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Archive 2013 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?
  
 
DavidCZ
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p.4 #1 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Prettym1k3 wrote:
Hey David,

I know you're in the SJ area, so I can speak to people in our area.

It sucks. I pull 40 hours a week at my day job. With commuting, I'm gone from 7:30am until approximately 6pm every day. My wife works too, so same thing. Then, at least this year, we have about 15 weddings on the books. I told my wife I may take on 1 more, but that's about my limit, I think.

This year, I'm only second shooting twice for friends. I simply can't take on more than that, which sucks, as I love helping other people.
...Show more

I am happy that you are booking well It is important to maintain a good balance between family and work. Somehow, the more weddings that I shoot, the more time that I want to spend with my family.

I am also limiting the number of weddings that I take this year and next year. Not only because that I want to spend more time with family, but also because that I want to keep the quality of service high. It is hard to say "no" to the extra money at the beginning. But once I realize that "time is money", then I am good at turning down jobs so that I could have more time with family.



Jun 11, 2013 at 09:05 PM
sboerup
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p.4 #2 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


For those debating the wedding photography vs corporate america career paths. Both of their pros and cons, but I think we could all agree that life isn't about working all week either. I can comfortably say that photography or business does not define me, it's just something I do.

I think a smart path would be to find a way to use the income (if possible) you are receiving today and put it towards the future, whether in the form of saving, retirement investments, paying down debt, etc. That way you can start "living" what you're dreaming for sooner rather than later.




Jun 12, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Prettym1k3
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p.4 #3 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Oops.


Jun 12, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Prettym1k3
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p.4 #4 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


DavidCZ wrote:
I am happy that you are booking well It is important to maintain a good balance between family and work. Somehow, the more weddings that I shoot, the more time that I want to spend with my family.

I am also limiting the number of weddings that I take this year and next year. Not only because that I want to spend more time with family, but also because that I want to keep the quality of service high. It is hard to say "no" to the extra money at the beginning. But once I realize that "time is
...Show more

Lots of truth here.

It's insane to think that I shot my first wedding almost 3 years ago for $500. I'd have killed for someone to offer me $3,000 to shoot their wedding.

Now, if someone were to approach me for one more wedding this year, I might actually turn around and say, "You know what? We're booked solid all year!" even though 1 more wedding could cover 2 months of child care, or a weekend getaway with my wife, or an upgrade on the house, or a new car part for my beloved Subaru, or a sizeable extra payment on our mortgage. It's absolutely crazy.



Jun 12, 2013 at 05:46 PM
NYstyles
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p.4 #5 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Prettymik3- Do it for the Subaru! ha ha


Jun 12, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Mstic
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p.4 #6 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


you know you want the 2013 orange colored limited edition WRX


Jun 12, 2013 at 07:22 PM
D. Diggler
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p.4 #7 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Prettym1k3 wrote:
It's insane to think that I shot my first wedding almost 3 years ago for $500. I'd have killed for someone to offer me $3,000 to shoot their wedding.


Sounds like you're making great money now. And especially considering how little time you put into it. You must be doing a lot of things right.



Jun 12, 2013 at 09:22 PM
DmitriM
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p.4 #8 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


2 somewhat local photographers divorced/separated within the last 12 months, partly because they were part timers and their wives could not handle their husbands spending all their extra time on wedding photography. I'd do the same... Money can't buy you happiness and most people can't understand that. Sacrificing all your free time for extra $$ to "waste" instead of spending it with your wife and children is insane.


Jun 12, 2013 at 11:24 PM
cineski
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p.4 #9 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


This is the business model that I'm trying to adapt to. I've come to the conclusion that if I continue running a full time photo business (especially in LA) it will end my life 10 years early just from stress. Unfortunately all the opportunities I find that fit my skills sets are still in LA for full time corporate photo jobs which means our cost of living will still be 200% higher than it should be. I'm curious, though, how do you balance customer service into your schedule? Right now we only book high end weddings where there's a good amount of demand placed on my attention. We just put an album together for a client and it was almost a week of back and forth. Not that I'm complaining about that at all, that package brought in a ton of money, but it makes me think about what happens if my plans to be more of a weekend warrior with a corporate photographer job happens. I could adapt only doing the photography to DVD.

Prettym1k3 wrote:
Hey David,

I know you're in the SJ area, so I can speak to people in our area.

It sucks. I pull 40 hours a week at my day job. With commuting, I'm gone from 7:30am until approximately 6pm every day. My wife works too, so same thing. Then, at least this year, we have about 15 weddings on the books. I told my wife I may take on 1 more, but that's about my limit, I think.

This year, I'm only second shooting twice for friends. I simply can't take on more than that, which sucks, as I love helping other people.
...Show more



Jun 13, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Prettym1k3
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p.4 #10 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


NYstyles wrote:
Prettymik3- Do it for the Subaru! ha ha


You raise a good point. My JDM bumper needs paint, and my car desperately needs that matching Recaro for my passenger (aka - the wife). Hahaha



Jun 13, 2013 at 07:23 PM
 

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Prettym1k3
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p.4 #11 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


cineski wrote:
This is the business model that I'm trying to adapt to. I've come to the conclusion that if I continue running a full time photo business (especially in LA) it will end my life 10 years early just from stress. Unfortunately all the opportunities I find that fit my skills sets are still in LA for full time corporate photo jobs which means our cost of living will still be 200% higher than it should be. I'm curious, though, how do you balance customer service into your schedule? Right now we only book high end weddings where there's a good
...Show more

Well, first and foremost, I went to school for business - not art or photography or digital media or physics. Any job I've ever had I've looked for ways to be more efficient, on both the micro and macro levels. Speeding up editing time, processing time, delivery time, book keeping time, etc., all gets me more time with my family.

To put it into perspective, the first wedding I shot in 2011 I spent almost 30 hours editing. I delivered 500 bad photos and it took me almost a month. The last wedding I shot I delivered 700 photos I'm proud of. I spent only 1 hour culling and 4 hours editing, and delivered the gallery link to my clients in 3 days.

No bragging here, but I'm told I'm a different breed. I work well on little sleep. I thrive on stress and activity.

I don't wait on things. If I get home early from a wedding, and my kiddo is asleep, then I import the images and let them render. If I'm still awake, I start culling. This not only helps speed up the delivery time, but it also makes for less of a chance of losing someone's images. If I can cull, edit, export and upload in a few days, then they're backed up somewhere offsite (SmugMug) quickly, without any fear of losing images. This also helps me sleep at night.

I often times wake up at midnight, pop in my headphones, and edit. It's quiet, and I find I am fastest between 11pm and 3am. I can't do that all the time, but once in a while I can.

I spent all of 2012 getting my editing times down as quickly as possible, and setting up systems for book keeping, client contact, etc. that saved me time. I now spend only about 1 hour a month on book keeping.

I limit my meetings to about an hour. I'm not going to run away if it goes an hour and 15 minutes, but I check the time and start wrapping things up around 1 hour. I walk in friendly, comfortable but dressed nice (jeans, boots, a nice shirt - that's who I am, so I want to represent my brand well), and well prepared with energy. I no longer "meet clients where they're at" in that sense. I don't drive 45 minutes to meet a client. In fact, I probably just lost a booking because I wouldn't drive 75 minutes for a consult for a bride. But you know what? I didn't lose $100 in gas and parking, and an entire evening with my family. That's worth it to me. Skype is a life saver. I just Skype'd with a bride for her July wedding as she's in Texas.

I'm still learning to say no. My wife has to pry me from the computer all the time, and I still miss the occasional dinner due to a telephone meeting, or a coffee meeting. But I've forced myself to put down the phone/mouse/keyboard and invest in my family. After all, I started this business to afford a home for my family, and so my wife could, hopefully one day, be a stay at home mom. If I'm doing all this work, and missing the moments with them, then it's all for not.

Customer service is simple: They get a reply in 24 hours. Even if it's a, "Hey, I'm out of town for the weekend, but I will get back to you first thing Monday morning." My clients have my cell phone. They can email, text, call, Facebook, etc. They know they can access me with questions or concerns. When I am talking to them or with them, I am fully invested in them. Not distracted, or annoyed, or apathetic. I am engaged with them. They know I love what I do, and because of that, building trust is easy.

The majority of our business is digital, although some people do order albums. It's a nice bonus. Everyone wants digital files, and we cater to that. It keeps the business flowing, and I believe that the industry is headed that direction. I am looking into ways to drive print sales, but that's something that's always on my mind. Keeping my clients happy and providing for them what they want, while still feeling like I'm turning a healthy profit for my business is key. That's a balance I finally feel like I've fallen into, and it feels good. Really good.

On a side note, my day job does allow for at least some time every day to email clients, take a quick phone call, etc. My job is by no means flexible, but it does allow me time on a break or lunch to do some of this. This helps tremendously, as the daily photography work (correspondence, contracts, emailing .zip files, etc.) I'd have to do when getting home from work is almost non-existent by 5:00pm.

That was a lot of stuff I just typed. Sorry about that.




Edited on Jun 13, 2013 at 08:46 PM · View previous versions



Jun 13, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Mark_L
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p.4 #12 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


For people who have full time jobs AND are doing their own editing, what is your hesitation in sending it out?


Jun 13, 2013 at 07:55 PM
tobicus
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p.4 #13 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Mark_L wrote:
For people who have full time jobs AND are doing their own editing, what is your hesitation in sending it out?


I don't mind the editing; the hardest part for me is culling, but besides that, it's just a question of cropping, applying a preset or two, and perhaps some straightening, as well as black/white conversions. Besides that, and most importantly, I'd rather not work two jobs so I can pay someone else to do theirs if I could do it on my own (that's also why I do my own car repairs when possible, mow my lawn, cut my own hair, etc).

With all that said, we're leaving wedding photography after this year, but that's more about recovering the time we spend at the weddings themselves, rather than anything to do with editing.



Jun 13, 2013 at 08:02 PM
NYstyles
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p.4 #14 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Prettym1k3 wrote:
You raise a good point. My JDM bumper needs paint, and my car desperately needs that matching Recaro for my passenger (aka - the wife). Hahaha



he he

To add from your recent post, I run the same way. Went to school for business. I process quickly. work well in high stress and the wee hours of the night. What takes the longest is what i want to blog and doing it! lol

Still have to manage time to have a life even without a family. I dont have the family but I enjoy other things like my crafts/DIY stuff and when I had the Subaru... I had time to media blast my calipers, paint them, and do my own brakes! Gosh the money I saved on that too! Loved going to WRX meet ups as well. They did a meet every week and had a big summer BBQ. Very much a tomboy but love all things girly. Urg, I miss her! I miss her purr and whistle as I cruised...

Must be a Subaru lover thing! hahaha



Jun 13, 2013 at 08:06 PM
tobicus
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p.4 #15 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


^ I'm guessing most people who post here often are really self-driven; it takes a lot to juggle non-traditional and traditional roles (e.g., working while running a side business, being fully self-employed, working while going to school, structuring work/life to facilitate a part-time or stay-at-home-partner, etc).


Jun 13, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Prettym1k3
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p.4 #16 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Mark_L wrote:
For people who have full time jobs AND are doing their own editing, what is your hesitation in sending it out?


I don't outsource editing for a few reason. First, if my average intake for a wedding is around $3,000 (sometimes $2,500, sometimes closer to $5,000), then paying someone to cull my image (which only takes me an hour) to the tune of $0.xx per image, and then to pay them to edit (which only takes me 4-5 hours) to the tune of $0.xx per image, it's not worth it. I end up digging into 5-8% of my profits to pay someone to do something I can do. And, again, it's not worth it.

Additionally, my average editing turn around time is 3-5 days. I shot a wedding in late March and had the images done (over 900) in less than 24 hours. Delivered to my clients the following day before they hopped a plane to move to Costa Rica. If I had send them out for editing, they wouldn't even have been at the post office for shipping yet. I don't like that. I want thing done quickly, in a timely fashion. Under-promise (8-12 weeks) and insanely over-delivery (3-5 days). People are blown away, and that's good word of mouth marketing for us.



Jun 13, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Prettym1k3
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p.4 #17 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


tobicus wrote:
I don't mind the editing; the hardest part for me is culling, but besides that, it's just a question of cropping, applying a preset or two, and perhaps some straightening, as well as black/white conversions. Besides that, and most importantly, I'd rather not work two jobs so I can pay someone else to do theirs if I could do it on my own (that's also why I do my own car repairs when possible, mow my lawn, cut my own hair, etc).

With all that said, we're leaving wedding photography after this year, but that's more about recovering the time we
...Show more

Culling is actually easy if you get rid of bad habits, and start good ones. When I started 3 years ago, I could spend hours culling a few hundred images. I'd go to the first image. If I liked it, I'd edit it. Then onto the next. Nah. Dump that one. Then the next. Yes. Edit. It was herky-jerky, stop-and-go motions that were killed me. I now force myself to not edit anything until I'm done culling. Okay, I break my own rule once in a while. But honestly, an average wedding with somewhere around 2,000-2,500 images can be culled down in about an hour. But it took me almost a year of stopping my bad habits, catching myself when I did it, scolding myself, and then forcing myself to carry on with culling definitely helped.

I don't cut my own hair, but yard work, car repairs, etc. I do all that myself. Feelings of accomplishment in physical tasks are valuable to me, but I also save a pretty penny on stuff. Same goes for my editing. It's a cost saving technique. If I ever get to a place where I'm doing 40-50 weddings a year, I'll still do my own editing because, if I'm at that level, then I don't need my day job anymore, and that means I just freed up 40+ hours every week. If I can shoot and edit 15+ weddings and e-session every year now, then adding 160 hours every month to my availability means I should be able to take on at least double if not triple the world load. My plan is to never outsource.

tobicus wrote:
^ I'm guessing most people who post here often are really self-driven; it takes a lot to juggle non-traditional and traditional roles (e.g., working while running a side business, being fully self-employed, working while going to school, structuring work/life to facilitate a part-time or stay-at-home-partner, etc).


Amen to that. I think most of us are. I worked full time during college. I've always had something going on on the side to keep me busy (racing cars, racing bikes, building something, etc.). If all I had was my work and family, I might lose my mind. I need more.



Jun 13, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Prettym1k3
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p.4 #18 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


NYstyles wrote:
he he

To add from your recent post, I run the same way. Went to school for business. I process quickly. work well in high stress and the wee hours of the night. What takes the longest is what i want to blog and doing it! lol

Still have to manage time to have a life even without a family. I dont have the family but I enjoy other things like my crafts/DIY stuff and when I had the Subaru... I had time to media blast my calipers, paint them, and do my own brakes! Gosh the money I saved
...Show more

Ahhh. Yes. The Boxer rumble. Man, I love that.

I actually had a weekend off last weekend, and took my car to the track. It was a frickin' BLAST!

I hope you're still finding time for yourself and to do fun stuff. Working on cars is a passion of mine that years ago I thought would turn into a career. Then I got married, picked up a camera, and the rest is history.



Jun 13, 2013 at 08:59 PM
NYstyles
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p.4 #19 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Prettym1k3 wrote:
Ahhh. Yes. The Boxer rumble. Man, I love that.

I actually had a weekend off last weekend, and took my car to the track. It was a frickin' BLAST!

I hope you're still finding time for yourself and to do fun stuff. Working on cars is a passion of mine that years ago I thought would turn into a career. Then I got married, picked up a camera, and the rest is history.


That had to be so fun! I love watching rally racing! lol I'll have another one day.

I craft and build furniture pieces out of recycled wood. I actually just 'crafted' a butt load of wedding center pieces!


Sorry we went a bit OT and cheesed about Subaru's!



Jun 13, 2013 at 09:15 PM
morby
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p.4 #20 · Is the economy picking up and photogs are dropping out?


Prettym1k3 wrote:
I don't outsource editing for a few reason. First, if my average intake for a wedding is around $3,000 (sometimes $2,500, sometimes closer to $5,000), then paying someone to cull my image (which only takes me an hour) to the tune of $0.xx per image, and then to pay them to edit (which only takes me 4-5 hours) to the tune of $0.xx per image, it's not worth it. I end up digging into 5-8% of my profits to pay someone to do something I can do. And, again, it's not worth it.

Additionally, my average editing turn around time is
...Show more

With my editor I upload the files to an FTP server (usually overnight) and she emails me the xmp's within a week. It's pretty painless and saves me a bunch of time. I still cull and do minor edits once they are returned, but since using her my stress level has dramatically decreased



Jun 13, 2013 at 10:34 PM
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