Small Photography Business
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 36.0
Credit Value: 2.5
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Fall 2018
Prerequisites: vdes70029
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): Digital Photography
Program Coordinator(s): N/A
Course Leader or Contact: N/A
Version: 20180904_00
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: N/A

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Learn how to set up, run, market and advertise your photography business. The photography business has changed drastically over the last few years. New business techniques as well as many of the existing ones, are needed to be able to run a successful small photography business; this course will help you to develop many of those skills.

Program Context

Digital Photography Program Coordinator(s): N/A
This is an elective course in the Digital Photography Certificate.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to demonstrate an understanding of both the benefits and risks of running a small business, combine small business skills with photographic knowledge and skills, and understand the need to continually refine and develop business skills and knowledge while also continuing to expand and improv photographic skills and knowledge.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Prepare a business plan and cash flow forecast for their first year(s) in business.
  2. Develop a written marketing strategy including an analysis of competition.
  3. Prepare written quotes and invoices.
  4. Develop an understanding of basic tax issues including GST and PST.
  5. Develop a network of peers with fellow photographers and freelancers.
  6. Understand issues of copyright and liability as they relate to photography.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: IN-CLASS
 Mission Statement25.0%
 Price Lists25.0%
 Business Plan25.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Essential Employability Skills
Essential Employability Skills emphasized in the course:

  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Information Management
  • Interpersonal
  • Personal

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar
Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous relevant work/life experience, service, self-study and training on the job. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):

  • Portfolio
  • Interview

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: In-Class
Professor: Multiple Professors
OptionalOtherThere is no required text for this course. However, recommended readings will be suggested as the course progresses. Students will be expected to do some on line research. As time permits throughout the course, the class will research, examine and discuss web sites of other established professional photographers.

Applicable student group(s): Continuing Education Students
Course Details:

Module 1: An Introduction 

  • Introduction to the course and the expected outcome
  • Introduction to the instructor and students
  • Course logistics
  • Discussion of the suggested self-study and of the gear required for this course, including a USB memory stick
  • Explanation of the grading
  • Why 'digital' enables learning
  • A look at the history and evolution of the photography business
  • Quick review of some essential photography basics
  • Instructor / photographer will give a slide presentation

Module 2: Business Basics

  • Registering your business
  • Business types
  • Introduction to the business plan we will be working towards
  • Mission statement
  • Types of photography business
  • Barriers to entry
  • Objectives: part time vs. full time
  • Your business name: what to do vs. what not to do
  • Assignment #1: Mission Statement (due week 3)

Module 3: Marketing

  • Marketing your business
  • The 5 'P's'
  • Value propositions
  • Promotion and word of mouth
  • Advertising
  • Business writing competencies
  • Your portfolio
  • Your website: what it should be vs. what to avoid
  • Online web examples provided

Module 4: Administration

  • Sourcing
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Balance sheets and profit and loss statements
  • Bank accounts and payment methods
  • Record keeping
  • Lawyers and accountants: when do you need them and why

Module 5: Taxes

  • Taxes for the various business forms
  • HST
  • Income tax
  • Corporate tax for incorporated companies
  • Other relevant taxes
  • Administrative systems
  • Filing
  • A legally valid invoice and what it contains

Module 6: Pricing and Billing

  • Pricing is the most essential of business decisions for a photographer
  • Can you charge a lot? What will the market bear?
  • Underestimating one's self
  • Market pricing vs. cost based pricing
  • Invoicing
  • Contracts
  • Assignment #2: Price List (due week 7)

Module 7: Organizing Your Business

  • Organizing your images
  • Negatives vs. Electronic Images: pitfalls vs. opportunities
  • Lightroom vs. Aperture as asset management tools
  • Backups
  • Legal issues
  • Classifying your work

Module 8: Insurance, Copyright, and Releases

  • Insurance: why you need it and what type you need
  • Copyright
  • Registering your copyright
  • Moral rights to your work
  • Model releases
  • Property releases
  • Pocket releases
  • When do you need a release?
  • Rights and liabilities of a photographer
  • Ontario vs. other provinces vs. abroad
  • The Privacy Act
  • Assignment #3: Releases (due week 9)

Module 9: Networking and Professional Organizations

  • Networking with other photographers
  • Networking with your market
  • Using your clients as a way to gain more clients
  • Social Media: Ins vs. Outs
  • Techniques to maximize benefits while minimizing the time spent

Module 10: Business Plan

  • 10 steps to starting a successful business
  • Your business plan and what it will contain
  • Structure and content
  • Building on the previous weeks: coming up with a draft business plan
  • Requirements
  • Assignment #4: Draft Business Plan (due week 12)

Module 11: Shooting Events

  • Shooting a successful event needs not just technical knowledge
  • You need checklists, agreements, contracts, clear statements of the deliverables: from checklists to technical challenges to contracts, and from 'grip to grin' to weddings, this session describes them all as a metaphor to running a successful business

Module 12: Review and Wrap Up

  • Review of your business plans
  • Final grades

NOTE: This syllabus is subject to change without notice due to extenuating circumstances.

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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