File a Photography Business Name

 In General, Newsletter

Recently, I was browsing the Minnesota Photography Club’s Facebook page and noticed that lots of photographers were pasting links to their Facebook photo pages. I noticed a half dozen link pastes. Most of the time they paste links instead of directly posting a photo because they want more likes and traffic to their Facebook pages. I decided to look up the business names that they were using to see if they were following Minnesota’s laws by registering their assumed names.

How many of the half dozen actually filed their business names?


They were all breaking the law.

hansel_bryan_150612-21In Minnesota, my understanding of the law is this:

  1. If you are using your full name for the business name, you don’t need to register the business name as a sole proprietor.
  2. If you are running your business as a sole proprietor in Minnesota under a name that isn’t your full name, you need to register a Certificate of Assumed Name.
  3. LLCs, Partnerships, Corporations all need to be registered with the state.
  4. You need to publish any assumed name in the local newspaper.

This is what the Minnesota Office of the Security of State says:

Any sole-proprietorship or general partnership that conducts business in Minnesota under a name that does not contain the full name of each individual doing business as a proprietor or partner, must file a Certificate of Assumed Name.

Any corporation, limited partnership or limited liability company that conducts business under a name other than the exact legal name of the entity, must file a Certificate of Assumed Name.

After filing with this office, you must publish the Certificate of Assumed Name with a qualified
Legal Newspaper for two consecutive issues in the county where the principal place of business is located. After publication, the newspaper will return an affidavit of publication which should be retained by the business. Failure to publish may render the filing invalid.

An annual renewal is required once each calendar year. There is no charge for filing the annual renewal unless the assumed name is expired for failure to file an annual renewal, in which case there is a reinstatement fee.

You can file here.

hansel_bryan_150614-18I know a lot of my photography workshop participants would like to eventually make money from photography and that’s cool. But let me give you a couple of suggestions:

  • If you are using a name other than your own, you need to register it with the state and follow the laws. Consult with a lawyer to make sure you don’t mess up when you register.
  • Once you start selling your work, your home owners insurance policy won’t cover your equipment anymore, so get a commercial policy with inland marine (floater) provisions to cover your equipment from damage, loss or theft. You also want general liability insurance to cover your butt in case someone sues you. Consider this: A customer sues you, because your print didn’t look like the same color on the print as it did on their computer and they just painted their room in anticipation of getting the print. It could happen. Or for many other reason.
  • Set up an accounting system, because you owe income taxes on everything you sell and you now need to report that income.
  • Get an accountant or tax person to help you with the additional complications at tax time.
  • Set aside money to pay your taxes
  • Selling prints in Minnesota? Get a Sales Tax ID. You now have to collect and submit sales tax.
  • Buying equipment from the Internet from tax-free websites? Track what you spend, because you owe Use Tax on those purchases.
  • Make sure to track your expenses including mileage. If your expenses are higher than your income, you run a hobby and not a business.
  • And more and more and more…

Before you start representing yourself as a photography business, please, take the time to get setup correctly. I’d hate to see one of you get into problems down the road.

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