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Thread: Protecting Your Photography Business...

  1. #1
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    Default Protecting Your Photography Business...

    I'd just had to ask this question in CS as I still consider it a home in my journey as a Photographer who just turned Pro this past year.


    I'm coming back to Singapore this year and I'm wondering how are the Pros in the industry protecting their businesses. What I am thinking of is copyright protections in Singapore (no doubt that I can read it from the garmen agency that overseas copyright related issues in Singapore) and Business/Equipment insurance.

    I have been trying to find out more about that on google but I could possibly be keying in the wrong words into the search engine. Some help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    This is the reason why I am asking the question....

    Today, I got a posting from a photography friend of mine who shared it from someone else on FB. I find it so relevant to all those who are starting out but not knowing what being a photography who is taking money actually involves. This happened to my cousin's wedding. The photog shot the wedding in film and none of the pictures turned out. Apparently, the winding mechanism on the camera was faulty and she didn't check it to make sure that it is working. So in the end, no images were produced for that wedding.

    Below is the posting on FB and I'm putting it here just in case you don't have access into it. I know that it is long to read but I think that it is very relevant to this sub-forum.

    You have your camera charged, and memory cards ready. You are getting ready to shoot your first wedding. You are sweating buckets because you are nervous, but you are excited for the opportunity. A new photographer who has had their camera for not even 5 months, you think you ready and prepared.

    You listed an ad for cheap wedding photography--$500 for all day coverage.

    You go to the wedding and you shoot. The day goes off without a hitch and you are loving this new "job"! The pictures on the back of the camera look awesome, and you can't wait to get home to edit the pictures!

    BUT

    The ball drops.

    You get home and download the images to find that there are NONE. The memory card that you shot the entire wedding on is corrupt. No images at all. This happened to me. I was a brand new photographer. I had my Nikon D70 for about 5 months, and wanted to start doing weddings. I listed an ad for cheap wedding photography, and found a couple that was willing to let me shoot their wedding. I was new and didn't know what I was doing, so we met up and talked about their wedding, and agreed I would shoot it for $500. No contract signed. No LLC to protect myself, nothing. There is no way that I would get sued, right? The bride and groom were super nice, and hey, he was a lawyer, so if we needed a contract he would have mentioned it, I figured.

    I took my camera, in P mode, with an 8gb card, and shot their entire wedding on one card. I couldn't wait to get home and see the images I saw on the back of my camera materialize in Photoshop. But instead, I got home and found that the card was toast. I had not 1 image from their wedding. I had to tell them that I had nothing. Talk about gut-wrenching. I knew I was going to give them their $500 back. That was all I planned on happening. Little did I know that my world was about to get rocked. I got sued. I had no LLC, I had no contract. Even worse, I had no insurance. Either I pay him what he was asking, or else we would end up in court, and I would have to pay an attorney, and that would cost even more. They sued me for the cost to rent new tux's, new makeup, and hair, new flowers, a new photographer, and other things. They sued me for enough to recreate parts of their wedding so the new photographer could take their pictures. It would have cost me more to fight it. They would be able to eventually put a lien against my house and more. I paid up. I paid almost $3,000 on top of refunding them their $500.

    I quit photography. It was my first wedding, and I was devastated. My heart was broken that this had happened.

    Over the next year, I practiced on my kids, and shot my friends kids, friends who were engaged...and just had fun. I learned my camera and abused it. I still had a passion for photography, but was gun shy and scared. I knew that there had to be a way to protect myself, but I had no idea. During that year, I did tons of research and I filed for an LLC. Even if I was going to be shooting my friends kids, I wanted to keep my personal assets like my house protected in a lawsuit. Then I met Rachel. I had decided to try one more time, but start with a free wedding. This time I had a contract. This time I shot the wedding on 4gb cards, in case something happened to one of them. This time I was an LLC. This time I had practiced for a year, and knew my camera. I was no longer in P mode, but in Manual mode. This time I had more then my kit lens to shoot with. Even with all those things in place, if someone sued me, I would still have to pay out. What if my gear broke? How would I replace it? I didn't have the money to just replace a camera if it broke. What if I tripped and fell and my camera broke? What if my cards went corrupt again? What if someone at the shoot got hurt by tripping over my gear or lightstands?

    I looked and looked and finally decided that if I was going to do this, I had to do it right and protect not only myself but MY FAMILY. That is when I got insurance. I decided to go with Package Choice through Hill & Usher. It was worth the small amount each month to have that peace of mind. I knew that if I got sued or something broke I would be protected. My family would be protected. In NO WAY am I saying that insurance is all you need. You need to have backups. You need to be prepared for the what ifs. You need a contract that lays things out, and protects not only you, but your bride and groom, or your portrait clients. Our contracts under promise and we over deliver. Our contracts lay out what they can expect from us. They lay out the time line on how long till they receive their images (which is always longer then we know it will take, but then you look like a rockstar when you get them out sooner then they expected), to what will happen if for some reason something happens to their images, or even if something happened to US on the way to a shoot!

    Going into the photography business can be risky and scary. It is not easy or cheap. And there are certain things that you just can not get away with not having. You need to protect yourself and your family. You need to know your camera and you need to know how to handle the what ifs. I was absolutely not prepared.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT fall into the line of thinking that I fell into, thinking that it won't happen to you. I mean, you're most likely right that it will not happen to you.

    BUT

    What if you are that small percentage that it does happen to? What if you are not prepared?

    I wish I could go back and change so much of what I did. (It is a huge part of why we are as open as we are with Pure.) The bride and groom forever do not have pictures of their actual wedding day because I was unprepared and untrained. I should have second shot with people before I went out and shot this wedding. I had no idea what to expect during a wedding day. I barely knew my camera. It was NOT fair to use their wedding to practice. I should have been a second or third shooter for someone else and practiced there. I am not saying that this would not have still happened, but at least I would have known to not shoot an entire wedding on one memory card. I would have known to have a backup camera and lens, even if I had to rent them. I ONLY use 4GB cards now and shoot RAW, so if something like this was to happen again... I would only loose 100 images due to the large file size on my 5d mark ii. Plus Rachel and I shoot together, so we are backed-up both in images and in gear. We have back ups of back ups now.

    My point here is do NOT ever think that it won't happen to you. Because, as sad as I am to say it, at some point in your career, whether if you are new or seasoned, something will happen at some point. Something you did not anticipate. The difference can be in what you did to prevent it, and what you do to learn from it, and how you protected yourself and your family.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    The story sounds a bit contrived and generic types floating around wedding forums.

    Nonetheless it has truth to it.

    I do have a true CSer story to share which relates directly to local context but now it's not a good time to bring that up coz wounds are still healing.

    Singapore is not as litigious as the US but had my lawyer wrote my contract covering those situations and more. I spend a lot of money paying my lawyer but in real business sense, if I have to go court, I already lost.

    Another thing is your repute. If Americans like to sue, Singaporeans like to complain. Words spread way faster than the queue at small claims court move. Winning in court doesn't mean a win at all. You could win the small battle but lost the war.

    So a lot of success in managing unpleasant situations actually came from soft approach like people skills and having high EQ.

    Welcome back soon

  4. #4

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    On copyright issues, we are not in as favorable conditions as the US. Copyright infringement in the US has a mandatory 6 figure punitive damage. Singapore does not practice punitive damages but rather damages are compensatory in nature. Thus often making it financially unworthy to pursue for small time operators or small deals. Most photogs are unfortunately considered small flys in the bigger scheme of things.

    So in Singapore commercial photography, finding good clients becomes even more important.

    For private person clients, copyright issues are seldom a problem or worth pursuing.
    Last edited by JasonB; 31st January 2012 at 11:43 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    Thanks Jason.

    Btw, what do you do about Camera insurance? AXA or something like that?

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    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    Quote Originally Posted by agape01 View Post

    Btw, what do you do about Camera insurance? AXA or something like that?
    unfortunately, I haven found any companies insuring camera equipments in Singapore.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    One thing I can say is, most people just jump right in after some accidental good shots which they are unable to reproduce consistently.

    Furthermore, most who started too quickly generally don't have any idea on how business work.

    You can never protect yourself enough, sure, you can get a lawyer to do the clauses but that protect you in paper but in practice, although protected, once you are sued, generally you will spend quite a sum for the case.

    Don't jump right in to any possible work but do work that you are good at or at least know how to do.

    There is a part in business that you need to deal with risk management, so do some calculation for the risk rather than simply take a plunge.

    Regards,

    Hart

  8. #8

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    My heart bleeds for the poor ill prepared fool who want to go do a wedding with out knowing what to do. If you do not know what to do at least know enough to check or what to do when sxxx hit the fan.
    Hey I would have been considered to be super ill prepared for what was my first wedding. At secondary 3, without having gone for a course, never done a wedding before, never shadow a pro for a wedding, shooting film camera with a non working meter - everything was direct flash lit which meant exposure should not be a problem (yeah youth) 'cos it was running on Auto flash mode on a flash just bought 2 days before the wedding. I lucked out as I was extra shooter- my friend sister already had a old uncle photographer hired to do the job. With much gung ho but little practical experience meant every thing had to fly on gut feel, it was fun. It was check film loaded properly, check rewind handle for tightness and that it move when shutter cocked, that flash fires. The bride still loves her photos she got from me more than 25 years latter - I am booked for her kids weddings.

    agape - copyright that they taught you in US still sort of applies - remember the basic rule always state what you want for your copyright in the contract and get the client to sign. There is no LLC cover or at least not the last time I looked. Gear coverage you have to find a broker to write you one - be prepared to pay handsomely. If you can stay in the US and work there for a while to get the edge in harden up may be the best. Just out from school, means just that the range of experience is not enough to jump in the deep end photography wise and business wise.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    Quote Originally Posted by ellery View Post
    My heart bleeds for the poor ill prepared fool who want to go do a wedding with out knowing what to do. If you do not know what to do at least know enough to check or what to do when sxxx hit the fan.
    Hey I would have been considered to be super ill prepared for what was my first wedding. At secondary 3, without having gone for a course, never done a wedding before, never shadow a pro for a wedding, shooting film camera with a non working meter - everything was direct flash lit which meant exposure should not be a problem (yeah youth) 'cos it was running on Auto flash mode on a flash just bought 2 days before the wedding. I lucked out as I was extra shooter- my friend sister already had a old uncle photographer hired to do the job. With much gung ho but little practical experience meant every thing had to fly on gut feel, it was fun. It was check film loaded properly, check rewind handle for tightness and that it move when shutter cocked, that flash fires. The bride still loves her photos she got from me more than 25 years latter - I am booked for her kids weddings.

    agape - copyright that they taught you in US still sort of applies - remember the basic rule always state what you want for your copyright in the contract and get the client to sign. There is no LLC cover or at least not the last time I looked. Gear coverage you have to find a broker to write you one - be prepared to pay handsomely. If you can stay in the US and work there for a while to get the edge in harden up may be the best. Just out from school, means just that the range of experience is not enough to jump in the deep end photography wise and business wise.
    Not related to topic but your post reminds me of the first wedding I attended on my own capacity I was 16 years old. My 18 year old romeo friend had impregnated a girl and so they had to get married. Everything was budget and the reception was held at HDB void deck. Photography was done by my 17 year old classmate shooting full manual Mamiya 645 on a tripod plus a Nikon FM - his father owns a photo studio and mini lab. 2 rolls of 16 shots 120 format and 2 rolls of 24 frames 135, softar filter on. Total only 80 exposures, all posed. Shotgun wedding friend paid photographer-kid $50 in angbao and got a great deal. Even negatives where given back to him. Life in the 80s were simple and sweet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB

    Not related to topic but your post reminds me of the first wedding I attended on my own capacity I was 16 years old. My 18 year old romeo friend had impregnated a girl and so they had to get married. Everything was budget and the reception was held at HDB void deck. Photography was done by my 17 year old classmate shooting full manual Mamiya 645 on a tripod plus a Nikon FM - his father owns a photo studio and mini lab. 2 rolls of 16 shots 120 format and 2 rolls of 24 frames 135, softar filter on. Total only 80 exposures, all posed. Shotgun wedding friend paid photographer-kid $50 in angbao and got a great deal. Even negatives where given back to him. Life in the 80s were simple and sweet.
    Wow, who paid for the format, films and printed photos??? Romeo was too poor right?

    I can't imagine having to load film every 24 to 36 frames with the number of shots taken nowadays.... If we're to take today's context, the photographer would easily need 20 rolls, thats about $100 just for the film ^^"
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    Photo kid helped lah. Angbao hopefully cover his material cost.

    In today's context, you calculated wrongly. 1 roll film average $8-10, and factor the fast rising cost due to problems faced by film companies. Develop is $2 to $10 depending on C-41 or some expensive chems for slides or BW, scanning another $30 to $50 depending on complexity. Material cost for professional film work is more like $45 to $70 per roll.

    Then you may still have to post process like digital - depending on how good scan colors comes out, clone away dusts for BW scans, etc. If you hire someone to do it, problaby we are looking at a possible $100 per roll just in base cost of material and labour, not $100 for twenty rolls - that's hobbyist's idea of the cost for his enjoyment.
    Last edited by JasonB; 1st February 2012 at 10:47 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    Quote Originally Posted by sinned79 View Post
    unfortunately, I haven found any companies insuring camera equipments in Singapore.
    None specifically geared towards photographers. But should be well covered by the products which cover business equipment.
    Search the sites of the insurers for the ones labelled as "property/equipment All-Risk", usually under the Business Insurance section.

    Examples:

    9. All Risks (Office Equipments)

    You can choose to insure office machines and equipments of high value or prone to damage or theft against accidental physical loss or damage such as fire, explosion, flood and burglary provided under an All Risks insurance.

    MSIG Insurance (Singapore)
    Coverage provided under TOTAL RISKS SOLUTION:

    STANDARD COVER

    Property All Risks
    Comprehensive cover to safeguard your property in the event of any accidental physical loss or damage resulting from a cause not specifically excluded.

    Chartis Insurance: Total Risks Solution
    Your business is unique. The type of business you do, the number of employees, the value and replaceability of your assets and the things that can go wrong are absolutely unique to your operations.
    TOTAL RISKS SOLUTION is developed and designed with a wide range of insurance coverage options that can be tailored to the individual needs of any enterprises – from one-man operations to major manufacturing businesses.
    Machinery All Risks/ Equipment All Risks
    This insurance covers accidental loss or damage to your business machinery and equipment.

    United Overseas Insurance
    Note: Not affiliated with the above
    Last edited by kandinsky; 1st February 2012 at 04:52 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB
    Photo kid helped lah. Angbao hopefully cover his material cost.

    In today's context, you calculated wrongly. 1 roll film average $8-10, and factor the fast rising cost due to problems faced by film companies. Develop is $2 to $10 depending on C-41 or some expensive chems for slides or BW, scanning another $30 to $50 depending on complexity. Material cost for professional film work is more like $45 to $70 per roll.

    Then you may still have to post process like digital - depending on how good scan colors comes out, clone away dusts for BW scans, etc. If you hire someone to do it, problaby we are looking at a possible $100 per roll just in base cost of material and labour, not $100 for twenty rolls - that's hobbyist's idea of the cost for his enjoyment.
    Then photo kid is really a great guy Factoring development of film, chemicals and printing on paper, that could easily cost more than the film..
    Of course, I meant $100 only a rough figure considering the possible cost of film at that time (sorry, I really have no idea how much a roll of film cost back then). Bringing in today's context only with regards to the number of photos to produce in terms of number of shots in quantity, excluding cost of development, chemicals and etc...
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    Default Re: Protecting Your Photography Business...

    Thanks so much kandinsky for providing us some avenues to insure our camera gear.

    Much appreciated.
    Last edited by agape01; 1st February 2012 at 07:02 PM.

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