February 27, 2023

Form 1099 for Wedding Photographers, Videographers, and Second Shooters


You’ve probably heard of 1099s but have no idea what they are, why they exist, and who they’re for. If you’re a wedding photographer who either seconds shoots for other photographers or if you hire second shooters, you’ll want to read this. Grab a beer and let’s chat about 1099s for wedding photographers.

Just a quick heads up, we’ll be talking about tax deductions too, so if you need a refresher, first check out this post.

WHAT IS A 1099?

A 1099 is a form that the IRS has you use to report the amount you pay a “service provider” or “independent contractor”. The most common service providers we as wedding photographers run into are second shooters, office landlords, and sometimes the person you might contract to edit your photos for you. If you’re into that kind of thing.

There are many types of 1099s, but the one you’re looking for is a 1099-NEC (Non-Employee Compensation …aka independent contractor, aka a second photographer).

If you’ve ever worked for someone as an employee, you’ve likely received a W-2. The 1099 is basically a self-employed person’s version of a W-2.

WHO GETS A 1099?

The easiest way to remember who gets a 1099 is to think about them in two distinct buckets.

1. Individuals you paid to perform services that totaled up to $600 or more for the year. These are your second shooters and your outsourced editors. Not employees.

2. Individuals you paid rent or lease payments to for either real estate OR EQUIPMENT. These are your office landlords and people you paid to rent camera gear from.

Hold up… Go look at #2 again. Maybe you rented a bunch of gear from BorrowLenses. Does that mean you have to send them a 1099? No, no, no… You don’t have to send a 1099 to any corporation. BorrowLenses is a big corporation so they don’t get a 1099 from you.

What if you paid five second shooters $400 each? Do you have to send them 1099s? Nope, because you never paid any one of them $600 or more.

What if you paid four second shooters $400 each and one second shooter $900? Then you only have to send out one 1099 to that second shooter you paid $600 or more to.

Last example: What if you paid a second shooter exactly $600? Yep, send a 1099.


The IRS will mail you 1099s for free, it just takes a week or two. You can go here to request any and all forms. Scroll down to the 1099-NEC form and enter the number you want. Easy.

If you need forms faster, you can get them at Staples or Office Depot, or even Amazon. It’s super important that you get official forms. You can’t print them online because they’re printed on special paper with fancy ink.


They’re due by the end of January. The 31st to be exact.


Don’t freak out if you’re reading this days from the deadline. It’s not hard. Here’s the step-by-step…

1. Get blank 1099-NEC forms and one 1096 form. The 1096 is a cover page that summarizes all the 1099s. Also get 1099 envelopes. Again, all this can be emergency-purchased at Staples. And get some stamps.

2. Gather a list of people you paid $600 or more to for the year who fit in the buckets above.

3. Get the name, mailing address, and EIN or Social Security Number for each of those people. The IRS makes a form you can use to request this info called a W-9. I usually send people a quick text instead of using that form, but do whatever you feel comfortable with.

4. If the 1099 is for a second shooter, enter the amount you paid them in Box 7. If it’s for a landlord, fill in Box 1.

5. Once you’ve filled out a 1099 for each person, add up all the Box 7s and Box 1s and put the totals in the matching boxes on the 1096.

6. Put the 1096 and all the Copy A 1099s into a pile. This pile goes to the IRS.

7. Put all the Copy Bs and Copy 2s in a pile for each person. These piles go to the people.

8. Put your Copy 1s in a pile. These go to your state if it’s required. The IRS automatically shares 1099 info with California, so I get to throw this pile away. Do a quick google for your state.

9. Put all the piles in envelopes and send. The IRS pile goes to the address listed on the back of the 1096. It’s a different address depending on your state.


As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. This is a tricky one, so ask for help. Also let me know what else you want to hear about!




If I paid my second photogs through venmo with tip included am I required to include that or do i subtract the tips for their 1099 total? Thanks!

Hey Nikki! It’s all money paid, tips included.

I just did my first gig as the second shooter! Do I need to pay sales tax on what I made? (I am in texas)

Only if you delivered a physical product, which you probably didn’t if you were strictly a second shooter. All good!

I’ve seen instructions online that as of 2020, we should file a 1099-NEC instead of 1099-misc for reporting non-employee compensation that is most likely subject to self-employment tax, such as independent contractors. The date at the top of this blog says 2022, so I’m wondering what you’ve heard about that?

Great question! Yep! You’ll want to fill out the new NEC. Don’t worry if you already filled out an MISC, it’s still better than nothing, but yeah, going forward, NEC is the way.

Hi, Do clients need to send a 1099 to you if you’re hired to shoot for their wedding and it’s over $600? Or is it different because they are and individual and not a business? And do you charge sales tax to them?

They don’t, for that reason, yep – they’re not a business. Its usefulness is substantiating a write-off by one company (say, a second shooter expense) and match it up with the income for another company (the second shooter’s).

Hi Brandon,
Do you have to send a 1099 to any foreign contractor as well?

Hmm. Good question. I’m honestly not certain. Taxation of foreign contractors depends a lot on details that I’m not too familiar with :/

Hi Brandon! I shoot dance photography at studios. A few of them did not have me fill out a 1099. Do I still report the money I earned from those studios?thanks!

Hey Katie! Yep, even if you don’t receive a 1099 you still need to report it on your tax return.

Hey brandon!
Since you’re so knowledgeable with taxes, i wanted to ask you a question. Recently, my bookkeeper went through an audit and is warning us that the IRS will most likely classify second shooters as employees and not independent contractors, because of the perceived “control” we have over second shooters. She told me that, unless we can prove that they own a legitimate business with an EIN and valid COI, we’ll need to treat them as employees and do the whole payroll thing. I”m curious what your thoughts on that are, or if there’s anything already out there that proves that second shooters are, in fact, independent contractors by their very nature. I don’t want to be doing things wrong, but I also don’t want to be making extra work for myself if the IRS has already ruled on what second shooters should be classified as. Thanks in advance for any insight you can share!!

Thanks for the kind words! Tricky issue… take a look at this page the IRS has on their site discussing the topic (https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-self-employed-or-employee). Basically, it comes down to a facts and circumstances test. I feel comfortable with second shooters remaining as independent contractors. Main reasons being these… they use their own equipment; they own their own business; they are hired for one clearly-defined job, not ongoing ambiguous work; they aren’t at all integrated into my business; I use a variety of second shooters, so there’s no continuity of a relationship like there is with an employee; method of payment is by-job, not a regularly-reoccurring salary; and more. Here’s another helpful link. It’s a 20-factors test that IRS has used in the past to weigh whether or not a worker is an IC or employee. https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/shared/Documents/Publications/NaturalResources/20FactorTestforIndependentContractors.pdf

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will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

what box are you putting the total from box 7 on the 1099 into, on the 1096? the “total amount reported with this form” box?

Right. You sum up all the box 7s and add them to the total on form 1096. Does that make sense? The 1096 is just a summary of all the 1099s.

Hi Brandon, what to do if the second shooter doesn’t provide his SSN?
Actually, there is no chance to confirm if it’s correct.

If you’ve tried and they won’t give it to you, then keep documentation around that you did in fact try, and submit your 1099s with the SSN section blank. The IRS might send a bill to you for leaving it blank, but should waive it if you can provide support showing you tried and they failed to comply.

Thanks for your reply! Do I need to have a signed contract with each second shooter or is it enough just to have a proof of transaction in case of emergency?

I also know that you need to use 1099 only if the independent contractor is a US person. I mean no Form 1099 needs to be filed for payments to foreign persons (i.e. if you hire a non US freelancer living abroad to edit your photos). Am I right?

Hi Brandon, Thanks for taking the time to write this article! It’s been super helpful. Every time I’ve received a 1099 all the info was printed on the form, but reading through these steps it sounds like we’ll be handwriting the info on to the form before sending it to our independent contractors. Is that correct? Just want to make sure I didn’t miss a step.

Hey Erin! I’m so glad it helped ya! Sure thing, handwriting is fine. Doesn’t have to be typed out. 🙂

[…] Once you get the EIN, use this anytime you fill out tax forms for your business… like 1099s. Check out this article on 1099s if you’re wondering what those are all […]