How To Get A Photography License

How To Get A Photography License

Do you love taking photographs? Do you want to make it a career and earn a living? Well there are a few steps to complete before you can begin sharing your craft with others. 

A permit to work as a professional photographer does not always take the form of an official record.

For many experienced photographers, establishing and upholding a solid reputation for producing high-quality work served as their metaphorical photographic license.

In almost all situations, your outstanding photography serves as your “license to work.”

How do you get a photography license? We explain everything you need to know and do in order to ensure that your photography license is up to scratch. 

Formal Photography License

If you are simply taking Photographs of your dog or even your friends wedding as a one off, you most likely will not require a professional photography license.

Especially with only a few specific cities requiring you to have one throughout the United States. 

However, if you are wanting to establish yourself as a professional photographer and build a successful business then you may require one. Take the time to research if you require a formal license within your area. 

Even if it’s not necessary where you reside to have a photography license, think about being certified.

It makes sense to add a certification of some kind to your professional resume. More so if you didn’t major in photography in college.

Programs for certification are available from groups like the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Before earning official certification, you must complete a number of exams and reviews.

You can demonstrate this certification to your clients. Your company structure gains a level of professionalism from it that will make it stand out in the current market.

Steps To Get A Photography License 

Steps To Get A Photography License 

As mentioned above, not everyone needs a photography license. However, those wanting to begin a reputable business would find it beneficial to have one. 

Step 1 

The first step to obtaining a photography license is to attend a degree or qualification within photography. While this is not essential it will benefit you and your business greatly. 

Not only will it allow you to sharpen your skills and develop an incredible portfolio to show your clients, it also shows your dedication and educational background. 

This can include attending a full time course for an official degree or even taking some additional classes in your spare time. 

Step 2 

While you may not require an official photography license, in order to establish and operate your own business you will need a business license.

This informed your city or town that you are operating your own official photography business. 

The city can now confirm that you are operating within their regulation and are a credible business. 

As a photographer you may have to travel around a few towns and cities to establish clients, this will mean having a business license within each city (see also ‘How Can You Land More Clients As A Photographer‘).

Ensure to be in communication with each city and their officials when conducting business. 

If you work with event venues, you may additionally require a business license. To permit you to shoot on their property, they might additionally need proof of your insurance.

Finally, loan applications might include a request for your business license. This will enhance your company’s ability to generate income consistently.

Step 3 

Now that you have an official business license you can begin building your business. Whether online, in the local newspaper or through word of mouth, you can begin to work with clients and see your work come to life. 

It is essential that you have a website for your business. Here you can post your portfolio of your work, your contact information, and your availability for new clients. This is an essential part of building your business. 

Step 4

While you may take all sorts of photos in the beginning of your career, you may have a particular speciality. You can register with an association or group of professional photographers who have similar specialities. 

Membership to these societies is often only given to those who have incredible talent , reputation, and experience within the photography industry.

Becoming a member of a speciality association would highlight your talent and abilities to clients who seek your work. 

Other Permits You May Need 

You may require a specific photographer’s license, there are certain permits and insurance you will need to operate your business. 

We have already covered the need for a business license. Although, there are 2 others you are going to need. 

Sales Tax Permit

A sales tax permit is only required in certain states. If there is no sales tax within your state then there is no need for this permit. 

Ensure you have confirmed that there is no sales tax within your state before operating. Otherwise you could end up owing sales tax to other states across the country as you work. 

There is also the possibility that while you live and operate within a state your business may still be exempt. Sales Tax laws are constantly changing meaning that keeping up to date is essential. 

Business Insurance 

If you photograph events, liability insurance is a must. You’ll be able to do this and shoot at most event locations.

You are not required to get insurance for any other sorts of photography. Still, it’s a fantastic idea.

This will aid in protecting your assets when working with other venues and at events. In the event that your equipment is lost or damaged, the insurance will protect you while on location. 


While there is no direct photography license required in order to establish your business and offer your services, there are other forms of certifications and permits required. 

Whether this is a qualification certificate or you complete the PPA program, you will want to have a credible document for your clients. 

Ensure you protect your photography business with a business license, liability insurance, and a sales tax permit if needed. 

Keep up to date with your state’s laws and regulations, otherwise, you could end owing states thousands of dollars!


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