Someone I know has been into photography and has recently expressed interest in freelancing.

There are a lot of questions she has, but the most pressing one is how to get paid. I have advised her to not charge too low as her pictures are good (and I don't want her to diminish the value of local photogs).

The problem is how to accept payments and what are some gotcha legalities.

What about cash? Should she provide some sort of "invoice" to customers so there is a proper record? How about checks? She plans on using her name, so I don't think she needs a DBA (doing business as) but I may be mistaken, to operate so how would one make a check to her?

PayPal seems interesting too but would she need a separate "business" account? I've browsed photo.SE for the last few hours but didn't find anything specific to accepting payment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What locality is this for? It may vary a bit by country. \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except as a background story this has nothing to do with photography. This question is about local law and doing business transactions, the question could be about any sort of freelance work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Unapiedra
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rfusca My apologies, it's United States, Texas. \$\endgroup\$
    – aa4522ff
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @unapiedra I was hoping someone who had recently gone through this could share their trials and tribulations. \$\endgroup\$
    – aa4522ff
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


First research YOUR market! Go to your local City Hall (they will know everything, hopefully)! Register your business. Look for a lawyer (contracts, etc), Financial Adviser (set up Quickbooks or whatever), Register with local Chamber of Commerce, Ask established photographers to second shot, Network and make friends. And lastly BE AWESOME! and take great pictures.

MOST IMPORTANT: IMO, running photography business is 20% photography 80% business.


What about cash? Should she provide some sort of "invoice" to customers so there is a proper record?

Never take cash. Write/sign a contract for EVERYTHING!


While it is possible to run a business as a sole proprietor (rather than creating a legal entity), I would recommend at the very least to get a separate checking account that she will use only for the business.

I would also recommend that your friend get a copy of quickbooks. She should produce invoices for her customers and bill them. The invoice should indicate the timeline for payment (net 30 days, upon receipt, 50% in advance, 50% upon delivery, etc.).

All cash flow (expenses and revenue) should go through the one bank account. This will make it easy for her to reconcile her taxable income and other needs at the end.

In terms of technology, check out Square. It has a low cost device that hooks to ipad / iphones that allows her to charge credit cards. This should be hooked to her bank account discussed above.

Good luck.


Your someone needs to start a business. As @Alen says, its 80% business at most, an never more than 20% photography.

Watch Zack Arias address this and many more issues in Zack Arias: If I Had to Start My Photo Business Today http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/video-interview-with-zack-arias-if-i-had-to-start-my-photo-business-today/


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