Opening up a photo business in VA - LLC paperwork, getting a license, what to charge and more


You might be shooting for a while and getting clients, but have you every stopped to think what would happen if you got in trouble with the IRS or a lawsuit?

Let me give you some practical steps to protecting your business, your family and staying organized in a sea of photographers that are “hobbyists” but still doing a “business” by taking money.



These steps are what I took in the state of Virginia. Your state might have different laws. First things first, apply at the SCC for an LLC https://www.scc.virginia.gov/ PLEASE don’t go to https://www.legalzoom.com unless you want to PAY DOUBLE!

Also, use your state’s government website, don’t fill out a random site’s paperwork... it could be a scan!


After filling out the paperwork with the SCC, then you take you EIN (tax number), LLC certificate and your ID to your local city hall (This is how my city, Chesapeake, does it. If your city is different, call ahead first) and there is where you get your business license.

make sure you use your actual city’s city hall government website and NOT some random site you google

Then if you are registered a trade name, or a DBA (doing business as name), you are sent to your local court house to file.


Now, you can apply for a separate business banking account that is different than your personal assets (just in case you get sued)


You can get business insurance through places like the https://www.thehartford.com/, https://www.hiscox.com or even through https://insuranceforppa.com/Now you can protect your gear and your business in case of a horrible incident. How do you stay organized with all your receipts, mileage and income?


https://quickbooks.intuit.com/oa/self-employed is probably the best decision that I made last year and now organizing all of my business paperwork and taxes is a breeze! Have questions?


Then you can start having some fun creating a website (I highly recommend WIX (www.wix.com)

Get a Facebook page, connect it to your business Instagram page but watching this video here

https://youtu.be/tbZ7PKFdoas