Getting started as an independent photographer
- Henk Herkink
- 29 April 2021
- Edited 22 September 2023
- 3 min
Photography: you like it and you are good at it. You often shoot the perfect picture and are asked to do photo shoots or reports. When is photography no longer a hobby, but a business? What about copyright and portrait rights? And can you use a drone? Read what you have to deal with when you start out as a photographer.
For all starting entrepreneurs: if you start your own business, you need to think about a company name, administration and insurance. You also have to register your business with the Chamber of Commerce KVK. In this article, you will read which topics are specifically important for photographers:
- Part-time entrepreneurship
- Hourly rate
- Laws and regulations
- Employment Relationships Deregulation Act (DBA)
- Sector organisations
- General information for starters
There were 42,436 photographers registered in the KVK Business Register in 2023. The number of independent photographers continues to grow (in Dutch). Some 2,500 are added every year.
Your hobby becomes a business the moment you take pictures to make a profit. More and more hobby photographers start part-time, next to a job in paid employment, family or care. To give entrepreneurship a try and see how it goes. You can start part-time and later expand to a full-time business.
Your hourly rate as a photographer can be a reason for your clients to give you the job or not. What is the right hourly rate for you depends on your experience, brand awareness, business expenses, taxes, desired income and number of assignments. Read here how to calculate your hourly rate and see how others determine their hourly rate.
The main rights and obligations you need to consider as a photographer are:
As a photographer, you automatically have copyright on all your photos. This means that you decide what happens to a photo. You have to give someone permission to use a photo.
Portrait rights mean that sometimes you can only publish a photo with the permission of the person in the photo. When taking a photo, drawing up an agreement in which you include portrait rights is useful.
Taking photographs with a drone
You can use a drone to take aerial photographs, but this is subject to a number of rules. These rules relate to where you are allowed to fly and whether you need to have a licence to fly. In addition, you have to register in the European drone register.
Video: Suzan Alberts on entrepreneurship
Suzan Alberts over ondernemerschap
For English subtitles, click settings and choose Engels.
As an entrepreneur, you have to deal with the privacy law General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This sets out the obligations you have when processing personal data. These include your customers' name, address details and telephone numbers, but also photos of customers. A customer can ask to see this data. In addition, a customer can withdraw permission to use their data. Do you take photos for journalistic purposes? In that case, the rules of the GDPR often do not apply (in Dutch).
If you have private clients, it is pretty clear that you are an entrepreneur. Is a business your client? And do you usually only work for one client? There may be false self-employment. False self-employment is the situation where you take on an assignment as an entrepreneur, but are actually an employee. Together with your client, you are responsible for the working relationship you enter into. Use the Tax Administration's flow chart (in Dutch) to check whether you are self-employed or an employee. Are you in doubt? Then work according to a model agreement (in Dutch).
As a photographer, you often work alone. By joining a trade association, you are part of a greater whole and can make use of joint resources. These include knowledge sharing, advertising campaigns, legal advice, rate advice, tax tips and insurance for members. Some sector organisations also organise photo competitions where photographers showcase their work to a large group of people. Costs of membership can vary. See for yourself whether it is convenient to become a member. It is not compulsory. In the Netherlands, these sector organisations are active:
- Dutch Photographers
- MasterPhotographers Network
- NVJ fotojournalisten
- Fotobond (voor amateur- en hobbyfotografen)
In addition to the above topics, as a starting photographer you will also have to deal with: