WELCOME! This post is only about a month late, but better late than never! 😉
To start off with, here’s a “brief” 😉 explanation to what has prompted these changes. I am starting by carrying my business slogan “Extraordinary | Real | LIFE” over to not only the images I capture, but to my business as a whole. What’s that mean? First, I want to be an extraordinary woman, a representative of Christ, whom I love and long to please, and who gave me this enormous blessing I call my passion…my CAREER! This will not be easy. I WILL fail. I will be judged. I will keep trying…it’s the trying and praying that will get me as close to that goal as humanly possible. Secondly, I want to be REAL! I’m doing that with my personal blog and new writing venture there (Prints, Princes, & Petals), and I feel the urging to do it with my business. Nothing good ever comes in the end from keeping your thoughts “watered down”. Some have told me this will “damage” my business or “create enemies”. May I be bold enough to say then that they (the new enemies I may create or client’s I may lose) weren’t really in my life for the right reasons, and God’s using this gift of my outspoken, loud, voice to help me weed them out? That’s my belief any how. Finally…LIFE! I want to have one outside of work, and I want share it, enjoy it, love it, LIVE IT..finally! LIFE is too short to be anything but happy.
Now…for the rest of the story! Recently some things have happened; some words were shared with me, some critiques were given, and a few other incidents that have led to the following final realization…. I am UNDER priced! YES! I finally said it! You’ve been telling me that for quite a while, but it finally hit me! 🙂 Thanks for the pushing! Muah!
Ohhhh if only you knew how under priced I really am. I crunched some hard numbers with this post and WOW! I’m blown away at how much I do that I never receive payment for, and upon researching, how much other professionals, with my equipment, skill set, tools, and somewhat similar of an EYE for photography, charge! I mean when MEN take time to notice and tell you you’re under-priced and should up your prices then you know it’s noticeable how little you value yourself and your work….your ART! I’ve been waiting until I “caught up” on everything from the end of 2011 and the re-design of my website (it’s apparently a yearly thing for me) to announce my rate changes and new session collections, but as ya’ll know… I’m never caught up! HA!
So, here’s my announcement! I have gone up on my rates for 2012…especially my weddings! True Story! This is the start of my 3rd year in full-time Professional Photography, and it’s time I took myself, and my health, seriously. No more killing myself only to wind up not being paid anything when all is said and done. Not.gonna.do.it! Do YOU work for free? Do you expect to not be paid for overtime? Would you expect Picasso to charge the same as a 1st year art school grad? Yeah…me either!
I’ve seen my work and the works of other true professionals I admire, and I’m finally to the point of saying that I’m right there with a lot of them…though to catch up with the rest of them I still have a few more years before I’m “there”…but I’ll get there. I am nothing if not determined. I do have to say through talking with some of my mentors and fellow creatives that I am, as one of them put it, “insanely more anal” about skin, teeth, eyes, under-eye bags, stretch marks, etc… than a lot of them are LOL! That’s just part of my personal style… to each their own 🙂 I’m not one for “composites”, eerie setups, elaborate back drops, etc… but that’s why professional photography is so amazing. There’s a million different styles/looks that different clients prefer, and there’s a million different pro’s to fit those different style desires. I’m not the photographer for everyone and that’s cool….I’ll tell you if I’m not! There’s a pro to fit you out there and I’ll refer you if we’re not a fit 🙂
Now, that being said let me clear this up and debunk, yet again, this LIE that all we photographers do is “shoot”, and why it is (to those few of you who may think pro’s like myself are “over priced”) that I am having to increase my prices for capturing memories. Side note: If I hear one.more.time the nails on a chalkboard phrase “I’d love to do what you do and just shoot all the time” I may lose it! Ohhhh how I WISH that was “ALL” we did. I’m a single, female, full-time, professional photographer… just me. I am: the art dept, the marketing dept, the accounting dept, purchasing/supplies dept, ordering/customer service dept, accounts payable and receivable dept, the battery charger, answering service, email responder, Facebook updater, Blogger, Disc Burner, Uploader, Downloader, delivery driver, research and development dept, teacher/trainer, student, scheduling dept, album designer, card/announcement designer…I could go on…. and yes… there’s plenty more…then occasionally I get to go out and do what I LOVE most….SHOOT! I’m told it takes about 3 years for a new business to turn a profit…well it’s the start of my year 3…I’m ready to be in the black! 🙂
Want to see what I teach myself, and do for my clients? Check this out…
I do 95% of my work so.lo. Call me Miss Independent, but I can’t yet afford to pay me…much less an assistant! (HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to the few friends and family who have been able to, and do help out when they can…I LOVE you all SO much!!!!) OK…Since I’m being “REAL” let me tell you what I deal with a lot when I ask certain nameless people for a little help… I’m met with “Why can’t you do it? You haven’t done anything today!” or “I’ve worked all week and I’m tired!” I could SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!! (and I have on numerous occasions!!!) Ummmm I haven’t? Spending 12-17 hours a day 6-7 days a week sitting in front of a computer isn’t somehow exhausting??? Yes… I know… I’m ranting…. I don’t usually do this I typically feel bad because I know others have bigger problems than mine, but today… I need to get all of this off my chest and start the new year off right. One of my photography idols recently did so about loathing emails, so I can about my perceived “doing nothing” all day, and about being “over priced”.
Do not tell an established professional photographer, videographer, or other creative entrepreneur that they are “over-priced”….ever! Consider this: I charged $125 for a 30 minute “special” where I spent on average 1-3 hours scheduling/re-scheduling, calling, emailing, prepping cards and batteries, loading the vehicle. Then spent anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes traveling one way, (more if they pay for it), gas, 45-1hour actually shooting, came home & unloaded the vehicle -5 minutes, offload the memory cards – 10-30 minutes (more for weddings), back up the session – another 10-30 (again…more for weddings), AND THEN I load them into my editing software to start the tedious, but required (for me anyway), process of whitening teeth, brightening eyes, removing blemishes, softening wrinkles, removing stretch marks, removing stray facial hairs or eyebrows, deleting dandruff or lint, tweaking chipped nail polish, trying to remove dirt or grease from fingernails (yeah… I do that if it’s bad enough), swapping faces, even deleting awkward items (cars, bottles, cups, animals, etc..) that somehow escaped me during composition of the shot or that meandered in on their own. THEN after all that I get to start the FUN part…. EDITING! Color tweaking, B&W-ing, aging, texturizing, fixing brightness and contrast, shadows and highlights, trying to make everyone’s skin tones somewhat look cohesive, and so on…. Next up is to export or save the now edited images.
I’ve averaged it out before and a typical BJP image has anywhere from 5-15 MINUTES on it! FIVE TO FIFTEEN MINUTES…per image! I’ve told you… I’m O.C.D. with my images…my client’s precious memories. It takes a lot longer on family sessions, Bridal or Wedding images of the Bridal party or family shots as lots of heads = lots of retouching… 10-30 minutes per image. Now, say on average the $125 session had 30 finished images (probably more because I love so many of them I just had to edit them all), and say I spent the minimum of 5 minutes per image…that’s a minimum 2.5 hours editing a “SMALL” special reduced price session. Then of course I have to compose my signature collage, upload the images to the client’s gallery, compose a Facebook and/or Blog posting, order their collage and or any other prints they order, and burn a disc. Next of course I must create an invoice or go collect payment, hit the bank, and when the prints come in or the disc is ready I head to the post office or to deliver in person = lots more time spent traveling and gas. Now…after all of that please tell me how much I paid myself out of that $125 session per hour, deducting the costs for gas, postage, the included Collage print, the Disc, labels, cases, prints, etc…..yeah… maybe not even minimum wage! (Now you see why in 2012 these “specials” will be extremely rare or non-existent!) All that work…….
Math hurts when you finally sit down to realize what you’re doing to yourself and your business. I promise I’m not complaining… merely EXPLAINING what it is I do all day, every day. (Yeah, Yeah…I know I said Sundays and Mondays would be my off days, but who am I kidding?) This is why your local professional photographers take on average 2-4 weeks just to edit portrait images, and HAVE to charge more than chain portrait studios, or the influx of “shoot and burn”, “quick turn-around” “photographers” the Digital Camera industry has flooded us with. They’re in it for a quick $! The images truly speak for themselves though so I’m not worried. Not conceited or arrogant, just confident in my skills and talent.
OK: side note: I am NOT slamming all low-cost photographers…we ALL have to start somewhere, and I actually started out as a “$75 for an hour” “all finished photos on disc” photographer to build my business (which was a HUGE mistake, but more on that another time), but mostly I stayed low to improve my photography, learn my camera, learn “natural light”, and hone my skills! (FYI: if you’re a newbie starting out I offer this advice…DO NOT…NOT…NOT offer those severely discounted sessions to EVERY potential client! You’ll never escape that mindset once it’s there!! Contact me for pricing suggestions and more info!!)
Thankfully I’m not the same stylistically or artistically that I was 3.5 years ago when I first was asked to shoot some Christmas pictures for a friend…with my old point n shoot Canon Elph Powershot!!! They turned out so well (for then anyway 😉 ) that they used them as their engagement pictures…first time I ever saw MY images in a wedding slide show!!! Pleased as punch I was! But thankfully I’ve grown, and so has my equipment…immensely… and I KEEP changing, growing, and pushing myself to be the best for my clients. THAT, to me anyway, speaks to whether one is a true professional with an eye for it, or just a hobbyist with a DSLR camera & flash…. are they growing, changing, learning, developing? Do they DESIRE to be the best they can be and push the envelope? This quote is one of my favorites in the industry “Just because someone CAN buy a camera and shoot a few ok snap shots does NOT mean they are a “photographer”.” I could buy a souped up stove, killer kitchen equipment, and a chef’s hat, but does that make me a chef? Buyer beware… You get what you pay for… or what you don’t!
So, to conclude my let it all out fest, I say this to you… I FINALLY KNOW my value and even with my increases I will STILL be under-priced compared to the others of my caliber, but I’m still building and I’ll get there. I’ve got to start turning a profit though! This is what God has called me to do full-time for good and/or bad. I ADORE it! I am BLESSED to have been given such a gift and blessing! I am more than ready to get “in to the black”. If you say to yourself “I can’t afford her, but I want her”, or another pro for that matter, then look at your bank account and see if you can’t do some re-prioritizing. I’m almost certain you’ll be able to afford A LOT more than you think, almost certain of it! I’d love for your babies, mom, dad, grandparents, husband, friends, whoever, to have amazing prints of you or your family for the future…whether I’m the photographer for you or not! 🙂
Man! I feel so much better now! Now…let the fall out begin…. 😉 HA!!
XOXO- Braska Jennea