Top Photography Business Questions Answered | Photography Educator and Mentor


Wedding photographer Nicole Leanne directing wedding party for photos.

As I mentor photographers and creative entrepreneurs, I keep a list of their questions in order to make better resources for others. With those questions, I noticed a pattern of repeated questions, so I made a list of the top questions and I'm answering them for you! As there was a multitude of top questions, I created two blogs. You can check out the first one here that goes over top editing and marketing questions!


This blog dives into how to create a legitimate and legal business, which is often a hot topic for newer photographers. It's essential to start your business off right, and legal, to ensure that you and your clients are protected. Then, oftentimes as photographers or creative entrepreneurs get established in their business, imposter syndrome sets in. You'll find my answers on how to overcome imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence below!


As you're going through each question and their answers, if you have any specific questions, you can reach out and ask me! Alright, are you ready? Grab your favorite drink, I'll be sipping on my chai tea, and let's get into the good stuff!


Sunset commitment ceremony photographed by Nicole Leanne Photography in Metro Detroit.

How do I make my business legitimate?


If you're a photographer, this is step one in your business! If you started photography as a hobby that slowly progressed into a business and now you're a few years in without being a legitimate business, put this at the top of your to-do list! I have to say this caveat, I am not a lawyer. I cannot provide legal advice. However, I am a professional photographer who has been running a legitimate business since 2012, from day one. I didn't have a mentor to guide me, so Google was my best friend when I started my business to ensure that everything was done properly. My parents owned two businesses in the past, so they instilled into me the importance of running a legitimate and legal business.


The topics below don't cover every aspect, but it is great groundwork to start from!


Register Your Business


In Michigan, you can register your business with your county as DBA or with the state as an LLC. A DBA is a sole proprietorship and an LLC is a limited liability corporation. A DBA is quicker and cheaper; however, there is no liability coverage. An LLC takes a bit more time and effort but your business name will be protected and registered at a state level, plus you'll have liability coverage.


Open a Business Bank Account


Once you have a legal business entity, DBA or LLC, set up a business bank account, It’s free at most banks and will help you ensure that your finances are properly documented and organized. It's important that come tax time, you have a list of all of your earnings and expenses.


Get Your Taxes In Order


Whether you're a DBA or LLC your business taxes will be done on your personal tax form. You will likely file a 1040 or 1040 ES, which you can do with an accountant or turbo tax. I use Quickbooks Self Employed to keep track of my expenses and income. It connects with my bank account and client management system, Honeybook, so that I can keep all of my invoicing in one place! Quickbooks, or your accountant, can give you estimated quarterly tax statements. I pay taxes quarterly and at the end of the year, give my Quickbook statements to my accountant to review and process my taxes.


Purchase Insurance


You can ensure your equipment at home through your renters or home insurance, but that only protects your equipment in the home. If you are photographing outside of your home, you'll want to get basic insurance for your equipment so that it’s covered. I would recommend getting liability insurance as well, especially if you aren't registered as an LLC. If you photograph weddings, liability insurance is a must. Many venues in Michigan require all vendors to have liability insurance. I use The Hartford for my equipment and liability insurance.


Use Contracts (For Every Session)


Yes, every session, including family and friends. Even if a client is a repeat client and signed a contract once, you need to make sure you have one for every session. The contract isn't just for the client, it's for you too. It protects you and keeps you accountable for the services you are offering. My CRM, client relationship management, sends contracts electronically. This is convenient for the client, but it also stores them electronically so I'm not worried about losing papers. Still, I would recommend always back up anything stored electronically.


Black an white image of couple signing marriage license. Photographed by Nicole Leanne Photography.

How do I overcome imposter syndrome?


Oh, the infamous imposter syndrome. This is something that almost every creative entrepreneur encounters, whether at the beginning of their career or once they're more established. Let's start by defining it first! According to Harvard Business Review, "Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments." Any other high-achievers out there? Even though I teach my mentees about how to overcome imposter syndrome, I often have to remind myself!


Knowing Your Why


When you have imposter syndrome, you feel that you don't know enough or aren't good enough to be doing what you are doing. You are comparing what you know and your abilities to everyone else. To overcome imposter syndrome, you want to get to the root of why you feel inadequate and why you constantly compare. As a recovering perfectionist, I'm prone to comparison. I often have to remind myself to focus on what I'm doing rather than what others are doing. It may take some time and some soul searching to determine your why, but it's important to understand the underlying cause. I bet when you figure out what it is, it's a total lie. Remind yourself that you are capable, talented, and unique. Remembering what makes you unique and what you can offer to your clients that no one else can help you to stop comparing.


Define Your Success


As you work on understanding your "why", you have to stop comparing, especially comparing what you see as "success." Your success cannot be equal to the sum of everyone else’s successes. Repeat that to yourself a few times.


Know that everyone has a different definition of success. My definition of success isn't hitting six figures in my business, driving the nicest car, or being so booked that I have no time for anything else. My definition of success includes being present, putting my family and my health first, and focusing on my clients wholeheartedly rather than gaining all the clients. I've had a successful day if I'm impacted someone in a positive way, if I've loved deeply, and if I've taken care of myself and my family. Take some time to redefine your definition of success and consider what you truly value.


Build Confidence


Having confidence in yourself and your business is crucial to your success and will also help you overcome imposter syndrome. I believe confidence is such an important aspect of your business, that I created an entire guide on it! You can grab my confidence guide here. One of my favorite quotes by William Hazlitt is "As is our confidence, so is our capacity." So, be confident! Know yourself, love yourself, stop caring about what others think, let go of fear, let go of failure, and simply be you.


I believe that with confidence, you can truly fake it until you make it. If you feel totally unconfident in yourself and your abilities, just act confident! Hold your head up high, act like you know what you're doing (because you likely do), and tell yourself that you've got this! You'll notice after some time that the "acting" becomes believing. It's also important that you stop caring what others think, as that will hold you, and your confidence, back. Others do not dictate your success, you do. Remember, your thoughts are your worst enemy and will hold you back more than anything else, so reframe your thinking and beliefs about yourself. If you're feeling totally uncertain about gaining confidence, reach out! I'd love to talk to you one on one about what areas you're struggling with. I truly want to help you reach your full potential and be fully yourself.


"Nicole offers a lot of great advice, sharing what works best for her business and she does a great job instilling confidence in her mentee. Nicole never made me feel anything but confident. I really appreciate Nicole’s approach, she’s very organized and personable. It’s evident that Nicole has a passion for teaching others and doesn't hold back any information. All of our time was well spent and it was so so valuable."


- Kat Cotton Photography


"Nicole has such deep and passionate talent. Not only was she so genuine and kind, but she provided me with a wealth of knowledge. She brought to the table such unique insight on branding and demonstrated how I could set myself apart from the crowd. Not only did she help build my confidence, but she gave me as much valuable knowledge as she could on all things photography."


- Katie, Hawkeeye Photography


"Nicole is a true educator. Having the opportunity to meet with her has boosted my confidence in turning a hobby I love into a full-time business. She was so patient and encouraging while walking me through the items required for starting up my photography business. I cannot wait to continue our sessions as I continuously work to grow my business!"


- Christal Horneck Photography


Wedding photos at Eastern Market in Detroit. Photographed by Nicole Leanne Photography

How do I learn more?


If you want to take a deep dive into these questions, jump into other topics, or even book a mentorship session but are unsure what other education I can offer you, take a look at my hot topics below!

Branding Consultation

How to uplevel your business with branding beyond the aesthetics!

Behind the Scenes Business

How to create seamless workflows, develop strong client communication, and manage it with ease.

Wedding Photography

How to get started in the wedding industry, create an experience with value, and capture raw emotions.

Marketing Strategy Deep Dive

How to strategize blogging, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and email marketing.

Equipment and Editing

How to overcome insecurities with equipment + editing including flash photography and lightroom tutorials.


If you'd love to learn about one of these topics or something entirely different, reach out to discuss your business and what type of mentorship session would be best for you! If you're not ready to invest in your education but would love more resources, tips, and inspiration, you can sign up for my monthly emails here so I can drop photography and business advice along with encouragement right to your inbox!