Three Essential Rules For Portrait Photographers

Mar 7, 2013 by

When starting out as a professional portrait photographer, acquiring new clients and having the chance to build up your portfolio can be extremely gratifying. However, regardless of the size of your projects, it is important to have preventative measures in place to protect your business from financial difficulties, should the worst happen.

Here are three essential rules that every portrait photographer should follow to protect his or her business arrangements and safeguard their reputation.

Make a clear agreement on your terms and conditions

Agree a fixed hourly rate with your clients and clarify any additional costs that may be incurred if you need to extend your hours. You should also ask for a deposit as a guarantee of your client’s commitment and provide clear, transparent invoicing terms to make sure you receive your full payment within a reasonable time frame.

Many clients expect photographers to apply some retouching to their photos to make them shine and stand out. However, you should consider the additional time that this will take and charge extra if your client is asking for a significant amount of Photoshop or Lightroom editing in your photos.

Use an emergency kit

While many photographers may not wish to spend extra cash on equipment that they don’t intend to use for professional applications, it is also wise to have an ‘insurance’ camera and/or lens when problems arise. For example, if you lens suddenly becomes damaged at a wedding or a sporting event, you may end up losing large amounts of money if you haven’t brought another camera with you to complete your photography portfolio.

If you are the owner of a professional camera such as the Canon 5d mark II or mark III, think of investing in a Canon 5D, Canon 7D or Canon 60D as your emergency kit. While these latter camera bodies are not built with the specifications of the former, your client will probably struggle to notice any obvious differences in image quality between a professional and a semi-professional/serious amateur model. Likewise, if you have an upcoming event that could lead to long term projects, trying renting an additional lens for the day to protect yourself from the worst circumstances.

Obtain permits and permissions for certain venues

In all situations, you must ensure that you have adequate permission to perform commercial photography at your chosen venue. In a number of public places, particularly areas close to historical buildings and landmarks, photographers often need to obtain permits to take photos for commercial purposes. If you don’t, you may be issued with large council fines on the spot, and these could be considerable.

Follow these simple rules religiously

By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of encountering client disputes, unexpected equipment problems and legal fines, and improve your prospects of a long and successful photography career.

Matt Heath appreciates first hand the great results that a little business sense can yield for those in the creative industries. He’s been working as a wedding and child portrait photographer in Essex and Hertfordshire for a number of years.

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