How to name your photography business

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on September 23, 2010

in This is Business

Post image for How to name your photography business

Between the anxiety of deciding on a business logo and name, it’s a wonder photographers (and most entrepreneurs) ever get their dreams off the ground.

Paralysis by analysis has been well-covered in other blogs, and I’ll share in a future article my own thoughts on the issue and how it afflicts photographers, but it’s something that strikes us creative types with unusual force.

Many thanks to reader Bill M. for spurring me to write this post – naming your business can be a huge stumbling block when you’re trying to maintain the momentum of launching your part time photography business.

I’ll give you my Number One solution for the problem, and then offer a few other options for folks who may not appreciate my flair for simplicity.

You Are Your Business

Let me get this out of the way: The name of your business is bloody irrelevant.

Xerox sounds more like an alien planet than an office equipment company.

Google isn’t even spelled right.

If you kick ass and take names, if you better your art with every shoot while treating people right and getting your name out there, you’re going to do business – no matter what name you go by.

If you have a few million dollars in startup capital and you’re trying to establish a completely unique brand identity in the worldwide market, then by all means, pay a consultant six figures to create a brand identity for your new empire.

If you’re starting a part time photography business to serve your hyperlocal market on weekends, then cut the crap: name your business after yourself.

John Doe Photography.

Jane Smith Photography.

When people buy into your business as a part time photographer, they’re buying into you as an artist. They want your style, your personal attention, the art and experience you create for them.

You now have permission to get past the paralysis and go do something that will create results: make art and market yourself.

But Jaaaaames…

Okay, okay, naming your business after yourself is really easy, and truly my best advice for a new photographer, but it wouldn’t be a James Taylor post if I didn’t explore the issue in some depth.

If you’ve got a cool name that just screams “Brand!”, you’re not reading this article, so what if you have a really weird or unfortunate name?

Goodenough Photography might not send the right message. Slaughter Portraits could go the wrong way. Ball Photos? Just…ya know. There’s potential confusion.

But really, coming from a small Texas town settled by the Polish and featuring a host of middle European names (Kuykendall, pronounced keer-ken-doll, for example), I can honestly say I have never run into a business of any sort that I turned away from just because of their name.

If you look at the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) elite, the Waldens, Sarah Petty, their name is their brand – it carried them way beyond portrait photography and into the education and speaking sectors.

Nobody hires Sarah Petty because her name is Sarah Petty. They hire her because she can rock awesome photos.

If you’re struggling with naming your business, name it after yourself and get on with being a photographer.

After all, you can always change it down the road if you want.

I’ll wait for the grognards to catch their breath after that one.

When you talk about changing things – your prices or your business name, usually – all the fatalist advice of the grognards comes pouring in.

“Oh noes! If I change my name or my prices, my customers will hate me or forget who I am! Any decision I make now I have to stick with for the rest of my life!”

Shaddap. No you don’t.

Datsun seems to be doing just fine as Nissan. Many folks have never heard of Relational Software, but anyone who’s been on the Interwebs for a while will recognize Oracle. Even the biggest brands can change names, merge with other companies, or get swallowed whole and still do good business as usual.

Don’t be so self-absorbed as to think the name of your business – and its longevity – will make or break your business.

Your business name will have little long-term affect on the success of your business, and a name change down the road won’t kill it off, despite what you may hear elsewhere. If you have a good thing going, a recognized and beloved brand in your market, think long and hard before you change it – but if you really want to, never forget, you’re the boss.

My own business is a prime example. I started out as Taylor Photography and ran my company as such for seven years. As I began to branch out into other fields – publishing, freelance writing, web site design, etc. – I made the change to Outlaw as my overall brand, making my portrait business Outlaw Photography.

Bandera, Texas, where I’ve grown up, graduated, and enjoyed my careers in journalism and photography, is the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of The World. A great deal of the community’s identity is wrapped in cowboy hats, boots and spurs, and the Western experience.

When I launched the Outlaw brand, I didn’t lose a single customer – that’s not what they care about, no more than I cared when Billy Gene’s Restaurant changed to Brick’s River Cafe. I care about my chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. Your clients care about your photography.

So why did I make the change? Because I wanted to. It made me happy.

As I’ll always advise you, it’s your business – toss my advice out the window if your head or heart tell you to go a different direction. If you truly feel your name is not the best option for your photography business, here are some other fun ideas to play with:

Everything Else

  • Your Town: This is another no-brainer option. Just name your business after the town or county you do business in. Bandera Photography would work just fine here in Bandera. In most communities it’s kind of cliche, but it works, and it gives you both immediate name recognition and placement in the market, as well as the best keyword combo for local search engine optimization. A play off of this is your local school mascot. Bulldog Photography would do just fine here in Bandera. Bobcat Photography wouldn’t be out of place in Medina.
  • Specialty: You guys and gals know I’m all about ‘scratching the niche,’ and naming your business after your specialty will give you instant credibility with your target market. If I want a portrait of my dog, Taylor’s Puppy Portraiture will get an automatic look from me. If I want someone to photograph my daughter’s youth soccer game, Taylor Sports Photography of Bandera will probably be my first stop. Whatever it is you want to do – weddings, pet portraits, quinceaneras, senior photos – including it in your business name can give you a foothold in that market.
  • Style: If you have a unique enough business or artistic style as to be known for it, you might consider implementing it in your business name. What traits could warrant this? Maybe your black and white portraiture is to die for, so you step up and name your business Taylor Black and White Portraiture. Perhaps your work imitates the look of fashion magazines, so Taylor Fashionable Photography it is. Aric Hoek of Solaris Studios is the Master of Shadows. I’m the Outlaw Photographer.
  • Local Flavor: If your community has certain flavor or overarching theme, you can play off of it for your photography business name. Bandera is the Cowboy Capital, Fredericksburg promotes the hell out of its German heritage (every third store is named Opa’s this or Oma’s that), Austin is proud to be weird, and so on. Tap into your community’s identity and sense of self for inspiration.
  • Something Wholly Unique: Be the next Xerox, Google, or Flickr. Especially since the boom of Internet businesses, weird but unique names have exploded and become much more common than ‘name names’ like Ford or Trump. If you can come up with one that doesn’t sound like you’re choking on a chicken bone, turn it loose.

God help me, but I’ll say it: you can also go the cutesy, clever, or punny route. Just reference any small salon in America: A Cut Above… The Hairy Times… Hairbrained Barbershop… Curl Up N’ Dye… Stop’n’Chop… Hair Apparent… The Hair Port…

I’m gonna be sick.

But if that’s your thing – if that sort of shenanigans fits your personality and makes you giggle all the way to the bank, again…don’t let me stop you.

Legalities of Naming Your Photography Business

Alright, I hate to spoil the fun with caveats, but there’s some due diligence you want to undertake before falling in love with your new business name.

Easy: Plug your business name into Google. See if the name’s already in use. If so, do they own the domain for it? Do they claim a trademark on the name? If they do, you may still be able to use your preferred name if the conflicting business doesn’t sell in you area. If there’s a possibility for confusion in the exact same market, it’s probably best to go for something else.

For example, there are actually several companies named Outlaw Photography across the United States, and in fact, outlawphotography.com goes to one fellow’s site and outlawphotography.net goes to mine. Has it ever hurt either of us? Of course not – we are in completely different markets.

Easy: Whatever name you choose, you’ll need to visit your county clerk and file a Doing Business As with your new company name on it. As a part of this process, they’ll show you where to look to make sure your chosen name isn’t already taken in your county.

Less Easy: Do a trademark search on the appropriate web site. I may be daft, but I’ve had almost random results using this online trademark search engine. But it’s worth a visit.

If you really are John Smith reading this, there may be a heck of a lot of Smith Photography studios across the country. Frankly, who cares? If you capture just a fraction of the photography business in your own community, you’ll stay booked solid with as much work as you care to handle. What another John Smith named his business two states over from you is irrelevant.

Next Steps

  • Ready? Set? Go! I’ll give you three minutes to pick a name for your photography business. Like, seriously. You’ve got three minutes to get this over with. What are you waiting for? Get out a pen and paper and start writing. Be done before you read any further.
  • Now was that so hard? Okay, it can be excruciating to make that call, but congratulations on making it. You mind is now released from the torment. Take a deep breath, accept your decision, and let it be.
  • Brainstorm Session: Now give yourself permission to be completely unhindered. Write down every funny, cool, or weird name you could have named your business. You’ll find your creativity is much more active now that you’re not being serious. You never know – you might just come up with something brilliant. File this in your Brainstorms folder.
  • Jump on Google, do a trademark search, and go visit your clerk’s office to finalize your name check and file for your DBA. Congratulations! You’re official!
  • My writing at PartTimePhoto.com exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to click the free “Subscribe” link at the top of any page of this site.
  • How did you decide on the name for your photography business? Leave a comment below, e-mail me, or call or text me at 830-688-1564.

Similar Posts:

{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill M September 24, 2010 at 6:24 am

Thanks James, great read!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor September 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm

You’re very welcome Bill! Thanks for the inspiration. When you have any other ideas, please don’t hesitate to comment on the site or drop me an e-mail. I do appreciate your readership!

Reply

Staci October 7, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Another winner. You are hilarious!!! I agree that name does not determine the success of your business. However, people do notice it, at least that has surprisingly been the case for me. I’m always kind of surprised by the many compliments I get on my business name (Lilac Blue Photography). I’ve even had some macho men, comment and say “wow. that’s a great name”. Likewise for my logo. I use it in my email signature for my yahoo email and I always get people who email me back and say, “by the way, I love your logo”. That said, I’ve NEVER once had someone say, “I love your name so sign me up for a photo session.” So your point about not getting paralyzed on choosing a name is so true. Honestly, I would have loved to use my name for my business, but my married name is Okine and every day I have to spell and pronounce my name for people. I didn’t want that hassle for my photography business. I also considered going with my maiden name, Hill, (Staci Hill Photography), which would have been much easier, but I wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about it so I nixed that idea. Thus, Lilac Blue Photography was created.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor October 18, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Thank you so much Staci, I appreciate your kind words! The naming game is a fun one, but indeed, you don’t want it to stymie you. It’s often suggested in many business circles that if your given name doesn’t work well for a business name, pick a name that sounds good, even if it has no actual connection to your family line. Many, many celebrities, singers, actors don’t go by their birth names. You could call it Staci Blue photography and nobody would look sideways at you.

It is incredibly easy to let all the tertiary details of a photography business take over your brain – brand colors, logos, names, typography, Flash vs. HTML, Canon vs. Nikon, this lens vs. that lens, etc. It’s all self-indulgent horsesh*t until you’re making art and marketing that art to your target audience.

Ready, Fire!, Aim – if three words sum up the landscape of modern small business, these are those words. A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than the perfect plan tomorrow, to paraphrase Patton.

You can set up a very good photography business – logo, brand colors, web site, blog, business name, DBA, sales tax filing, prices, policies, products, vendors, target market, Facebook page, Twitter account, and so on – in a single eight-hour day. With the slightest bit of common sense, you can get from 0% to 80% of perfection in a very, very small amount of time. It’s striving for the other 20% that will kill your progress if you let it. Get started, get the ball rolling, get some work under your belt, get some exposure for your art in your market, and that other 20% will come naturally as a matter of course.

You make beautiful art Staci, and it looks like you’ve got the marketing end of your business down pat. Your blog is great, full of life and color and great photos. Lilac Blue Photography is rockin’ it. :-)

Reply

Liz Pumphrey (Butts) October 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Hey James. I came across your profile on Facebook today, and then found this little gem. As you know I’ve been working on my photography for some time now, but only over this summer have I truly dove head first into it as my OWN business, not working in a studio or for another photographer.

I found this hilarious, and helpful as I’ve been researching the legal side of doing this. I haven’t yet registered a DBA, but that’s something I need to do. I have a question though. Do you recommend a Sole Proprietorship, or a LLC for someone doing this on a small scale. I do studio and outdoor, but don’t own or rent a studio location at this point. I travel to people’s homes. My concern is that sole proprietorship seems the best way to go, but LLC sounds safer as far as protecting personal assets. Thoughts?

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor October 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm

An LLC does offer some protection of your personal assets in a worst case scenario, but sole proprietorship is very simple, doesn’t cost anything, and I’ve personally worked this was for the entirety of my career in part time photography.

I think the easy test is, if you have enough assets / money to worry about losing in the event of a catastrophic lawsuit, then you have enough assets to afford filing as an LLC.

Most full-time small business owners I know file LLCs, but they also have a multiple chance of needing that protection compared to us part-timers who don’t deal with the same volume of work. Most part-time business owners I know are sole proprietors.

It’s basically like dental insurance – you don’t need it until you need it. Safe practices, being smart, reduces you risk of having a problem. Hard to put a price on peace of mind, though.

Reply

ashley October 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Hello!
So, I have loved photography for some time, and just recently (say, a month or so ago) got an SLR camera and have been going nutty with it!
Now, I have countless amounts of friends coming at me wanting me to take pictures.
I have no clue what to say to certain questions that have been coming my way, and I thought maybe you could help.
1. I have someone wanting me to shoot photos of her, her husband and their 2 kids, but she just wants the unedited photos on a CD. Should I? If so how much for an unedited copy? How much for am edited copy?
2. How many photos is normal, to present to a customer?

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor October 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Hey there Ashley, congratulations on your foray into professional photography! It’ll be a fun ride, I promise.

I’ve actually written about both these topics:

What should I charge for my part time photography? – Your First Customer Series, Part 3

Culling and post-processing your first photo shoot – Your First Customer Series, Part 8

Those will answer your questions in depth, but to be specific, it’s entirely up to you if you want to sell unedited images on CD – you’re the business owner, and you have the right to say yes or no to any customer request. I’d charge the same rate for edited or unedited, and make sure your ‘edited’ price pays for your time spent post processing.

If you follow my pricing strategy or something similar, you can take on as much of whatever kind of work you want. Show folks your art, let them know your price, and if they see the value and want to hire you, it’s their right and choice to do so. Never feel bad about taking money for your work, even as a ‘newbie’ professional – the market, your customers, will let you know if you’re worth the price you ask. Keep in mind places like Wal-Mart, Sears, Glamour Shots, Kiddie Kandids all do big business, hundreds to thousands of dollars per customer, pumping out uncreative, uninspired, effortless, pre-set, copycat, volume “art.”

If a customer asked me for unedited photos and wanted to pay for them, I wouldn’t stop her, personally. I’m getting paid my full rate either way. Don’t let the grognards fool you into thinking that letting folks see, much less buy, unedited photos will ruin your reputation as a photographer forever. With all due respect, the entire market isn’t holding its breath waiting for you to screw something up – that level of contempt is reserved for heads of state, celebrities, and professional golfers.

As for a number of photos to present to clients, it’s really up to you. At the budget / start-up end of the market, I suggest showing more lower-priced images than a few higher-priced ones. Bigshot photogs with strong presence in their market and the art to back it up can show 10, five, one image and make a big sale – I tend to show 50 to 100, depending on the subject and the time we spent shooting. A 10-minute shoot for headshots won’t show as many proofs as a three-hour senior session.

Please do keep us posted on your progress into this wonderful industry! I’d love to hear how your first paid shoots turn out with your new SLR! If there’s any other questions I can answer, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Reply

Nathan Cashion November 14, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Thanks for a great post.

To add to your punny names, my neighbor’s salon is Best Little Hair House. It works for him. :-)

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor November 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Ha! Thanks for your comment, Nathan! That’s another good one.

Reply

Barb Rice January 22, 2012 at 8:18 am

Thanks so much for this trove of information! I actually first came across your “36 Ways to Do Better Photography Business” article and really appreciated the perspective and insight based on a very different area. Really cool!

I, unfortunately, have been one of those pour-my-brains-out people over my business name, since it’s SOOOOO common. But, with a thought change, and much humor, thanks to this article, I can be a lot more at ease with this part of my process. I’ve shot and assisted a few weddings and portrait sessions, but I’d like to go part-time. My biggest hurdle is the post-production commitment. I’ve already got a great full-time job that I won’t be leaving soon, if ever, and a family. I’m okay behind the lens but really rely on my Photoshop and Camera Raw skills to round out my final prints, on which I can geek out and work myself into a tizzy because ‘the look’ is there. I just gotta find it! LOL! Lots to think about….

I’ll just tuck my cutesy potential name I’ve come up with into my back pocket for now. We’ll see if it ends up getting phased out like “gnarly!” or “choice!” from the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor January 24, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Thank you for your kind words Barb! Sounds like you’ve taken a big step! Naming your business is such a common place for photographers (or entrepreneurs of any kind) to become absolutely paralyzed – we creative types are “sometimes” control freaks as well, and one of the hardest parts of really making strides as a professional is to learn where you should and should not exercise that control.

Business name, web site domain name, web site design, business cards, logo…it’s all so easy to hit a brick wall at so many turns as you get started as a professional photographer. I always preach to “Ready, Fire, Aim!” for this very reason – as Patton said, a good plan violently executed today is far and away better than the perfect plan tomorrow.

I think it’s a self-defense mechanism – whether we admit it out loud or not, starting your own business that you’re going to invest your name, reputation and creative spirit into is a scary thing; every decision makes you feel more and more vulnerable. Progress, and it’s best friend Success, lie on the other side of those decisions, however – not in the middle of them. To make this dream happen, you have to put a stake in the ground, make the decisions (even if it’s the wrong damn thing, as my father would say), and get to work on your art and marketing.

Thank you so much for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures, I think you’re going to have some big ones in both categories this year. :-)

Reply

Barb Rice February 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

My website is back up, finally! My conundrum with the business name started when I discovered that my local ISP discontinued the free webspace accounts with our Internet/cable subscription. Since photography has been mainly a hobby, I just wrote out the awkward URL (i.e. http://member.ISP.com/username/weirdspace) for those who really wanted to see something of a portfolio of my work. Now that I had no portfolio to show at all, that’s when I started losing hair over my business name since I had to pick a domain name for my new account. It had to be catchy. Easy to remember. Unique to me and my style. Fantastic. Inspiring. PERFECT.

Yep. Insanity followed. But, here I am, on the other side. I think things will be okay.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Barb, oh my gosh! Your web site is great, and your art is lovely! I love every part of it, you’re doing everything right. Your clients are most blessed to work with you – and always keep that in mind, as much as we like to customize and perfect and think this is “all about us,” it’s really all about the client, and clients just want great art and a great experience at a price they can afford.

I am most impressed – keep up the awesome work, and keep me posted on your successes and adventures! I think your business is really going to take off here in 2012 – you have all the ingredients to do great things. Don’t hold back!

Reply

Barb Rice February 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

I forgot to ask: how do I earn an avatar for my posts, if possible? :-)

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I believe you can set one up at gravatar.com – it’s a universal avatar that works on almost all blogs. :-)

Reply

priscilla April 29, 2012 at 9:25 am

i picked a name in the early stages of pursueing my passion and i was gonna shoot everything but i decided the direction i want to go in is now diffrent and using my name is out so im gonna combine my sons name ,i havent even been branded yet so im thinking this is the perfect time……because i am hoping to be able to invest a great deal of money into this and get branded….i dont want to use my first and last name because everyone does this

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Sounds like a great time to make those changes Priscilla! Naming your business is a very personal choice, but folks just need to keep that in mind – it’s your choice, and has almost no effect on how your business will turn out.

Best of luck in your business! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures. :-)

Reply

Steve May 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Thank you for this valuable info! I’m in the process of creating my photography site. Right now, my site is just a splash page leading to all my social media sites until I have it ready. I also do graphic design so my splash page will eventually have a link to my graphic design and photography sites. But as I was in the process of finding a name, I’ll just stick with my own name for now. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Thank you for your kind words and readership Steve! I’m glad this article helped you get over that hurdle – it’s a surprisingly big one for so many new photographers. A splash page is certainly better than nothing – and yours is particularly cool! Definitely enjoyed checking it out and some of your work – you’ve got a great talent.

Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures this year!

Reply

Kerry May 16, 2012 at 2:00 am

I can’t tell you how great it is to read through your articles/blogs??!! Trying to break into this market, it seems I’ve only talked to hoitey ( sp?)photographers who look down their proverbial noses at us wannabes, or absolutely uninspired boring sears **sorry if you readers work at sears.. I know, I started out at picture people, lol** type photographers who say things like, “well, this would be a great shot if you could see their faces…” (inwardly I’m screaming!!! Have you never heard of ART!!!!). So needless to say your comical, yet sane advice is extremely welcome!! Thanks for the input!
On a side note, is Bandera anywhere near Helotes, TX?? I lived there for my senior year (ah, seems like yesterday, yet ,was, ..well… I won’t say how many years ago!!) I worked at a Bandera Bowl for awhile…. Loved that little town!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 22, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Thank you for your comment and kind words, Kerry! Sounds like you’re developing a good filter to separate the good advice online from the bitterness and frustration some photographers take out on new artists.

Bandera is about 30 minutes from Helotes! We pass through there all the time on our way to San Antonio. One of my favorite places to eat is the Bill Miller’s there next to the high school. I’ve shot a few concerts and events there at Bandera Bowl, as well! Small world!

Please do keep in touch and let me know of your successes and adventures in professional photography! I appreciate your readership!

Reply

Alli May 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

So. Here is my dillema.
I have been branded as {*aes} photography for about four years. My original web address when I was starting out was: http://www.aesphotographyonline.com …. too long, in my opinion. So, when I was revamping things, and updating my logo/etc., I shortened the site to http://www.aesphoto.co NOT .com. Thus my dillema, if you go to .com, it takes you to a semi-nude, bondage, NSFW site … not really the kind of photography I am into. I’ve been debating just changing my entire photography business name, but am drawing a complete blank in what I should change it to.
Any help, advice, comments?

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Thank you for your comment and readership Alli! I enjoyed looking at your portfolio tonight, your photography is great, and has a real cinematic flair to it!

That’s an interesting dilemma to have! I’m in a similar boat – my web site is OutlawPhotography.net, but there’s also an OutlawPhotography.com, for a photographer up north who mostly does boudoir and modeling work. I’ve had plenty of clients tell me, “Hey, I tried to get to your web site, and ended up on someone completely different! But then I figured out that I went to the wrong site.”

So – it’s kind of an issue, but honestly not a huge one, at least for me – if your potential clients are ending up somewhere they’re going to be pretty freaked out about, I’d say a different web address might be in order. Short and simple is what really counts, don’t stress about it. Almost every one of your clients will come to you via a search engine, and most of the rest through links, finally a few from your business cards (which will have the spelling right in front of them) – so don’t get caught up worrying about the perfect domain name. Google makes no sense for a search engine name – but is there anyone online who doesn’t know what it is or where to find it? Your site, for your potential clients, will end up the same way.

Off to top of my head, I kind of like Alli Cat Photography – has some fun branding options attached to it as well, like having a stylish Siamese cat silhouette in your logo, or something similar. You can go with a catchy name, or build off your name, or build off your initials, or anything really. Go with what inspires you, what speaks to your heart, what is fun, what makes you feel good when you say it. There is no right or wrong – but there is done, and getting done with this part of your business and moving on to more important aspects (art, marketing, getting paid!) will bear much greater rewards.

Please let me know what you decide on and why! I look forward to hearing about your successes and adventures!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Thank you for your comment Alli!

What an interesting dilemma you face! If I were in your shoes, I would honestly change my business name and/or definitely my domain name. .co and .com are way too close to risk sending clients to the wrong site and making a very bad impression.

That’s a big difference than the boat I was in when I started – OutlawPhotography.com was taken, but OutlawPhotography.net was not – so I set up on the latter. I still had quite a few people go to the .com site, quickly realize that wasn’t me, and then go to .net. So I know exactly how you feel – except my .com counterpart did not lead to such salacious imagery!

As far as what to name your business, here are a few ideas from looking at your web site: Schultze & Schultze Photography, OchoPhoto.com, SingingPhotographer.com, AntiRabbit.com, PistachioPhoto.com, NoCapsPhoto.com, AlliHeartsYou.com…

As I write above, it truly, truly doesn’t matter when it comes to your business. So long as you aren’t picking a name that offends your clientele or puts you at risk of legal action because you’re stomping on someone else’s property, sit down with a pen and pad and brainstorm, then give yourself 10 minutes to choose from that list. Read it, sweat it, call a friend and ask what they think, pray, then pick – and move on.

You take great photos, you have a great personality that comes through in your work and your writing, so focus your time on meeting and serving clients. Naming your business deserves your attention and investment of thought, but don’t let it become such a hurdle that you’re left paralyzed at the starting line.

I hope this helps! Please let me know what path you decide on, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Becca May 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

So it doesn’t matter if someone already has the name? Say I wanted to name my business, Becca Lee Photography & someone already used it. Could I still use it?

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Becca, thank you for your comment! As always, I Am Not a Lawyer, consult a professional, etc., but you should be safe using just about any name you want so long as that person or business does not actively serve your market. For example, there are multiple Outlaw Photography companies across the globe, some of which existed before I launched my business, some of which have started up since. With my DBA in Bandera County, nobody in Bandera County can use Outlaw Photography here; but that doesn’t exclude folks from using the same name elsewhere.

The basic question is, would one business’ customers be confused by the other business by the same name – so long as there’s not another Becca Lee Photography serving your market, you should be safe.

Reply

Heather May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I am stuck, i have no issue using my name thus allowing me to develop in the future into specific types on photography. How ever my name is Heather Harnden ( with an N in the middle ) no one ever sees it, always misprounounced and rarely spelled correctectly. i also see heather harden photography out there and dont want to be confused when they inevitably spell it wrong. The other thing is this is my maiden name. I have been with my significant other for 7 years now and we have 2 boys. We will be getting married in the future at about 10 years ( we think lol ) so i dont want to have to change to heather boro phorography.my middle name is rose could do heather rose but i have also seen women using this as well. i know im rambling here but im a little frustrated, i just want something professional that i wont look back on and say what what i thinking!!!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Heather, thank you for your comment and readership!

First of all, keep in mind that you can change your business name any time you want. You should have an e-mail newsletter for all of your existing clientele, so if you ever wanted to change things up, a single e-mail blast would eliminate any potential confusion.

I Am Not a Lawyer, but as I understand it, so long as another person or business by the same name is not serving the same market as you do, you should be safe in using the name. For example, there was an Outlaw Photography established up in Wisconsin when I started my business here in Texas – in fact, he owns OutlawPhotography.com, and I own OutlawPhotography.net – and it has never been an issue with either of our clientele, or with each other.

Naming your business is much more of a personal concern than professional – the name of your business is not going to make you successful, providing great art and experiences for your clients will. So choose a name that speaks to you, that means something to you, that inspires and motivates you. Use that positive energy to better yourself as an artist and businesswoman, and that is what will make a difference in your success.

I hope this helps! If there’s anything more I can do, please don’t hesitate to let me know. And please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Lisa June 3, 2012 at 8:51 am

No one can pronounce my name though – they can’t pronounce my first name, most definitely not my middle name and even with my last name, they add a weird accent to it. I was born in a different country, you see. While I love my name, given the pronunciation issues, I have been racking my brain to come up with something else. I assume it’s important in naming a business that people can at least pronounce it. In my case, do I have permission to obsess for more than 3 minutes? LOL. No, seriously, what would you suggest in that instance?

Reply

Lisa June 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

p.s. once I tell people how to pronounce my first name, they exclaim “oh, that’s so pretty” (and I think so too). Does that make a difference?

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Lisa, thank you for your comments! I’ll respond to both here.

First, let me be real: the name of your photography business is completely irrelevant to the success of your business. The indecisiveness over what to ‘call yourself’ is a vanity – I’m completely serious when I say that you should choose a name that speaks to you, that makes you feel confident and inspired and motivated. It means vastly more to you than your potential clients.

Which is not to discount the act of naming your business – it deserves due consideration, but come at it from a much more personal perspective than professional. You could call yourself ABC Photography or Whifflepuff Photography or Minky Moo Moo’s Photography For Ewes – your clients are not going to give you money for your name, they’ll give you money for the art and experience you provide them.

Some folks may be annoyed at having to correct others on the pronunciation of their name, while others take pride in it. At a friend’s recent birthday party, I was introduced to a woman named Gisela – pronounced “ee-say-la” – and my challenge in pronouncing her name created a great thread of conversation that helped us connect and establish rapport. Being born in a foreign country and having a unique name for your area, in my mind, is a fun advantage that you could use to talk and tell stories with potential clients. It makes you special, it sets you apart, and that’s something many small business owners have to work hard to find – you have it built in!

That is my personal experience – trust your gut, and again, go with what inspires you. Sit down with a pen and pad, and play with ideas – ask a friend, ask several friends, and make a decision so you can set that mental block aside and open yourself to other opportunities and decisions in growing your business.

Please do let me know what your final decision is and why, and keep me posted on your successes and adventures! If there’s anything more I can do, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Reply

Amanda Nilson September 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Trying to subscribe to your site but it’s not working… Would love to read more!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Amanda, so sorry for your troubles in subscribing! Drop me an e-mail to James@banderaoutlaw.com and I’ll get you entered into the MailChimp system! Thank you for your readership!

Reply

Desiree Ahmann October 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

James,

I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I’ve recently decided to take the plunge also and bought a DSLR camera and started portfolio building. I still have much more experience and equipment that I need to get before charging of course, but am really loving learning how to take great photographs.

I have a plan for my business that includes not only photography, but also photo books and video slideshows that might or might not include photos I’ve taken. What would you recommend for a name in this case. I want to use my name, but don’t know if I should call it “Desiree Ahmann Photography” or if I should include more in the name since I will be doing more than just taking photos. What are your thoughts?

Again, thanks for the great information! I definitely subscribed!

I am not quite ready to post my pics yet, so no website or photos to show yet…

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Desiree, thank you so much for your kind words and readership!

I think Your Name Photography is still a great option for you. Many photographers are branching out into video, including video slideshows, even some videography. Whatever the primary focus of your work is, that should be the title you go with. At one time I tested Outlaw Studios instead of Outlaw Photography because I was branching into web site design along with photography, and all it did was muddle my brand.

Just as I advise photographers to tighten their niche as much as possible and then allow themselves to accept other work, the same goes for the media you offer – if photography is your bread and butter, don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground there, and everything more you offer is a compliment to that – such as video slideshows.

Thank you again! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Robert G November 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm

You have a good style that helps put things into perspective. I’ve started reading some of your other articles as well and finding them useful to help start my business.
I’m going to name it Argeo Photography, which comes from the first letter of my name and my present day job as a geologist. I’ve also had fun designing my own business card…. strangely satisfying! But I still haven’t gotten around to setting up a web page.
Your articles certainly help in settling some nerves. Thanks : )

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor December 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Thank you for your comment and kind words Robert!

You’re making great progress – choosing a name can be a surprising big hill to climb for most folks. Just take the process of launching your business step by step, make small daily improvements (kaizen), and you’ll be amazed at far you’ve come in just a few months, even more so a year from now.

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures in 2013!

Reply

Robert Grzegorzek February 18, 2014 at 7:18 am

Hi,
You asked over a year ago to let you know how things are going with the photo business. I have earnt $65 gross :) .So far!
I have added my flickr account for your perusal. Also you can see me at Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Argeo-Photography/306403099465118?fref=ts

Also I have made two youtube videos. 2.5 minutes each.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OC-X_3tF7o
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQQ7mQDoCjQ

Interesting to know and hear what your thoughts are.
Thank you in advance,
Rob.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor February 18, 2014 at 8:22 am

Thank you so much for the update sir! Forgive any typos, writing you from my phone today!

Your art rocks, man! I hope you’re entering your work in contests, you have a great style and your colors are out of this world. What a great variety as well! You’re obviously shooting a lot and learning a lot each time, which is exactly the path to success.

$65 is great! It’s a humble start, but you have to hit that first $65 to get to $650 to get to $6,500.

What photography do you love to do most? The only advice I could give on your portfolio would be to drill down to your very favorite niche, and focus your portfolio, your marketing, and the majority of your shooting there. Serving too many niches makes it very hard to progress and build reputation in any of them.

I’d suggest focusing on a niche. That includes a subject – kids, families, pets, seniors, etc. These are the easiest to earn an income from. Then once you’re booking steady, you can shift your time to other styles if you want to. Getting that steady income is a great step to enabling so much more – marketing, advertising, paying for Web design and other services, New gear, and of course the rewards of working hard for your clients!

Your art is there sir, you could choose any niche and rock it. Keep exposing people to your art and hustling to bring in those clients and you’ll see those sales numbers multiply fast!

Drop me an email anytime if you’d like to kick some marketing ideas around!

Thank you so much for the update and for your readership! I can’t wait to hear about your successes and adventures in 2014!

Reply

Robert Grzegorzek February 19, 2014 at 2:51 am

Never have thought about a niche James. I simply take my camera wherever I go and find great images. I needed to get great images together to show myself off (as it were). But I will now start looking in to a niche. Thanks for your kind words and great advice. Thank you for liking my FB site.
Where can I find your email address?

Jean Scheer January 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Im so glad I stumbled on this! Is there anything wrong with Scheer Perfection Studios? Ppl keep telling me my name and logo are no good and I’m so frustrated :( any help would be great thanks!!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor January 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm

The name you choose is the best name possible for your business right now. You may keep it forever, you may change it a month or a year from now – never forget, you’re in charge! It’s your business! Follow your gut and heart. The name of your business isn’t what will prove a blessing to your clients – your art and the experience you show them will. Focus on the important stuff, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

When it comes to folks giving you sage advice, ask yourself if these people are trusted advisers in your life – close friends, family whose judgment you have faith in. If it’s just ornery folks online or in discussion forums, weigh their advice accordingly. It’s not like you’re naming your business We Kick Kittens Photography Studio – let’s be real. It never hurts to “ask around” to see what folks have to say, but make decisions based on what your heart, gut, and truly trusted advisers tell you – in that order.

Thank you for your comment and readership! Please let me know what you decide on for your name, and about your successes and adventures in 2013!

Reply

Kristin Indorato February 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

As an amateur photographer with lofty dreams of someday becoming a professional, globetrotting photographer, I stumbled across your website while searching for advice on how to name a photography company. Wanting to swap out my maiden name (Hubbard) for my new married name (Indorato), I am faced with the reality that my famous artist in-law is then more likely to come up in Google search results. And in that search of mine, I happily found this article, and I want to give you my appreciation—you offer such practical advice in such a warm and humorous way—your blog is helping me already!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 2:37 am

Thank you for your kind words and readership Kristin! I greatly enjoyed viewing your portfolio tonight – your work is very evocative! Love the deep use of shadows and darkness in your work.

Now yours is a unique naming problem I haven’t heard before! I love the sound of the name Indorato – it has a beautiful flow to it. Were it me, I’d take advantage of that cadence and use it. Don’t worry too much about Google search results – by the time you are popular enough on a global basis to be concerned with folks in Paris or Capetown being able to find you online, trust me – they won’t have any problem finding you online.

Even with a famous in-law battling you for SEO scores, there’s no reason you shouldn’t rank higher for “Indorato Photography,” especially when you add in your geographic area. If you do good work, market yourself well, you’ll earn the incoming links, and move up quickly through the Google results. Search engines may provide a good portion of traffic to your portfolio, but honestly, the better metric is to ask, where are your clients finding you? Most likely that answer will be word of mouth, referrals, direct links from other sites, via your Facebook, via your marketing materials, and from you reaching out personally to them.

Thank you again and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Leslie Ball February 5, 2013 at 10:14 am

I am just getting back into the swing of things. I had a small part time home based photography and restoration hobby/business that I ran from home. Well, I got divorced and shut it down, I didnt want my ex to get any rights or “claim” anything because it was my baby. I am happily remarried to a man that fully supports my work and he has been encouraging me for the last almost 2 years to start it back up. Now, I am in the process of getting myself acclimated back into the business end of things and came across your AWESOME wealth of information.
I greatly appreciate the time and effort you have taken to provide all this information to all of us. I want to take this one farther than I did before. My question basically is, when you went from Taylor Photography to Outlaw Photography, how did you use your watermark on your older photos that you took under “Taylor Photography”, did you re-watermark them as in used them for marketing purposes?
The reason I asked is I havent really shot anything lately, and I need to make up new marketing/advertising stuff and get my portfolio online. All of my older stuff has my old DBA (which had my former last name in the business name) as the watermark and also copyright. Can I change it to my new DBA even though it wasnt established then? Its still my work and still my copyright because I am still me. Correct?
Thank you for any response.
Leslie Ball

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 2:47 am

Thank you for your comment and readership Leslie!

When I made the switch from Taylor Photography to Outlaw Photography, I did not spend any time changing my watermark on older photos. I made sure that my old web site pointed folks to my new one, but beyond that, I just started over under the new brand.

All the more proof that the name of your business makes almost no matter, I never even experienced a hiccup in the transition – people were calling me to do photo shoots. They weren’t ever looking for “Taylor Photography” anyway, they were looking for “That James Taylor guy that takes the sports pictures for the newspaper.”

What we think clients are doing, and what they actually do, are often so very different!

You can change your watermark and copyright on your older work if you wish, but I think what you’re going to be doing now is far more important than what you’ve done in the past. As far as copyright law (I Am Not A Lawyer!), you own your copyright as the artist, not under any specific DBA or even name – you pushed the shutter, you own it. Copyright text on a photo is just a reminder, it gives no additional legal power or protection (only filing your photos with the Library of Congress does that).

You’re entirely correct – you own your work until you sign that right away.

Copyright and watermarks are another place where I feel photographers get “stuck,” because there’s so much chatter about these topics. My best advice is to give it a minimum of thought – establish whatever process gives you peace of mind that your work is protected at the level you want it to be, but then move on quickly. Doing work, hustling, engaging potential clients and markets, creating art, creating value, marketing, having fun – this is where your time is best invested!

I hope this helps! Thank you again, and please keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Leslie Ball February 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

Hey James,
Just wanted to update you. I love my job. I am not having people bust down my door but I did good in my almost first year of business (the second time around). I have rebranded and got my portfolio online. I am in the process though of changing up my logo to carry my brand a little better. I am still learning the business, but very happy with how far I have come this past year. Thanks again for the website of info, and your enthusiasm and help for wanting to see people succeed. You are more than welcome to visit my site if you have time. :) Thanks again!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Thank you so much for the update Leslie!

Congratulations on your (second) one year anniversary! You’re already where so many photographers would like to be.

You’ve got a website that works great! Looks like you just need to finish it out with your photo portfolio and to keep that blog consistently updated. Love your About page, Investment copy, and your Senior Rep program! You’ve got some great tools in play to help grow your business!

If there’s anything more I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Reply

Brooke March 16, 2013 at 11:18 pm

I have been considering using my daughter’s nickname (Ella, short for Elyse) and middle name Brielle for my photography business. I’m not sure if that is a good way to go or not. It has a better flow than my married name and it’s what I feel more appealing than my first and middle name. Do you think it’s a bad idea to name your business after your children?

Reply

Brooke March 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Both (Elyse & Brielle) are her name. So it was thinking Ella Brielle Photography but that is obviously not my name. I was concerned it may cause confusion since it’s a name but not my own?

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm

This shouldn’t cause any confusion – there are many, many businesses with “people” names, but they’re just made up. Do you know if Brooks Brothers was started by the Brothers Brooks? How about Tom’s of Maine? I don’t know either, and it’s never occurred to me to ask. If anything, a good business name just gives you another talking point with your clients. Assuming other parents would make up the majority of your clientele, they will surely understand your pride in your daughter, and how the work you do is in her honor and for your family’s benefit.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Thank you for your comment Brooke!

I think Ella Brielle Photography would be a lovely name for your business. Go for it. It rolls off the tongue and has a great sound.

I know many photographers and other small business owners who name their businesses after their kids – often, their kids are the mascot for the business!

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Andrew March 19, 2013 at 10:07 am

Brooke-

Reply

Andrew March 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

I believe that you should name your business whatever you would like it to be. But as far as my knowledge goes from reading on the site, that you will have to fill out a DBA(doing business as) form from the local clerks office.

I say, if you think that it is appropriate, then go for it!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Indeed – if you’re starting a photography business in any name other than your own, you’ll need to file that DBA with your county clerk (assuming your county and state are like here). Good advice, Andrew!

Reply

Shawn Low April 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hi outlaw, im from Malaysia and i come across this website when i try to setup my photography name. I have beeb using Shawn Low Photography but it seems like its too common~im mainly for personal portrait,pre-wedding and also wedding actual day. Im trying to setup my biz as freelance 1st b4 i go in to fulltimer. Any advice?=)

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Thank you for your comment Shawn!

Your art, and the experience you create for your clients, is what sells your business – not the name of your business. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting your business under your own name. You may never see a need to change it. You may decide to change it up later on, and it won’t hurt anything – your existing clients will still love you and your work if you’ve treated them well. You may decide to branch off certain lines under different names. For example, my wife does all of our maternity, newborn, and children’s photography. She’s in the process of launching her own line outside of our Outlaw Photography brand for her work.

How you name your business is more important to you than anyone else. You want a name that speaks to you, that means something to you, that makes you feel good about yourself when you tell folks, “It’s great to meet you! I’m Shawn Low, from Shawn Low Photography.” That said, only give it the time it deserves – you have far more important work to do than get hung up worrying about what to call your business. If you can’t decide, start with your own name, and change it up when you’re ready – it won’t hurt your business one bit.

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

D&A Photography April 4, 2013 at 1:59 am

Thanks for this great read. I’m starting a Photography company with my best friend and your info is helping us out a ton! Once my canon t5i and 60d come in ill look into webspace for showing our pictures. :)

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Thank you for your comment Derek! What an awesome adventure to start a business of any kind with your best friend. I really took my photography work to the next level when I started working with a friend of mine from work – we made a heck of a team when we worked together. I mostly work on my own now, but we do a few projects together, and it’s always fun (and profitable!).

Your new cameras will serve you well! Be sure and get your money’s worth out of them by using them daily (or as much as you can) to better your art and business!

Do you have your web site set up now? Where can I view your photos?

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Alyse Hutchins April 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

You’re awesome.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Thank you Alyse! I really appreciate your readership and support.

Reply

Netra April 29, 2013 at 4:04 am

so i’m 18…..very interested in photography… and i am gnna create a facebook page for myself…….

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor June 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Thank you for your comment Netra! Congratulations on going pro! Please do let me know when you have your Facebook page set up, I’d love to see your art.

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Nicole April 29, 2013 at 4:59 am

Hello, OutLaw, I have been reading your blog it very Good what you say, just a quick question, you said to someone about trademark to check if that name is available im from the UK do you know any good site where i can check to see if The name i have is available :D

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor June 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Thank you for your comment Nicole! I greatly enjoyed visiting your web site tonight, you have a great portfolio!

I could be wrong, but I think this is the resource you’re looking for: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find.htm

When in doubt, consult with a local accountant who services businesses – they are professionals at their craft and will best be able to give you localized advice for your city and country.

Cheers from Texas! Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Katrina Smith May 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

That’s funny that you used the name Kuykendall, that’s my maiden name and it is pronounced ker ken doll but spelled kuykendall! Never failed every where I would go they would say, can you spell that? Lol

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor June 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Ha! What a coincidence! There are actually several Kuykendall families and businesses around Bandera and San Antonio, and I sold my old sports car to a fellow by that name. It’s pronounced the same here, of course – keer-ken-doll!

Thank you for your comment and readership, Katrina!

Reply

Braileigh Poche June 4, 2013 at 10:07 am

THIS WAS AMAZING HELP. You really calmed me down and now I am able to move on from just the name. Thank you so much for writing this!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Absolutely my pleasure Braileigh, thank you so much for your kind words and comment! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Nicole June 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

James. WONDERFUL read for me. I stumbled here from a google search. I was recently told by fellow photogs that my name is not “professional” and that it works for my personal blog but doesn’t work for my photography. I wanted something simple, easy to remember, and not cliche. And just using my name wouldn’t work because it’s such a common name. I was also told that The Airman’s Wife might be off-putting to anyone that is not part of the military community. I’d like your professional opinion. I love how you say that your name doesn’t matter as long as your clients love your work. So how would you feel if you stumbled upon my site and saw “The Airman’s Wife” as the name? Thanks!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Nicole, thank you for your comment and your kind words!

Forgive me for being simple, but if I came across your site and saw your business name, it would be my assumption that you are an airman’s wife. I might also assume that you are, thus, proud to be an airman’s wife.

Beyond that, and of the greater importance as a client, I’m looking at your portfolio and seeking a good fit for my photography needs. I’d be looking at your art, the ‘personality’ in your site and writing, and other influencing factors to measure our fit together.

Truly…what more is a client going to measure based on the name of your business? It’s so easy as the business owner to get caught up on the name, because of how closely we identify with our work and how personally invested we are. But that’s all for us, for our ego, for our inspiration – while worthy of due consideration, the name of our business is going to have little to no influence on a potential client’s decision to book with us.

For those who may identify with your business name (other airmen’s wives), there will be a connection – for everyone else, I can’t see it having any negative impact.

I don’t think the name is unprofessional at all. If you like it, roll with it! As always, you’re the boss, you’re in charge, and if you want to down the road you can change it any way you want.

I hope this helps! Please let me know what you decide on! Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Sagien July 12, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I will be honest here. I have never come across this website blog before, but I have to thank you for making it such an interesting post while also being helpful the entire time. It was a great read and made me laugh quite a few times. Love the way you write and the energy that flows through your words. I felt the need to leave a message and both thank you and compliment you on it.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words Sagien! I’m truly blessed to visit with great part time photographers like yourself! Don’t hesitate to e-mail me anytime at james@banderaoutlaw.com!

Reply

Selvin August 6, 2013 at 7:39 am

After lot of thought process we finally zeroed down on this name – Visionary Artistry
Wanted to combine photography with art and this name suited best
We booked the domains first and then got the company registered –
http://www.visionary.in
http://www.facebook.com/visionary.in

It’s turning out to be tough to mint money from images especially with boom of camera-phones and inexpensive DSLRs thronging in the market
Photography as a profession was quite niche few years back but now time has changed and with micro and stock photography taking the major chunk,very few prospects have left for professional photographers

Time for all of us to think and capture something different!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor May 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Thank you so much for your readership! Your web site and Facebook look great. Congratulations on your amazing achievements, such as covering TED in Mumbai! I respect the TED Talks so much and have learned life-changing ideas through them.

The barrier to entry is lower than ever for professional photography, and I agree with you – the onus is on us to give our markets a reason to invest professional-level dollars in our work. We can’t rest on our laurels, tripods, and “traditional” business models if we want to maximize our impact, on our communities and on our bank accounts!

Innovators with a vision for new successes and an ear for understanding the wants and needs of their market will thrive in this new digital age. Some of the most passionate new photographers I’ve met online through PTP have been from India, interestingly – I’ve watched artists there grow from ambitious amateurs to full-time working professionals faster than any other region I’ve experienced over the last seven years.

Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Rick Mutaw January 19, 2014 at 9:20 am

Hello, I happened to stumble on your site while watching some stuff on you tube. Thanks for all of the good advice and info. Id love input on my website. It is just in the initial stages of development. Actually Ill begin removing many of them as I have just discovered Lightroom and have made vast improvements of my work.
Ii would really appreciate your advice on what I have done so far.
Best Regards,
Rick M.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Thank you for your comment and readership Rick!

I just tried visiting your site, but it isn’t coming up for me! Hook me up with an updated link, and/or drop me an e-mail to james@banderaoutlaw.com – I’m happy to take a look at your work anytime!

Reply

BradfordPhotography February 18, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Great article with the exact “slap” to our better judgement that we need. I’ve been photographing under this name for 3 months now and it has served me well. Having read your blog, I will add you to my “Best of the best” bloggers for Photography. Stick with what works, do what you love, and the success with follow, to quote Russ Bishop, a famous photographer from Outdoor Photography. Thanks

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words and readership!

The work you do for your clients, both in art and the experience you create for them, is where the rubber meets the road. How you name your business is of far greater importance to you than your clients – and that’s okay, it’s worthy of due diligence and consideration, but it’s a consistent place where startups photographers experience paralysis on their journey.

Thank you again! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Asif April 11, 2014 at 6:08 am

I need a name for my photography firm .. please suggest me for exclusive creative name.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I’ll try Asif!

What’s your niche?

Who’s your ideal client?

What’s your personality type? Funny, quiet, intellectual, deep, creative, whimsical?

What geographic region are you in?

What’s unique about your career or hobby history? Military service, model train enthusiast, semi-pro sports?

If there was one group of people with a hardship you could help, who would it be? Impoverished children with no toys? Single mothers trying to work and get an education at the same time? The unemployed?

Did you have a nickname as a child?

Do you have any pets? What are their names?

These questions are both rhetorial and actual – feel free to answer them and I’ll try to help come up with some neat names! But on the rhetorical side, hopefully some of these questions spur ideas in your mind, ways to connect something special, unique, or important to you with aspects of your unique story as a human being, into a name for your business that is meaningful to you and has a story you can tell about its origin.

Thank you so much for your readership Asif! Please do let me know what you decide on, and keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Shelbie Collins June 24, 2014 at 8:35 am

I have stumbled across your website and fell in love. I can’t wait to explore it more! I am just starting out and super excited to take the next step by labeling my business. I am one of those people that is not so great at making decisions and am stuck on choosing my business name. In my hometown, most of the photographers use their first and middle name as their business name, which is cute and simple, but I don’t want to be like everyone else. My hometown is Shelby Township (funny, I know). With that being said, I was thinking of Shelbie Photography. (My name and also my hometown, with a little different spelling), otherwise resorting to Shelbie Collins Photography. Because you seem like such a kick ass photographer, your opinion would be greatly appreciated!! :) And I know, I know — I am thinking about it WAY too much.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor June 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

Shelbie, thank you so much for your kind words and comment!

You’re definitely thinking too much – but that’s okay! Because all the thinking you’ve done won’t go to waste. But it’s time to make a decision.

I personally think Sheblie+Shelby Photography is kind of cool – it shows your connection to your community, it’s a fun play on your name, and it begs potential clients to ask, “So what’s the story behind that name?”

Sometimes you make a lot more progress when you flip the order of your goals. Often we get so caught up in names, the font on our business card, the pixel perfection of our web site, that we forget to actually take some photos, practice our craft and business skills, and just go out and talk to people.

Iteration is the new little black dress of business success – once you have the bare minimum necessary to start your business, get it out there, and grow and develop and change and improve it from there based on the feedback and experiences you get.

Where you are today is miles ahead of where you need to be to start creating success with your business.

Rock on Shelbie! Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Judy July 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

My daughter and I are considering starting a photography business. Would you recommend that we set one up separately for each of us, or is it wise to share it? We have a fantastic relationship, but I want to get the smartest start for both of us. We both already work so this would be a shared part time venture. Maybe someday full time, who knows?
Thanks for all of your help and great information.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor August 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Thank you so much for your readership and comment Judy!

I’m a fan of “competing” businesses, even if they’re connected on the back end. For example, my wife’s photography company is Kolibri Photography – mine is Outlaw Photography.

Not only is our art very different, but so are our personalities, and our styles of doing business. We have separate web sites, separate Facebook pages, etc. The only connection is, on the back end, we’re married!

I’m very big on ‘niching down,’ on making a very specific offer of a very specific artistic product to a very specific set of folks.

Odds are, your art differs from your daughter’s art – your personality differs from hers. The circles you run in, the folks you hang out with, the places you normally spend your time – are probably different.

So it’s not so much that you’re competing against each other for the same clientele, but that you’re taking each of your unique personalities and styles and worldviews and communicating them to different target markets.

There’s no reason you guys can’t compare notes, share in encouragement and other back end work, work together on collaborative projects, share gear or resources, but in the market, two awesome photography businesses are better than one.

This also totally eliminates any concerns whatsoever about eventual conflicts down the road. If I tried to force my marketing style on my wife’s business, she’d beat me with a shovel. Even in the best relationships, it’s too easy as artists and business owners to take our work very personal, and tension to rise out of differing opinions or preferences.

I hope this helps! Please let me know what you guys decide upon, and how it turns out for you!

Thank you again for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Mandi July 21, 2014 at 3:50 am

Having read all of that and enjoyed it ~ I STILL CAN’T come up with my final name. I know……you just said it doesn’t matter what my business is called. The bad part about my struggle is that I’ve asked all of my good friends, and they all like one name or the other. Some people actually say they hate the other name that they didn’t choose. “Memories by Mandi” is so simple and I kinda like it. Catchy. BUT ” ChocoholicMandi Photography” is ME!! Most people tell me that Chocoholicmandi Photography is too long, or doesn’t relate to photography at all. Might confuse people. I just worked with a photographer with the name “Oh Pickles Photography”. She said that she says “Oh PIckles” a lot during the shoots, and she does use pickles during her promotional adds sometimes. Can you help?!!!!.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor August 2, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Mandi, thank you so much for your readership and comment!

I understand your struggle – obviously, naming your business is such a huge leap of faith that it warrants its own article here on PTP!

I think you easily answered your own problem:

“ChocoholicMandi Photography is ME!”

That is absolutely all you need. Art, and creation, are extremely personal – even though you’re serving a client’s wants and needs, you’re serving them with a ‘product’ that is wholly a part of you – an artistic piece that is the culmination of a lifetime of thoughts, feelings, experiences, and a measure of practice.

I think Oh Pickles is awesome, too – it immediately evokes a fun brand in my mind, I can totally see how she would market that.

I won’t say photography is a commodity, but the market is surely more crowded than any time in history. All the more you need ways to uniquely connect with ‘your people’, the clientele who are a perfect fit for your art, personality, and price point.

To that end, does “Memories by Mandi” make you sound generic?

Does “ChocoholicMandi Photography” help, even in just a small way, to make you sound unique and interesting?

Being an unapologetic Chocoholic gives you so many cool branding options: overall chocolate-themed marketing pieces and web site, delivering boutique chocolates with every photo order package, co-op marketing opportunities with local chocolatiers and bakers, booth branding with giveaway chocolates, Facebook contests for photo packages and chocolates, custom-printed chocolates, Mandi’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (experience first-hand at every children’s shoot or sales session!), specialty boudoir sessions (loooots of melted chocolate!), meeting for consultation / sales sessions at the local coffee shop or bakery over the best hot chocolate in the county…the options are myriad!

I hope this helps! Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Susan McKay August 7, 2014 at 6:15 am

Hi there,
Love love love this article!
I currently use my name as my business name. To cut a long story short, I am changing my business name to Sparkle Photography. Think – sparklers (the type you can light) and Sparkles sweeties for marketing purposes.
I wanted something light and friendly, reflecting who I am and the style of my photos. Colour scheme – yellow, black and white. Think – black t-shirt with yellow sparkle logo on the back, white website with yellow sparkles, etc etc. Same for logo.
What do you think? Would LOVE your input!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor August 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Susan, thank you so much for your readership and kind words!

I think Sparkle Photography has a great ring to it! The most important metric is, does it excite you? Does it mean something to you? Does the name make you want to pick up your camera and get to clicking? If so, it’s a name you can stand by proudly and do great work with in your community.

Ride your excitement to success! Get the details of your name and logo and T-shirt and web site done and out of the way so you can focus on your art and your marketing, getting your camera out, practicing to be the best you’re able, and blessing your clients with your art. That’s where the real affect of your art and your business and your talents come is seen. The name of your business, while definitely worthy of due diligence and consideration, is not what’s going to change people’s lives for the better: that’s going to come through your art and the experience you provide your beloved clients.

Thank you again for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Jason September 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm

An interesting discussion is worth comment.
I believe that you need to publish more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but typically
people don’t speak about such subjects. To the next!
Best wishes!!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Always happy to help sir!

You can e-mail me any time at James@banderaoutlaw.com!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: