I've read TWICE this month about 2 photographers, one local and one not, closing their doors FOR GOOD. WHY?
Because they BOTH said they could NOT survive and support themselves off their FULL TIME self employed photography income.
I checked both of them out on facebook. One had an ok number of likes with ok work. Alright- so that makes sense, perhaps there was room for improvement, on marketing and on technique. I've seen worse though! One had 5,000+ likes and beautiful work. Clearly people saw the beauty in her work and she had quality images!!
So what gives? How can 5,000 people like your work and you not be able to live off that? I don't KNOW, but I can make an assumption... These photographers were not charging what they were worth. Plain and Simple.
As Artists we love what we do- but this is also our job. We're here to have fun but we don't have hours to throw out the window either. So to anyone who wants something for free, or next to nothing- remember- we aren't just selling paper, or are required to give away digital copies bc they are "free." That "paper" holds cherished memories never to be seen again, those files took us hours to envision, capture, and artistically perfect, AND we have to survive just like you.
We have thousands of dollars in to our gear (and if you don't, I honestly don't feel as though you can call this your REAL profession... I'm not talking about hobbyists who have another job, I'm talking about the people who give it their ALL EVERY DAY.) We have years of knowledge. We have a talent no one else has. We have an eye and artistic mind you can't just borrow. And yes- if you want a custom, specialty service, you have to pay for it. Just like a painting, or a limited release item, or a product built just for you!
The SAD part is- I'm still not saying you have to charge $10,000 per session but you can not be the photographer shooting, editing, burning, and gifting EVERYTHING for $100 either.
WHY? Because you will SINK just like these people did unless you have another job or have someone else to support you. AND bc you have a GIFT that is worth more than what it cost me to buy a pair of over priced jeans from the Mall.
Please think of it this way- $100. approx. for 10 hours broken down in to emailing, meeting with a client, shooting, editing, viewing, making a disc / prepping ordering, (whichever you do), delivering products. Done. $100 divided by 10 is $10 an hour. Then uncle Same takes out 30%. $7 an hour. Then you have to pay all your studio bills, your business insurance, sales tax, or... or... OR.... the list goes on. SO NOW you are working for yourself for like $3 an hour. Really!?
NO! STOP IT! YOU STOP IT RIGHT NOW! YOU are worth more than that and so is your work, and so is your time!!!!!
To all of my clients- THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for seeing the value in what I do. Thank you for accepting the fact that I LOVE having fun with you but I am NOT here to play all day and that I create beautiful things for your home to support me in mine. YES- I love what I do but I am also very proud to say my full time job is a business I built, myself, from the ground up, and that it's in a field that many put the word "starving" in front of.
(self-portrait created during my 365 project in 2011)
Think of it this way- I have the drive and the fire behind me that a starving artist does, except I choose to eat, bc I deserve to.