Insurance Considerations for Photography Businesses

(We’ll bring the right coverage into focus so you can get a crystal clear snapshot)

How to start a photography business

You’ve got a passion for capturing the perfect image and bringing smiles to eager faces through your art, so you’re starting your own photography business. While that’s quite the exciting venture, it takes more than just a good eye and a nice camera to run a successful business. You’ll need to plan properly from the start to keep the profits and clients rolling in. 

When the time comes to open up shop, having business insurance for your photography business is the key to maintaining smooth operations. All businesses come with risks (even the fun ones), so you’ll need to obtain protection during your preparation phase. Our independent insurance agents are here to help get you set up with the right coverage for your specific needs. But first, let’s talk photography.

All About the Photography Industry

Revenue of portrait photography studios in the U.S. from 2008-2020

Revenue of portrait photography studios

As far as portrait photography businesses are concerned, revenue may not be at an all-time high currently, as it is down from $4.9 million in 2008 to $4.51 million in 2019, but it appears to be climbing steadily since its big slump in 2012/2013. Revenue is projected to rise to $4.57 million in 2020.

Revenue of commercial photography in the U.S. from 2008 to 2020

Revenue of commercial photography

Unfortunately, commercial photography revenue seems to have been on a steady decline over the past few years. Revenue totaled $1.93 million in 2013, but by 2020, it’s projected to fall to just under $1.4 million.

Industry revenue of photographic services in the U.S. 2011-2023

Industry revenue of "photographic services"

How to Start a Photography Business

Your ambition to start a new business is a great motivator, but it’s far from all you need to bring that dream to reality. Of course your vision will be specific and unique (as it should be), but we’ll take a look at some general steps to starting a photography business:

  • Step One: Planning. No successful business can begin without a solid plan. We’re willing to bet on that. First up, you’ll need to determine all kinds of stuff like your startup costs, target market, business name, the products/services you’ll offer, and how long it’ll take you to break even and start turning a profit. You’ll also need to decide what kind of business you want to be (i.e., if you want to work solo or have other employees, what kind of photography you want to specialize in, etc.). Last, you’ll need to scout out a location and actually purchase/rent said property, once you’ve found it.
  • Step Two: Legal Stuff. Next, you’ll decide what kind of business entity you want to be (e.g., LLC, partnership, etc.), and then go through the proper channels of making it legal by registering with the government. You’ll also need to register for taxes and obtain any required permits and licenses.
  • Step Three: Money Stuff. This phase involves opening a business bank account so you can accurately monitor your business’s financial performance and make your life a heck of a lot easier when it comes time to file your annual taxes. Afterwards, it’s time to obtain your start-up costs and determine how much you’ll be charging customers/clients for any goods/services your business will offer.
  • Step Four: Define and Build Your Brand. What will your business stand for? How do you want the world to perceive it? These are just a couple of questions you’ll answer in order to define your brand. A solid, unique branding of your business will help it stand out from the competition.  Once the details have been figured out, it’s time to get to work building that brand. This generally involves designing business cards, building a website, and establishing a social media presence. If you’re clueless when it comes to Twitter or any of the other platforms, you can always hire or beg someone to take care of that aspect for you.
  • Step Five: Build Your Team. You’ve made all kinds of progress, and now it’s time to find people to actually do the work. Determine what kind of team you’ll need, the different roles you need to fill and how many positions there are in each, then go about hiring your staff/employees/minions. You can advertise online, in your local newspaper, or go the old- school word-of-mouth route. Once you’ve got a solid team established, it’s time to get them trained.
  • Step Six: Iron Out the Details. For your photography business, this could involve ordering supplies or gear needed to perform your services, ensuring your photography equipment is in working order, determining prices for your services offered, designing creative signage, putting the finishing touches on your website, perfecting your lighting setups and then teaching them to the appropriate staff, advertising, and scouting for clients, etc. Basically, any of the specifics needed to make your photography business come to life will fall into this step.
  • Step Seven: Get Coverage. The final step, and perhaps the most important, is to obtain the proper coverage. You’ll need business insurance to protect not only your photography business but also your employees and yourself. Business insurance is the pièce de résistance that’ll keep your photography business capturing important moments in willing customers’ lives for years to come.

What is Photography Insurance?

Broken down, photography insurance is a well-focused and brightly lit insurance package designed to meet the specific needs of photography business owners. All the coverage offered by a basic small business insurance plan as well as policy options tailored for the unique needs of photographers are rolled into one.

A photography insurance package simplifies the process of obtaining all necessary coverage for photography business owners while eliminating confusion and stress. Basically, it’s the best way to go.

What Does Photography Insurance Cover?

A photography insurance policy is typically the easiest option when it comes to knocking out your extensive list of coverage needs all together in one tidy package. These policies offer the basics of business insurance coverage including most of the liability insurance you’ll need, plus specific coverage tailored to your unique niche.

Here are several photography insurance coverage options:

  • General liability: This coverage protects you against property damage or injury claims made by a third party. 
  • Workers' compensation: If your employee(s) become ill, are injured, or die from a work-related incident, this aspect of the insurance will cover the financial ramifications. Depending on the type of work being performed, this coverage is often mandatory in most states. 
  • Property insurance: Covers loss of or damage to your physical property including your office space, and often the inventory within it. Protected mishaps include fires, storms, and more.
  • Cybercrime insurance: Covers the loss/theft of customers’ sensitive data, including credit card numbers and more. This coverage can also save your business in the event a deposit or money transfer is intercepted by cybercriminals.
  • Professional liability: Provides coverage in the event you make a professional error that causes injury or upset to the public. This could involve missing an important shot at an event, or losing your customer’s files.
  • Inland marine insurance: Covers the loss/theft/damage of your equipment while it’s in transit. Coverage is crucial for expensive camera equipment and gear, so it’s important to get the proper valuations for each piece you want covered for your insurance company. Ask your agent for a policy that’ll cover the full replacement costs of everything you list, if possible.

Your photography insurance package will be assembled by selecting the coverage that works for your unique business from a big ol’ list of available options. Coverage applies to everything from lost business revenue to potential legal/court fees and beyond.

Who Needs Photography Insurance?

No matter the size or vibrance scale of your photography business, if you’re capturing images of/for the public and paying your employees, you’ll need protection. Photography comes with a set of unique risks, both obvious and hidden, so coverage is essential if your business offers any of the following services:

  • Portrait photography
  • Commercial photography
  • Pet photography
  • Wedding photography
  • School photography
  • Sports photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Event photography
  • Architectural photography
  • Travel photography
  • . . . and everything else

Photography insurance will cover all aspects of your business, regardless of the specific type you own. It’s always important to have protection for your workers, your equipment, your inventory, and your property. But protection against potential lawsuits is also crucial. Photography businesses of all gradients, exposures, and color tints can be sued, so don’t risk not having coverage.

How Much Does Photography Insurance Cost?

Truthfully, it depends on quite a few things. An average photography studio in a mid-sized town with a decent amount of business might pay $2,200 annually in combined liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and more. However, smaller, less busy companies out in the middle of nowhere will probably pay less, while larger, busier companies in big cities will probably pay even more.

Of course, it’s hard to offer an average figure, since each photography business is unique. But really, it all depends on a number of factors, like:

  • The type of photography business: This involves more than if you’ll just be specializing in wedding or teacup dog photography. The kind of equipment your photographers use and the services offered will affect the risk involved in operations. Obviously, more danger means more money for insurance.
  • The location of the photography business: Larger cities tend to have higher costs for insurance, but it goes beyond that. Depending on where you are in the country, your location may be subject to various weather-related risks. Photography studios along the Atlantic coast, for example, may have premiums up to 20% higher due to risk of hurricane damage.
  • The number of employees: The more you've got, the more workers compensation you’ll need. Simple as that.
  • How much business you generate: Premiums are calculated based on business projections for the upcoming year. If your workload doubles, so will your premium most likely.

Top 5 Business Insurance Claims

From potential injuries to property damage and lawsuits, business insurance is definitely a must-have. In order to keep all operations running smoothly, you’ll need to consider not only the risks unique to your trade but also those that apply to all kinds of businesses. Here’s a quick look at the most common business insurance claims across the board:

  • Theft/burglary: Whether they’re after money, merchandise, your company vehicles, or anything else, thieves and burglars commonly target businesses. Anything you have that could be stolen is worth protecting before ever opening your doors to the public.
  • Weather-related damage: Wind and hailstorms create the type of weather damage most often reported by businesses across the map. Whether it’s shattered windows, broken signage, destroyed products, or anything else, Mother Nature can wreak havoc when she gets angry. Plan for disasters before they happen, and secure coverage up front.
  • Fire damage: Another common/costly claim is fire damage. Be it destruction caused by natural wildfires or resulting from employee negligence (such as with a kitchen fire), these disasters can be devastating. Fire damage can result in lost property, inventory, and even revenue, especially if your business is forced to close. Also, fires are obviously a huge hazard for your workers and customers alike. Take as many proactive measures as possible such as installing sprinkler systems and extinguishers.
  • Employee injury: Even the most well-trained employees on record run the risk of becoming injured on the job, regardless of the line of work they’re in. Employees may become injured while carrying out daily tasks, due to the negligence of a coworker, while making service deliveries, or in a myriad of other ways. Protecting your workers with workers’ compensation is crucial, not to mention mandatory in most states.
  • Customer injury: Of course, your business’s customers are also at risk of injury while on your property. Slips and falls are some of the most commonly reported business insurance claims, but customers can also be injured due to unsafely stocked shelves, employee negligence, faulty products, and much more.

Top 5 Business Insurance Discounts

Owners of businesses of every size, color, and flavor love scoring discounts however they can. And fortunately, there are some discounts out there to help obtain a significantly lower premium, like:

  • The safety discount: Insurance companies love working with clients who put safety first. Put practices in place to keep your employees, equipment, and physical office space as safe as possible, and you'll likely be rewarded by your insurance company. Installing sprinkler systems and burglar alarms are just a couple examples of easy ways to score this discount.
  • The quality discount: Establishing a track record of quality goods, services, and customer interactions will not only keep your business running strong but also help reduce your insurance costs. Essentially, keeping your clients happy is the key to keeping your insurance company happy, and they just might slash your premium as a thank you in return.
  • The low claims history discount: Along the same lines of maintaining a safe and efficient business, having a low claims record is another way to seriously please your insurance company. Over time they’ll likely reward you for it. Plus, if you ever need to switch insurance policies or companies, having a low or even squeaky-clean claims record will definitely help you land a lower premium.
  • The professionalism discount: Sometimes insurance companies send out inspectors to observe your business during a typical day of operation. If your equipment is clean and well-maintained, your employees are following necessary safety protocol, and your customers/clients seem happy, you’ll get a good report. A favorable evaluation could reward you with a reduced premium. 
  • The bundle discount: Purchasing multiple types of insurance with the same company is a tried and true way to save money, but so is purchasing specialty insurance packages. These packages, composed of multiple policies tailored to a specific kind of business, are designed to save you money and just generally make life easier. And since they exist, you might as well take advantage.

How to Find the Best Photography Insurance

In order to get the protection you need (and deserve), you’ll want to work with a trusted expert. Independent insurance agents will not only know where to find the best coverage and price but also help to make sense of the fine print.

Consider your business’s unique needs, then connect with an agent to help you take it from there. Have a list of your specific concerns and desires handy before you reach out to help the process run even smoother.

Compare Photography Insurance Quotes with an Independent Insurance Agent

We all know how valuable your time is, so why spend it doing all the hard work yourself? From business insurance packages to special add-on policies, our expert independent insurance agents will help you determine which types of coverage make the most sense for you and your new business. 

Our independent insurance agents stay on top of the insurance industry and all the latest discounts so you don’t have to. That means they’ll help find the right coverage at the right price for you.


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