Running a business is hard | Why I can no longer offer discounts
As a professional photographer, I receive many requests for free or discounted photography services. I strongly believe in giving back. I’m proud to be a volunteer photographer serving our area’s Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization, which provides the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. I’m also honored to be part of and a volunteer photographer for the amazing A Night to Remember Prom, which is a FREE Prom honoring students with special needs ages 15-22 years old. I’ve donated my services the last 3 years to the St. Joseph Catholic Academy’s silent auction by helping create lovely classroom auction pieces to raise money for the classrooms. I was a volunteer this year for the amazingly talented The Cutting Edge figure skating club. I also donate gift cards and raffle items to local organizations including the Kenosha Junior Woman’s Club and Team ERock’s Ellen Santarelli Memorial Scholarship Fund and multiple other deserving organizations.
Unfortunately, there’s many more that I have to say no to because my plate is already full. As many of you know, I work part-time at our local hospital as a Cat Scan Technician. This is a career and job I love and worked hard to get a degree in and advance within my field in the last 15 years. I was fortunate enough to be able to go part-time when our 1st child was born and it’s always been my goal to be as hands on and involved in our children’s life as possible. I’m forever grateful for a hard working husband who has help make this possible.
Which brings me to my next point. I often say, I’m a full-time mother and part-time photographer (add part-time Cat Scan Tech to that as well). At this point, my 3 lovely children are all below the age of 9 and still require *thankfully* a significant amount my time, love and attention. I know it sounds cliche, but they are truly my joy and my biggest inspirations.
When I launched my business in 2012, I had no idea how fast things would explode. My wildest dreams could have never predicted I’d be where I am today. I couldn’t be more flattered or humbled by all of my clients, friends and family who have helped to support me and encourage me along the way.
Our computer used to be upstairs in our main living area and it was often easy to sit down and just “quickly edit” a few photos, which turned into hours. I would catch myself dismissing my children as they played around me and begged for attention too. I’m not proud to admit that and thankful I was able to recognize it. We moved our computer into the basement office area and I made a promise to my children last year that I wouldn’t work or edit until after they were in bed, which left my hours to edit 8:30p-10p. Which also leaves minimal time to spend with my adoring husband, but something’s got to give right? 😉
By nature, photography is equipment-intensive. I have $20k+ invested in just my camera bodies and lenses, which need to upgraded and maintained on a regular basis. Every shutter click eats away at the life and value left in my equipment. Not to mention the investment in essential hardware, computers and software as I need to stay current with new technology and best practices.
The market I’m competing in is saturated with photographers. With new ones popping up almost daily. I want my clients to know that I am a professional and legal business owner. I work very hard to stay on top. To provide the best images and to stand out among my peers. I invest several thousands of dollars in my education and attend multiple in-person workshops a year with some of the most respected and talented photographers in the world. I invest a significant amount regularly on online classes, guides and tools to keep up with the latest trends and advancements. Not to mention the hours upon hours learning new skills and researching on my own.
I have the new added expense of a studio this year. (Which I still can’t believe is mine.) There’s a mortgage, property taxes, electricity and all of the glorious props, backdrops, headbands, hats, studio lights and fancy items that fill it. (Clients are often amazed to find out just one of the dainty little headbands featured in my newborn photographs actually range $25-40 each.) Then there’s the rude awakening from our accountant reminding me that 35-40% of everything I make goes directly to Uncle Sam…
I’m grateful for my friends who trusted me to “practice” on their new babies and allowed me to capture their growing families. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. <3 I’m blessed to be at a point where photography is no longer a hobby for me, but a flourishing business. I work very hard to find the balance in my life so I can follow my heart and passion, but I can no longer do it for free.
The truth is 80% of my fabulous clientele are people who already know me and are “friends” of mine, the remaining 20% are amazing clients who soon become my friends! 🙂 It breaks my heart and hurts my soul to see email after email inquiring about discounts. I wish you could understand how much I give up to do what I do! I know that no one asks or elludes to it be rude. I just really don’t think they know that it’s so much more than pushing a button.
So it’s with this blog post that I step up and start taking my own business seriously and hopes that you will too. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you!!!! <3 <3 <3
Running a business is hard | Why I can no longer offer discounts, Running a Photography Business, Friends & Family Discounts