Business Updates | October 2020
It's no surprise 2020 has thrown a lot of us a curve ball.
This year has been rough for us as humans let alone the troubles, division and issues we're facing as Americans + Louisiana hitting the natural disaster jackpot for hurricane season. If I've learned anything between pandemic, political and social climates in our country - it's that in the blink of an eye everything can change and we need to do our best to enjoy the moment now, cherish our families and friends and love hard.
Because of all of this uncertainity I've really been evaluating how I do business, my profits, my business model, and the time I'm spending away from my family. I've had the thoughts of raising prices but the reality is that there are hundreds of photographers in this area who provide the exact same service I do - meet for a session, snap a bazillion pics, edit, and give a whole gallery for them to do whatever they want with. I believe, hard, in providing families affordable and quality options for keeping memories of their families and children. That is the reason I picked up a camera in the first place - but truth be told, this isn't a way to support or run a business - well, support and run a business WELL.
At the end of the month I'm barely making enough money to keep my website hosted, my gallery service paid for, pay for editing software, design software, etc - and in the end it comes down to
1. I LOVE being an artist and creating physical snapshots of time for families.
2. We have big financial goals like being debt free in the next few months. If I'm offering my services for, essentially free, I will not be able to support my family's goals.
3. If I'm taking time away from my own family and kiddos to take pictures of other people's family and kiddos then I need to be turning a profit enough to support my family's financial goals while supporting their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
So what is going to change?
For one, my price will change a bit but I still remain passionate about being an affordable, convenient, family friendly, candid, lifestyle option in our area for family, couple, and event photography. For this reason I will be raising my hourly rate to $250/ hour BUT continuing to offer 30 minute stand alone sessions at $150 each. This still gives families an affordable way to document their families memories and moments in time without having to purchase an entire hour session (which also means getting everyone to cooperate for an entire hour!).
Effective November 1st, I will not be offering entire galleries with sessions. I will, however, offer 5 standard, web resolution digital files for every 15 minutes of session time. These files will be watermarked with a faded logo of mine in the lower right hand corner of the image and will not be high enough resolution for quality printing.
Why the change? Well, a few reasons -
- When I offer the high resolution, digital images for free I am giving blanket permission for clients to take my images and use them however they want, at whichever printer they want, and on social media without any sort of attribution to myself. This cuts me off from receiving referrals for all these social media posts but also means I cannot control the quality of the printed images that I spend a lot of time, energy, and resources to make my own creative artistic expression.
- When I give away these images with the session fee and allow people to print on their own I am also giving away, essentially, my copywrite on these images. Cutting off any sort of profit margin from printing lowers the amount of profit I am receiving from my own creative art. We would never ask an artist to paint us a picture and give us unlimited capacity to make reproductions to give for friends, why do we ask this of photographers who also have families to support?
- By giving away my images for free with a session I am giving clients permission to use my images on social media - which is awesome. In this day and age a lot of times we just want some good pics to share with distant friends and family. I totally get that! We're military and sometimes I just want pics with myself not looking a hot mess to share with people we love. But, the problem with doing this, is that I am not only limiting my art to just images to be shared on social media but also thwarting my clients from putting their memorable snapshots of time up on their walls in their homes.
- By changing things up and giving my clients standard, web-resolution digital images to share with friends and family I am not only still providing my clients with this ability to get some images included with their session, to pick the images they want as their digital proofs for sharing on social media, but I am also remaining in control of these images, advertising and using them as referral tools, as well as encouraging my clients to get their art printed and on the walls in the highest quality product I can offer. I will be able to walk my clients through the process of pre-session, shooting, proof all the way to beautiful product on their wall and retaining ownership and control in the process while remaining affordable, friendly, and business like while also supporting my family and personal and financial goals.
What if I'm not cool with this?
I believe in transparency. I believe in relationships. I believe that people that hire me to be their photographer will become wonderful friends, not just clients. Because of this - I totally respect if this "boutique" model of photography isn't for you. I get it - there are 100 photographers around here that can offer you the shoot & burn model (shoot a session, offer an entire gallery). If that is what works best for your family, I totally understand. For me, I've been doing a lot of personal development, professional development and I've realized that I've got a personality for service. I don't just want to meet people in a park, take pics, send a gallery and never see them again. I want to offer relationship, friendship - I want to send birthday cards, witness births, have profits that allow me to give random gifts to my HNP families. I want to offer VIP programs. I want to walk into homes and see my art, their memories, up on their walls knowing I controlled the process from start to finish. I want to provide a service not just a product.
In all my soul searching about this I've really came to this question - do I want to be a fast food restaurant where people go just to satisfy an urgent need for hunger, not really caring about service or maybe even quality but just the end goal - a burger (aka getting some pics of their families to share on social media) OR do I want to be the nice, family friendly, sit down restaurant that offers great quality food, a wonderful experience, an atmosphere that keeps people coming back and where patrons turn into friends that are like family? I want the latter, bad.
So I totally respect if this model isn't cool with you. I hope and pray that you enjoyed your experience with me as your photographer enough to give this a shot, see how I can serve you both as a valued client and person that has become a friend. I pray you loved your experience enough to recommend me to friends and family.