You're ready to finally make your photography business official but feel a little lost on what exactly you need to do to take your business from something you do as a hobby to a real legal business.

If you're like most photographers, you've moved from shooting here and there just for fun, to testing the waters to see if this is something you'd even want to pursue professionally only to find yourself in love with the idea, and better yet, have clients ready to book you.

But there's just one problem; You haven't made your photography business an official business yet.

You might be looking around at all the other professional photographers and feeling like you're doing something wrong, and the only one who doesn't actually have their business registered yet.

If that's the worries.

I'm going to walk you through everything you need to do so you can make your photography business a legal one and start treating it like a REAL business.

First things first and the number one thing photographers want to know; how to make a photography business a legal business.

Now, since I'm not a lawyer and want you to do this the right way (also the same way I have always registered any of my businesses) I highly recommend doing everything through LegalZoom.

They do an amazing job of making sure everything you need is covered and done correctly.

When photographers first get started, the two most common ways businesses are formed are via a;

DBA (Doing Business As) OR an LLC (Limited Liability Company)

You can read more about each of those on LegalZoom to figure out what is the right fit. They do a great job explaining them. 

You'll see that getting your business registered only takes a few minutes and actually quite simple with LegalZoom. The best part is, you'll know that everything important you need to get done is covered without having to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Next, you'll need to get a photography contract written by a lawyer. There are plenty of options available online, and most of them have not been written by a professional lawyer and do not include important pieces you'll want to be included.

All legal contracts available at have been written by a photographer/lawyer. I use them for my own photography clients and weddings, and my favorite part is that they are clearly written and easy to understand for both my clients and me.

The last thing I want to do is use a contract I don't truly understand myself and can't explain to my clients if need be.

You might be wondering, do you REALLY need a contract?
The answer is yes!

You do not want to shoot photography sessions, weddings, or events without the right contract is in place. A contract is there to protect you and your business and to clearly states what you are giving to your clients.

And if you're truly ready to make your photography business a legally operating business, then you need to make sure you treat it like a real photography business, which means having a contract in place anytime you are hired.

You can download your legally written photography contract here: 


Now that your business is officially registered and you have your legal contract in place, the only thing left to do is organize your business so you can easily manage all the new clients that will be hiring you.

This is one of those things a lot of new photographers overlook when they get started and it makes it incredibly hard to scale a photography business. Having one tool where you can track all your important information, send clients contracts to sign, collect questionnaires, schedule sessions on one calendar is all part of managing a photography business and so incredibly important even when you're new.

Plus, you'll love how easy it is to send clients contracts, get paid for sessions and see important in one place.

After years of struggling to find the right tool to manage my own photography business, I decided to build The Essential Studio Manager, which does all this and more. You are welcome to try it out for free and see if it's the right fit for you too.

With a ton of incredible features in place explicitly created for professional photographers, I think you'll really enjoy it, and we're proud that it's becoming one of the leading software in place for professional photographers in today's industry!

I hope this list helps you start your photography business and answers some important questions on what you need to do legally to make it official.

Don't forget to join the Modern Market Community group on Facebook where you can personally ask me questions and connect to other amazing photographers.

September 13, 2020 — Elena Ringeisen