s online series

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