The very first thing you'll want to do is determine which business structure is best for you. For example, a sole proprietorship will be quick, easy, and low-cost to form, but it will not provide you with limited liability protection, so if your business is sued, you'll be sued. Another example: both C corporations and S corporations provide limited liability protection, but one experiences double-taxation (where the corporate income is taxed, and then shareholder distributions are taxed at the personal level) and one avoid is (only the individual shareholders are taxed). This is a roundabout way of saying that you need to determine which type of business you should form -- and this all depends on your own situation, goals, and priorities.
Since a photography business is not likely to be sued (not like a physical therapy business where someone could potentially be injured, for example) and you probably don't have a lot of money tied up in overhead where you might default on a loan, it sounds like a sole proprietorship (called a Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania) will suit you just fine -- but definitely consult with a legal advisor.
Once you've determined which type of business you want to file, it's a simple matter to determine your requirements: fill out the correct form (the state's sole proprietorship / Fictitious Name information is linked below), submit it with filing fee, alert the IRS, and call your state, county, and local governments to obtain any licenses or permit requirements you may need.
You'll also want to look into Model Release forms, Work For Hire forms, and other intellectual property management tools so that it's clear for every project who owns the pictures and what may be done with them.
· 8 years ago