Starting a business specializing in portraiture

Started Jan 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 23,512
England is a different kind of place.

The laws are different but so are the customs. And some things are similar.

To start; are you serious? Photography is hard.

Meet, via the web and the printed page, Martin Middlebrook. There are two; you want the photographer, not the historian.

Martin's been writing for a British photography magazine for a couple of years, and he is not a happy man as he ends his writing., leaves Afghanistan, and begins working for an NGO.

The point of reading Martin's work is to gain some understanding of just how easy it is to be a not very good photographer.

This link will take you to an extraordinary portrait, and his last magazine article:

Next, you have the misfortune to come into the forum a few weeks after much discussion about just how our profession is being hurt by mom's with cameras.

They are cream skimmers. and they are so unknowing that they do not even realize this. So were are mentally tuned to telling you the truth, not encouraging you to take business away, assuming there is much business in Birmingham.

I notice there are no pictures of people on your Flickr page.

What photography school did you attend? There are lots of university level multi-year courses to learn to do what we do.

Me? I'm in Canada. I was both an assistant to a wedding photographer and a wedding photographer for 3 years, shooting at least 40 weekends a year, and I was a freelance news photographer shooting just a few news pictures a month for the same three years, before going to university to study photography.

But I left after a year, and became an economist, according to the paperwork. According to the clippings, I became a newspaper and magazine photographer, reporter, and editor.

But I gather you've skipped the school stage.

That's not insurmountable. One of the features of Britain is the collection of well run masterclasses and mini-courses that I do not see being available in Canada.

Look in the backs of amateur and professional camera magazines. There are lots of ads.

www.Karltaylorphotography,co,uk is one course provider. Damien Lovegrove is famous for his courses.

Britain has a history of men photographers gathering together to take pictures of ladies without a full set of clothes. has been advertising for years. And offers courses, too.

Insurance; Look in the back pages of photo magazines. I have beside me an Advanced Photographer with no insurance ads, and a British Journal of Photography with tow insurance ads aimed at all kinds of photographers.


If people are hiring you to take pictures, you own the rights, which you transfer under varying rules in exchange for money. But they own themselves, so you cannot use their photos for your own purposes without their permission.

You have the choice of having signed agreements -- they do not be full of legal jargon -- or skipping the contracts and hoping neither you nor the subject complains about the use of a photo. Those complaints can get expensive.

"Model" sometimes has a different connotation in the UK compared to the USA.

In the UK, there's an open and popular business where women "models" (with the quotation marks) make their living posing for men who pay them to take their pictures purely for the fun of taking the pictures. So if you later want to use one of these photos commercially -- perhaps on a cosmetic surgeon's web site -- you'll need a signature from the model

In North America, most models are hired by the photographer or for a company that hired the photographer, and the purpose of the photos is commercial or editorial from the start. I call these "real models" and some of the best in the world are British, or part British. Penelope Tree, Jean Shrimpton, Kate Moss, ...

To take pictures of "real models" there will be complicated paperwork.

For family portraits, the subjects are subjects, or clients, or something else, but they are not what we call models. Usually a sales agreement covers all the rules.


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