Do I Need A Business License In Alabama For Freelance Photography

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Many customers won’t bother to ask for a business concern license earlier hiring a photographer for their project. Merely what if someone asks you for one? You can’t just stand at that place and fidget nervously while a potential client doubts your legitimacy as a freelance lensman.

Whenever yous first an online business, you demand to ensure that everything is clear and legitimate. While the lack of a concern license is non a deal-breaker for many customers, it could come in handy when you least expect information technology.

If you plan to create a concern out of your passion for taking good photos, this guide is for you. We’ll respond the question do freelance photographers need a business license and talk over why or why not.

Do freelance photographers need a business license?

So, do freelance photographers need a business license? The i-word answer, “yes.”

You need a business license to operate.

A business license is more than than just a piece of newspaper saying that you’re allowed to apply your photographic camera to earn a living. It protects y’all, your business, and your art. Let’s larn more about the reasons you should become a business license equally a freelance photographer.

When is it important to take a business organization license?

If y’all plan to offering services in your locality and plan to develop in your profession from a hobbyist to a professional, you lot should secure a proper business license. The proper certification is important.

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As you lot expand your business and start taking photos in unfamiliar locations, your clients might start asking to see your license. For case, the city of Milwaukee requires a license to exercise certain types of photography.

If you’re unsure if you demand a license in a location where you lot’re planning to shoot, you may contact the state or provincial licensing board and the local regime first. That way, yous’ll know the next steps towards running your business concern legally.

Mostly, in that location are iii chief reasons a lensman like y’all volition need to get a business license to operate.

  • Having a license will ensure that you lot comply with the laws in your location. For example, a license might be needed to file for sales taxes and exemptions due to concern-related expenses. It also assures your customers that you observe all relevant public health and safety regulations.
  • Second, a business license is an indication that yous are running your business legitimately. While a license does not signal that y’all are good at taking photos (yous will need a professional person certification as well), it is a sign that you lot are running a serious business organisation and that your customers tin can take your concern seriously as well.
  • Finally, a business license tin protect y’all. If you lot run a business organisation without a license, your local tax government or other officers can force you lot to append your operations or close your business downward birthday. Getting a license even before you kickoff taking photos volition ensure that you embrace all bases and are able to deport business legally in your surface area.

The difference betwixt LLC and a Sole Proprietorship

When information technology comes to setting your ain photography business, you demand to decide on your business structure. Most photographers adopt to register their business as a express liability company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship.

Some freelancers operate as an S corporation. Hither are some of the characteristics of each business model.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most mutual form of concern construction amongst professional person photographers. It is very easy to set upwardly compared to other business structures.

Y’all don’t demand to file any legal documents such as annual filings or manufactures of organization in some locations. Regardless of the procedure where you live, registering as a sole proprietorship means that the owner and the business are considered the aforementioned entity.

As a sole proprietor, you don’t need to withhold income revenue enhancement. Furthermore, you lot can deduct your concern expenses from your personal tax returns.

On the flip side, you lot tin can be held personally liable if your business loses in a legal dispute. The state tin can legally seize your properties to pay for any outstanding debt that your business organisation might incur.

Limited Liability Company

A limited liability visitor (LLC) provides a business organisation owner with the liability protections of a corporation. An LLC makes a distinction between the business organisation owner and the business itself.

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Unlike a sole proprietorship, if your business isn’t able to settle its obligations to suppliers, the LLC designation volition proceed your creditors from touching your personal assets. That can be a big plus for many freelance photographers.

For tax purposes, an LLC is not a separate entity from its owner. An LLC’s losses and profits are passed through to you. When yous file your personal tax return, you must study your LLC’south expenses and income.

South Corporation

The “Southward” in an S corporation doesn’t stand up for anything. It refers to Subchapter Southward of the IRS Code.

An S corporation is similar to an LLC in that the business concern owner is protected from personal liability. For instance, the country or your creditors are not allowed to access your personal avails if your business organisation cannot meet its obligations. All the same, the similarities stop in that location.

An S corporation offers certain tax advantages that an LLC doesn’t.

Shareholders of an South corporation are only required to pay income taxation on their wages (assuming that they are likewise salaried workers). In dissimilarity, an LLC concern possessor is required to pay revenue enhancement on the company’s net income.

It’s a modest technical difference. Nevertheless, information technology means that you won’t have to pay larger taxes every bit your company’due south revenue increases.

Which blazon of business registration is ideal for a freelance lensman? You lot could register your business as a sole proprietorship, then change into an LLC or S corporation as your business expands. It volition depend heavily on the size and type of services you offer.

Do freelance photographers need a business license

How to get a concern license as a freelance photographer

The process for getting a business concern license every bit a freelance photographer volition depend on where you live and where you plan to operate. I’ll walk y’all through the logical steps you need to follow and important considerations in the next few paragraphs.

Check the requirements

As I mentioned, a freelance lensman’s business license requirements will depend on where you alive. You need to check with your local Canton Clerk. Yous may also refer to the Small Business Administration website to become detailed instructions to secure a business concern license in your location and annals your practice as a business.

Yous only demand to use for a business license in your main identify of operations. You don’t need to register for a business license where you are temporarily providing a service.

If yous are non sure about your circumstances, inquire with a legal professional. Your lawyer can advise yous about where to register your business.

Choose your business organization proper name

A lot of freelance photographers are at a loss when it comes to naming their business. A expert business proper noun will attract clients and leave a lasting impression.

Also being the public face of your business concern, your business name volition also appear on your business license. Attempt to come up with a creative business proper noun that encapsulates the type of service you provide.

That concluding point is important. The incorrect proper name can crusade you to lose business.

You might exist a wedding photographer right now and use the discussion “nuptials” in your business name. However, the use of the give-and-take “wedding” might dissuade potential clients who would otherwise volume you for food, product, or fashion photography.

Many photographers just go with their name and “Photography”. For example, “John Smith Photography”. The proper noun is straightforward, versatile, and doesn’t exit whatever room for confusion about who runs the business.

Finally, you lot need to ensure that your business concern name is unique. Otherwise, you’ll have issues with clients who misfile your photography business with someone else’southward.

Make up one’s mind on your concern structure

As we discussed earlier, each kind of business organization structure has its ain set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some things to consider as you determine your business structure:

  • Commencement-up costs:
    Amongst the three types of business structures that we’ve discussed hither, sole proprietorships are the easiest and cheapest to set upwardly. You lot don’t demand to rent a lawyer to draft legal documents or file annual reports.
  • Liability protection:
    This is where LLCs and S corporations show to be meliorate than sole proprietorships. If your business cannot pay its debtors or goes nether, you still become to keep your personal assets as your business is a separate entity from y’all, the owner.
  • Taxes:
    This is where information technology gets a bit tricky. If you lot register your business as an LLC, yous must pay income tax on your earnings. On the other hand, if your business organisation is an S corporation or sole proprietorship, you simply need to pay the income tax on wages.

It’s easier to start as a sole proprietorship. Most freelance photographers start that way. But if y’all plan to expand your operations, y’all might want to consult with a legal professional.

Get an EIN

An EIN (employer identification number) is your company’s unique identifier. While it is generally not a requirement for small businesses like yours, you will need to apply for one when hiring employees or converting your visitor into a corporation.

Securing an EIN is an easy process that takes simply a few minutes, as long every bit you have all the requirements on mitt. You may either do information technology online, past telephone or by post.

Get insurance

While registering your business as an LLC or S corporation protects your personal assets from lawsuits, y’all still demand to protect your business organization assets from unexpected events. Business organisation insurance provides more comprehensive protection from catastrophes or incidents that result in liabilities.

The SBA lists six types of business organisation insurance:

  • General liability insurance:
    This protects you from financial loss due to belongings impairment, injury, medical expenses, lawsuits, libel, or settlements.
  • Product liability insurance:
    This protects against financial loss caused by a lacking production that results in actual harm.
  • Professional person liability insurance:
    This protects you lot from financial loss as a result of negligence or malpractice.
  • Commercial property insurance:
    This protects your business organisation against loss and damage to property caused by calamities or disturbances.
  • Dwelling-based concern insurance:
    Many homeowners’ insurance providers besides offer additional coverage for some business concern equipment and liabilities.
  • Business organisation owner’south policy:
    Some insurance providers combine some or all of the insurance coverages listed higher up. This saves you time and money.

Most small businesses similar yours purchase general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, and production liability insurance. However, you don’t demand all of them right away.

Consult your insurance agent to discover the coverage your photography business requires.

File for your business license

Many states don’t require a business license for a artistic business such as photography. If you live in a land that does require a business license, most states and cities permit you to file for your business license online.

Do freelance photographers need a business license In Michigan, for case, yous aren’t required to secure a business license. However, the state of California lists quite a few licenses yous demand to operate a business organization, such as a business tax certificate, occupational rubber and health, and the registration grade for employers on top of industry certification.

The application process itself doesn’t accept too much fourth dimension. As long as you take all the required documents ready and take filled out the application forms correctly, you can go your business license anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. The price as well varies according to the type of business and the location.


Do freelance photographers need a business license? It depends on where you plan to do business and whether you plan to hire employees. Some states and cities don’t crave a full general business organization license for a photographer, while others accept a host of requirements that photographers accept to comply with.

If you’re in doubt about getting a business license, information technology’due south always better to err on the side of caution and apply for one. Trust me – a business license makes doing business a lot easier.

Hopefully, this guide will provide you with useful insights and resources effectually if freelance photographers need a business concern license. All-time of luck with your freelance photography concern!

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Millo Articles by Jimmy Rodriguez

Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade ecommerce solution. He’due south defended to helping net retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that bulldoze conversions and improve business performance.
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