Become self-employed as a photographer

For many people, photography is not just a hobby, but also a job from which they make a living. Being creative when taking photos and making money at the same time is a dream for many. Nowadays, this seems to be easier to implement than ever, since the Internet and the boom in social networks such as Instagram or Facebook in particular offer photographers completely new possibilities . For example, by using these platforms for your own marketing .
If you want to start your own business as a photographer , you should not take this step out of the blue. Good preparation is the be- all and end-all for the project to be successful. Whether it’s registering a business start -up , developing targeted marketing measures or well-founded photographer training: we’ve written down for you what founders have to look out for when becoming a freelance photographer.

Who is allowed to become a self-employed photographer

Since January 1, 2004, according to Appendix B of the Crafts Code, the profession of photographer has been one of the professions that do not require admission (paragraph 18, paragraph 2). This means that the term photographer is no longer protected and professional photography can also be practiced without proof of master training. In this way, career changers can also become self-employed under this job title.

Becoming self-employed as a photographer: Founders should meet these requirements

If you want to start your own business as a photographer, you should first and foremost have a creative streak. Because creativity and a certain understanding of art are important prerequisites for photographers. In addition, a good power of observation and a sense for aesthetic design should be present. Sound technical and manual knowledge is also very important. Organizational skills and dealing with customers are at least as important as technical skills. A certain knowledge of human nature and very good empathy should also be present in order to implement customer wishes in the best possible way.

In addition to taking photos, the tasks of freelance photographers include the following activities :

  • do accounting
  • calculate prices
  • make appointments
  • Planning and executing marketing campaigns
  • Plan photo shoots and photo trips
  • Keep equipment up to date

Since self-employment also involves dealing with numbers, entrepreneurs should also have a certain mathematical understanding . This is required in particular for accounting activities as well as for pricing. After all, founders should be able to assess whether the foundation is financially worthwhile and whether they are on the right track. If, for example, prices are set too low or accounting errors occur, this can quickly lead to high costs and, in the worst case, to the company being abandoned.

Apprenticeship or study? How photographers acquire their know-how

If you want to become a freelance photographer, you should have good knowledge of photography . This includes in particular know-how in subjects such as exposure, contrast and image sharpness. Founders should also be fit in digital image processing. These are required in particular for commissioned work, for example for baby or wedding shoots.
But even those who do not yet have sufficient knowledge have the opportunity to acquire it. It is best if entrepreneurs learn the photographer’s trade as part of a well-founded training. Here they then have the choice between studying at a university or training in a trade.
It is also possible to teach yourself the necessary knowledge, for example through YouTube videos, and then to become self-employed. Nevertheless, it makes sense to do an internship before starting a business in order to gain an insight into the professional field of a photographer and to get to know daily routines.
In this way, hobby photographers can quickly check whether self-employment as a photographer is even an option for them.

Registration of the company foundation at the tax office or business registration?

If there is a plan to become a self-employed photographer, the question of registering the business start-up arises. Whether a business registration is necessary here or self-employment has to be reported to the tax office depends on the type of activity. In general, commercial activity must be registered with the trade office and freelancers must register with the tax office. In addition, a well-known rule of thumb for the classification of freelancers or tradespeople is: The more the work is about creativity and artistic implementation, the more likely it is to be considered freelance.

When it comes to the profession of photographer, however, the boundaries are fluid , because photographers work both artistically and technically. According to the case law of the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH), a photographer is a business person if his pictures primarily serve the advertising purposes of his client, even if they are published in newspapers and magazines (external link).
However, anyone who works as a photojournalist, for example, or only creates artistic photographs, can obtain the status of freelancer and does not have to register a business.
Whether a business registration or the registration of the company foundation with the tax office is due should be clarified before starting the business (tip: find a tax consultant ). Errors, for example due to a failure to register a business, can be expensive here.

Become self-employed as a photographer and create a business plan beforehand

Many founders still find business plan creation a tedious task to complete when it comes to applying for loans or grants. However, that is not entirely correct. Because a business plan primarily serves the founders themselves. By showing them whether their project is going in the right direction or whether it is going off course. A very well prepared business plan is therefore like a compass for founders.
In such a business plan , all aspects of starting a business are thoroughly examined. Founders also get to know the market and their competition and deal with the location of the company foundation and their target group.
In addition, founders find out what possible costs they have to reckon with, for example for photo equipment, travel or office rent. It is particularly important for founders to know the costs as precisely as possible and to keep an eye on them.
In order to keep an overview here, the creation of a financial plan makes sense. With such a financial plan, founders get to know their business idea from the economic side and prove that the business model is also economically viable and can be implemented.

Make yourself self-employed and play it safe with business start-up advice

If you want to start your own business as a photographer, you have to consider a few points . In addition to registering the company foundation, there must be a clear structure for the offers and a coherent concept. This can be achieved with a business plan.