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‘Freelance Business’ - Case Study 3

Since starting photography, it has been my aim in the future, to be a professional freelance photographer, creating personal work, combating issues I am passionate about through my work, working with others  and on commissioned jobs. 

Within this idea it has taken a lot of research, to understand what it would take and be like to start up my own freelance photography business. My university has helped me understand a lot more areas than I thought would be needed as a freelance photographer. My parents who have their own business, have also explained what it is like to set up a business, helping me understand all that I would be taking on. 

Through research it is evident that creating a business does not just happen straight away. By listening and learning all of this it has not put me off. If anything it has only embedded the idea into my head more and furthered my passion to set up the business despite the hurdles that I will come across and the time it will take for it to become a stable job.  

Within the idea there is a lot to consider when talking about business, through research I have looked into these aspects further over the last few years since starting university. 

Ideally when I start up a business it will be back where I currently live in Essex, but this would not limit me to travelling for work or commuting for commissioned jobs, which I would have to charge expenses on within what I would charge for each job. The reason I would stay where I am is due to more flexibility. I feel if I lived in London I would only be working there and for me it is more interesting to work in multiple places on multiple jobs, thereby not restricting myself to one place or one kind of photographic job. Each job would have to consider all the different aspects of hourly rate, travel expenses, materials etc.. Meaning I would have to work out a rough hourly rate to start with, that could build up as the career develops. 

With any job to start off with I will not be selling myself short, I would want to earn if possible to start off with £300 a day, which would obviously depend on the time of the job and other aspects which I will come to later on. Meaning for example if I was working five days a week on a job, from 9 till 5, that would be 8 hours a day,for 5 days, making it 40 hours worked that week, meaning roughly to cover expenses that job, without post production costs would work out as £37.50 an hour, earning me £1,500 for that 5 day job. If there was post production on this job that would also be added on based on how many hours the work would take to do. If it took 2 days 9 till 5 again that would bring the over all total too, £2,500 for that job as the post production would be £600. This is only an example as when starting off there are numerous things to consider that I have researched into but ideally that would be a starting price of £37.50 a hour. 

The things to consider in a business are: 

  • Account / Account management 
  • Insurances / Tax / Vat
  • Estimates / Quotes 
  • Materials - Software / Equipment
  • Laws
  • Copyright  
  • Marketing / Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Entrepreneurial 
  • Technical support and development 
  • Production 

These are a few of which I have had to look into in more detail. Due to all that needs to be considered, I will be creating a list of what I have to have in place before I graduate, which will help me to keep control on what is top priority at the beginning, leading on to other aspects I can tackle once the most important parts are in place as the foundations of my business. 

When deciding to set up a business it is important to consider the business set ups that you can have. Below shows two that could be possibly for me: 

  • Solo trader -  Means you are the exclusive owner and manager of your business and you’re liable for everything. You alone. 
  • Partnership -  Liability shared, work alongside one other person. Share everything. 

When I have thought about the business before I have always seen it as a solo experience and from the information on a partnership, this is not a business arrangement I would consider, due to there having to be a shared responsibility of the business, meaning the other person in the partnership would have to be trusted to work equally and as hard as myself. I feel it would be hard for me to find someone to trust enough with the business also, if I had built it up to begin with. If it was two of us to start with then it would be different. If I do something wrong that is for me to deal with but if they did something wrong I would be equally as liable for their mistakes.  

Account / Account management: 

When running a business it is important to keep track of your finances, watching what’s coming in and out of your accounts, such as bills, insurances, rent / mortgage, business expenses etc.. It is important when in the first 5 years of your business to keep all invoices, receipts, bills, as a way of keeping all records as security, if there should be any problems that arise during the building up of your business. Many photographers employ accountants due to the strain of trying to balance their accounts as well and continue working. I will have to do my own accounts at the beginning, as to start with I will not be able to afford an accountant, but as the business grows I would consider getting one in the future as I am not the best when it comes to maths, even though I am very organised and have practised managing my money and expenses throughout university. Which will help me to start off at the beginning of building the business up.  

Insurances / Tax / Vat:

Within a photography business there are lots of terms within finances and insurances that need to be understood. Photographers not only need insurance on equipment but on studios, their own houses and public liability, which are only a few which should be considered when working out finances and what you as a photographer should be charging. 

Other aspects such as Tax, Vat, National insurance, Public Liability Insurance and general insurances such as house, studio or equipment etc needs to be considered. 

  • TAX - TAX is a compulsory  contribution to the state revenue, charged by the government on workers income and business profits. You are only charged income Tax when you are earning more then £12,500.
  • Up to 12,500 0% tax free
  • Basic rate - 12,501 to 50,000 20%
  • Higher rate 50,001 to 150,000 40%
  • Additional rate over 150,000 40%
  • VAT - VAT means Value added Tax - It is a consumption tax added to product sales prices.  You do not charge VAT until your business is earning up to £85,000 (turn over) amount of money, once you  earn that amount you have to start charging VAT on your own rate. The rate added to the price is 20% on your hourly rate.
  • National insurance -  is a system within the UK that is a compulsory payment made by employees and employers. This is to provide state assistance for people who are sick, unemployed or retired. Meaning everyone with a job that earns more than £183 a week pays and the rate you pay depends on how much you earn. Normally 12% of what you earn is paid as national insurance. 
  • Public Liability Insurance - Is an insurance that covers the cost of claims made by members of the public for incidents that occur in connection to your business, ie injuries or damage / loss to property. One example is if someone trips over your camera and injures themselves you have insurance for that. 

Estimates / Quotes: 

When working out how much you should be charging you have to take everything into consideration. How you live, what you spend money on regularly, insurances, hours worked, post production work, transport, rent / mortgage, materials etc.. No photographer should ideally be charging less than £300 a day and should not do work for free, as mentioned previously above. 

When creating an overall pricing for work or working with a contract there is much that needs to be negotiated, them paying for travel  (if an over night job) where you stay, the way in which they can use the photos that they are commissioning you to make and many others. It is important to think about how you talk and work with clients as well so that they will use you again or recommend you to others. Your job is you and you have to protect your self worth. Wording what you say correctly when talking to clients and customers. 

Materials - Software / Equipment:

This is another list of which I am adding to and developing as my degree has gone on, to understand how much, what I will be needing will cost and cost to insure. With our course we were encouraged to create a 5 year plan to have goals and aim to reach but also encouraged to work out roughly how much to charge when working for others. Including aspects such as travel, post producing time, insurance, tax and own personal pay. It was interesting to work this out with the prices of what our lives cost now to live. Helping me to understand what I would have to be able to cover from my salary. Considering aspects such as printing materials, cameras, lighting, batteries and so on, which I knew would have to be covered in materials but not how much could go into materials or how much they could actually cost over the course of a year. 


Within laws and copy right information I know bits about but would have to research further to understand completely what is possible and not possible. Having my own business will be unpredictable the majority of my career. Especially when setting up. This may mean that to start with I will have to have another job alongside setting up my business as a way of some sort of constant income to build the business up from the ground. But because I want to do this and have done for ages I am determined to make it work for me. It will take time and a patient and strong work ethic which I feel I will be able to accomplish. 

Copy Right: 

With areas such as the creative works copyright is needed to protect your work from others claiming it as their own. Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of creative work. It is important to have this in place for me with my work and my business so people can not claim the work that I have created as theirs and protects me from clients taking advantage of the work I do for them. 

Aspects of copy right to consider when working for a client: 

  • Explain you do not assign copyright that you license your work 
  • They do not need copyright they need an exclusive licence to use.
  • The cost of all the usage a total right assignment gives is extremely high. 
  • Show them the copyright 4 client website. 
  • Ask them exactly where they need to use the work so that you can price the job fairly. 
  • Offer an exclusive licence allow the client to control the work during the negotiated term. 
  • Invoice 
  • Current economic climate client budget 

When working for clients and companies it will be important for me to out line what they can and cannot do with my images and also if there is to be a contract involved add in what I need to protect myself or read the small print if I am not the one making the contract. 

Marketing / Sales: 

In marketing and sales it is important to sell yourself well by having a professional attitude, meaning, no turning up late, thinking about the way to talk to people, don’t let people take advantage but be polite, don’t double book or cancel. Overall you want people to recommend you. I will have to have good customer service skills, which luckily I have gained from working as a waitress, by also have to think in an entrepreneurial way so as to keep clients and gain work. By being confident and self motivating it will help to get people to want to work with me again.

Average Freelance Photographer Pay: 

Freelance photographer can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 a year.

On average pay a year in the UK for a experienced  freelance photographer earns up to £18,821 as profit. 

When starting out it is estimated as about £12,000 

This all depends on where I live, what jobs I take on and how I manage myself.

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