Home / Photography Business Advice / Photographer Protective Network- Why you need one and how to build it!

Photographer Protective Network- Why you need one and how to build it!

You buy insurance for your home, your car, your health, your life… WHY would you NOT have insurance to protect your livelihood?  One of the FIRST aspects of building a protections around yourself as a photographer is making sure that you, your business, your equipment and your life are protected.  In the third edition of this series, we will talk about building a photographer protective network.  We hope to show you why it is important to accomplish this as soon as you start your business.

If you missed Part 1 of our Photographer Networking series you can catch up here!

Protecting your Physical Business/Equipment.

Protection for your actual business is pretty simple to accomplish.  Photographers need to protect themselves with the best insurance network they can.  There are many great organizations out there who are there to do nothing but protect photographers.  If you are the member of a professional photographer organization such as the PPA, then you have access to all kinds of benefits like the Indemnification Trust and Liability insurance.  Utilize the power of these entities.

Any type of insurance will require a financial investment but it is worthwhile for the benefits and protections they provide.  If you want to learn more about the PPA’s Indemnification Trust visit their website.  Having insurance provides protection for yourself again suit, theft and breakdown, as well as ensuring that your clients are protected.

Standard business insurance can be acquired from most major insurance carriers.  When you are establishing your business insurance, do not downplay the nature of your business’ holdings.  Even though many photographers work from home, most home owner’s insurance plans will NOT cover $20,000 worth of photography equipment that was used for business.  At bare minimum you should as your insurance agent about a separate rider for your equipment when it is being stored in your home.  At best, you should make sure that your agent, who is building your business insurance, realizes that your equipment is extremely valuable, more so than most work at home businesses.

Protecting your photography business’ man power.

Smart photographers have backup, for their backup.  We do this with GEAR and should also do so with man power.  Especially if you are a single member business, having a network of people who are close in vicinity to your locale is great support.  You don’t have to openly share all of your business secrets to have friends in the industry.  You can be friendly without allowing others to invade your business.  But if you really think about it, we are all in this together, as photographers, as artists.  If we don’t have each other’s’ backs, who will?

Building a protective network means that you may have to start by building trust between yourself and other photographers.  If you loan a photographer a lens, then you have given them a gift, and they will, in turn, remember this when you are in need.  If you show up to help someone, even if they offer to pay you, consider telling them “I would do this just to help our industry, when the time comes, you help me out and we will call it even.”  People, in their time of need, will remember those who were good to them.

Build your Protective network with relationships.

For me, as a wedding photographer, it was pretty easy to build my network.  Weddings are full of disasters and we are constantly stepping over other photographers in the “popular” wedding photo spots in our city.  Coming to someone’s aid or just generally being kind can lead to friendships.  A cup of coffee purchased or lunch group with other photographers is a great way to find kinship and build your protective network.

Once I was shooting a wedding and was just praying that I didn’t get the stomach bug that was going around my three small children.  I made it through the pre-wedding photos, ceremony, family photos, wedding party, all the way to the reception when I felt it…. The stomach bug… it was coming at me fast.  I was lucky enough that I had built up relationships with other photographers in my area.

Three phone calls found two photographers at their own weddings, but they third found a friend at home.  I described my situation and they immediately jumped up, got dressed and ran across town to help.  They photographed the entire reception while ran back and forth to the ladies’ room.  I did not miss one single moment on “film” and not only did this friend help me during the reception, they drove me home that night as I was too sick to drive and they brought all my gear in, downloaded, backed up and made me chicken soup.  So maybe you don’t have to go this far with every photographer you know but if you see someone in a pinch, use the golden rule!

Don’t ruin your network connections!

I once knew a set of photographers who had TONS of gear.  They specialized in sports and weddings and owned nearly every lens in the Canon brand.  They would “rent” their gear out to local photographers and used the rentals as a side income.  This looked like a great business expansion opportunity to them but they built up a reputation, in the area, of being greedy.  If they second shot for someone they expected to be paid.  While yes, getting paid to shoot should be standard, if you are helping someone out in an urgent situation, don’t expect anything.  Sometimes it’s about the good will and not the payment.

These particular photographers became less and less popular, people stopped referring to them.   Eventually most of the local area photographers stopped socializing with them altogether.  While their “rentals” boomed for a short period, their local area banded against them and not only their rental business dry up, it became very hard for them to ask for favors or help from others because they had charged people for their own favors.

Protecting your photography business from harm, theft, or disaster is smart and rather simple to accomplish as long as you do your research.  We are all in this together.  Be a friend, make a friend!   (Seriously our teachers have been trying to teach us this since grade school.)  Make building a protective network for yourself as a photographer a priority.  Photographers hold valuable and precious commodities (memories).  Protect yourself, your business and your clients!

Don’t forget to join us next week as we talk about social networking for photographers.

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!