Working as a photographer, particularly in a public place, involves a certain amount of risk. The extent of this risk clearly depends upon the nature of the work undertaken, and that is the key point that should be addressed. Working as an amateur or a high-street professional is obviously less hazardous than being a news photographer in a war zone. However the risks associated with the high-street role are also easier to overlook.
The principal risks faced by everyday photographers on a daily basis include personal injury, loss of equipment, various types of damage, and those arising from public liability issues. It is of course easy to dismiss each of these as insignificant, but unfortunately that is not so. The risk of personal injury can be considerably reduced by sensible planning before undertaking photographic work. Landscape photographers must approach dangerous terrain with care and protect themselves against low temperatures, barbed wire and farmer's prize bulls. Equipment must be appropriately insured, used for in a responsible manner, protected from the elements and properly serviced. If these tasks are neglected it will not be long before the financial effects of equipment failure are felt.
In some cases, images may have a higher value than the equipment used to capture them. Some a simply irreplaceable so no amount of insurance can provide complete protection. Professional back-up and archiving, and the physical protection of original film-based material, are the only solutions. Many photographers do not allow valuable original material to leave their safe-keeping.
The most significant risks are, however, those under the public liability or third-party umbrella. A photographer who obstructs, trips or injures somebody with a stepladder or a flash cable may, in the modern litigious environment, may be sued for damages. An irate bride whose wedding photographs have been ruined may also sue for substantial damages. The far-reaching consequences of such actions are likely to threaten career and home rather than just a monthly income. It is therefore unwise to work professionally or semi-professionally without appropriate public liability insurance.