Starting a photography/video business

TallPhotoGuyTallPhotoGuy Registered Users Posts: 160 Major grins
edited March 18, 2015 in Mind Your Own Business
I have kids that play high school and club sports. I do a significant amount of work with photos and videos that I post on my Smugmug site. Parents love the stuff and I usually give it away for free, though many can I pay you, you should charge, etc.

I was thinking of doing just that, start a business. Not in it having to make money, but doing so to not leave money on the table. It would be a modest investment, say less than $5K a year in eqpt and say roughly the same or less in income, probable much less.

The real benefit is I can write off my costs as I am sure that will be greater than my income. Yes I am sure at some point the IRS wants to see a profit. By then the kids have graduated and are off to college. At that point continue the business or shut it down.

Since we travel quite a bit maybe write off some travel The teams have web sites and I can put links to my biz if they want to purchase prints.

Is the above thinking and biz plan viable,etc.

Comments

  • ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,721 moderator
    edited March 3, 2015
    Sadly, I doubt many parents will spend the money.

    As far as the IRS is concerned, you should seek advice from someone qualified to give it. The penalties could be severe if you get it wrong.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • mercphotomercphoto Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited March 3, 2015
    You're treading down a path that's not worth the hassle. Either keep it as a free hobby, or go serious down the business path. Something inbetween like you are proposing is simply not worth the headache.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • johngjohng Registered Users Posts: 1,658 Major grins
    edited March 4, 2015
    Just keep doing it for free on your terms. You can write-off equipment costs it is true but you likely won't make the $5,000 a year you plan on spending. You'll spend a lot more time shooting/processing/uploading and end up pulling in much less than you think you should. Those same parents telling you that you should charge money will end up buying once from you and never again because they realize they don't value your photos enough to pay real money for them (not a knock on you at all). I will say this - when I was still running my sports photography business I realized selling online was the worst possible way to do it. If you want to do that have them pay you up front to shoot a game and deliver the disk of images. It is a much better and more efficient business model. You'll lose paying customers that don't want to go through the hassle of ordering on line or just want a photo and don't want to pay shipping.

    But, in the end, I found most parents are like me - how many photos do I really need of my son playing basketball? The answer is - not very many. I would suggest you are likely to follow thousands who went before you - and between 1 and 2 years down the road you'll figure out you've spent a lot more time and money than you made and that time could be better spent doing other things (even if those other things are just watching and enjoying the game your kids are playing in).
  • GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
    edited March 5, 2015
    I have kids that play high school and club sports. I do a significant amount of work with photos and videos that I post on my Smugmug site. Parents love the stuff and I usually give it away for free, though many can I pay you, you should charge, etc.

    I was thinking of doing just that, start a business. Not in it having to make money, but doing so to not leave money on the table. It would be a modest investment, say less than $5K a year in eqpt and say roughly the same or less in income, probable much less.

    This is a very repeated story. It never works out.
    Talk is cheap, no matter how little you ask for your pictures, in the view of the parents, they will always be too much to pay for.
  • Tom FosterTom Foster Registered Users Posts: 287 Major grins
    edited March 5, 2015
    To add to this, I don't know if it's just me but I often get people saying they'd like a print of whatever picture and I give them a link and information on how to order but never hear back again!
  • mercphotomercphoto Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited March 5, 2015
    People often say "you should charge" but rarely say how much (or how little) they think you should charge. Hint...
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • jonh68jonh68 Registered Users Posts: 2,711 Major grins
    edited March 6, 2015
    As others have said, people who say "you should charge" rarely actually buy. They actually mean they hope someone else will pay, but hope you still give them free photos.

    If you go this route what will probably happen is you will resent all the time you put into this and getting little in return. You may enjoy the attaboys and thank you's from the parents now, but once that wears off you are left with hours of actual shooting and then hours of editing. Then you get the demands of parents wanting this picture and that picture so you end up spending more time on that.

    My advice is to shoot your kids but shoot less and enjoy the actual moments of them playing. After awhile the pics start to look the same. Share the moments with them instead of looking through a camera.

    If you are determined to charge, get money upfront. If you want to make money after your kids leave, use this as a way of being the picture guy for the school and work on senior portraits. Use the sports to stay visible.
  • GlortGlort Registered Users Posts: 1,015 Major grins
    edited March 13, 2015
    jonh68 wrote: »
    If you go this route what will probably happen is you will resent all the time you put into this and getting little in return. You may enjoy the attaboys and thank you's from the parents now, but once that wears off you are left with hours of actual shooting and then hours of editing. Then you get the demands of parents wanting this picture and that picture so you end up spending more time on that.

    My advice is to shoot your kids but shoot less and enjoy the actual moments of them playing. After awhile the pics start to look the same. Share the moments with them instead of looking through a camera.

    I fell into this trap with my own kids.
    Shot them and then a parent asks you to shoot their kid and then someone else sees those pics and asks if you shot their kid and pretty soon your shooting the whole damn team and watching another kid to get a shot of them and missing what your own kid did. Then you have tons of files you have to sort through to find the pics of your kids taking up space on Your HDD's you couldn't care less about. Minute you delete them, someone wants a pic from 6 months ago and acts like you commited a heinous crime because you have now deleted them, even if the pic was from last season and they never mentioned it before.

    Next thing is you get one of " THOSE" parents complaining you got a bunch of great shots of the star player and none of their junk food quaffing useless back ender that is over extending their Physical ability just walking on and off the field let alone actually contributing to the game and doesn't want to be there anyway..

    Ya.
    I got lucky. My kids changed Clubs after I learned my lessons so I was able to make a fresh start. Let the parents know I was a full timer and produced one, single copy of a price list at the beginning. That killed all requests before they began except from the couple of parents that really were willing to pay. asked for money up front and got it and had no problems. Funny enough, they were the ones my wife and I developed friendships with outside the sport and the got their pics for nothing even though they still thought it was my living and they should pay.

    I was back to shooting my own kids for fun and enjoying it. It's amazing how trying to do the right thing by people backfires and bites you in the backside.

    I remember one occasion my daughter played in a schools soccer comp. One mother from another school came over and asked If I could do some pics of her kid. Said she was happy to pay for them. I took the shots and put them on the net and miracle of miracles, got an order. Requested CC or DD payment and got none. Couple of weeks later I got an email threatening legal action if I did not send her the still admitted unpaid for order.

    Professionalism or politeness did not in anyway interfere with the directness of my reply to her. rolleyes1.gif
  • MomaZunkMomaZunk Registered Users Posts: 421 Major grins
    edited March 18, 2015
    This was my thinking 4 years ago....I justified purchasing the 70-200 and more equiment...
    Do it if...you want to start a photography business and you can use the sports photos as the loss leader to get your name known as a photographer.

    I started just doing sports pics as you are suggesting. Parents and the kids want to see the pics, but not necessarily buy. They have no qualms about saving your watermarked pic to their hard drive or phone. I actually had a coach of my son's team grab photos from my site and make collage 8x10's for each of the boys for the end of the season. This was someone I respected and probably would have done the collages, but this really slapped me across the face.

    The sports stuff (and school events) has lead to other work, and I now do some smaller leagues for the Team and Individual pics (where the money is), portraits, events, and now Google tours. As my son is now in high school, I am getting a lot of inquiries for senior pics. If I was not focusing on the Google tours, I would probably shift towards the senior pics.

    As for my own kids sports: Baseball, softball, and soccer, I shoot a few games a season and post them for folks to purchase, publish them to facebook to share (generates more leads), and do not expect to really see any purchases. For me this is all about advertising my other services. I do get hired to shoot other games, but I get paid for the game up front, and provide the images via a download link.

    As for writing off your stuff on your income taxes, you have to show that you are really trying to make this a business, and not just sheltering income. This means you have a website and are marketing your services. You also have 3 years only which you can show a loss for the business. Your chances for getting audited go up as well.

    I enjoy getting paid for my photos. It drives me to get better. Lord knows I have greatly improved over these last 4 years. Not to mention I want to buy more stuff! I really need that 300 mm 2.8!

    And those are the ramblings from a ShortPhotoGal....
Sign In or Register to comment.