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3 Ways to Protect Your Photography or Videography Business

Whether you have been a freelance photographer for years or you own a startup video-editing studio, you have a lot to lose in the event that disaster strikes. As a business owner, you don't want to see the wedding photography studio you built, for example, collapse under the burden of one costly lawsuit.

A solid business insurance plan will protect you in the event of a lawsuit, but many lawsuits can be prevented with a few simple risk-prevention techniques. This not only promises a bright future for your company, but it may also benefit your checkbook: Many insurers offer better monthly premiums to businesses with clean litigation records.

Not all photography and videography businesses incur the same amount or kind of risks. The best risk-mitigation techniques are built on a solid understanding of the unique threats to your individual business. Read on to learn how you can manage the risks of your photography or videography studio.

Risk Management Tips for Photographers and Videographers

There's a lot of variation between different photography and videography businesses, depending on where you work, how you work, and what services your business provides. But most photographers and videographers have at least two things in common: They rely on special, often expensive equipment and they depend on the patronage of clients. Below are a few tips to help you mitigate the risks associated with both.

1. Always give your equipment the care it deserves.

1. Always give your equipment the care it deserves.

As you are well aware, you can't do your job without your business equipment — the cameras, computers and editing software, lights, and other necessities that help you capture and preserve a moment for your clients. This equipment is very expensive — or sometimes impossible — to replace, so make sure to always…

  • Transport equipment safely. Always make sure you are using properly sized and locked cases for your cameras or other professional gear.
  • Store equipment properly. Make sure you are storing your photographic paper in proper light-tight containers and that developing chemicals are properly handled by all employees.
  • Know your equipment's location. If other photographers or videographers use your gear, make sure you enforce some kind of log to keep track of locations. If you are shooting on location, be aware of your surroundings and keep all equipment in a secure location.
  • Be especially careful with digital information. Memory cards and the like are very easy to replace, which could have devastating effects like the loss of your client's only prints and / or the potential for compromised personal information. Always be sure to back up your files and to store copies away from your photography or editing studio.
  • Get extra coverage for pricy equipment. If you own a piece of equipment that is very expensive or very hard to replace, consider adding more coverage to your Property Insurance policy.
  • Insure traveling equipment. If you travel for work, be sure that your insurance policy covers those items that travel with you.

Many Property Insurance claims can be avoided with a combination of careful risk mitigation techniques and proper insurance coverage.

2. Be Aware of Your Environment.

2. Be Aware of Your Environment.

In order to prevent accidents, you should try to create the safest environment possible for you, your employees, and any potential subjects. Whether you are in the studio or on location, stay aware of your surroundings and…

  • Listen to your subjects. Especially if you specialize in portrait, wedding, or fashion photography, always communicate with your subjects. Endangering their safety is never a good idea, even if it means nailing that "perfect shot."
  • Check your electrical system. Hiring a licensed electrician to check your system and setup will minimize your chances of fires. If you buy a new piece of lighting, make sure your studio's wiring is up to code. Properly secure cords to prevent trips and falls.
  • Do not take needless risks. Sometimes, when you're on the hunt for a great shot, you'll have to maneuver yourself into the right position. But don't forget to use your best judgment, and if your business requires you to take such risks, consider buying a Workers' Compensation policy to protect yourself in case of injury.

A photographer or videographer must be aware of their environment inside the frame, but don't forget to consider what is happening out-of-frame, as well.

3. Manage Client Expectations.

3. Manage Client Expectations.

Often, your chance of getting sued has less to do with the quality of your work and more to do with the particular temperament of your client. Since photographers are often hired to capture the most important moments of a client's life, tensions can be high. Be sure to manage client expectations by…

  • Gaining clarity. Before you begin a project, be sure to thoroughly discuss a client's vision so you understand exactly what he or she is expecting the finished project to look like. Take notes and save them for future reference.
  • Defining a schedule and project explanations. Give your clients a written document that outlines a schedule (if necessary) and explanations of any potential outcomes. If certain client expectations are infeasible, be sure to educate your client about the process, and explain why these desires cannot be achieved.
  • Maintaining a good relationship. A friendly relationship won't guarantee that you won't be sued, but it doesn't hurt. Always be respectful and honest with your client, and if an issue arises, try to address it as soon as possible. Keep the lines of communication open, and if a relationship starts to sour, be sure you have proper Professional Liability coverage — because clients can sue, even if you've done nothing wrong.

In the photography and videography business, your reputation is always on the line. You can't afford the mishaps that arise from unhappy clients.

More Business Insurance Tips for Photographers and Videographers

For more tips and tricks on how to protect your photography or videography business, check out "Five Costly Business Protection Myths" and "Four Things To Know Before Buying Insurance." And when you're ready to buy or revise your business insurance plan, contact an insureon agent who is an expert in the risks and needs of photography and videography businesses.

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