Thursday, April 28, 2011

Am I "over-thinking"? Sometimes this can be dangerous!

Hmmm....what a week! So much is going through this little head of mine right now...I just have to share!

Earlier this week I was sent an email complaining about my prices. I launched a discussion on my FB page and some awesome points were brought up! I've thought about it all week and wanted to voice my thoughts on matter...I hope this helps clear some stuff up, I'm very honest and transparent, I truly want to be "different" in this sometimes "dirty" profession!

"What should I charge?" Wow...the million dollar question and not one answered easily! If you charge too much you are looked down on...if you are "cheap" you are looked down on...so how do you find that balance? Well, I don't have that answer, really, I'm sorry but it's true! Pricing is something I struggle with on a daily basis!!! Everytime I send someone to my website or send out a wedding pricing guide, I cringe...seriously...I do! So, bare with me! I do tend to get long-winded but I would like to explain my "journey" and my thoughts on pricing. I hope I can encourage those of you who are also experiencing the "growing pains" and the "meanies" in the business...I also hope you realize that I'm not one of "them". :)

When I first started out in this business I had "vowed" not to be soooo expensive...Oh boy, I have to admit though...my thinking was so misguided! I had NO IDEA what goes into being a "professional photographer"!!! And to be honest, back then (although it was only a year and half ago) I think I was charging a fair price for the experience that I had! I WAS NOT a professional photographer! I was shooting on auto, with my starter camera (the canon rebel) with a kit lens and editing in Picasa! I had no training, no experience and was just shooting as a hobby! I charged $50 and gave a CD and you know what, I was happy with that! But then...I got the fever...

A few months into my "hobby" (March of last year) I decided that I was ready to move forward! I was super busy and although I felt totally inadequate, I was being booked! I had been researching and studying online and asking alot of questions (which sadly, most photographers would not give me the time of day) and I learned that I really needed better equipment! So, I took the plunge and I upgraded my camera to the Canon 50D and the 50 1.4 lens! I was super excited! I also felt I needed more, so I attended a workshop with Sassyfras Studios (love those girls and so thankful for them) and they taught me how to shoot in manual!! They were patient and honest and put up with me, crying ALOT but when I left, it was time for me to get serious! I went home and bought Photoshop elements and some actions...I was ready to go...so I thought, lol!

One of the most valuable things I learned from the girls was that I needed to put more value in my work and in myself! It took me awhile, but with much fear, I took the plunge, and I increased my prices...I thought I was going to have a heart attack! Seriously, I just knew that I would never be booked again...well, I was wrong...I was now busier than ever!

So fast forward to last summer...business had really started to pick up! I bought PS3 and was finally teaching myself how to use it...well, sort of...at least enough to get by...lol! After turning several people down at first, I decided to branch into wedding...oh wow...I had no idea what I was getting into! But, after shooting my first few, I was hooked!

By the time fall had arrived, I was full-time into photography! I felt like I had "practiced" enough to once again raise my prices, had another heart attack, but I survived! And guess what? I was still booking sessions!!!

By that time, newborn sessions were really starting to interest me! I starting doing research on workshops and found out about Rachel Vanovan and her Jacksonville workshop! I was so nervous to do this...I had no confidence in myself and to be honest...it was very expensive for me at the time! But, it was the best decision for my business and I'm so thankful for Rachel! After her class my newborn photography moved up to the next level and I will be forever grateful!!

In January of this year, I launched my website and my blog...I attended WPPI and I finally feel like I can call myself a "professional photographer". I am however the first to admit that I have NOT arrived! I am still researching, studying, learning...in fact, I will be attending 2 workshops this year and I can't wait!

So, I've built up this point to get to where I feel I can discuss pricing! I am not an expert but these are my thoughts on the matter...

When you are determining what to charge, take into consideration what you have put into your business. Photography takes practice...you get better the more you shoot! When I started I was super inexpensive but I gained experience! You cannot expect to launch into the business charging the highest price...I'm a firm believer that you must earn the right to charge a premium price! I spend alot of money on my business! I'm constantly upgrading, I have $6,000 in equipment alone ( and I have at least $5,000 more I need to spend). I've spent $1,000's on props, software, computers and classes...and I still spend more upgrading on a daily basis!!! We also had to move into another home for the business. I needed office space and a newborn studio...another expense. Now, did I have to take this route? Nope, but I wanted too...the desire and the demand was there, so I stepped out on faith and did it! To God be the Glory!

I firmly believe that we need photographers on every level! I'm so sick of hearing everyone "bash" the "cheap" photographers!!! Didn't they had to start somewhere? I totally feel like there is room for us all! I was there a year ago and I'm so glad that I kept going!!! But at the same time, I'm so tired of hearing people "bash" the "expensive" photographers!!! Why do we have to "bash" anyone? I don't agree with some prices and it does bother me that some take advantage but so what? Respect them, move on and just run your business and stop worrying and talking about everyone else!!!

I charge what I charge because I know the value and the hard work that I put into my business! I have spent ALOT of money to get to where I am! I spend many, many hours editing, emailing, networking and my time is valuable! I know that there are people out there that value my work and are happy to pay for what they get... and I'm happy to serve them.

I know I have my critics...I'm okay with that! I have recently started offering workshops and mentoring and wow...I have received some slack from that! But, you know what? I'm ok with that too!!! Not everyone can afford the $1700 workshops! I am by no means talking bad about the amazing photographers who teach those...I am not on their level but I do feel confident in my work and I'm happy to share! What is wrong with that? Is there not room for us all?

So my thoughts...charge what you want to charge! Charge for your experience, charge for your equipment, charge for your training...no matter the price level, there are those who value you and your work...don't let others discourage you!

I'm preaching to the choir folks! I'm sure I will have to read this blog again tomorrow when I receive a nasty email...oh well...my skin is getting thicker by the moment!

Until next time...

xoxo,
Julie

15 comments:

  1. Thank you Julie for sharing your thoughts! I think you're an amazing photographer and really look up to you. I hope to upgrade out of the rebel here in the next few months!

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  2. Thank you so much Julie! You have truly said it all! Hopefully people will understand what it takes to get a photography business going and appreciate that....I always enjoy reading your blogs and thanks for being such an inspiration to me and all the other photographers out there that are just getting started.

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  3. Thank you for this post! As a "learning, growing, ever-developing" photographer, I struggle with pricing. Family and friends tell me I charge too little, while some clients run from my prices. Thanks for an insightful post that lets me know that I'm not alone in the daily struggle.

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  4. Definitely well put. Im glad you shared! Good to see others started the same way I did.. using the resources you have available and building from there.

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  5. Awesome! You go, Girl!!! I have been on an almost identical path. Even started around the same time as you. I feel the exact same way, and it was really encouraging to hear that someone else feels that way, too! Thanks for the post ;)

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  6. Julie, I don't know you, but I think I love you! So glad that you have the guts to say what is in your heart and to be true to yourself! I think your post will resonate with so many of us out there. I do want to share that I have just purchased "Easy as Pie" and "Happy Place" by Alicia Caine. Best decision EVER! She walks you right through your pricing in Easy as Pie. I haven't gotten far enough into Happy Place yet, but it helps you establish a business plan. Anyone who struggles with pricing(and valuing your work) should really consider getting them. I cannot say enough good things about it!
    So, again, thank you for your words. It gave me a warm fuzzy to know that someone such as yourself has been there too, and has the same feelings. It means so much!

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  7. Good for you! I'm at the 50D - 1.4 lens part of your journey....pretty much to a T. I've started a FB page, developed a logo and branding, and purchased the website. I'm cringing at raising my prices, but it has to be done. I have two small kids and time away from them is valuable. I hope to one day attend one of your workshops when the timing works out. I'm thankful for photographers like you who are willing to share tips and information to help get others started. Don't the others realize that not sharing the info is NOT helping all the beginners?! Sounds like common sense to me.

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  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You talked about so many of my worries - so good to know that I am not alone!!

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  9. Julie, I love your perspective....perspective with photography, life, friendships, mentoring, your relationship with the Lord, etc. You are such an inspiration, seriously! I don't know how you keep up but I love your opinions, your thoughts and want to thank you for being real and being you! - Thanks for the post I totally agree with you!

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing! I have been feeling such anxiety lately as I have yet to bite the bullet and advertise my work. I have been so nervous about what others will say about prices but I am more confident after reading this. Thank you so much again!

    -Chrissy M.

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  11. Amieamie23@aol.comApril 28, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Beautifully said Julie!!! You are my inspiration. We've never met before, but I love your work, views and personality! It shines through your work and your words! You and I have a ton in common. Thankyou for blogging!! I am extremely interested in what you have to say and the work you do!! Thank you Julie!!!!!

    -amie ayers

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  12. AMEN!!! Very well said, Julie!!! I love reading your blog....it comes from the heart and you are an honest person! It's very discouraging when other photographers try to put "technical" aspects on photography but you prove that it doesn't have to be this way!!! It's an art and every artist portrays their work differently and charges accordingly! I've had a photographer tell me that I shouldn't charge at all for my work for awhile because I'm a newbie......but I think my time IS worth something! I spend MANY hours away from my family! I'm pretty sure everyone started out here at one time or another! Thanks for posting this!!!

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  13. Stephanie.schriefer@yahoo.comApril 28, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    I think you have a great outlook on the whole thing~ Where can I find out more information about your workshops? I practice , I need more practice. Where did you get all your practice from? If you ever need a free assistant for anything hit me up, I'd love to help and learn ( I'll give you my resume so you know more about me if you need it )

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  14. loved it :) really agree with you here. hope to meet you one day or to attend your workshop :0 wishing you the best

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