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 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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

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