Oh Shoot.

April 11, 2016  •  197 Comments
Alright. I'm just going to put this out here. It won't offend most of my photographer contemporaries... and guess what? If it does offend you, you're probably the type of business owner I'm speaking of.
 
Let's just say, for kicks and giggles, that I was running my business the easy way. You know, not paying taxes, not carrying {expensive} insurance, not keeping a massive arsenal of back ups to the back ups to the back up equipment. Guess what? I'd make almost double my current "salary" every year!
 
Oh, and let's chat about education for a moment. If I didn't have to pay for continuing education, webinars, conventions... things that keep me current in my industry, keep my skills sharp... Well, oh boy I could take a vacation tomorrow!
 
So here's my soapbox {and it's tax season so my soapbox is old and falling apart, but I can't afford to replace it right now}.
 
We all start somewhere. We need time to flourish and grow. We need to experiment with our style and practice our craft. No one picks up a camera, takes it out of the box, and becomes fantastic overnight. It takes time, patience, and initiative. We've ALL been a newbie, a rookie, a novice.
 
But some of us have been in this industry for years, have paid our dues, have gotten our ducks in a row, crossed our 't's and dotted our 'i's. And it can be absolutely devastating when someone who hasn't paid due diligence swoops in with an amazing offer to our clientele that can only be made possible by the lack of legalities {such as pesky taxes and insurance}.
 
I genuinely want to see other photographers succeed. There are plenty of clients to go around! We don't need to feel like competition, we can be contemporaries. That having been said, please do things the right way, the smart way, the fair way. If you don't carry insurance or don't pay taxes... you're not just hurting other photographers! You're hurting your clients, your contemporaries, your local economy, your entire industry! Why would you want to be THAT person?!?
 
Owning a camera doesn't make you a professional photographer. Here's a checklist in case you are struggling to figure out what does make you a professional photographer. If you can't check off each and EVERY one of these things, you are not a professional photographer.
 
1. You pay taxes. Income tax and sales tax. No exceptions. {And just to warn you, it is a LOT of $ - a HUGE percentage of what you make}
 
2. You have insurance. And not just on your equipment... that's just selfish. You need to have {at least} liability on top of your equipment insurance. In my opinion, a pro should also have errors and omissions insurance.
 
3. You are in a {constant} state of education. And as we all know, education in America is NOT free. It's a huge investment, but it's absolutely essential if you want to stay up to date.
 
4. You have a reasonable arsenal of equipment. I'm not saying you have to have the top of the line latest and greatest gadgets, but you need to be prepared! You can't responsibly photograph a wedding or any other life event without multiple camera bodies, multiple lenses, multiple flashes, memory cards, batteries, {etc etc etc}
 
5. You have your own creative ideas. If your only source of inspiration is Pinterest, you are not a sustainable professional photographer.
 
This post is not intended to discourage anyone from becoming a professional photographer, quite the opposite. I'm hoping it inspires young photographers to become invested in their future. I'm hoping it encourages pros to do things the RIGHT way, not the EASY way.
 
So, I wonder how many 'friends' I'll lose with this dose of reality? Share if you feel so inclined.

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