Business Basics for Newborn Photographers
By Rachel Brenke, The Law Tog
Newborn photography is a whole ‘nother ball game – but if you’re reading this you already knew that huh? I mean that it is so much more sensitive than just handling precious new bundles of joy, there are higher sensitivities when dealing with clients and probabilities for legal issues when dealing with these fresh-out-of-the-package human bundles of joy. A good, but not inclusive, list of business basics to running a photography business includes liability protection through formation, insurance, safety knowledge, and sufficiently drafted contractual documents.
Setting up formation is a much bigger decision than how much paperwork and fees are to be filed. This is one of those great areas of sensitivity for a newborn photography business owner. The main types of business formations include sole proprietorships, limited liability companies (LLC) and corporations. Sole proprietorships are often the most popular with newer photography business owners as they have minor monetary investment, however, are not recommended for newborn photographers – as you’ll see shortly. The second most popular type of business structure among photographers is that of an LLC. This separates out the personal and business assets into separate buckets. Rounding up the types of structures are corporations that also separate out assets. Selecting a business structure, such as a limited liability company or appropriate corporation election, is extremely important in separating out personal assets from the business assets.
While this is an important topic for any business owner, newborn photographers have a heightened level of sensitivity due to the nature of the work. Selecting a certain structure can work for or against you if there should ever be any legal claims that arise against your business. For more help on business structures seek out a business consultant, local governing agency or attorney for advisement.
Another level of defense for the liability sensitivity issue is through acquiring the appropriate and sufficient liability insurance to act as another level of protection for the business. Liability insurance is a part of a general insurance system to protect the photographer against liabilities placed on the photographer through lawsuits and other legal claims. This will protect the photographer for claims that arise under the terms of the insurance policy. This insurance is in addition to equipment and property insurance needed for the business. Always obtain multiple quotes and review the terms to ensure that the policy protects against newborn photography specific situations that may arise. Another advantage of having liability insurance, besides the liability protection it provides, is the accessibility to certain rental properties or hospitals that may require proof of liability insurance documentation prior to engaging in a photography session.
Contracts are the most straightforward way to keep liabilities in check and inform clients of the policies that guide the business relationship. These documents act to inform both parties of legally required duties, as well as an enforcement ground for the business policies as necessitated due to the demands of newborn photography. Important contractual provisions for newborn photographers include payment amount, method of payment, indemnification, cancellation/late policy, and copyright law. Please note that these are bare minimum provisions needed (from a legal standpoint) – newborn photography requires an extensive reflection and outlining of policies to make sure the session goes off without a hitch. These can include everything from baby-prep such as feeding, sleeping, through the age-guidelines for having the session and how to book with the photographer within this timeline.
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Getting your feet under you as a business owner is hard enough, but adding on the extra level of safety imperative to successfully implementing a newborn portrait session heightens the importance for knowledge. IT is important to know the proper anatomical developments paired with the Do’s and Don’ts with newborn bodies. Examples include strength of neck, range of mobility, etc. Not possessing this safety knowledge, or having the confidence to refuse to a certain pose if your knowledge is lacking, is setting up the business for disaster. No amount of insurance, contracts, or business structure can replace or repair a baby, and along with it the negative word-of-mouth of the parents should something happen.
More on Newborn Safety with Jillian Kirby here.
Of course not! Newborn photography business creates a whole another level of business but you don’t have to know it all in the beginning. Business is a learning process – be open to learning from others, utilizing the resources of those that have blazed the biz trail before you. Until then, take this snippet of business basics to heart and get to rocking those newborn bundles of sweetness.
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Bio: Rachel Brenke is the lawyer/photographer owner of The Law Tog, a site is dedicated to providing legal, marketing and biz advice to photography businesses with maximum efficiency and results. Through business consulting services and her published book "The Laundry List: A Mother's Guide to Balancing Family and Business" Rachel provides guidance in practical ways for photography business owners to succeed.