Don't Shoot in the Dark
A Risk Management Guide for Self-Employed Photographers and Videographers

Chapter 1: Small Business Insurance Basics for Photographers and Videographers
Part 1: What Is Small Business Insurance?
How to Identify the Risks of Your Photography or Videography Business

Freelance photographers and videographers deal with a variety of risk on a daily basis. But what, exactly, constitutes a risk? Most business actions you take can end one of two ways:

  • A positive outcome.
  • A negative outcome.

These outcomes are determined by a number of different factors — some of which can't be controlled. There's always some potential for a negative outcome, and that's what risk is. In other words, it's any situation that leaves your business exposed to loss.

Most of the time, risk can be reduced. When a business takes measures to reduce its risk, it's called risk management. Risk management plans work by…

  • Identifying and evaluating potential areas of threat.
  • Determining which risks require action.
  • Taking steps to reduce those risks and prevent loss.

Every photography and videography business is different. Therefore, your risks should be assessed on your business's own terms. However, there are certain areas of risk that most photo and video professionals share. These typically include…

  • What you have. Owning a lot expensive gear is par for the course in this business. And since you can't do your job without your camera, lenses, recording equipment, lighting gear, editing equipment, and so on, you stand to lose more than the cost of replacing a broken lens or stolen camera body. You stand to lose revenue, for one thing. You may even lose professional credibility, should the loss occur right before a job. Additionally, some photographers may work with old, rare, or difficult-to-replace equipment, which ups the ante even more.
  • What you do. Depending on the type of photography or videography you specialize in, your business may be prone to certain risks. For example, professionals who specialize in capturing special, once-in-a-lifetime events have a special duty to uphold. These events tend to run high with emotions, and unhappy clients are the ones most likely to file liability lawsuits. Additionally, due to the ubiquitous nature of digital photography, there is a very real risk that your clients' images could be wiped out in one fell swoop.
  • Where you do it. Many freelancers must travel — sometimes extensively — to do their jobs. Simply driving a vehicle or working on someone else's property exposes your business to a host of liability risks. Further, some professionals, like photojournalists, must travel across the globe (or across town), sometimes to unstable or dangerous destinations.

Next: Part 2: Do Freelancers Need Small Business Insurance?

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