Business Skills for Photographers

In this final chapter of our Business course, Karl looks at considerations for running a successful business. The points outlined in this chapter don’t strictly relate to photography, but are relevant to anyone wanting to make the most of their business.

Karl looks at essential things like insurance, accounting, studio/equipment costs/rental, websites, usage fees and government start us schemes, to name a few.

As part of this course, you can download a selection of useful key documents. These include model release forms, copyright terms and conditions, invoice examples and others. You can find these in our Downloads section.

In this class:

  • What costs to consider when running a business
  • Insurance
  • Accounting
  • Computers and software
  • Transport
  • Studio/Rent
  • Website
  • Licensing and usage fees
  • Government start-up schemes
  • Useful documents for photography business owners

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Calculating business costs

Part of running a business is considering the costs.


  1. Hi Carl.

    I’ve just signed up for your amazing classes! very informative!

    As a photographer, do i own the copyright of the photos i provided to a client “F&B, Architecture, portraits etc? so i can use them as marketing/promotional materials of my works through print/digital contents.

    And do i need to have the client signing a contract T&C that addresses the issue?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi, yes in nearly all cases you will retain the right to show work that you have photographed to promote yourself unless of course you entered a specific contract with the client that required complete confidentiality. I would have it written in your T&C that all images photographed can be used by you for self promotion, website and marketing etc, but this is I would say generally accepted anyway.

  2. Hi Karl,

    “Model Release Forms for group shots”

    Amber suggested I ask in this forum. My client would like me photograph his staff (100 pax) in one image. Do I need a signed Model Release Form from each of his 100 employees? The image is going to be used internally and maybe on their website and for national brochures.

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Jo, no you don’t need a model release form as you are acting on behalf of the company that the staff represent and they have to give their consent to their company not to you.

      1. Fantastic, thank you Karl!

        Would you put something in your contract with the client so that no liability whatsoever is with you? And how would you word it? DSGVO conformity seems to be a big thing here in Germany. I just wanna make sure I am covered.

        Thanks again! Love Visualeducation πŸ™‚

        1. Hi Jo-Anna, it never hurts to put things in a contract if it helps protect you but I’m afraid I can’t word that for you. You can download some of our business documents from the business section and use those as a guide. Thanks for loving the platform!

  3. This course is amazing, and I learned so much. I’m very interested in product photography and I’m working my way through the courses. Thanks for creating this wonderful platform.

  4. Hey Karl! Loving the courses πŸ™‚

    I have a 2-part question:

    Q1 – Is the B.U.R a per-image unit price or is it just arbitrary?

    Q2 – Speaking of memberships, I’m thinking of buying the lifetime access. What is the Personal Assistant benefit?

    (I reached out to the chat for more info on the Personal Assistant | tailored plan benefit, but haven’t received anything back yet.)

    Thank you for the course, it’s the best πŸ™‚

    1. Hi, the Base usage rate is anywhere between 25% and 100% of what your day rate is. I often operate on a BUR of 50% of my day rate but it does depend on the type of job, how much of the work is my creative input and what the day rate is. Some photographers work on higher day rates but lower BUR. Q2, I’m not aware of the ‘personal assistant’ other than your photography questions receive a higher priority in our inbox and you have the option to submit a portfolio and be assessed by me on your work which then is scored towards your certification as a practical level certification that is different to our standard theoretical certification that is available too. During the practical portfolio assessment with the first set of images submitted I guide you on what can be improved and what is strongest and what should be worked on so that 6months to a year later you can submit your strongest work for assessment. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any further questions.

      1. Q1 – OK that makes much more sense, I see the balance now. Thank you.
        Q2 – The dyslexia got me…I read it as “assistant”, not “assessment”. Apologizes, and thank you for the very descriptive answer. That helps very much.

        Thank you, I’m sure I’ll have many more questions!

  5. Hi Karl! I came across your youtube page and fell in love with your content and the structure you have for your education content.
    What is the difference between how copyrights for images used in a commercial project are different from those for personal use by a client?

  6. Years ago while at a camera store in Orange County, California a woman that was working for a product photographer wanted to buy more 5×4 Polaroid material. The sales person told you we have no more, you have already bought all we had. She replied her photographer boss is very upset he can not seem to get the picture he wanted, perhaps the art director was there and this shoot was lasting several days.

    Mention this because to say the stress that can happen even with experienced photographers. Perhaps if he knew how reflections are controlled he skills would have been better. But problems will happen even to the best of photographers.

    1994 I went broke with a new photography business. Much of my problem was marketing, no internet available at that time. Wanted to advertise in the Yellow Pages phone book but it was late getting published I simply went broke with only one continuous client…not enough.

    Have been involved with photography since 1980. Working as an engineer but building my skills with all sorts of photography types. Not as good as I want to be but my biggest problem has been operating a business. For that reason I now will not reopen my business until all the work is done setting up a business and your information will certainly be of a huge help….thank you.

  7. Hi Karl,

    What’s your thoughts on becoming VAT registered in the early days of the business? I’m looking to go into a B2B marketplace rather than B2C – so will it be expected by clients generally? What was your experience and when did you register?

    Thank you!

    1. I’m afraid I can’t help you on that one as my business has always operated from the Channel Islands and is not part of the UK vat scheme so I don’t charge my clients VAT anyway.

  8. Great insights in this business training and highly relevant for me because I’m in the U.K. Now, to put it into practice!

    Why doesn’t Karl invest in a pair of wellington boots to keep his feet dry?

  9. Aidan Hughes

    Hi Karl, one quick question if I may? Regarding copyright of images, would this be something that is reserved mainly for larger clients where usage fees come into play, or would you also put a copyright agreement in place for a smaller company that is using the images for things like their website? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Aidan, it would depend entirely on what the images were of/for and where the ‘creativity’ was coming from. If it’s just pictures of their products then there’s not much need for you to have copyright but if you’ve created a campaign for them with original ideas and created images that inspire a message etc then you should retain the full copyright whilst providing them with a minimum two year exclusive license period.

  10. Thanks for this course, Karl. It has been a great support for building a strong foundation of a bussiness. IΒ΄ll just have to wait for the Pandemia to start my bussiness

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