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Top Pitfalls For Professional Photographers and Their Businesses

December 15, 2015

A photography business can be a wonderful outlet for your creativity. You may have the opportunity to capture the joy on a groom’s face as he watches his bride walk down the aisle, or to document the wonder in the eyes of a preschooler who sees her newborn baby brother for the first time. You’ll preserve the precious memories that families will treasure for generations to come.

Making your living as a photographer may seem like a dream come true, but there can be pitfalls to managing this type of small business. Here are a few situations in which a dream assignment turned into a nightmare.

The case of the disappearing great-aunt
A wedding photographer hired a new assistant to help out with a large wedding. At one of the pre-ceremony meetings with the bride and groom, the groom mentioned that his elderly great-aunt, who lived quite a distance away, would be attending the wedding. He stressed that it was very important that she be included in the family photographs. The photographer neglected to pass this instruction on to the assistant, who was tasked with taking the posed photos of the groom’s side of the family, and no one mentioned it on the day of the wedding. When the bride and groom saw the proofs, none of which included the great-aunt, they sued the photographer for negligence.

The toddler tornado
A family came to a photographer’s studio to have a family portrait taken for their annual holiday card. While the mother was attending to the fussing baby, and the father was trying to keep the preschooler from wrinkling her dress, the toddler began running around the studio. Eventually, he tripped over a tripod and went headlong into the corner of a storage unit. In the fall, he cut his forehead, necessitating a trip to the emergency room for several stitches. The parents made a claim against the photographer for bodily injury.

Memory card failure
A photographer was hired to take photographs at a fiftieth wedding anniversary party. Hundreds of shots, both posed and candid, were taken according to the wishes of the anniversary couple’s children. When the photographer returned to her studio, she discovered that the memory card in her camera had failed, and all of the photos were lost. The family made a claim for negligence as well as emotional distress as a result.

Scenarios such as these can be devastating for a client, and for a photographer as well. To protect your photography businesses from these types of situations, consider liability insurance for the risks that photographers face.

What does liability insurance cover?
There are two basic types of liability insurance that photographers should consider. General liability insurance covers damage to someone else’s property or bodily injury to another person. If you damage an item in someone’s home while you are there taking pictures, or if someone gets hurt in your studio or as a result of your equipment, general liability insurance could protect you.

Professional liability insurance covers damages due to your failure to provide contracted services, or providing them incorrectly. Not taking the correct pictures or losing the images due to a technical malfunction would fall into this category.

If you own a significant amount of equipment that you use to do your job—and what photographer doesn’t?—you should also consider a Business Owner’s Policy. This type of policy protects the equipment you use, including cameras, computers, printers and so on. If your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged, a Business Owner’s Policy will get you back in business fast.
Remember that, even if you are operating your business out of your home, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover damages that occur as a result of your business. It’s critical to have the correct insurance to protect your business and your livelihood.