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 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 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 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 had really started to pick up! I bought PS3 and was finally teaching myself how to use it...well, sort least enough to get! 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 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, 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 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 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 skin is getting thicker by the moment!

Until next time...


Monday, April 11, 2011

I like being worries!!!!!!!!

Ok, so I get alot of emails...some nice...some not so nice (yes, I have haters, but it's ok) from other photographers, moms, etc, asking me advice on how I shoot, what I shoot, how I edit, etc, etc! I'm totally flattered and believe me, I don't feel like I'm on a level to be answering questions but I totally do my best!!! I wish I could answer every question and even take you guys up on the lunch offers, etc but I just don't have enough time in the day! (but anyway, that's another story, lol)

Ok, so get back on track Julie...sorry...I ramble...I!

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that lately I've been offering some workshops and believe it or not, I've gotten alot of backlash from others saying that why would offer to "teach" someone my ways when they are my competition!'s my thoughts on the matter...I have no competition! Seriously...I totally feel that way! I can teach someone how I shoot, how I edit, but I can't teach someone to be's that simple! No one owns a "pose" no one owns a "theme" is art and even though some may try to imitate, no one can truly copy another's work because THEY CAN NEVER SEE THE SAME WAY I SEE IT!!! It has taken me a bit to realize that and the light has come on!!! Whew...I feel so much better now!

So, it's ok to get inspiration from others, it's ok to ask questions...I do all the time...sometimes I get answers, sometimes I don't and I move on! I've been so inspired by Jasmine Star lately...she totally puts herself out there, she teaches, she shares and she doesn't feel threatened at all! She is still booking because people want HER...end of story!

So, with that said, I will totally keep offering workshops...and yes, I do have to charge for my workshops but let me clarify why...

First, my cost is really low when compared to others who are teaching (I'm not saying they are right or wrong, everyone has their reasons and their level of skill, everyone is different) but I'm new at this, and I feel that at this time, I really just need to charge in order to recoup what I would make that day during the sessions.

Secondly, I don't charge my "models" for the session but I still shoot them and I edit and give them the images, another reason why I charge those who attend the is my full-time is not a hobby, it is not "fun" supports my family and pays my would be like asking you take a day off without pay to talk and hang out all day...I don't think many of you could do that!

And lastly...I have worked hard to get where I was NOT just handed to me...I practiced, I researched, I spent alot of money doing workshops myself (and I'm still attending them btw, I have one scheduled in June) I really feel that if you have to sacrifice to make something happen, you appreciate it sooo much more!

So, please understand when I say this, and while I'm happy to answer basic questions, I cannot hold your hand and constantly answer each and every photography and editing question...I'm totally a nice person and I would love too but I there is just not enough time in the day! If you are wanting to become a better photog, I totally suggest a workshop (and not necessary from me) but I will be offering them at least once a month and I do share what I've learned...I'm really happy to do so!

My next "beginning" workshop is April 30th and I do still have a few spots available. I will be setting up 2 workshops in May, one "newborn" (for more advanced photogs) on May 7th and one "beginning" workshop on May 28th for those who want to learn to shoot manual and basic posing and editing. The cost is $250 and is only offered to 6 people. I would love to have you attend! I received very positive feedback from past "students" and I'm sure they would be happy to tell you all about it if you have any questions!

Again...I want to stress that I don't think that I've "arrived"! Do I still have a TON to learn, YES! Do I still do things wrong, YES! Do I know everything about posing, lighting, editing...NO WAY! But, I do have a love for what I do and God has blessed me so's only fair to give is so much better that way...


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where did March go and why is April going so fast? It's about time time I update!!!!!!!!???

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!! It seems like yesterday I was posting on here for the first time and now we are in the month of April? Seriously? Time....please SLOW down!!!

The past few weeks have been AMAZING!!!! March came in like a lion! Wedding season started for JPP and in March we did 5 weddings with one of them being out of the country! Wow! What a wonderful experience! We had a blast and I would love to travel again for a wedding....any takers?

March also included several little newbies in the studios and of course more wonderful clients becoming new friends...seriously...I'm so blessed...and thankful...VERY thankful!!!!

April started off with me going back to my roots and decorating for a friend and fellow photog's wedding! Of course, I couldn't resist to snap a few pics myself! :) It was beautiful could I not?

The first full week of April was CRAZY! Seven newbies came into the studio...there was a whole lot of cuteness going on!!! I also photographed a smash cake session, {2} 3 month sessions, 2 weddings and hosted a "spend the day"! I also taught my first newborn workshop! I've been resisting for quite sometime because I knew these would be "established" photographers who I would be teaching! Yikes! I have taught 2 other beginning workshops and I have had several beginning photogs "spend the day" with me but this was something totally different! I was very nervous....there are so many WONDERFUL newborn photographers out could I even compare? But, I LOVE teaching and I knew I could do I did...and guess what? We had a wonderful time!

So, we are entering the second full week of April and I'm looking forward to 2 more weddings, a newborn mentoring day with {2} out of town photogs, some "themed" engagement shoots and then another beginning workshop on the 30th~ The first week of May is vacation...I think I will be ready!!! :)

This is all still so amazing and surreal for me...seriously, this time last year I was teaching full-time and shooting a few sessions here and'm just so amazed and at what God has done! I had NO IDEA...I just don't know why God chooses to bless me...I'm so thankful...I'm nothing special...I picked up a camera, attended a few workshops and really just figured it all out on my own...I'm sure I do so many things wrong and I'm not technical at all...I really just shoot how I see it...that's if I EVER lose my focus and don't give the glory back to God...give me a quick kick in the tush? OK? :)