This is a guest blog by Anne Ruthmann. She is a Documentary Wedding & Lifestyle photographer in the Greater Boston area, where you can hang out with her every month at the local Pictage Users Group (PUG) group. She’s won some fancy awards and been published in famous magazines but more importantly has been running a profitable business since she started in 2005. Before photography, she was successful in marketing & management for various corporations and non-profits, and learned how to make complicated things easy to understand by teaching music to elementary students. When she gets bored working on her own business, she consults for other small businesses, updates PhotoLovecat.com, and LowellHandmade.com. She hugs trees and sings in the car, but prefers to dine out because she’s a terrible cook.
1. You Don’t Know What Your Time Is Worth
You only seem to think that the time you spend shooting is worth any value. Nevermind that you spend 2-4x more time on post-production, backing up images, dealing with orders, setting up appointments, meeting with clients, putting out fires, etc. If you had an office assistant, I’m guessing they wouldn’t do all of that for free- so why do you?
2. You Think Equipment Is Going To Make You A Better Photographer
I’m sorry dear gearhead, but if you can’t make people fall in love with your work when you’re using a point & shoot camera, what makes you think they’re going to love your work any more after you’ve spent $20,000 on the most expensive gear you can find?
3. You Discount Your Services In order To Work With Clients Who Don’t Appreciate You
Why, oh why, would you say yes to a client who already has decided you aren’t worth what you’re charging by asking you to work for less? Why are you going out of your way and cutting your own source of income in order to work with people who have already started your relationship on the basis that you will be bending over backwards and slitting your financial wrists for them?
4. You Think Your Technique Is Worth More Than The Moment
If you capture a beautifully lit image of someone in front of the perfect background and they have a lifeless face vs. a poorly exposed image in front of a distracting background but the subject has an engaging smile… duh… they will choose the one that makes THEM look good!
5. You Feed Your Ego More Than Your Bank Account
All of those advertising dollars you spent with that magazine or blog so your work could be featured resulted in how many solidly booked clients? If you didn’t make 300% more than you spent on advertising, than it was a bad deal. Advertising should be an investment toward gaining future income, not an expense to stroke your ego and primp your peacock feathers.
6. You Don’t Read PhotoLovecat.com
Because if you did, and you actually took our advice, you probably wouldn’t suck so much at business.
Krista Photography says
I love you, Anne :)
Shang Chen says
Christen Bordenkircher says
AWESOME ANNE. Reason #5,438 why I respect and appreciate who you are as a person AND a photographer. Thanks.
S. Syed says
Brilliant advice and so true – 1, 3, and 5 are extremely important points that everyone needs to consider when laying out a pricing structure and business principles.
# 6 is the most important : ) otherwise we wouldn’t be here …. Rock on Anne
Kathie M. Thomas says
Love these points and thanks for sharing.
This really applies to a lot more fields than just photography! (Insert just about any art or service related field in lieu of “photographer.”)
I don’t discount for #3, but the fact that I even bother with people with the mentality of not appreciating me is a problem. I thought that changing or improving my communication styles would improve the situation, as I wrote in a blog post called No vs. Yes in October 2010, categorizing the two types of client behavior that I deal with. The NO’s CANNOT be changed, I learned and realized after that post. It is not even about me why they act this way and they probably do this to any vendor they interact with. Thus, it will no longer be about them at all. It is about nurturing and impressing the YES people.
So one reason I suck at business is arguing and stressing with the NO people that leads to a pointless end or no booking at all. Thus, I have re-evaluated things and I am taking a different approach to things in business including having more than 1 source of income within the art so that I am not standing around arguing with the NO people HOPING the booking or payment works out because I NEED their money, not because I really even want to work with them.
Thanks for bringing these issues to light Anne. I’ve been pondering the things you wrote long before I ever saw this post. hehe. Again, thanks.
Yeah, sometimes we just need someone to remind us that we need to make changes NOW rather than sometime in the future. ;-)