As a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), I’m often asked what type of software I would recommend for a business. Before I can answer that question, I need to know some things about the business, and how involved in the day to day accounting the owner would like to be. When looking at accounting software for photographers, the questions and answers are generally the same as for other businesses. There are no unique expenses for photographers that don’t exist for other business. Sure, there may be more of some expenses and less of others, but generally, they are the same. As much as I wish I could deduct “f-stop expense”, or take the much awaited “high ISO credit”, that type of behavior may raise a few red flags. Hopefully, when the day comes that those things are legal, I’ll have created the proper accounting software for photographers.
For the photographer that merely wants to provide his or her accountant with the information necessary to prepare his or her year-end tax return, it may not be necessary to use accounting software. For photographers that don’t compile their own monthly or year-end reports, and have no desire to prepare their own tax return, a simple spreadsheet package, like Microsoft Excel, will suffice. The photographer would simply track the daily or monthly expenses, revenues, equipment purchases, and give the summary to the accountant at year-end.
In choosing accounting software, for photographers that want to be more involved in tracking the progress of the business, a basic accounting package like Quicken or QuickBooks is usually the way to go. Accounting software for photographers should, at the very least, have the ability to create invoices, enter vendor bills, reconcile bank statements, and depreciate equipment. Having these capabilities is a great feature for your accounting software. For photographers that don’t understand things like depreciation, your accountant will still appreciate that you have the functionality in your accounting software. For photographers that have vast accounting knowledge, a package like QuickBooks will provide them with the means to have a firm grasp of how their business is performing at any given time. As your business grows, you will want your accounting software for photographers to have the necessary modules to make your bookkeeping easier. QuickBooks has modules to handle payroll, depreciation, billing, and many other functions that should be present in accounting software. For photographers that are thinking beyond today, they will want an accounting package that will grow with them.
In business, the key to success is being organized. Organization of your revenues and expenses should be the main focal point of your accounting software. For photographers, and their accountants, an organized financial picture is worth a thousand words.