Sunday, August 23, 2009
Not so. Why? I'm at a weird mid-range place where I charge much less then the photographers who own their own physical studios and employ staff to book gigs and process their work. But I also charge more then the people who are trying their hand at photography and are quoting potential clients fees that make it barely worth their time to do the gigs.
Case and point: I was asked to quote a wedding this week, and the package included an engagement session. Right now I am including regular engagement sessions as a freebie if people book a wedding with me, which saves my clients $150. However, this engagement session was to take place at one of my favorite mountain lakes.... two and a half hours from my house. That is 5 additional hours that day committed to photography for the couple, so while I discounted the whole package by $150, I did charge for travel time.
While I was excited about the location for both the engagement and wedding pictures, and I felt that my personality was a good match for the couple, ultimately then went with someone they found on craigslist who is doing the whole thing for practically nothing. I figured with the travel time, time taking photos, and hours and hours of post-processing for both sessions.... their photographer is making $15 an hour.
I started out the same way that these photographers did, so I completely understand the need to underbid for the sake of booking any wedding they can get. I'm lucky in that this photography job is my passion, not my livelihood, but it is still disheartening to lose fun gigs because people are willing to gather quotes, then just take the lowest one regardless of skill or experience.
So here I am with a decision to make. Do I make the leap and start advertising in order to increase interest, or do I just bag the whole thing and go back to taking pictures for fun? I'd hate to do that because I really do love being able to offer people the opportunity to have beautiful pictures of their families to put on their wall.... without having to pay a ton of money or deal with people at JCPenny who have no other qualification besides the ability to hit the shutter release.
And if I do decide to advertise, how in the world am I going to pay for it, and how do I start? Until I've been completely self-sufficient doing all my own sales tax processing, creating and maintaining my own website, meeting with clients, doing all the necessary paperwork, and I even do all my own processing, which is getting rarer these days.
So, a dilema.
I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.