"You're Just too Good for the Job"

WHAT? Have you ever heard those words? Or perhaps that was not exactly what they said, but it is what they meant by their underlying words. Our disclaimer is that this post is not purposed to point fingers, single anyone out or to guilt-trip anyone, it's purpose is simply to inform, educate and open the channels of mutual understanding to future clients and photographers alike. Throughout the course of our artistic careers, including our work with Jenuine Creations, LLC, we have been often reminded of this. Regardless, if this statement is intended as a form of flattery, we all know (ourselves included) that it still is disappointing to hear those words. Much of the time, retaining any sort of client regardless of the industry comes down to finances. We understandably know and totally get when decisions come down to budget related reasons. In any profession there are differences in price point, but huge discrepancies in prices leads to the question of why? 

Since the invention of the digital camera, there has been an insurmountable increase in the number of photography businesses around the country. Inserting our feelings towards the high numbers of these businesses are emotions of happiness and joy for those who are also out there pursing their dreams. We congratulate anyone who shares the same entrepreneurial spirit and drive that we share, but there comes a point in our minds when we have mixed feelings about this subject. With this increase in direct competition, which we believe is good and healthy, comes this basis of decisions largely based on price point and responses similar to that of the title of this post. 

We believe as professionals that in order to BE considered a professional, you need to first establish your business. Taking pictures and the photography portion of your business should be secondary. If you are first and foremost not collecting sales tax, filing your taxes at the end of each business year, paying your taxes, have no business or liability insurance, you are NOT a legitimate, professional business. Therefore, advertising yourself as a business professional, is really not honest nor appropriate until you comply with your local and state business regulations. This may sound harsh, but really, you need, need to have those things in order. We do not want to get into the legal reasoning behind why these practices are so important, but hopefully you understand why we are bringing this into focus (no pun intended :).

Once your business is established the right way, you can focus on building your portfolio and experience. There are many ways you can do this, and do so without collecting compensation while doing it. Internships, studio shadowing, grip and session assisting are all very beneficial means of gaining invaluable experience. Taking classes through local professional photography groups, getting involved with organizations like Professional Photographers of Michigan and Professional Photographers of America will make a huge difference in your approach to starting your business and the future success of your business in the long run. 

Now, where the title of this post really comes in to play is for those of us who have worked VERY diligently to do things the right way and have worked hard to promote the professional photography industry practices in our businesses. We suggest before you start charging for your services, you get some REAL solid technical practice (meaning for starters you take pictures on manual mode and know the ins-and-outs of your gear and camera) and experience working with all sorts of individuals in MANY different venues. Before setting what you believe is a fair price to say photograph a portrait session or wedding, do some number crunching. If you think that charging $X amount is a lot of money to be charging for a wedding, you are only thinking about time upfront and not any of the costs of doing business beyond that wedding day. 

By choosing to price your sessions and events without taking into consideration the amount of time, hours, gas, editing, insurance, electricity, rental fees, website, equipment, software and advertising costs, etc all the things that go into running a business is really setting yourself up for failure before you even begin. Let us be the first to tell you, trial, error and guessing, is no sure way of knowing if you are going to be in business even 1-3 years from now. This simple thought process of how you set up your pricing structure directly impacts your future success and the success of others in the professional photography industry. Because of the increasing number of photographers around the country, competition and pricing differences are inevitable. However, taking the responsibility and time to plan out how you are going to keep the lights on and successfully pay your bills every month and pay yourself is increasingly important for the professional photography industry as a whole. 

If every individual who owned a professional photography business was more concerned about the well-being of the industry for the sake of the industry, we believe it would do wonders for the perceived value of professional photography. Understanding how to price to stay in business, work with people of diverse backgrounds, working at various locations with an array of complex lighting and posing capabilities, to actually knowing how to properly light studio portraits are just some of the many things that we believe are being constantly undervalued everyday. You may respond by thinking that it is the consumer who is devaluing this profession, but clearly, we cannot blame them for the cause is our own.

If the business terms and things we are talking about are unfamiliar to you, that's OK. We believe that it is our job (along with others in our industry) to educate, not simply just run our business with our faces turned up in the air. Being too proud to help does nothing for the success of the industry. But, the honest truth is, no industry can prevail successfully when prices are brought so low and "businesses" crop up everyday without any thought given to what it actually takes financially, work-wise or professionally to stay in business. Helping clients understand perceived value and their own needs is often the difference in making an educated verses uneducated decision. When you are told one day that you are "just too good" or that your "services just do not not fit into a budget", please take it upon yourself to stand up and educate. Although saying something may not change the final outcome of a situation, it will help make individuals aware what it takes for small businesses to operate successfully. What we do does indeed matter, and to undermine a profession because of price point says much of what we are teaching those who are purchasing our services.  Here is to helping the professional photography industry be all it can be in this amazing digital age.

Much love and respect,
Jen & Nicole

This entry was posted on Jan 22, 2013 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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