Thursday, July 19, 2012

For the love of photos....

I am not sure why, but I feel like writing.  It's been awhile, and actually…  I kinda miss it.  I don't want to hurt anyone by what I might write, but I just want you to understand.  

People email me several times a day, week, month telling me how they love photography.  How they don't know how to get started.  How they love taking photos…  I know you guys have probably heard it before, but it is so much more than taking photos.  It is stress.  For the love of photos, well quite frankly it just isn't enough.

Just going to be frank, and not sugar coat anything.  If you are taking photos, and charging $25 for a cd.  Or $1 for an 8x10, you are completely insane.  Sorry, but you are.  #1 reason….  IRS.  If you are charging people for a service or a product…  You MUST have a business tax ID number.  This should be STEP #1 in starting your photography business.  All it takes is one phone call from an angry/upset client that you charged $25 to take their photos to get turned in.  Then you will be audited, fined and face more headache and stress from the IRS than you ever bargained for.

#2 Reason…  INSURANCE.  During your $25 session, if Sally gets on a rock and jumps for your photo, and breaks a leg.  BAM!  You are liable.  Insurance is a MUST.  Your insurance must cover your client while taking the photographs, your equipment to protect from the possibility of being broken, damaged or stolen on a shoot or a wedding, and protect you from the possibility of a lawsuit if files are lost or damaged from a shoot or a wedding.  Seriously.  If you are operating without insurance, you are only asking for trouble.  There is no way, I would pick up my camera and head out with a senior without being covered.  People sue for everything nowadays.  It just isn't worth the risk.

#3  That $25 Cd.  Most people think, I will buy this $400 camera and make me some money.  The $25 you charged your client for her 3 hour session and the 4 hours of editing that you did while your kids were with the baby sitter that charged you $40 for watching your kids….  doesn't cover anything.  When pricing your photography, you MUST take EVERYTHING into consideration when setting your pricing.  I know we live in a digital age, but every camera has a shutter life.  You will have to upgrade that puppy soon.  So not only do you have the cost of your camera, your flash, your gas to the session, the computer you edit on, the electricity for that computer, the money you are out while your kids are at daycare, cost of the DVD you are burning to, editing software, internet services,…  and added to this list for me are OCF, studio lighting, education, insurance, phone, sales taxes, PPA membership, equipment updates, insurance, time spent away from my family, insurance, time I miss not being with my kids, insurance, advertising, packaging, mailing, time away from my family….  I know I have missed things.  Point is, photographers charge.  They have to.  It is more than just an 8x10 photograph of your son's senior portrait.  It is the knowledge to know how to properly pose, light, expose, and deliver that photograph to you.  So many more elements are involved than you even realize.

#4  Business Plan.  Google it if you have no idea what it is.  You have to know who you are, what you stand for, what your business goals are, how many sessions you MUST book JUST to cover your monthly expenses, a budget to get you thru the year when Nikon releases a new camera that you think you NEED, goals, where you want to be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 or even 10 years.  Plus, it is always awesome to reflect on and see how far you have came and how much you have accomplished.

#5 Stress.  This one is killer for me.  I am a people pleaser.  I feel like I am failing horribly by being so busy and not being able to give people the attention they deserve.  I feel like I am failing by not getting them their photos in a timely manner they are happy with.  Sometimes, I feel like I have dug myself into a hole and there is NO WAY out.  Dealing with unhappy people who ordered a 5x7 of their child that they didn't receive.  Or worse yet, a failing memory card of a wedding ceremony and reception.  Yes.  Never think it will not happen to you.  Because, it will.  It has to me.  Ruined me in so many ways.  I don't trust myself.  It was my job to capture and protect their precious moments of the beginning of their life together.  And I failed.  I didn't want to pick up a camera again.  I was done with weddings.  I was done with photography.  The stress of the business was so much more than I could even possibly handle, and I had been doing this for 11 years.  You would think I would be used to the stress.  it only gets worse.  And builds.  You take on more than you can handle, trying to make more people happy.  Provide more for your kids, be an awesome wife, ……..  just be successful.  When the only success you are having, is being successful at failing.  If anyone can make this profession look easy, I want to shadow them for a day.

I have a friend of mine, who probably doesn't know how jealous I am of her.  She photographs because she loves it.  She can jump in a truck, backroad for hours, enjoy the peacefulness of the country, capture bunnies trying to cross the road in front of them…  she can laugh.  She can enjoy taking photos.  I miss that.  I miss the joy.  The adventure, and quite frankly I miss the passion.  See, reasons #1-#5 make this a job.  J-O-B.  You know.  One of those things you get paid for doing.  Being self-employed doesn't give you a steady paycheck all the time, insurance, retirement or a heck I don't even know what a 401k is!  It gives you breaks in the road that you must decide to keep going, or stopping.  It gives you unexpected expenses, when you really can't afford to even put gas in your car.

So, I guess.  All in all, I just want to say.  If you love photography, the passion of the moment, the thrill of photographing something so amazing…  think about what I said. You will invest so much more time than you realize and your kids will grow up while you are editing.  Trust me.  I have one that is 11 and going into the 6th grade.  Where has her mom been?  In front of the computer, editing.  And that isn't a memory I want her to have.  

Hope I didn't offend.  Just trying to say… Welcome to my world. G'night all.


  1. Pam, this is wonderful. Very heartfelt. We so appreciate what you do how you do it and what you charge. You are a good business woman and asset to our community. We love you and yours and I personally am too honored to call you a friend! WOW! I get all sappy at 6 am. LOL! Love Kat

  2. Very well said! It seems these days everyone wants to pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer. They have no idea what they are doing and people trust them to capture important events. What they get, they could have taken themselves. What you give people has value and will be photos that will be cherished. Your children won't remember you sitting in front of the computer editing, they will remember they had a Mom who worked had for them. I think it is great you can do a job with them around you. Be thankful for that, instead of being away from them everyday for 10 hours a day at a job working for someone else.