How to Organize Taxes • For the Photographer

I can't believe it's already March! The new year is always time for new SD cards and external hard drives, back up 2016 photos one last time, clean my gear, and close out 2016 bookkeeping. I didn't know about bookkeeping for quite some time until a fellow photographer and mentor, Michelle Peterson of Michelle & Logan, mentioned that no matter how much you make you have to file your taxes. Depending on your gross income you may not end up owing very much in taxes, but you'll still need to document and file for the IRS. You can read an article that covers more details HERE.

So here is my bookkeeping system for taxes from start to finish! 

I met with my Accountant, Josh, at the beginning of 2016 to ask my tax questions and to find out what was the best way for me to bookkeep in order to make it convenient for him as well. The basics were dates, category of expenses, and amounts for each which I knew I could do in Excel. 

I try to pick up any business supplies the same day as sessions. I reset my miles on my car before I leave my apartment and I take a photo of the miles when I get back home just in case I forget. Hate entering in more than you need to? Check out Mile IQ. This handy app keeps track of all the miles you drive without you lifting a finger! Swipe right for Business and left for Personal. Okay, so you do have to lift a finger, but it's only $6 a month! 

If I pick up anything business related, I try doing a separate transaction from personal items if I can. When I get home I file my receipts in the first folder of my file folder. Any receipts in the first folder need to be entered into excel. After my internet and phone have been paid, I file those receipts there too. 

Once every week, usually Mondays, I update my Taxes in Excel. I start with expenses. I go through my receipts and highlight the date, item(s) and amount. I then enter them into excel with their best fitting category. 

Sessions are next where I'll enter the date of the session, clients name, type of session, amount, and if it was paid in cash, check or Paypal.

Because I'm a Sole Proprietorship and don't buy vehicles under JayCee Photography, I get to write off my miles. If I bought a car under JayCee Photography, I wouldn't be able to write off business miles. Here I document the date, session, where I went, and miles I drove for the session.

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After everything has been entered I save my excel sheet and then upload it to Google Drive just in case my computer ever crashes. I then file the receipts entered into "Receipts" in my file folder. Anything that isn't in the file hasn't been entered into excel. 
I am in no way an expert in accounting and bookkeeping. But I still remember struggling with keeping things organized. There are other ways of recording and keeping track of taxes, but this method has worked great for me. 

For the Photographer • My Favorite Lens

Though I specialize in couples, I happen to shoot seniors and family sessions as well. As the years have gone by I have tried out my fair share of lenses. Granted, I still haven't tried them all out, but there is a lens I seem to always go back to. Casey of Casey James Photography actually rented it a few weeks ago from me and said he also fell in love with it and decided he was going to buy it. That lens happens to be my Canon 24-70mm 2.8.

Because I am primarily a wedding photographer, this lens is so great for the entire day! I can get those wide shots for family photos, zoom in during the ceremony for the couple's kiss, and get stellar shots during the bridal session of the couple. Here are a couple sessions shot solely on my 24-70mm. 

Courtney + Ben Wedding
Jenna +Kaleb Bridals
Keely + Kaden Proposal

Why do I love this lens?

1. Wide Angles. I love being able to get all the group shots done with one lens. I never have switch lenses during the wedding day because I can get the entire family and friends group shot along with all the bride and groom photos including the full temple.

2. Wide Aperture. I know a lot of kit lenses are somewhat wide lenses, but the aperture number doesn't go very low. While 2.8 isn't the lowest, it still gives me the chance to shoot indoor reception with it. Many times during the reception I will step on a chair and get an "up above" shot of everyone dancing. 

3. Most versitle lens. I never have to worry if I have my 24-70 in my bag. I can literally shoot anything with it. Families sessions are always done with it. I love getting full shots of the mountains with my couples. And of course, it rarely leaves my camera on wedding days. 

Am I telling you to go purchase the 24-70mm? Not at all!! Everyone has a different style and the 24-70mm may not fit yours. But it fits mine amazingly and I do highly recommend renting it if you get the chance just to try it out. 
Here's a couple other shots with the 24-70mm 2.8.