Just warning you ahead of time, this is going to be a pretty scatter brained post. Sorry I have lots on my mind that needs to come out before I forget it all 😉
Today I had a friend tell me that they had their photos recently done by someone else because they couldn’t afford me. Which I have no problem with. I always tell my friends and family “Please don’t book with me just because you know me. Book with me because you love my photos!”
What does bother me is the amount of times that I have gotten an email or phone call from people wanting to book a session with me. I tell them what they will get for the price, what the price is and that I take cash, check, credit cards and offer payment plans. And then soooo often I hear “I can’t afford that! I will find someone on craigslist or groupon.” Ouch! But what makes it even worse is reading the emails that I get from those same people telling me how much they wished that they would have booked with me. They decided to go with someone who offered to take 2+ hours of photos for them and put all their images on a disk without editing them, all for $ 50 or less. What a steal right?!?
Now don’t get me wrong. When I first started I did a lot of session for $50 and a lot for FREE! In fact today marks the date of the first photo shoot that I did by myself for a close friend of mine 2 years ago. Yes, I did it for FREE! I had no idea what to do with my camera except put it in automatic, use my on-camera flash when it decided to pop up and hope for the best. It was even worse when I got home and tried to figure out how to edit them and make them look like the images that I was seeing in my head.
But now I have a few more years of sessions under my belt and feel like my skills as a photography have grown leaps and bounds. I still have lots to learn and I am not at all saying that I am the best. But it makes me happy to look back at those photos and realize everything I did wrong. Yes, I said wrong. I hope that in 2016 I can look back at the session I just did this weekend and say the same thing.
So should I still be charging nothing? I wish I could just shoot everything for free for the rest of my life. That is how much I love this so-called “job” of photography. But just like any other business out there. It takes money to better and run a business. You need equipment, classes, licenses, taxes, advertising… the list goes on. But one of the greatest things about investing in photography is you will have those photos for the rest of your life. And the people who you leave those photos to will keep them and cherish them, for longer than you or I could imagine. It makes me so happy to know that I played a small part in that for so many people.