Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Photography Business in the United Kingdom
If your passion creates visual images for an outstanding range of creative, technical, and documentary purposes, then the photography business is the perfect venture for you. Starting a photography business in the United Kingdom is enticing to many who believe in their photographic work. As a professional photographer, you’ll work closely with people in events that may be corporate or personal.
You can follow this guide on starting a photography business in the United Kingdom.
The photography industry in the UK has seen ascendancy, with statistics indicating a 1.2% growth between 2015 and 2020, amounting to 1.7billion pounds. The sector employs about 18,000 people who include professional photographers and photographic processing services. Some of the benefits include portrait and aerial photography, specialist photography, photojournalism, and video recording. The recent development has seen an explosion in the popularity of social media websites, with the Millennials spending significant amounts of time on them.
Even though that’s synonymous, some users search for uncommissioned professional shots to look their best in their profile shots. Again with the upsurge of stock and micro-stock websites, photographers now have extra income streams, some of which generate decent money from selling their images.
Three trade associations represent the UK photographer sector:
- The Master Photographers Association (MPA)
- The British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP)
- The Association of Photographers (AOP)
So if you’re planning on starting a photography business in the United Kingdom, you must do more research on the sector. Visit their websites for additional information before venturing into the business.
To succeed in this competitive sector, you must be at your best at all times and have competitive prices. Subsequently, you must do your marketing really well to get as many gigs as possible throughout your calendar year.
Business Registration Process
If you’re a professional photographer, you always know where you want your business to go. Despite the challenges of each company, starting a photography business in the United Kingdom is no different from the rest of the businesses.
Let’s look at what you need to do to start your photography business.
Research Your Target Market
Knowing your target market before starting your business is one step towards success in your photography business. By identifying whether there is sufficient local demand gives you an overview of what to expect. Having prior experience or exposure as a part-timer may place you in a better position to know the market. Get to know who your competitors are, whether large or small, before thinking of company registration in the UK.
It would be advisable to check out:
- Their prices on similar services you offer
- The kind of services they are offering
- What qualifications, if any, the photographer possesses
- Whether they offer discounts or not
- The nature of their studio interior outlook
Decide on Your Niche
The scope of photography is broad, and it’s prudent for you to decide on a particular niche. This will, of course, depend on your skills and the nature of your business. You could opt for the following niches:
- Commercial and industrial photography
- School photography
- Wedding and other social photography
- Aerial photography
- Art and antique photography
- Architectural photography
Another area that you can opt-in is taking uncommissioned shots for submission to stock websites, picture agencies, magazines, and calendars. Once you have your niche, you decide to either go for UK company incorporation or a limited partnership.
Promote Your Business
As a brand new business, you only need to advertise it right from the start to your potential customers. Here are some of the methods of promoting your business:
- Promote it in the local directories and newspapers.
- Creating your own website to showcase your work and use social media and photo-sharing websites.
- Enter into a partnership with related businesses. For instance, wedding planners, florists, and clothes hire shops.
- Get in touch with other photographers; you might get work from them.
- Present your portfolio to art directors and editors.
Pricing Your Services
When starting a photography business in the United Kingdom, you must get your prices right. of course, you’ll use varying pricing policies for different types of work. For instance, for commercial and industrial work, you may charge hourly or daily basis. For an event such as a wedding, you may set it as a package, where the client would pay one charge that covers your time and agree on the number of images. Ensure at all times that your price will be enough to cover all your operating costs and you remain with a reasonable profit margin.
Develop Your Marketing Strategy
To look like a professional photographer means having a portfolio of your services out there for people to take notice. A collection of your best-curated work will make the difference, most preferably an online portfolio. To do that, you need to develop your business website to showcase all of your work. Your website will act as one of your marketing strategies.
Register Your Business
Most photographers operate as sole proprietors, while a certain percentage are established companies. Deciding on the best structure to start with is the beginning of building your business idea. In the UK, we also have limited partnerships and limited companies. Each of these entities has its advantages and disadvantages where you can weigh on which way to go. If you decide to register your photography business as a company, ensure you have all the necessary legal requirements. Your company must also have a business name and a logo. With each local area, you can always make inquiries or look for a corporate service provider in the UK like 3E Accounting for assistance.
Invest in Photography Equipment
Photography without equipment is as good as dead. Therefore, you must invest in the right equipment for the type of niche you’re in. In a real sense, your camera(s) will be the most expensive item(s). Today, professional photographers have invested in DSLR or mirrorless cameras that possess the following specs and features:
- Sensor type
- Megapixel count
- Shutter speed
- ISP range Autofocus
When starting a photography business in the United Kingdom means you will be working with the public, and you’ll acquire expensive items. When working in that ecosystem and being entrusted with capturing special moments comes with some risks. To protect yourself from claims against you by your clients and equipment, you must take an insurance policy.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance: This policy protects your reputation from any misunderstandings, even if it’s not your fault.
- Public Liability Insurance: in most cases, accidents are unavoidable. The nature of your job includes working in public spaces and welcoming clients to a studio. In case an accident occurs, insurance will support you with the liability claim.
- Portable Equipment Insurance: as professional photography, you need to have the skills; however, you often need expensive equipment to complement your capabilities. Therefore, you’ll need this insurance to cover you for any eventualities.
Licenses, Permits, and Regulations
When it comes to the photography industry, you must understand some of the critical areas where legislation might affect your business. You can find comprehensive guidance from Association of Photographers (AOP) publications—Beyond the Lens—about a section on legislation.
What License Do You Require as a Photographer?
Though there is no specific licensing requirement concerning photographers, you should be aware that:
- You must register as a data user with the Information Commissioner’s Office if you keep in custody computerized records of individuals’ personal details.
- The law requires you to apply for a Music License with PPL PRS Ltd if you play background music.
- You must do an up-to-date background disclosure check, especially if you’re regularly working with children.
When starting a photography business in the United Kingdom, you must have a working knowledge of copyright law. This will protect your income and rights, particularly after introducing the orphan works licensing scheme in recent years.
Protection of Children
According to the law protecting children, it is an offense to take an indecent photograph of a child below 16.
The terrorism law stipulates that police officers have the right to stop and search an individual and, in rare circumstances, to view images on a camera. But they have no right to delete images or destroy film during the search.
In circumstances where you’ll decide to have employees in your business, ensure you comply with employment legislation. These will include recruitment, employment contracts, working hours, and employment policies, among others.
If you find starting a photography business in the United Kingdom challenging, you always contact 3E Accounting.