people ask me all the time one of the big questions they say is why aren't you doug good and photography you're so well known where'd it pat can come from well pat is my mom can is my dad it's a combination of both their names I love getting email for doug packin um but it's not my name it's my parents it's the two names combined and the reason they decided to go that route the reason we didn't make it gordon photography or something like that is the second you put your name on your studio what happens you become a seoul entity in the event that you want to move on and do something different in the event that something happens to you can your business run without you you want to make your business about mohr than you so if it's a studio name people are coming for the business for that brand rather than just coming for you and that's important so let's talk about the key essentials when we decide that we want to make a career out of being a photographer making a living from being a phot...
ographer what are some of the most important things that you need to do while depending on where you are in the world right now this could vary on be different so obviously I'm going to kind of tell you what I know but you should always go and seek out an accountant or an attorney to kind of help you set this up I cannot be held responsible for giving you legal advice so you need to make sure that you go to the proper people based on your area but the first and foremost thing the second you collect money to do this whether you like it or not your business no matter what so there are some key essential things that you need to know about number one what type of business am I am I someone who is just going to collect money and you're going to pay me by catch you going to pay me by a check and write it to me personally this should not be an option they should not be an option if you're going to do this you do it legitimately u do it the right way now in the united states you have something called d be a on what a d b a means is doing business as doing business as so with that being said doing business eyes you get a business idea number now in the united states in some states your business I d number is what your social security number which means if something goes wrong who's responsible you are you're personally responsible for it is a t b a a good idea I don't think so what you should be looking to do is form some type of legal business in the united states we call it a corporation I'm sure in other parts of the world it is a well there's various different types of cooperation as escorts the c corpse there's elsie's this species this is something you need to talk to an account in about but regardless you should become a legal business entity a corporation off some type why because when something goes wrong and it will you are not personally responsible for it I let you kind of go into my life a little bit and explain to you what I mean when I decided that I wanted to buy my parents out it was a very very kind of sad and tumultuous time in our life we weren't getting along as best aside like us too so it was kind of either you go where I go so you can imagine that's not so easy to deal with so one of the things that happened was when setting this deal up my parents had to look to protect themselves because who knew if I was going to be able to succeed at this and it was their future depending on me and I didn't like that they had to protect themselves because I was young and naive at the time I bought this business uh when I was twenty six so that's you know roughly almost thirteen years ago so here's the problem with that when I bought the business and they were saying okay if this goes wrong we're going to take the business back if you miss a payment we're going to take this back going above above and we need to have a life insurance policy and I need you to have this because obviously you're the whole business and something goes wrong all those good things so they could easily take it away so I had to protect myself too didn't I so what I did was besides buying that company I opened another corporation before I bought the company with a similar name my company's packing photographer I opened another corporation called pack dash on what I did was I kind of moved all of the assets into that other corporation so if something went wrong and they had to take it back what did I have I had everything because I moved it to the other corporation I was protected ah corporation is there to protect you that's the whole thing you need to set up a business to protect yourself from that one idiot client who's going to sue you for the wrong reason now here's the thing he's just being a business no you need to make sure that you're protected in a sense of having the proper ensuring insurance what would that be you should be carrying liability insurance at all times you should be carrying equipment insurance there's lots of things that happen you should be carrying liability insurance in case anybody of the falls down in your studio if anybody trips over you cabra bag if you happen to screw up a wedding one of the best organizations in the country to help you with this and they don't provide liability insurance but what they do provide it's a safety net for you is an organization called professional photographers of america on what they do is they give you an indemnification so if something goes wrong they won't their lawyers will help you sort it out they won't go to trial for you but what they'll do is deal with the person who's causing the problem and make it easier and you miss it if they don't go to trial what happens the whole idea is to never get to trial and that's an expense the pps and card for your membership fee so it's a great thing tohave but even more important is always looking out to protect yourself if you're not a corporation and you're just a d b a do you think your homeowner's insurance your auto insurance or anything is going to cover you I don't think so so businesses key setting up the proper type of business against me to an account and getting the proper liability insurance which is usually about a one million dollar liability policy you're thinking oh my goodness this is going to be so expensive it's usually about eight hundred twelve hundred dollars a year depending on where you are in the u s but it's crucial tohave I gave a class in my studio and I just rebuilt it I have a student group of twenty five students one of the lights full out of the ceiling and hits the student now was I freaked out I wasn't freaked out about being sued I was freaked out about oh my goodness she could have got hurt but I wasn't worried about being sued because that's what I carry insurance for on insurance is tricky we just built ah beautiful state of the art classroom about two years ago in our studio guess what we had sewage back up into this beautiful area am I stressed no because that's what insurance is for it's to protect yourself so become a business and looked to create a safety net for yourself that's crucial equipment insurance is that important how many times have you lost things how many times have you not had what you needed because something went wrong and broke this too different types of professional services with the cameras that are important you should join either cps which is counting professional services or in my case nikon professional services one of the reasons I love night console much is because as an an mps member I did not have to pay a membership fee unfortunately with cannon I had to pay a fee of the time to get expedited things I don't want to pay for that but I want to be protected if something goes wrong I'm able to borrow equipment when needed thes air all important little safety nuts that should be a part of your daily planning now some of the things that people worry about this tangible locations where you doing your meetings now are you doing them in your home are you dealing them on the road at some type of coffee shop are you doing with the people's homes one of the things you have to realize when starting a business is that giving a tangible place of business is key would you trust someone that you were meeting with the coffee shop if you knew nothing about them that you're about to give money to know know about it so how could we fix that problem if you can't let them come to your home if you don't have an office or if you're going to their home there's one safety net that always works and I'm gonna ask each of you your ola business are you accepting credit courts if you're not you're missing the boat one of the things that I see photographers do is they don't accept credit cards because why I don't want to lose the two percent I don't want to lose the three percent it's so easy you can take your credit card through into it through paypal just swipe it for your phone but why is a credit card important because it gives your client a sense of security we tell our clients to pay on credit card because number one I'm in a country that it's so in debt and we love to spend money on credit cards it's easier to get them out of a most stars like nine want cash on why the photographers want cash because why they don't want to charge tax wei don't charge tax we collected our job is to collect sales tax for our state do you know what type of penalties will a car if you don't charge shells tax are you out of your mind all it takes is one person was like oh my god I wantto learn I gotta start she's so wonderful she's excellent and their own wedding wired dot com they absolutely love you and she hooked me up and she didn't charge me tax make sure you ask her to pay cash do you think that there's not an I r s h or a sales tax agent looking at a chap board for things like that do you think you're not going to get court hey but guess what you book that job because you saved them one hundred dollars is it worth it is it good business again why collect credit card I'm going to teach you one of the key things about business now you should pay for everything with credit card mind you you don't mortgage the house with your credit card and run yourself into debt that's not what I'm saying what I'm saying is if you're going to make a purchase and you could pay for it cash then you should pay for it with your credit card and then just pay the bill immediately you could do it online why pay with credit card because american express is phenomenal isn't it because if something goes wrong and gets damaged within a certain period of time or any problem is american express is going to help you out depending on your card it well paying for credit card gains you miles so that you could go on vacation paying for credit with credit card gives you security paying what miles can allow you to shop in a store for less all of these different things is long as you don't run up a big credit card bill and keep building interest on it then you defeated the whole purpose but anything and everything in my life that I can pay for a credit card I wish I could pay my mortgage by credit card I would because the more miles with the amount of traveling I'm doing do you know how much I travel per year for free because I pay for things by credit card and I give myself a sense of security when something goes wrong and I don't like the way event is reacting what can I say I could say I'm going to dispute this with a mix now you could tell your client I tell my clients listen I want you to pay by credit card this way you feel safe that you've always made a good decision you feel safe knowing that I'm always going to do the right thing by you because if I don't you obviously have the credit card company in your corner I'm telling that's given I'm a pretty big vote of confidence isn't it so it's a matter of working and operate the guy's a business your mind frame needs to think you need to think is a business and realize what your expenses are here's the other thing about opening opening a corporation if you currently operate out of your house is a d b can you really write off any of it but if you open a cooperation and you're doing business out of your home will you be able to write a portion of it off whether it be a rent utilities or different things like that now I don't know exactly how much or even if any inside depending on states but guess what should you at least have that option every right off counts because most businesses are not going to make a profit for the first couple years at least the first two or three years so the point is you want to be able to write your equipment off now let me ask you a big thing don't answer it but think are you paying sales tax on your equipment because depending on where you are you should you don't use your resale number when you open a business get what's called a resell certificate and that means you don't have to pay tax but it doesn't mean you don't pay tax on equipment listen to what it's called a resale certificate resell which means in order not to pay tax you need to be re selling it and charging tax for it all you re song your equipment no you should be paying tax on it because here's what happens if wherever you're buying your camera equipment from gets ordered it because they get ordered it all the time to check these things and they see that you don't pay sales tax who's not going to come down on you on what you're going to get hit with this penalties and all those other different things these are all important key things you need to know running a business is about protection you run to keep yourself safe you protect yourself because if you make a mistake it could end you very very fast it could end you so fast your head will spin so number one we collect sales tax we do not charge it number two we pay sales tax what would we not pay sales tax on do we need to pay sales tax on albums or a lap prints no why because we're selling them on we're charging sales tax for them understand again you connects your accountant about what you may think but there's also different things operating a business means if you charge someone two thousand dollars to photograph their wedding and you made a thousand dollars profit but you had to look at and say well my expenses on this is this much should you spend that money before you completed the order but you probably dio that's what people do the longest time do you know why photographers take so long to deliver images because they did not have to pay them they didn't have the money they had the wheat for the next session to come in to pay for the session he already did running a business means you run with a sense of security that means that you have money in the bank see I was lucky when I purchased my business from my father my father and me a completely opposite opposite in the sense of my father was very conservative he had the bank accounts were filled with all the deposits he I knew that I was going to be the guy who went out and took risk and took chances and I was going to spend money because I believe you have to spend money to make money now in my case I got lucky it worked out but the fact is I would have never been able to do that if that money wasn't there to begin with you need to keep a nest egg always you need to operate because I know you're inclined to two thousand dollars going to take all that money out go and have a good time let me upgrade and buy a new camera let me upgrade in by the new flash let me upgrade and do things don't do that don't do that you need to keep money in the bank this way when it rains because right now you want a new camera I want it I love it I'm excited what about the day when you need it there's a difference what you want what you need are two different things so you need to focus on doing things the right way and collecting you need to focus on when you're doing a job and operating a business you need to know how to calculate your expenses we know that the album is going to cost me two hundred dollars and the prince is going to cost me two hundred dollars do you think that your total cost no how much would you get paid to be a photographer that day what are you worth I'm worth five inch dollars so now we got four hundred five hundred that's nine hundred dollars what about the fact that it's going to take me an additional ten hours toe edit and do all of this how much do I get paid well I'm going to pay myself twenty dollars an hour and that's going to be another two hundred so now you're up to eleven hundred then you've got a factor in how much electricity how much fuel how much this how much that your overhead expenses now what's average to do it what I tell people the way I calculate it is for every job whatever the cost of the job is to produce I a twenty percent in overhead is that too much to add I added anyway because I'd rather be over then under so now if I were twenty percent to eleven hundred dollars I'm adding another two hundred twenty two thousand dollars job of course thirteen twenty to produce now let me ask you something do you take the profit now in the beginning when operating a business you take what you need not what you want just because you said you were paying yourself five hundred dollars a day should you pay yourself you should try tio you have to give yourself incentive to do set a salary per job for yourself if you're paying yourself five hundred dollars a day to shoot you take on ly the five hundred dollars if you know that you're paying yourself twenty dollars an hour at it then you shouldn't take ten hours to edit you take two hours and pay yourself another forty dollars run it like a business think like a business act like a business work like a business work like I need to make this work because a business that's thoughts off really small I had a mom unpopped studio that when I went into it it was thirty one weddings for a total of twenty six thousand dollars we opened a store on a credit card and a dream with a twelve thousand dollar rent for the year utilities came out the fifteen thousand but we worked and I became a photographer and I pushed and I pushed and pushed and pushed my dad pushed and pushed them my mom pushed on my sister and my best friend of my sister's best friend and it went from being to three people upto over thirty where it's a business but here's the thing even know I'm considered a bigger small business now I still operate in the mindset of a small business in a way I work with people if you have a business you want one goal you wantto expand beyond you so I'm gonna give you the golden rule you treat people the way you would like to be treated do you know why my employees never leave because I treat them the way I want to be treated and better it's better to give and this applies for sales to a little bit more than you should have been a little a little less than what was expected it's better to give a little bit more than he should have been a little less than expected give mohr what mohr so here's the next question do you make the person who's working for you and employees or do you make them a subcontractor everybody wants to make them a subcontractor warren why would you want to make them a subcontractor percent sure but I think it's because of the taxes you don't scream taxes because advice tell you on paying you for hundred dollars I pay you for hundred dollars and at the end of the year in the united states I send you what's called a ten ninety nine and what a ten ninety nine what that means is that you're going to pay what you're all the taxes now you would say but wait a minute the taxes air coming out of lauren check but on top of that if you're operating is a business lauren if I'm paying hers and employee has to pay out seven and a half percent social security tax what do I have the matches your employer the seven and a half percent so I'm throwing another seven and a half percent that I also have to pay unemployment insurance on you have to pay disability insurance I have they helped insurance can pay all these so why don't make you the subcontractor guess what if I'm just paying lawyer knighthood can I make her a subcontractor no I'd have to pay your business if you don't have a business you have to pay a corporation you cannot pay an individual it's a subcontractor legally in most states you'd have to check this out but you need to make the determination to do what's legal you should meet with some type of account one point to make sure that you're doing things right doing things the right way now here's the other thing when operating a business we know that we want to get paid by one type of method but the question is how do we get paid when do we get paid do you want to get paid everything before the wedding it's an ideal dream isn't it to get paid all the money before the wedding ever happens but is that realistic you're going to find out when we talk sales this afternoon when we go into sales I want you to think about it now for a second if you're a bridegroom you're a portrait session is this a necessity or is it a luxury kind of a luxury isn't it if you're planning a wedding that kush twenty five thousand dollars when was the last time that you saved twenty five thousand dollars in a single year probably haven't done it have you so the fact is when do they have most money after the wedding but do you want to leave most money until after the wedding no but you want to get as much as you can up front so when we get into it later on with sales were discussing but realize you have to have a schedule which leads me to my next thing I said it with shooting I said it would editing what do you need to have we need to have a plan we need to have a business plan we need a vision off what it is we want to accomplish we need to have a goal we need to have a system we need to have all of it what is your vision jesse what is your vision where do you see jesse photography going uh I want to be the biggest wedding photographer in seattle you want to be the biggest wedding photographer in seattle so I want you to take a moment and think about it what does that mean you're saying you want to be the biggest in terms of what you want to be the biggest company and have the most employees because you have to realize when you get to a point is that necessarily what you want because at one point you're going to stop being a photographer and you're going to be a business owner your passion for this was because you love shooting wasn't it so if you become the biggest studio then you got to deal with all the other necessities I am the owner I am the president I am the person who shoots I'm the person who cleans the bathroom I am the personal handles human resource is I'm the personal handles complaints I'm the person who when they call in the middle of the night because the alarm is going off I have to go there all of those things and a thousand other little things is that what you want or don't you even think about all that stuff you didn't think about it there's a thousand things because remember the second you employees you become a totally different person because you may have it I have the best people in the world I love them we fight like you would not believe there's days were ready to kill each other we love each other to death it's the death but the fact is when you have these people you're their lifeline jesse you know what the hardest part of the entire job of doing it and if I had known about it I may have thought differently I can't fire someone I can't do it it's the absolute worst thing in the world the few people I fired the last when I fired took me almost two hours and I cried through the whole entire thing when I should have been consoling the person I was firing they were putting their hand on my shoulder and covering it up but I learned a good thing from a friend of mine recently on this is a lesson in life when you fire someone you're doing them a favor you're doing them a big favour because you're saying them you can't get away with doing this anymore I'm stopping you from doing it so when you go somewhere else it can happen you fire someone you're doing them a favour I never been days I walk into my office I see I see and I'm going in and I'm ready and I'm going to do it was going to do it I'm gonna do it I'm going to sit her down and I'm gonna fire it and then I go hi okay because I can't do it it sucks you can't do it that part of the children I didn't want to be an owner I am I consider myself a creative I love creating I know how to make money and artist shoot I know what a cell but I can't manage jesse if you're not doing your job rather than yelling you I'll do it for you do you know how much stress studies to yourself what your vision tony okay it's not you guys are giving me very roid plans aren't you you're saying what you want to accomplish but have you given thought on how to get there have you given thought talk to me uh it's okay to sir having given thought no in in the last two years I have bean trying to get a sense of what really wanna accomplish um and it's hard you can I say something to you over two years is too long you're thinking about it when you're driving you're thinking about it when you're getting a cup of coffee you're thinking about it while you're walking down the street sit down at a table write it out figure it out call me asked me what to do we'll see do you want to make this a career do you want to make it something that's a passion do you want to make something that's love do you want to really be in business what do you want to collect money on the weekends and be occasionally you know working because remember you may have a job and you may love it and it's great because you goto work you get a paycheck you go home there's no responsibilities but now you don't need to focus on that stuff but when you're your own business you know when this doesn't become fun when you need it it changes when you need it doesn't it everything in life changes when you need something if you don't need it it's no big deal but you need to make that money it changes everything ladies do we have any questions coming in or my boring a butthole not at all dag first of all I just want to say I am love and appreciate how you get serious when it's time to be serious you're you're hilarious when it's time to be hilarious but this is serious this is like that make her break it's make or break it's about making decisions so there have been many questions about business credit cards versus personal credit cards well it's very simple again you need to talk to an account in about this if you have a legal business and you get a business credit card when something goes wrong who's responsible for it the business or you legally now mija you getting the the credit card based on what probably your regular social security number but I'd rather have the business be responsible for that bill if I'm paying for business expenses on my personal credit card and I ever get ordered it and there's a problem that's an issue isn't it you don't want to mix it up I have multiple businesses do you think I want to mix up my credit courts if I have something in my real estate holding story want to pay for something inside my studio do I want to pay something for the studio inside the workshops and if I accidentally used the wrong credit cards what do I make sure I paid the bill with the correct cooperation my wife laughs at me because I'm obsessed with our credit card bills do you know how many things I pick up mistakes on credit card bills good old things make a world of difference like when you go have you ever been to a gas station sure you have you should tap off your pump you make it an even number no matter what even if I have the waste gas I'm going to top it off I don't want it to be thirty nine seventy six I wanted to be forty dollars I wanted to be fifty dollars why don't I do that if you care to remember if not that if one odd number pops up what do I know that's not my purchase my breast strong bills do you think I tipped with odd numbers if I'm supposed to give twenty per cent if it's twenty and a half percent of twenty two percent as long as I get to one even number do you know how many things I identify that aren't even numbers mistakes on paypal and different things like that I make my expenses even numbers smart is interesting very interesting always thought that was just like people who are kind of anal but reason behind there's a reason behind it's nothing to do with being you know what has to do because it makes it when you're creating the amount of expenses that I have I want to make sure that they're legitimate and you need to track every single expense now that's what's great about paying for credit card I'm of course the hotel the street the hotel there I want to pay for it by a credit card because I want to make sure that I have my expenses documented on both the credit card and on the receipt this way if I lose three street I always remember on at the end of the year american express sends me an itemized bill saying this is how much she spent on hotels restaurants all over everything in between you were diligent and I love it because I am so not this is very inspiring alright so megan nice says I'm an accountant and I love that dog is giving such solid advice to check with an accountant and do it right you have to do is no doubt
Doug Gordon is a New York based professional photographer, writer, and speaker. Doug runs Patken Photography, a family-owned studio with a staff of 27 shooting 1,000 weddings every year. Doug has been a professional photographer for 22 years and a
I loved every minute of it! I watched and re-watched the Live show 3 times and now have the video version to burn into my mind. I don't get sick of watching it, I learn something new with each viewing. I have notes upon notes, inspirational quotes and I was truly inspired. I saw you live at your workshop and I wish we would of covered the business section a bit more in depthly because after watching you here on creativeLive I was floored! I can't wait to attend another one of your workshops because you are a wealth of knowledge, energetic and you inspire me to be better! I'm so glad I wasn't afraid to try even though I was terrified at first. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being such an amazing mentor!
a Creativelive Student
Doug is AMAZING! The way he teaches makes it fun and easy to understand. The way he poses his couples are so fast and easy to learn, I have taken my photography from mediocre, to world-class. I would love to meet him and thank him personally one day. Thank you Creativelive for introducing me to Doug, and thank you, Doug, for introducing me to CreativeLive! The best community for learning!!!
Doug has so much enthusiasm, it is beyond measurable. He is truly a fantastic motivator. He helps you understand the best ways to work with the light you have and shows you some very simple yet effective posing techniques. I highly recommend watching and buying this course if you want some great advice on improving your photography.