Why Legitimacy Should Matter To You
I have been in business for almost two years and have yet to have anyone ask me if I have a business license, if I pay taxes and if I’m insured. These are questions that should matter to you as a customer. Two show you that I’m a professional and one shows that I’m interested in protecting you on our photo shoots.
Two question I often hear people ask is why custom photography prices vary from photographer to photographer and why some are priced so high. There can be many reasons for the lower prices, but one you should be concerned about is whether that photographer is paying taxes as a legitimate business.
When you go into a business you’ll often see a business license hanging on the wall. Since I photograph a lot of clients in their homes or outdoors they’re not seeing that. But I still have it. I have a business license in Greene County because that’s where my studio is, though I do photograph all over the state. I also have a Sales Tax Certificate. That shows I’m allowed to collect sales taxes and pay them quarterly to the state. To get both of those items I had to have a Federal Tax ID Number from the IRS–that means they’re aware of my business and I had better be paying taxes every year on my income from photography. After I got the ID number, I also became a Limited Liability Corporation (Terry Beigie Photography, LLC).
If I didn’t have to pay taxes, my profits would be much higher. However, I feel it’s important that I’m a legitimate business. I take care with my business, just as I will take care with you on location, and with your photos during editing and afterward. I archive purchased photos for up to one year in case something happens to your copies, and I have numerous back-up hard drives to be sure nothing happens to them before you see them. When I design an album for my seniors I take great care to be sure it’s what you want before I send it off to be printed. I purchased equipment to be sure the color you see on a print is what it was when I took the photo and it’s one of the reasons I recommend professional printing, as well.
I have equipment insurance, auto insurance, home insurance and liability insurance (especially important if I’m taking photos at your home). All of these cost extra, on top of the equipment and maintenance each year. But I want to be sure my clients are protected when I set out to take their photos. I have contracts with my clients so I know exactly what they expect and they know what I promise to deliver–again to care for my clients. I have back-up gear for those once-in-a-lifetime moments; I don’t want to miss one because of equipment malfunction. I take extra care behind the scenes so that I deliver a superior product to my clients. The professionalism and time and cost spent on paperwork, taxes, equipment you’ll never even see is worth it to me because I want to be sure the entire process is easy and enjoyable for my clients.
Even if you don’t choose me here are questions to ask prospective photographers:
1. Are you insured? Yes, I have liability and equipment insurance.
2. Do you have a Sales Tax Certificate and pay sales taxes? May I see it? I do and you may any time.
3. Do you have a Business License? I do, from Greene County. I’ll gladly show it any time. This means I pay the county each year for the right to operate in Greene.
4. May I see a contract before I sign it? Of course!
5. Are you a member of a professional photography association? I am a member of Professional Photographers of America and spend a great deal of money each year on education so I continue to grow as a photographer.
6. Do you offer touch-ups on photos are does that cost extra? Some photographers will charge extra for time spent eliminating acne or stray hairs. I do not charge extra, but also do not over-Photoshop anyone to the point of looking plastic or fake. These photos are about YOU!
7. How many images are typically delivered? I promise 25-30 for a typical senior session (fully edited, high resolution photographs) but I STRONGLY believe in over-delivering!
8. What happens if an emergency comes up or bad weather hits and we need to reschedule? I try to remain incredibly flexible with my scheduling because you just never know what might happen in life: kids get sick; thunderstorms hit; hospital visits happen.
Any photographer you choose should listen to you. They should be open with their business information. They should care about you and the community they live in.