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Ask the Experts: Getting Started - PPA Today

Ask the Experts: Getting Started

Monteith_Ann_140.jpgOne of PPA's most important goals is helping photographers excel at managing their businesses. We often get questions about finances, taxes and business management, so we're taking a page from Professional Photographer magazine and will include an Ask the Experts business question in the PPA Today weekly newsletter from time to time. This week, Ann Monteith, one of our most widely recognized Studio Management Services (SMS) consultants, addresses a question about getting off on the right foot as a professional photographer.

Q: We just started a photography business. We're pretty clueless. What do we need to do to become legitimate?

A: "I can't stress enough how important it is to learn as much as you can about the business of photography before you get in too deep. Photography can be a great career when you go into it with your eyes wide open and the business skills required to be successful. The very best thing you can do is to learn the fundamentals."

"Until a couple of years ago, there were no courses on business management and marketing specifically designed for professional photographers--a lot of us tried to find one. That's why PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) developed the 2-Day "Business Basics Workshop" for professional photographers at any stage in their careers.

"As one of several instructors who teach this course, I can attest that the curriculum it provides could have cut two years off the learning curve I experienced when I started my own photography business."

"The two-day workshop is offered several times a year at locations throughout the country. [Class dates and locations listed below.] We cover a lot of ground, including the legal and financial requirements for starting a photography business, personal skills and attributes needed to succeed, financial benchmarks (, and marketing and pricing for profitability."

In the meantime, here are several items photographers who are just formally establishing their businesses will need to address:

Getting Started Checklist

  1. Check with your State Department of Revenue and Chamber of Commerce:
    • Business licenses
    • Permits (if operating out of your home)
    • Tax numbers (Federal, state, local)
    • Sales Tax number (state, local) and laws for colleting and remitting
  2. Understand and implement Managerial Accounting:
    • Download PPA's Business Basics Handbook
    • Determine accounting software to help implement Managerial Accounting
  3. Determine Business Model:
    • Home vs. Retail
    • Price-volume model
      • Low price - high volume
      • Medium price - medium volume
      • High price - low volume
    • Product lines
      • Portraits
      • Weddings
      • Other
  4. Determine How Many Sessions Per Year to meet your financial goals/requirement:
    • Assume the average hours per session is 7 hours
    • 1 Session per day
    • 3 Sessions per week (2 days for accounting and administrative)
    • 50 weeks per year
    • Session target: 150 sessions @ $1,500 per session
    • Yields a Sales Target: $225,000
  5. Determine Business Concept:
    • How you want to be perceived in the market place - Brand
    • Who is your "Ideal Client" - what do they do for a living and where do they socialize, shop, etc.
    • Identify was to connect with your "Ideal Client"
  6. Pricing for Profit:
    • Understanding the costs to produce each product
    • Determine how much to mark up your costs per product to price profitability

--Ann K. Monteith, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, ABI, API, A-ASP (

Learn more via the "Ask the Experts" column each month in Professional Photographer magazine.

Remaining 2010 2-Day Business Basics Workshops

2-Day Business Basics Workshop
Houston, Texas
Instructor: Ann Monteith, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, ABI, API, A-ASP
Dates: June 26-27, 2010
Price: $349; and $199 for second attendee

2-Day Business Basics Workshop
Atlanta, Georgia
Instructor: Ann Monteith, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, ABI, API, A-ASP
Dates: November 6-7, 2010
Price: $349; and $199 for second attendee

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