Photography business early stage, tax and other

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boxerbali
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Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by boxerbali » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:29 pm

Wife loves event photography and wondering if it makes sense to start business around that.
Initially there will be negligible income but majority of expenses like supplies, software , lences etc. till she establishes the business
SO I have few questions around that.
1. We do married filing jointly so far, does registering LLC helps ? Any pointers would be helpful
2. Can we do married filing jointly even with business ? with LLC or without LLC
3. Can we write of some expense as we initially invest in business ?

Basically how to get tax advantage in early investment period with negligible or no income in first year or so. And what if we should register company or not is my question

WasabiOsbourne
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by WasabiOsbourne » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:36 pm

i too am curious about early stage business with a fair amount of expenses ($30-50k annual for example) but little revenue.

is there a way to monetize those expenses by having someone else claim them? of course, without breaking law and/or lying.

my guess is you eventually get tripped up by "effective ownership" type rules.... i.e. you are just assigning the expenses to someone who doesn't have majority or whole interest in the future positive income.

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HueyLD
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by HueyLD » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:48 pm

See IRS Pub 535 under "Business Start-Up and Organizational Costs."

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p535.pdf

FlyerJack
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by FlyerJack » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:51 pm

Yes, you can still file as married filing jointly.

Creating an LLC would only help with limiting your liability if someone sues you. You would still be taxed the same as a sole proprietor [edit: or partnership, if applicable, or corporation although no one would elect that structure in this circumstance] who had no LLC. There is some disagreement on whether creating an LLC with one or two members is worth the hassle. Certainly you can lose the asset protection of the LLC if you do not have a good operating agreement, do not keep good records, intermingle personal and business funds, or make other mistakes allowing creditors to "pierce the veil" of the LLC company to get to your personal assets. If you'd like to explore the LLC option, then it's worth speaking to an attorney in your state to make sure you do it correctly.

Either way, you can absolutely deduct business expenses. You should keep meticulous records and probably familiarize yourself with Quickbooks. A good tax accountant or enrolled agent will be able to help you. You're correct that your expenses could easily offset any income you make starting out.
Last edited by FlyerJack on Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
boxerbali
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by boxerbali » Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:02 pm

Thanks all for your prompt response
you can absolutely deduct business expenses.
So here is the case for first year

First year -
Husband - 150K income
wife's business - 10K expense, 2k income.

Questions is can we still do married filing jointly and deduct expense ?
I know for detail etc we need to talk to tax professional etc but just wanted to get high level idea before we decide anything

FlyerJack
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by FlyerJack » Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:34 pm

You should really speak with a tax accountant, not just for detail, but for the big picture of how you would want to structure your business, how to adjust your withholding or plan your quarterly estimated taxes, self-employment tax, and much more. Would this be your wife's sole proprietorship with you as an employee? Would it be a partnership? Would it be an attempt to use your wife's expensive photography hobby to reduce the tax burden of your own unrelated income (no offense, but if the IRS sees it that way then that's not good)? It's worth spending a relatively small amount of money with a professional to determine these answers up front.

miamivice
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by miamivice » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:23 pm

How soon will this business turn profitable? I wouldn't expect photography to be a highly profitable business. You might want to look to see how the IRS discussion on hobby versus business as well.

Lynette
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Lynette » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:46 pm

.....
Last edited by Lynette on Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Teague
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Teague » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:56 pm

I believe the IRS applies special scrutiny to business losses in fields in which many are hobbyists, e.g. photography, car racing, gambling, etc. Particularly when the losses are counted against other income.
Semper Augustus

david
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by david » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:02 am

1) Remember that all of the equipment purchased for better or worse will not all be immediately deductible and is instead deductible over the useful life of the item. So, that may alleviate the worry about deducting more than revenue the first year.

2) A good forum for wedding photographers is: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/48

3) Weddings and event photography is a crowded field depending on the area. Event photography, particularly weddings, by its nature is very difficult to re-do. Therefore, make sure to get good insurance (both for equipment and business liability).

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gasdoc
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by gasdoc » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:48 pm

As a photography hobbyist for many years, event photography and teaching those more amateur than yourself is about the only way to make a living. Therefore both are very competitive, because there are thousands of hobbyists that would love to quit their jobs and make a living doing photography. In my opinion, the only way to really make money in photography is if you have some angle- for example, a big game trophy hunter turns photographer and shoots photo's instead of guns. You almost have to have a way to get to places most people cannot go. I have a friend who works in water conservation, and paddles down all of the rivers in our region, some which are difficult to manage. He sells quite a few volumes of photo books of his journeys. Other than that, it is a difficult field. I realize the OP's question was more about managing the business side, but perhaps a business question is, "is it a viable business?" Digital SLR's have made it very difficult to start a business in photography.

gaswork

mikep
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by mikep » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:18 pm

boxerbali wrote:Thanks all for your prompt response
you can absolutely deduct business expenses.
So here is the case for first year

First year -
Husband - 150K income
wife's business - 10K expense, 2k income.

Questions is can we still do married filing jointly and deduct expense ?
I know for detail etc we need to talk to tax professional etc but just wanted to get high level idea before we decide anything
An 8K loss for a business would certainly invite IRS attention. Look into depreciating equipment over 5 years to spread out the expense and offset the photography income, which helps with offsetting SE tax in addition to income tax.
LLCs may involve higher state taxes as in CA.
AMT may also be a factor with equipment depreciation.

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Watty
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Watty » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:52 pm

It would also be good to check to see if your homeowners and umbrella insurance will cover her with a with or without an LLC. I would suspect that it would take a special rider.

On the equipment one option to keep in mind is that a lot of the photographic equipment can be rented when it is needed and that might have tax advantages.

One thing to be prepared for is that if she is successful with this then she will be working most weekends which could get old after a while.

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AAA
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by AAA » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:12 pm

I second the suggestion to analyze the viability of the business. It's a very difficult field these days. The last "event" I went to, a luncheon for someone turning 80, was attended by about 50 people and a relative took all the photos with his mid-range DSLR. A lot of news organizations have let their photographers go and they simply provide smart phones to their reporters. Etc.

It's just too simple today to create a photo. Whether it's well-exposed, well-composed, in focus etc. doesn't seem to matter to a lot of people.

derosa
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by derosa » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:35 pm

Anything and everything related to the business is an expense and then deductible of course. Meticulous records. Especially records for things like mileage / travel / marketing / networking / goodwill / meals. Receipts for everything. Contemporaneous records.

A specific and separate place at your house for the business. No it can't be a corner in the den - the whole room dedicated. Yes you need to furnish the room. Separate financial accounts for the business. You might need to show that this is a business not a tax deduction hobby.

To start just do as a self employed. If you are successful in a few years you can make the changes. You will need to get business license(s).

Secure and reliable data backup is essential. YOu do an event and lose the files - you are not going to enjoy that phone call.

The first couple of years will be wonderful deductions for your joint return. You keep your records monthly and your receipts tidy - no big problem at the end of the year. If you put it all in a shopping bag - you will pay for it.

Was the $2k net or gross? The first couple years will all be losses.

tibbitts
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by tibbitts » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:14 pm

boxerbali wrote:Wife loves event photography and wondering if it makes sense to start business around that.
Initially there will be negligible income but majority of expenses like supplies, software , lences etc. till she establishes the business
SO I have few questions around that.
1. We do married filing jointly so far, does registering LLC helps ? Any pointers would be helpful
2. Can we do married filing jointly even with business ? with LLC or without LLC
3. Can we write of some expense as we initially invest in business ?

Basically how to get tax advantage in early investment period with negligible or no income in first year or so. And what if we should register company or not is my question
If your wife does photography as a hobby already she likely has all the equipment she needs for event photography. Yes, there is probably better equipment and software, but that might get you that last 5% improvement that 95% of customers won't even recognize. The issue in a business like this is marketing, not having better equipment. What is it she feels she could do with better equipment than she has now?

MarkBarb
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by MarkBarb » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:45 pm

We're in a slightly different situation. My wife and I have been photography hobbyists for decades. As our kids have grown, we took lots of pictures at school events and sporting events. As I accumulated more studio gear, we took lots of studio shots for friends. We get a lot of requests for paid jobs from friends. To make sure that everything was above-board and legal, we set up a DBA and a separate account. We pay state sales tax. Because we are using gear that we own primarily for our hobby, we don't deduct any of that from our income. We just deduct the costs directly associated with paid shoots, like travel costs, props, etc. Honestly, for the little money that we bring in (no more than a couple of thousand a year), it is hardly worth the effort and we sometimes wish people would just not pay us at all.

takingcontrol
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by takingcontrol » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:35 pm

gasdoc wrote:
Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:48 pm
As a photography hobbyist for many years, event photography and teaching those more amateur than yourself is about the only way to make a living. Therefore both are very competitive, because there are thousands of hobbyists that would love to quit their jobs and make a living doing photography. In my opinion, the only way to really make money in photography is if you have some angle- for example, a big game trophy hunter turns photographer and shoots photo's instead of guns. You almost have to have a way to get to places most people cannot go. I have a friend who works in water conservation, and paddles down all of the rivers in our region, some which are difficult to manage. He sells quite a few volumes of photo books of his journeys. Other than that, it is a difficult field. I realize the OP's question was more about managing the business side, but perhaps a business question is, "is it a viable business?" Digital SLR's have made it very difficult to start a business in photography.

gaswork
Sorry to bring this back from 2016, but I'm also very interested in photography, but in retirement.
Any 65 year olds that have gotten into wedding photography, perhaps transitioning in as second shooters initially?

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Sandtrap
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:53 pm

In retirement, DW and I do professional commercial stock and product photography, and other genres.
It's a good retirement pastime when we have the time. DW is a webmaster and maintains several sites that feature our work and products. We also have our portfolios on contract at stock agencies such as Getty, iStock, Shutterstock, Adobe, etc. We update the portfolios with new material as we can. They handle the rest and send checks.
DW gets occasional contracts for product photography from various companies.
There's more to things but these are the broad strokes.
We've been at it for a very long time. Part time for many decades before we retired as well.

It is a business. Taxes paid yearly. Deductions taken.
Have yet to pay for all of our high end equipment and photo studio gear. :shock:

As far as weddings?
We're capable, artistically and so forth, but won't touch it. Most customers would not be able to afford what we could deliver.

Why not try other genres and venues first?
Establish your websites and online portfolios, etc.
Are you a pro level shooter and post processor already?

j
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Lee_WSP
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Lee_WSP » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:44 pm

takingcontrol wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:35 pm
gasdoc wrote:
Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:48 pm
As a photography hobbyist for many years, event photography and teaching those more amateur than yourself is about the only way to make a living. Therefore both are very competitive, because there are thousands of hobbyists that would love to quit their jobs and make a living doing photography. In my opinion, the only way to really make money in photography is if you have some angle- for example, a big game trophy hunter turns photographer and shoots photo's instead of guns. You almost have to have a way to get to places most people cannot go. I have a friend who works in water conservation, and paddles down all of the rivers in our region, some which are difficult to manage. He sells quite a few volumes of photo books of his journeys. Other than that, it is a difficult field. I realize the OP's question was more about managing the business side, but perhaps a business question is, "is it a viable business?" Digital SLR's have made it very difficult to start a business in photography.

gaswork
Sorry to bring this back from 2016, but I'm also very interested in photography, but in retirement.
Any 65 year olds that have gotten into wedding photography, perhaps transitioning in as second shooters initially?
You'd have to lug around some seriously heavy gear. At least two cameras and a backup just in case one goes down. You'd have the stress and responsibility of capturing a once in a lifetime event. You have to do it at a bunch of venues too. Oh, and your gear might be stolen if you leave it unattended.

It really doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me.

CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by CascadiaSoonish » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:29 am

While this thread is a few years old, I'll chime in since it's been resurrected. We have a few friends who are professional photographers (including one with two-plus decades of high-end advertising work) and without exception they're in a bad spot right now. The market is flooded with 'good enough' images from amateurs, stock photos, smartphone cameras, and social media. Tough for a photography business to be viable nowadays. That may not apply to specific cases like event photography but there's still a lot of competition for that work that's going to drive rates down.

dowse
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by dowse » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:25 am

A couple of related observations from an enthusiastic above average amateur photographer.

A few years ago, while photographing an inconic waterfall, I bumped into a pro on assignment for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. He noticed my tripod ( I was the only other "photographer" using one) and struck up a conversation. I was flattered when he asked if I was a pro. We got to comparing a few notes on equipment and the fact that magazine editors preferred unnaturally enhanced colors. On pro vs. amateur, he made a comment that stuck with me. He said "don't ruin a great hobby by trying to make a living at it".

On another occasion, we ran into a vendor at a craft fair who had given a talk at our camera club. He is an outstanding nature photographer and was displaying some of his beatiful prints for sale. He explained that he never expects to make money selling prints at craft fairs or in galleries. They are primarily marketing tools for how he really makes his money, which is by running photo tour workshops for serious amateurs. A side note on this is that it irks me that the leaders of these workshops also take pictures of their own. I don't think that's right. They should be spending all of their time teaching the paying clients. In contrast, when one hires a fishing guide, the guide does not even hold a rod except to demonstrate a technique. He spends all of his time helping his clients catch fish.

My wife is also a serious photo hobbyist. We have both been told that we should go pro and sell our work, it is so good. We know better. People admire photos much more than they buy them. We are not about to ruin a great hobby by trying to make money with it.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:44 am

Lee_WSP wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:44 pm
takingcontrol wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:35 pm
gasdoc wrote:
Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:48 pm
As a photography hobbyist for many years, event photography and teaching those more amateur than yourself is about the only way to make a living. Therefore both are very competitive, because there are thousands of hobbyists that would love to quit their jobs and make a living doing photography. In my opinion, the only way to really make money in photography is if you have some angle- for example, a big game trophy hunter turns photographer and shoots photo's instead of guns. You almost have to have a way to get to places most people cannot go. I have a friend who works in water conservation, and paddles down all of the rivers in our region, some which are difficult to manage. He sells quite a few volumes of photo books of his journeys. Other than that, it is a difficult field. I realize the OP's question was more about managing the business side, but perhaps a business question is, "is it a viable business?" Digital SLR's have made it very difficult to start a business in photography.

gaswork
Sorry to bring this back from 2016, but I'm also very interested in photography, but in retirement.
Any 65 year olds that have gotten into wedding photography, perhaps transitioning in as second shooters initially?
You'd have to lug around some seriously heavy gear. At least two cameras and a backup just in case one goes down. You'd have the stress and responsibility of capturing a once in a lifetime event. You have to do it at a bunch of venues too. Oh, and your gear might be stolen if you leave it unattended.

It really doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me.
+1
To do a wedding properly, there are at least 2-3 shoots. Pre wedding, location, event, and sometimes post. Sometimes tangential shoots for relatives or so forth. (location shots do not have to be at the time of the event). Some can be done in the studio if the client wants "perfect".

At the event, minimum 2 pro level shooters, 2 cameras each. The primary shooter has a "helper" that's very familiar with lighting and handles the fill flashes, etc. The secondary shooter takes similar shots and also fill material (B Roll). One follows the bride. (big one). The 2 shooters work in sync. Not just 2 different people with cameras.

Post processing is huge. Especially in today's digital world. This makes or breaks everything. This is what really sets photographer's "look" or "style" apart and makes a "name". There are the center mass or greater bell curve of photographers who are competent at event "capture", and then there are the one's with that plus "style". Some busy photographers farm this out for generic post processing and their works usually look. . . "generic" but hopefully at least better than "snapshots" or cell phone captures.
Key photographers or "core photographs" (keepers) can take many hours or several days to do just one depending on the work. In this, a photographer is an artist.

Yes. Theft. One camera with a lens and gadgets mounted can run 7-10,000 $$, more if medium format.

Few are willing to pay or able to pay for event photography done excellently. Some are happy just to have someone with a camera taking pictures that is competent and can capture everything even if at snapshot level. So, it just depends on what kind of photographer one wants to be.

j
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tibbitts
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by tibbitts » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:11 am

dowse wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:25 am
A couple of related observations from an enthusiastic above average amateur photographer.

A few years ago, while photographing an inconic waterfall, I bumped into a pro on assignment for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. He noticed my tripod ( I was the only other "photographer" using one) and struck up a conversation. I was flattered when he asked if I was a pro. We got to comparing a few notes on equipment and the fact that magazine editors preferred unnaturally enhanced colors. On pro vs. amateur, he made a comment that stuck with me. He said "don't ruin a great hobby by trying to make a living at it".

On another occasion, we ran into a vendor at a craft fair who had given a talk at our camera club. He is an outstanding nature photographer and was displaying some of his beatiful prints for sale. He explained that he never expects to make money selling prints at craft fairs or in galleries. They are primarily marketing tools for how he really makes his money, which is by running photo tour workshops for serious amateurs. A side note on this is that it irks me that the leaders of these workshops also take pictures of their own. I don't think that's right. They should be spending all of their time teaching the paying clients. In contrast, when one hires a fishing guide, the guide does not even hold a rod except to demonstrate a technique. He spends all of his time helping his clients catch fish.

My wife is also a serious photo hobbyist. We have both been told that we should go pro and sell our work, it is so good. We know better. People admire photos much more than they buy them. We are not about to ruin a great hobby by trying to make money with it.
I believe you are correct that a lot of pros only make money these days primarily or entirely through workshops. Not all instructors shoot for themselves during the workshops, but a lot do, and probably the point is to ask ahead of time. You almost have to ask if the pro will even have a camera, because if he/she does, it's just too tempting for them to take photographs. Many pros probably feel the point of the workshop is that they've scouted out the best places to photograph, dealt with travel logistics, and given instruction and critiqued your results (generally during times when it's not optimal to be photographing), so they've met their responsibilities.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:16 am

dowse wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:25 am
A couple of related observations from an enthusiastic above average amateur photographer.

A few years ago, while photographing an inconic waterfall, I bumped into a pro on assignment for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. He noticed my tripod ( I was the only other "photographer" using one) and struck up a conversation. I was flattered when he asked if I was a pro. We got to comparing a few notes on equipment and the fact that magazine editors preferred unnaturally enhanced colors. On pro vs. amateur, he made a comment that stuck with me. He said "don't ruin a great hobby by trying to make a living at it".

On another occasion, we ran into a vendor at a craft fair who had given a talk at our camera club. He is an outstanding nature photographer and was displaying some of his beatiful prints for sale. He explained that he never expects to make money selling prints at craft fairs or in galleries. They are primarily marketing tools for how he really makes his money, which is by running photo tour workshops for serious amateurs. A side note on this is that it irks me that the leaders of these workshops also take pictures of their own. I don't think that's right. They should be spending all of their time teaching the paying clients. In contrast, when one hires a fishing guide, the guide does not even hold a rod except to demonstrate a technique. He spends all of his time helping his clients catch fish.

My wife is also a serious photo hobbyist. We have both been told that we should go pro and sell our work, it is so good. We know better. People admire photos much more than they buy them. We are not about to ruin a great hobby by trying to make money with it.
+1
Well said.
Very true.
j :happy

Years ago I realized that, even as a hobby, I was focused on pics to expand my commercial portfolio and "forgot to have fun" with pics that were just plain fun to take.
Keep the fun part "fun".
. . . since this is sort of a photography thread. . . . :D

(critter walking past my back porch, did not like my macro lens in his face!)
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(dawn, kailua beach, Hawaii)
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tibbitts
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by tibbitts » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:30 am

takingcontrol wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:35 pm
gasdoc wrote:
Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:48 pm
As a photography hobbyist for many years, event photography and teaching those more amateur than yourself is about the only way to make a living. Therefore both are very competitive, because there are thousands of hobbyists that would love to quit their jobs and make a living doing photography. In my opinion, the only way to really make money in photography is if you have some angle- for example, a big game trophy hunter turns photographer and shoots photo's instead of guns. You almost have to have a way to get to places most people cannot go. I have a friend who works in water conservation, and paddles down all of the rivers in our region, some which are difficult to manage. He sells quite a few volumes of photo books of his journeys. Other than that, it is a difficult field. I realize the OP's question was more about managing the business side, but perhaps a business question is, "is it a viable business?" Digital SLR's have made it very difficult to start a business in photography.

gaswork
Sorry to bring this back from 2016, but I'm also very interested in photography, but in retirement.
Any 65 year olds that have gotten into wedding photography, perhaps transitioning in as second shooters initially?
I think wedding photography would be the absolute worst kind of photography to get into - there is no room for error. I have done photography as a hobby for a very long time, and maybe partly because I don't do it every day or probably more due to lack of talent, I'm constantly making mistakes - as many now as 40+ years ago. And although technology now allows me to review my results instantly to some degree (my equipment is limited to displaying on the camera lcd - there is capability for linking to external displays), I still lose many pictures due to stupid things even when I'm not photographing something that's extremely time-sensitive. Recent examples: lens hood partly rotated and blocking image corners, missing focus on critical parts of an image, forgetting to reset iso, erratic performance from one of my lenses that I haven't been able to diagnose after thousands of images, on and on.

It's one thing to get excellent, pro-level results occasionally - these days many of us can do that due to the level of equipment and software available, and frankly the low cost of trial-and-error. It's completely different to get excellent (or at least very good) results essentially 100% of the time.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:58 am

tibbitts wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:30 am
takingcontrol wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:35 pm
gasdoc wrote:
Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:48 pm
As a photography hobbyist for many years, event photography and teaching those more amateur than yourself is about the only way to make a living. Therefore both are very competitive, because there are thousands of hobbyists that would love to quit their jobs and make a living doing photography. In my opinion, the only way to really make money in photography is if you have some angle- for example, a big game trophy hunter turns photographer and shoots photo's instead of guns. You almost have to have a way to get to places most people cannot go. I have a friend who works in water conservation, and paddles down all of the rivers in our region, some which are difficult to manage. He sells quite a few volumes of photo books of his journeys. Other than that, it is a difficult field. I realize the OP's question was more about managing the business side, but perhaps a business question is, "is it a viable business?" Digital SLR's have made it very difficult to start a business in photography.

gaswork
Sorry to bring this back from 2016, but I'm also very interested in photography, but in retirement.
Any 65 year olds that have gotten into wedding photography, perhaps transitioning in as second shooters initially?
I think wedding photography would be the absolute worst kind of photography to get into - there is no room for error. I have done photography as a hobby for a very long time, and maybe partly because I don't do it every day or probably more due to lack of talent, I'm constantly making mistakes - as many now as 40+ years ago. And although technology now allows me to review my results instantly to some degree (my equipment is limited to displaying on the camera lcd - there is capability for linking to external displays), I still lose many pictures due to stupid things even when I'm not photographing something that's extremely time-sensitive. Recent examples: lens hood partly rotated and blocking image corners, missing focus on critical parts of an image, forgetting to reset iso, erratic performance from one of my lenses that I haven't been able to diagnose after thousands of images, on and on.

It's one thing to get excellent, pro-level results occasionally - these days many of us can do that due to the level of equipment and software available, and frankly the low cost of trial-and-error. It's completely different to get excellent (or at least very good) results essentially 100% of the time.
+1
The level of technology is incredible, and the expectations of the client, often, unreasonable and unyielding (and also sometimes wrong).

Example:
Real life experience:

Commercial shoot awhile back. Hawaii. Clients have my iPad in front of them which my camera live feeds seconds after every "click", raw images. 3 hour shoot. 100% "on". Exhausting. Client has no clue what a "great shot" is. They want a "snapshot" but agree to also let me spend time with my own ideas (great). Later, after many many days/weeks of arduous post processing, client chooses the "snapshots". Their happy. So great. Not my call. Happens often. Clients dont' know what their looking at as they are used to a cell phone picture.
It is easy and thrilling to be "on" 100%, creative juices flowing, when you're "on". Anyone can do that. But, to be "on" when you're not, is grueling and absolutely no fun at all.

OP: this is great input to consider on your journey to being a successful, talented, and lucrative, wedding photographer.
j
Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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cali
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:14 am

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by cali » Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:23 am

the business has changed so much with digital prices/internet/and iPhone (or other phone cameras). I know people that have been in the business 35 yrs (since their 20s) and were well known by peers and clients, making six figures and living a good life. Now they can barely get business. Some quit and others have hope so holding on. These were wedding and portrait photographers. Their work sold them and now it is more about the marketing and the business though you still need talent. Also more competitive and so many people happy with their phone pictures. Of course, there are new and younger people coming into the business daily. Lots of people willing to do things for free or price cut. Some are doing well (and charge what they are worth) and also are savvy business people. Some are teaching in addition (and are very good but some claim they are experts and are not) There are many FB forums dedicated to photographers and everyone is nice to help. So check those out. I have personally been in the business for awhile now and it has slowed down since I started 13yrs ago and Im PT. I don't shoot weddings but there is money to be made there if you are good. ALso you got one chance so you have to know what you are doing. I suggest second shooting until you can manage. Too physical and too much stress for me….

robphoto
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:42 pm

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by robphoto » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:04 am

Don't know if this has been addressed above:

-- you can deduct equipment up to a pretty high amount in the year you buy it, per section 179 up to 1,000,000 dollars

-- one advantage of a side business is that you can have a Solo 401K, which can be a Roth if you want, with a higher allowed contribution than a Roth IRA

-- business expenses, but not hobby expenses, are deductible. for it to be a business, you must make a profit in 3 out of 5 years, and in other ways operate it as a business (keep records, etc.; there is a set of criteria)

-- if you are doing this as a business, you ought to get insurance: you can get liability insurance (you hurt someone or wreck their house) and errors and omissions insurance (the wedding photos don't come out) for a few hundred dollars each

Teague
Posts: 1545
Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Teague » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:13 pm

My photography story:

Image

From the great strip What The Duck later renamed W.T. Duck by talented cartoonist and photographer Aaron Johnson.
Semper Augustus

tibbitts
Posts: 9134
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by tibbitts » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:31 pm

robphoto wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:04 am
Don't know if this has been addressed above:

-- you can deduct equipment up to a pretty high amount in the year you buy it, per section 179 up to 1,000,000 dollars

-- one advantage of a side business is that you can have a Solo 401K, which can be a Roth if you want, with a higher allowed contribution than a Roth IRA

-- business expenses, but not hobby expenses, are deductible. for it to be a business, you must make a profit in 3 out of 5 years, and in other ways operate it as a business (keep records, etc.; there is a set of criteria)

-- if you are doing this as a business, you ought to get insurance: you can get liability insurance (you hurt someone or wreck their house) and errors and omissions insurance (the wedding photos don't come out) for a few hundred dollars each
This being a retail business I would definitely have insurance. At times when I had my own (non-photography) business I had liability but not E&O insurance, but not at other times, but mine was essentially a wholesale business not dealing directly with the public, so a very limited number of mostly F500 companies. I'd guess that with photography in a retail setting you'd be much more likely to face nuisance lawsuits from unhappy customers.

I would say the odds of having sufficient profit to make a 401k or even 179 deduction matter are pretty remote. Of course you could do the 179 up front but have to consider the odds of recapture when you turn out not to meet the business requirements.
Last edited by tibbitts on Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

takingcontrol
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:21 am

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by takingcontrol » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:29 am

Thanks for everyone's great replies.

I think perhaps I could still try the second shooter route, maybe even while working my main job to get my feet wet.

Teague
Posts: 1545
Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by Teague » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:58 am

takingcontrol wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:29 am
Thanks for everyone's great replies.

I think perhaps I could still try the second shooter route, maybe even while working my main job to get my feet wet.
Be aware that second shooter gigs are not always easy to come by. For one thing, the photographer probably already has whatever help they need. Second, they don't know you or your strengths and weaknesses at all, so they would be taking quite a chance counting on you to perform the way they'd hope. Also, they'd know that they are training their future competition, as well as giving you a window into their operation. With all that said, good luck! :sharebeer
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retire2022
Posts: 877
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:10 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Photography business early stage, tax and other

Post by retire2022 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:31 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:58 am


Example:
Real life experience:

Commercial shoot awhile back. Hawaii. Clients have my iPad in front of them which my camera live feeds seconds after every "click", raw images. 3 hour shoot. 100% "on". Exhausting. Client has no clue what a "great shot" is. They want a "snapshot" but agree to also let me spend time with my own ideas (great). Later, after many many days/weeks of arduous post processing, client chooses the "snapshots". Their happy. So great. Not my call. Happens often. Clients dont' know what their looking at as they are used to a cell phone picture.
It is easy and thrilling to be "on" 100%, creative juices flowing, when you're "on". Anyone can do that. But, to be "on" when you're not, is grueling and absolutely no fun at all.

OP: this is great input to consider on your journey to being a successful, talented, and lucrative, wedding photographer.
j
If one adds in the amount of gear with regular taste of smartphone customer, rarely they can afford a pro, I concur weddings and bar-mitzvahs don't pay and one needs higher income clients to be willing to recognize your talent.

Photography is ubiquitous and overrated, you have to capture moments which tells a story from many shots to few.

One needs to be able to self edit or have a post production staff to make this a paying gig.

Hyper local news is the way to go, but they don't pay as national news retreated from local markets.


Ps here is a book by John Harrington Best Business Practices for Photographers third edition

https://books.google.com/books/about/Be ... ead_button

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