Today this may sound like your Dad talking to you--so in honor of Father's Day, here goes!
I was reminded this morning of a conversation I had after I got my first real 35 mm SLR back in the late 70's. Back then, I was feeling so cool--knocking out color and B/W images of family, friends, and beautiful landscapes. I had shot weddings--for free--for a variety of friends and they were more impressed with my work than their paid photographer! I asked a photographer friend for advice on getting started in the business. He started talking about contracts, business licensing, federal id numbers, accountants, lawyers, and dangers to avoid. I wanted the tricks, the cool lenses, best camera body, and what toys I needed to have in the camera bag. He told me stories of equipment failures at the church, batteries that were suddenly dead, drunk guests that damage your camera, clients that split up after the wedding and refuse to pay their bill, and wedding venues that change at the last minute and you are not told, and on an on.
The story was--film is art and photography is a business. We all want to see the best and prettiest outcome; but as business owners, we need to be ready for any event. There are many legal requirements that artists are not imagining. As I moved from county to town, I needed a town business license. If I use my car, I may not be able to take the personal property discount for my now "business" car. Then we must be ready for the "I don't like these so I am going to sue you" conversation. Or the "you have 15 minutes to take the 120 poses on the list and we can't find the Bride." (That is 1 poses every 7.5 seconds.) And when you come to Tax time, you will find out about taxes you did not know existed.
Now I am not here to bring you down. But as my father told me, do a job you love but ask questions. Don't get penalized on a rookie mistake if you can help it. If you are taking money for a job--you are responsible for the work. The reason you build a doghouse or swing set is because you enjoy the work. But your house is built by those with training and the right equipment. So if you want to be a Doctor or a Professional Photographer, get the right advice so you can get the training and enjoy the work you do.