As a photographer, you have a unique perspective on the challenges that come with running a successful photography business. You know that success requires more than just artistic talent. You also need to understand the financial and administrative side of things, from keeping track of expenses and invoices to managing tax obligations. As an accountant who is also a photographer, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is to get these things right. In this post, I’ll share some tips and best practices that can help you run a successful photography business. So, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, read on to discover how to maximise your business potential as a photographer.

1) Know your cost

One of the most important things you can do as a photographer is to understand your costs. This includes not just the cost of equipment and materials, but also your time and other expenses like marketing and insurance. By knowing your costs, you can price your services appropriately and make sure you’re not selling yourself short.

2) Keep good records

As an accountant, I know the importance of good record-keeping. This is especially important for photographers, who need to keep track of expenses, invoices, and client information. Make sure you have a system in place to keep track of all this information, and consider using accounting software to make the process easier.

3) Use technology to streamline your business

Fortunately, there are many tools and technologies available that can help you stay on top of your business. For example, cloud-based accounting software like Xero, FreeAgent, or Quickbooks can help you manage your finances more efficiently, allowing you to easily create invoices, track expenses, and view financial reports.

In addition to accounting software, you may also benefit from using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, such as Dubsado or Studio Ninja. These tools can help you manage your clients and automate many of your administrative tasks, such as sending contracts and invoices, scheduling appointments, and tracking project progress. By automating these tasks, you can free up more time to focus on what you do best – taking great photos and growing your business.

4) Stay on top of your tax obligations

You may need to register for VAT if your annual turnover exceeds the current threshold of £85,000. It’s important to make sure you understand your VAT obligations as a photographer, as failing to register for VAT or submitting incorrect VAT returns can result in penalties and interest charges. If you’re not sure whether your photography services are subject to VAT, or if you need help registering for VAT and submitting VAT returns, consider working with an accountant or VAT specialist who can guide you through the process.

For VAT registered photographer, make sure you disclose your VAT number on your website and in your invoices, and be transparent with your clients about how VAT affects your pricing.

For income tax self assessment, MTD is not mandatory yet for self-employed individuals, but the government has extended it. If you’re already a VAT-registered sole trader, you’ll already be familiar with MTD rules, which became mandatory for all VAT-registered businesses earning over £85,000 from April 2019. From April 2022, all VAT-registered businesses will need to keep digital records and submit VAT returns using MTD software. I don’t want to bore you so better ask your accountant if you think you will be affected by this:

If you’re a sole trader (or landlord) earning over £50,000, you’ll need to have MTD (Making Tax Digital) for ITSA (Income Tax Self Assessment) compatible software in place by 6 April 2026. This marks the first phase of MTD for ITSA, with those earning over £30,000 being mandated from April 2027.

Under MTD, you’ll no longer use HMRC’s website to file returns. Instead, you’ll keep digital records and use compatible software to submit quarterly updates to HMRC from 6 April 2026. At the end of your fourth quarter, you’ll also need to submit an End of Period Statement (EOPS), and by 31 January every year, a Final Declaration that includes all other taxable income. You can find out more about what you need to submit for MTD for ITSA on the website.

Therefore, by adopting an accounting software tools now, you can ensure that you’re ready for the upcoming changes and streamline your accounting processes in the meantime. Even though you maybe are earning below the threshold, it is important to keep up to date with any changes to the MTD program and how they may affect your business.

Lastly, a good old tip for you is to set aside money for your tax bill throughout the year, rather than waiting until the deadline to pay. By planning ahead and budgeting for your taxes, you can avoid any surprises and ensure that you have enough money set aside to cover your tax obligations.

5) Hire an accountant

If you’re not comfortable with the financial side of your business, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As photographers, we often have a lot on our plate, and there’s no shame in admitting that we can’t do everything ourselves. Hiring an accountant can be a smart decision, as they can manage your bookkeeping, help you identify tax-saving opportunities, ensure that you’re meeting your tax obligations on time, and give you peace of mind that your finances are being taken care of.

I can confidently recommend where I work, which is at Henderson Loggie if you are considering hiring one. At Henderson Loggie, we have a team of experts in accounts, tax, VAT, and many other areas, who are dedicated to helping business owners like yourself succeed, with offices in Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen. But regardless of who you choose to work with, the most important thing is to find someone you trust and who understands your business. Remember, time is precious, and hiring an expert can free up more time for you to focus on what you do best – taking great photos.

Running a successful photography business requires more than just creative talent. It’s important to remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. Building a thriving photography business takes time, effort, and dedication. But by staying on top of your finances, embracing new technology, and seeking help when needed, you can create a sustainable business that supports your passion for photography. I hope the insights shared in this blog have been valuable to you and provided a roadmap for achieving success in your photography business. Remember to stay focused, stay motivated, and always be open to learning new things. With the right mindset and the right strategies, you can achieve your goals and build a thriving photography business.

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