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Archive 2016 · I can't do photography full time
  
 
level1photog
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · I can't do photography full time


I've been doing this part time for not too long and realized the business of photography is as hard as the art. I enjoyed getting pay handsomely doing what I love, but there are alot of things I went through that deter me from ever doing it full time. I've had people asked me for a free family photoshoot, gave me ultimatum by lowballing me and demanded more things. Just recently, an acquaintance decided to contact me for an engagement shoot. After alot of email regarding planning for the photo-shoot decided to cancel on me but they want to reserve me a year in advance for 2 hrs ceremony event on a Saturday. I refused all these offers. Nowadays, everyone has access to professional gears, but to provide professional service and beautiful images with good lighting, editing, posing, that's hard.

I also notice there alot of photographers on Facebook that's endlessly marketing their photography in groups, etc. They buy expensive gears (profoto lighting, 200mm f2, Nikon D5/1DX II) but charge only $2000 for a wedding. I see wedding photographers that do Facebook live feed during a church ceremony in front of the altar on the side, and take cell phone pictures of bride and groom kneeling down in front of the church. I also see photographers brag about how many clients they get in a month, brag about tip money, etc. I find that disgusting, unprofessional and rude. I never want to resort to do all these tactic to be successful. I charge what I think I'm worth and take on limited jobs per months to balance family, and full time job. I just got on a prefer high volume vendor list and alot of word of mouth recommendation with strong portfolio so hopefully I don't have to deal with these type of clients. I know the struggle of full-time photographers.



Oct 06, 2016 at 03:46 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · I can't do photography full time


Yeah, I'd like wedding photography if it wasn't for the clients and other wedding photographers.


Oct 06, 2016 at 04:13 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · I can't do photography full time


LeeSimms wrote:
Yeah, I'd like wedding photography if it wasn't for the clients and other wedding photographers.


I've had alot of great clients who are very generous and sweet. As I get better and better with more recommendation from vendors and word of mouth, I'm just target those kinds of clientele. Other than wedding, I don't see many people invest alot of money into other type of photography. I do family photography starting at $250 and some people just can't event afford that. With wedding, they are willing to spend more. I'd rather do one wedding at $3-6K/pop.




Oct 06, 2016 at 04:20 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · I can't do photography full time


I was joking. What we do is the purest form of free market. If you make something people like and put a price tag on it, somebody will buy it. Nobody can buy it if they don't know it exists so you show them it exists.

Anyone tells you they 'can't afford' something what they're saying is, "I don't value what you're selling". Just a few years back, people didn't spend $500+ on a telephone or $1,000+ covering their body in ink and they were just as broke then. Somehow, someway the find the money for what they want.

PT Barum was right. Now just figure out what the really want.



Oct 06, 2016 at 04:32 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · I can't do photography full time


level1photog wrote:
I also notice there alot of photographers on Facebook that's endlessly marketing their photography in groups, etc. They buy expensive gears (profoto lighting, 200mm f2, Nikon D5/1DX II) but charge only $2000 for a wedding. I see wedding photographers that do Facebook live feed during a church ceremony in front of the altar on the side, and take cell phone pictures of bride and groom kneeling down in front of the church. I also see photographers brag about how many clients they get in a month, brag about tip money, etc. I find that disgusting, unprofessional and rude. I never
...Show more

I'm not saying you should do it full time. Do whatever you want. But photographers are like any other group. The loudest and flashiest are usually just a loud minority. Those things annoy (that's putting it gently) me too. There's lots of good apples out there and you can run your business however you want. Those tactics certainly aren't required and there's lots of clients who are turned off by that too. We've been full time for over 8 years now and love it!



Oct 06, 2016 at 04:33 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · I can't do photography full time


Thanks Tony. I really admire photographers who master their craft, provide excellent customers service and succesful at it. That's what I'm aiming for without the flashiness


Oct 06, 2016 at 04:38 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · I can't do photography full time


level1photog wrote:
I've been doing this part time for not too long and realized the business of photography is as hard as the art. I enjoyed getting pay handsomely doing what I love, but there are alot of things I went through that deter me from ever doing it full time. I've had people asked me for a free family photoshoot, gave me ultimatum by lowballing me and demanded more things. Just recently, an acquaintance decided to contact me for an engagement shoot. After alot of email regarding planning for the photo-shoot decided to cancel on me but they want to reserve
...Show more

This comes down to the level of respect people in general have for us and what we do. Even staying within the wedding domain, photogs are always the first to start have have games being played and refunds etc. from couple who have overstretched.



Oct 06, 2016 at 05:19 PM
TheyCallMeJ
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · I can't do photography full time


level1photog wrote:
I've been doing this part time for not too long and realized the business of photography is as hard as the art. I enjoyed getting pay handsomely doing what I love, but there are alot of things I went through that deter me from ever doing it full time. I've had people asked me for a free family photoshoot, gave me ultimatum by lowballing me and demanded more things. Just recently, an acquaintance decided to contact me for an engagement shoot. After alot of email regarding planning for the photo-shoot decided to cancel on me but they want to reserve
...Show more


Coming from a part-timer who has no intention on doing this full-time, I hear your concerns but you will very soon learn how to ignore the noise and focus on your clients. The reason I say that is because the price point or what other photographers are doing don't really matter, it is how you manage, execute and market your business that counts.

In the past few years I noticed two things: 1) Photographers brainwashed by workshops that teach them to "raise their prices and chase high-end clients" and 2) Revolving door of new photographers due to low barriers of entry.

What happened was that the marketplace (I will only speak of my area although I believe the general consensus is true) was being pulled into two extremes: 1) Full-timers that end up copying each other, both in style and pricing, say at the $5000 level and 2) People that aren't supposed to be photographers in the first place, serving the sub $500 market and will disappear after a year or two.

I saw an opportunity as the entire mid-tier market is being neglected and that was where I jumped in. When compared to the full-timers I will always maintain a pricing advantage, whereas I will excel in quality against those in the sub $500 market. Over the years I studied the craft obsessively and the gap is being narrowed to a point where potential clients are stunned once I reveal my pricing. My clients know who I am and what I do, once they cross-examined my testimonials and past work, they are convinced that I am the real deal.

Just like any other industry, I genuinely believe that one can build a successful, sustainable wedding photography business at any price point, yes even the $500 ones. Should I tackle this market my approach would be entirely different, managing a $500 bride isn't the same as the $5000 bride. Pick your market, focus on serving the clients in that market and you will come out ahead.




Oct 06, 2016 at 07:29 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · I can't do photography full time



I agree with you 100%. I have to learn on how to drown the noise and concentrate on clients that matter. I'm currently targeting mid range client and up. I'm happy with my booking rate and my asking price. It was harder in beginning when I didn't have alot of job and was obsessed with getting better through education and gears upgrade. I'm glad I have the luxury to say no now.
TheyCallMeJ wrote:
Coming from a part-timer who has no intention on doing this full-time, I hear your concerns but you will very soon learn how to ignore the noise and focus on your clients. The reason I say that is because the price point or what other photographers are doing don't really matter, it is how you manage, execute and market your business that counts.

In the past few years I noticed two things: 1) Photographers brainwashed by workshops that teach them to "raise their prices and chase high-end clients" and 2) Revolving door of new photographers due to low barriers of entry.

What
...Show more



Oct 06, 2016 at 07:52 PM
ZachOly
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · I can't do photography full time


The wedding photo business itself is pretty straightforward. Not a lot of expense transactions. Not a lot of invoices. You can easily "4 hour work week" the social media/email/admin side of things. There's no reason for it to consume your life like it does some people.

And the shooting/editing a wedding is pretty straight forward on the surface.

I think what kills most in this industry are the clients. The endless illogical requests/demands will break you at some point.




Oct 06, 2016 at 08:13 PM
 

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LeeSimms
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · I can't do photography full time


> The endless illogical requests/demands will break you at some point.

For me it will be the music played at receptions.



Oct 06, 2016 at 08:17 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · I can't do photography full time


TheyCallMeJ wrote:
I saw an opportunity as the entire mid-tier market is being neglected and that was where I jumped in. When compared to the full-timers I will always maintain a pricing advantage, whereas I will excel in quality against those in the sub $500 market. Over the years I studied the craft obsessively and the gap is being narrowed to a point where potential clients are stunned once I reveal my pricing. My clients know who I am and what I do, once they cross-examined my testimonials and past work, they are convinced that I am the real deal.

Just like
...Show more

You forgot the third type. The one with a day job that has got pretty decent at photography who does it on the side and low balls the pricing for easy bookings and drives the market down to unsustainable low rates.

You are a part timer and then tell us you believe you can maintain a sustainable business at any price point? By 'sustainable' do you mean a liveable income or just turning a profit?



Oct 06, 2016 at 08:28 PM
ZachOly
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · I can't do photography full time


Forgot the 4th type....and worst.

The stay at home mom/dad/20yo who's not responsible for any household overhead. This person kind of sucks at photography overall but is good enough to get a solid photo or two during a wedding day. They charge just enough to cover the cost of their Facebook ads, but the SO/parents has to buy them their camera gear.



Edited on Oct 08, 2016 at 10:53 AM · View previous versions



Oct 06, 2016 at 08:38 PM
TheyCallMeJ
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · I can't do photography full time


Mark_L wrote:
You forgot the third type. The one with a day job that has got pretty decent at photography who does it on the side and low balls the pricing for easy bookings and drives the market down to unsustainable low rates.

You are a part timer and then tell us you believe you can maintain a sustainable business at any price point? By 'sustainable' do you mean a liveable income or just turning a profit?



Ah... It has been a while Mark. Why do I sense hostility each time I see you quoting what I say? Do you feel insecure in your ability? Are you having trouble differentiating yourself from part-timers like me? If you are meeting your business objectives then why would you care what part-timers do? I will paraphrase what I said in my very first post here on FM: If you are a full-timer who is afraid of part-timers, then your days as wedding photographer are numbered. Look, you can hate me all you want. Bring on the heat, I can take it. Just understand that it is not going to change the fact that there are many like me out there.

To answer your question, I can see myself annihilating the $1000+ market given my experience and skill level, say by booking 40-50 weddings a year should I decide to do this full-time tomorrow. This brings roughly $40-50k+ gross per year, much in line with the median personal income in the USA. Therefore it is a liveable income in addition to being sustainable.

Edit: Before anyone jumps on me with respect to the cost of doing business, I am well aware that bringing home $50k won't make me rich, nor retire anytime soon. Personally, I am well past the $1000 price point and doing 50 weddings a year isn't appealing to me. Simply because I "can" doesn't mean I "will".



Oct 06, 2016 at 08:59 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · I can't do photography full time


TheyCallMeJ,it sounds like me and you are like-minded. I'm not interested in doing 8 hours wedding for $1000 and being book every weekend. I rather do one nice wedding at a decent rate. It's much easier to capture beautiful venue, decoration, dress, than it is to cheap weddings.

Mark, there are alot of part-time wedding photographers here that value their time, and skill to charge a reasonable fair market rate. I already know I charge more than some full timer in my area ($1500ish), but I competing in value, quality and service. Doing part time allows me to be more aggressive in my pricing since I can take more risk since I have a full time job.

TheyCallMeJ wrote:
Ah... It has been a while Mark. Why do I sense hostility each time I see you quoting what I say? Do you feel insecure in your ability? Are you having trouble differentiating yourself from part-timers like me? If you are meeting your business objectives then why would you care what part-timers do? I will paraphrase what I said in my very first post here on FM: If you are a full-timer who is afraid of part-timers, then your days as wedding photographer are numbered. Look, you can hate me all you want. Bring on the heat, I can take
...Show more




Oct 06, 2016 at 09:22 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · I can't do photography full time


It seems like everyone is a photographer with Facebook photography page. I see mom doing IPS and charge a huge amount for family session but their skill is still intermediate/beginner. It's going to be hard to convince client high price for prints without digital.

ZachOly wrote:
Forgot the 4th type....and worst.

The stay at home mom who's not responsible for any household overhead. She kind of sucks at photography overall but is good enough to get a solid photo or two during a wedding day. She charges just enough to cover the cost of her Facebook ads, but hubby has to buy her the camera gear.






Oct 06, 2016 at 09:27 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · I can't do photography full time


> It seems like everyone is a photographer with Facebook photography page.

We don't have one and between 2 brands we're shooting 150 events this year.

I'm not bragging, just trying to point out that this might be a bigger and more diverse business than you're seeing.



Oct 06, 2016 at 09:44 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · I can't do photography full time


I'm glad you are doing well. If I can get to that kind of number with my asking price, I will be ecstatic. It takes time and effort.

LeeSimms wrote:
> It seems like everyone is a photographer with Facebook photography page.

We don't have one and between 2 brands we're shooting 150 events this year.

I'm not bragging, just trying to point out that this might be a bigger and more diverse business than you're seeing.





Oct 06, 2016 at 09:53 PM
glort
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · I can't do photography full time


level1photog wrote:
I've had people asked me for a free family photoshoot, gave me ultimatum by lowballing me and demanded more things.Nowadays, everyone has access to professional gears, but to provide professional service and beautiful images with good lighting, editing, posing, that's hard.


As much as people get upset when I mention the old days of film.......
In this area things were pretty much the same. You got people wanting freebies and if you do this for free now we'll give you a heap of work and pay you later and anyone could buy gear and a lot did and became weekend warriors.

I'll certainly concede digital has brought out loads more of these tryhards which has made things more difficult but the fundamental issues were the same and I think pretty much are for a lot of businesses.

I also notice there alot of photographers on Facebook that's endlessly marketing their photography in groups, etc.

I agree but this IS something you can avoid. I think my dislike of FB and the surrounding hype and insecurity of basing ones business leads from such a medium are well enough documented already but this is the exact reason I have the position I do of it.
It's like the old Yellow pages. Everyone is trying to market themselves in direct competition with everyone else.
The part most miss is it's the absolute sandbox for marketing yourself due to the proliferation of the low end of the game all taking advantage of it being free.

Yes, everyone is going to jump on and say they get all their work from there and the best shooters have pages and..... yeah, whatever. If you are doing well from it great, stick to it.
The amount of posts I see where people are not is the ( large) area I'm talking about.

A lot of the problem comes back to the old thing I harp about and that's business skills.
So many these days thing marketing and advertising is FB and thats the holy grail where all the business is. Rubbish. It's where a very select Niche market of clients can be found with and over saturation of shooters chasing them.

There are other markets and there are other ways to approach them but it is undeniable that many shooters these days are just too damn lazy and purposefully ignorant to do anything else.
what people do on FB doesn't worry me in the slightest because I have never used it, never depended on it and still had a PROFITABLE business and avoided so many of the problems I read about.

I let weddings go years back and didn't chase it for a while back in the days well before FB. The bridal mags and especially shows were becoming totally oversaturated when electronic Auto everything film camera's came in and the expense of finding clients became too high as to other mediums and markets. I was paying like $3000 for a half or quarter page ( forget which it was) ad in a bridal mag. No gaurantee of returns because you might get 50 enquiries and 25 of them straight away would ask " What can you do for $500" when the ad stated " Wedding coverages from $1500"

OTOH, I could run a 1/3rd page strip ad in a womens lifestyle magazine for $300 promoting my glamour work and book out for a fortnight at a time non stop a week after the mag came out and pull $1000 out of each 1 Day ( max) shoot with no other work involved than hand over the prints.

This isn't the first time the wedding market has become over saturated and IMHO, non viable or at least there have been much more profitable markets out there.
If there is one thing I can say for myself, it's that I am flexible. I'm not out to create wedding or portrait or landscape or pet or any other art, I'm out to make the best returns for my efforts wherever they may be and happy to adapt and change to wherever that opportunity may be.

I don't put much effort into weddings atm either. When you advertise you seem to attract a price conscious market these days whom are exposed to all the FB and web page price orientated purveyors out there. When you get refferals and WOM, it seems totally different. Like these people want to fly under the Radar and can't be bothered with all the hype and scratching and eye gouging that goes on either.

Could I make a full time ( decent) living out of wedding work? I definitely believe I could.
I would set up a referal base of a min of 10 sources mainly being other vendors both local and further out in targeted ( non wealthy) areas and build rapport with those vendors so they were each giving me a few leads ( minimum) a month. I would only need to convert 30% of those to sales ( well below what I have done for many years) to be getting 10 Jobs a month.

Be those up market or backyard weddings is irrelevant to me. They pay my price, they get my same standard service and I make good money.
The question is do I have the motivation, Dedication, passion and would I be willing to put in the effort to do this?
Not now, no way in hell. Unfortunately, I can see there are a great many out there that have what I lack in drive and motivation by the truckload but are absent of my advantage in the game of knowledge and flexibility. Yeah, you can go gugngho at FB all day long but I'll guarantee you'll do better showing up on vendors doorsteps with a nicely presented printed info package and a stack of business cards and building a long term relationship with them and you'll have to put far less time into it over all.
Will most people in the game do that? No, not a hope in hell of that either.

It's not about working hard, it's about working smart.

IF FB isn't working for you or you don't like it, fine, go somewhere else to source your leads.
I see a lot of people complaining about FB but I don't recall any saying " FB wasn't working the way it did for me so I went and tried finding new clients by....."

And if weddings can't give you the returns or hours or whatever you want and you still want to be in the photo game, Open your eyes, turn your head from side to side and see where the better opportunities are and go after them.

No use getting upset because grandpa made the family fortune selling Model T parts but now you hardly have one person a week writing you a letter to order something.

Photography is a LOT harder to make a living from and in some areas, as always, there isn't the population base to support it full time. The main thing I see is that for all the increase in difficulties, you can still do it profitably, full time or otherwise, BUT, it does take a lot more BUSINESS savvy than what one could get away with before with just passing out business cards to people they met.

Most shooters however are still totally obsessed with taking the best picture ever taken on the latest and greatest gear and edition that to artistic perfection.
That's all well and great but without backing that effort up with proportionate marketing skills, the $500 guy is still going to beat you out of a lot of work simple because to a lot of prospects you look so good they assume you are going to be 10X out of their price range.

It has to balance. The whole thing in what you do, how you present yourself, your systems, procedures, price, marketing, delivery... EVERYTHING, has to BALANCE.

Change, adapt and get smarter or as a long gone photo hero of mine once told me " Go find another post to piss on".
There is nothing else you can do other than starve.



Oct 06, 2016 at 11:08 PM
Sodonn
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · I can't do photography full time


So glad this topic came up...been thinking a lot lately about everything that has been mentioned lately.

Though... doing it full time has not been an immediate necessity as I have a full time job that I do enjoy and it does pay well. That said I did want to build the business to a point of making the jump full time a choice that could be made if push came to shove. I do love photography....I do love shooting weddings...but I have come to a cross road lately of continuing...or simply getting out of the business and doing it for pure enjoyment.

I've mostly lurked on this board for a long time.....and just the countless informable threads of advise have shaped much of my shooting, process, and business.

In my 4 years my business has grown year over year. When Jan. 2015 rolled around I had zero bookings.....then quickly it turned into the busiest year I had....and by August 2015 I had 10 weddings booked for 2016. Having a full time job I can not do 35 weddings a year but figured 15-20 would be my max per year.

At the beginning of 2016 I evaluated my pricing and inquiry/booking rate and raised my prices...still considered in the mid range for my area but a bit higher. In June this year the inquiries just dropped of the face of the earth and stayed quiet with the exception of the last two weeks they started slowly coming around again. I'm in central FL....figured it was just too brutally hot out, or maybe it's this stupid election season, who knows?

I have come to notice that the local industry is mainly female.....and who you know....talent doesn't seem to hold much weight around these parts from what I can see. I'm not a let's sit down over tea and gossip with a fake smile kind of person. Maybe I need to change that.

I've never put much weight into facebook stuff. The lowball togs with rebels and 10 mini sessions per year have way more fans than I do.

I tried the knot for two years...but recently ditched it because with 22 honest 5 star reviews I was buried on page 3 while the photog with deep pockets and not one review was "featured" on the first page. My Knot stats sucked...and I wasn't willing to put more money into it while their forums had people offering up Photog XYZ in the area who was much cheaper and not even an advertiser on The Knot....so yeah....bye bye money suck!

I am viewed as expensive at $2400 ( 8 hrs ) in my immediate area....while I'm mid range in the general area within 30-40 minutes driving distance.

I've established one really good relationship with a Florist / wedding planner and that has been really good for solid referrals and leads that usually result in bookings.

I am at a point of not certain where exactly to turn...but I am questioning if it is worth the time away from family to keep it up.



Oct 06, 2016 at 11:48 PM
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