A common question asked by an amateur photographer looking to turn professional is, “what equipment do I need?” I’ll skip the discussion around skill and experience being more important than equipment, but before you rush out and buy any equipment or start offering your services to others, you should consider the various liability issues and the options for operating as a legal entity that are available for your business and obtain the proper insurance for both your equipment and liability. I’ll cover specific options available in the United States in this article, although similar concepts are available in other countries.
The most common mistake for beginners is to operate a business as a sole proprietorship, meaning there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. This may sound easy and convenient, but it also means that you have unlimited personal liability for the actions of your business, and this includes the actions of your employees or even volunteer assistants. Operating as a general partnership is even riskier because all the partners are personally liable, even if it is for something done by the other partner that you didn’t know about. Even if you have liability insurance coverage for yourself, an accident caused by one of your partners or assistants (paid or not) could significantly expose you to liability.