I've had previous gigs for organisations on a very informal basis, and now one of them wants to book me for a higher profile event and has indicated they want to pay.

The money really isn't the issue for me, as the organisation in question is a community one. But I wonder whether if I'm being paid I should step up to the plate r.e. insurance.

I hear of professionals having liability insurance and indemnity insurance, but I'm not sure what's relevant for me. Can someone shed light on this? I'm in the UK if that helps.

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    \$\begingroup\$ By the way, by definition, if you are being paid, then you are a professional (ignoring the other senses of how "professional" is used). Congratulations! \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 14:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ ^^ I thought the definition was someone who makes a living from XXXX would be considered a professional, not just being paid for odd-jobs \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ The road to being a professional is gilded by paid odd-jobs, at least in my experience. Congrats, Dan! \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DigitalLightcraft those are just well-paid professionals. Or perhaps successful professionals. Or even hard-working professionals. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not an answer, because I have only one anecdotal data point as an example: I heard of a case when a wedding photographer's memory card malfunctioned and he lost all the photos. He was the only photographer at the event. The newlyweds were not amused. \$\endgroup\$
    – vsz
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 13:01

4 Answers 4


Yes. Presuming you're working as freelancer. Without a doubt. Regardless of how much you're being paid, or if you're not being paid (such as if you work with models). If you're employed rather than freelance then the company's existing insurances will probably protect you, but make sure to check.

Professional indemnity insurance protects you from any claims of inadequate service to the client.

Public liability insurance should be purchased as well in case someone injures themself and it's considered your fault. Such as if someone trips over your camera bag, or a lightstand falls on them and they try to sue.

These insurances will provide cover for the legal costs and expenses in your defence as well as compensation payable if they win any payout. They can be picked up alongside equipment insurance (Photoguard and Aaduki are two commonly seen names).

At the same time I recommend getting your camera gear insured as well if it isn't already. Depending on the gig of course, the last thing you want is someone spilling a drink and you have to foot the repair bill or buy new equipment to replace it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Down voter. Rather than just DV'ing can you provide reasoning why so I can improve my answer?. \$\endgroup\$
    – Crazy Dino
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ To reiterate - Without a doubt. If you can't afford the premiums (which aren't likely to be much anyways), you certainly can't afford to pay a claim/defense if a suit is brought against you for anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 22:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ If my lightstand falls on someone, can't they sue anyway even if I'm not a professional? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DmitryGrigoryev yes. Thats why insurance is worth having if youre not a professional or being paid. \$\endgroup\$
    – Crazy Dino
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 16:56

Legally need? - No.

In reality - It's a good idea, but depends on a few factors such as if you are going to be doing this a lot, are you using expensive equipment? does anything you do or can do affect safety of others? If you screw up or your camera dies, is it s big issue for the client?

Or are you just walking around taking a few candid snaps?

You have 4 basic types:

  • Public liability covers you if your lighting falls on a baby etc.
  • Professional indemnity covers loss to your client if you fail to deliver etc.
  • Employer's liability covers any staff you may have (not applicable here)
  • Equipment cover is obvious.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Depending on the location of the shoot, there could be legal requirements for insurance, or permits (which will require insurance). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 23:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't think of any circumstances where it would be a LEGAL requirement, it may well be a policy requirement or a requirement to get the job, but legal... not sure. Can you name any @BraddSzonye? (out of interest) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 10:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Outdoor shoots in many cities legally require a permit, which in turn requires insurance. For example, outdoor photography in San Francisco requires “$1 million ($2 million aggregate) of General Liability, $1 million of Auto Liability, $1 million for Employer's Liability and State statutory requirements for Workers Compensation” (filmsf.org/insurance-requirements). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BraddSzonye: That seems to be about filming, not photography. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 4:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Film SF handles both motion and still photography in the city, and the permit requirements are the same. Same is true in many other medium & large cities in California. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 4:58

As a professional you will be liable for your actions or negligence. Just like anyone else! If you're just wandering around with a camera, I wouldn't fuss too much. If you're setting up a load of lighting equipment, in a space open to everyone, maybe.


That was a good question - dido congrats! I joined the PPA - Professional Photographers of America...I am sure the U.K. has something similar. Then you can get liability insurance - some venues won't allow you to shoot without it. I paid $256.00 for the year and when I shoot at a hotel or establishment I request a certificate from my producer to add the name of the business as the certificate holder which is good for a year.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Libel Insurance"? Surely there can be no such thing! Or do you mean PII? \$\endgroup\$
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 13:02

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