This post is by Chris & Jes from Hand and Arrow Photography, part owners of Shoot & Thrive
As husband and wife wedding photographers, we have a lot of experience with running a business together. It was one of our lives greatest ambitions – to spend more time together, even if that meant working with each other!
As it turned out, our lives have been better for it. We both left corporate careers and work full time as photographers. While we’ve certainly faced challenges as a business and a couple, we’ve learned a lot along the way.
If you’re a couple thinking about starting a husband and wife photography business, you’ll find these 10 tips really useful to get started.
1). Separate your personal and business lives when possible
One of the most important things at any stage of your business will be to have clear boundaries in your life. When you run a business together, you will run into times where it’s stressful or you may disagree with each other (as all partners do) and having the ability to disconnect from business things and reconnect as loving partners is really important to your success both in business and your personal relationship together.
2). Create an office in your home separate from the rest of your living space
One of the best things we did was create an office in our home. We only work in that space. Anytime we are outside of our office, business conversations don’t really happen.
This has made it easier to unwind after a workday, since now we can sit in our living room and not have to think about our photography business. On the other side, when we are in our office, we tend to be much more productive because that means we’re in “work mode.”
3). Register your business as an LLC Partnership
As a first step to set your business up legally, we recommend starting an LLC Partnership. This will provide you with the most protections for your business and personal assets, while splitting ownership of the business (typically 50/50 as a married couple).
As an LLC Partnership, you will file your taxes (in the USA) using a Schedule K-1, which shows the amount of income (and other information) each partner makes.
As you grow in your photography business, we’d also suggest filing taxes as an S-Corp. You can remain an LLC but file as an S-Corp for significant tax savings. Typically, once you make over $80,000 in revenue, you will see significant tax savings to warrant taking this extra step in your business. The first year we filed as an S-Corp, we saved around $10,000 in taxes.
4). Get to know your combined finances – together
One of the keys to running a successful husband and wife photography business is open communication about your financial life. For some couples, this comes naturally. For others, it may take some work.
Knowing your finances and having good budgets in place will help you with everything from managing your business earnings, setting your pricing to be profitable for two partners, and ensuring you can have money to use in your personal life too (because the rent won’t pay for itself!).
5). Understand your roles within the business
As business owners, we tend to wear many hats. As partners, we accept we have our strengths and weaknesses. With all of this in mind, we have carved out “roles” within our business to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible.
While we both are willing to do pretty much anything, sometimes specific tasks requires a particular persons skillset. This is one of the GREAT things about being a husband and wife photography team.
For us, Chris is really great at managing finances and spreadsheets. Jes is great at graphic design and social media posting.
6). Set up an Operating Agreement
An Operating Agreement basically puts into writing expectations around your business. While these are not 100% necessary for businesses, you will likely need one to open a business bank account and credit card, since banks usually like to have these on file.
An operating agreement will spell out individual responsibilities, earnings percentages, and more.
Need a quick, legally binding operating agreement? Check out The Legal Paige’s LLC Operating Agreement.
7). Use your husband and wife status as a major selling point
Being a husband and wife photography team immediately sets you apart from many other photography companies. There have been many, many times where we have been hired by couples because they really wanted a husband and wife wedding photographer team – they literally said this to us on the phone or in emails.
8). Practice photography together
Continuing to refine your photography skills is a great idea. It’s especially valuable if you are photographing weddings and events, so you can ensure the photos you are taking are in sync with one another and complimentary.
9). Plan time to be with each other as a couple in love, not just business partners
It’s easy to get swept up in the business, especially in the early days. We highly recommend blocking off time on your calendar to spend together. Whether that’s a date night out, making dinner and watching Netflix, or going on a vacation – it’s up to you.
These times away will remind you how much you are into each other, and why you decided to work together in the first place.
10). Show grace at all times
Being romantic partners is not always easy, and becoming business partners can make this relationship even more challenging (though – very rewarding!). Learning to not sweat the small stuff and being a support for your partner even in difficult times will pay huge dividends for your relationship together and your business operations.
Husband and wife photography businesses are…AMAZING! Hands down, the best decision we made was to work together, as it’s allowed us to live more fulfilling lives together.
If you are really passionate about starting a photography business with your partner, start working on it today!
Chris is a SEO professional with a passion for helping photography businesses succeed online. With years of experience in the industry, he has a proven track record of increasing website traffic, improving search rankings, and driving revenue growth for his clients.