New book

Photo Nuts and Post is the third installation in the Photo Nuts series and it just launched!
Written by professional photographer, Neil Creek, it gives you the tools you need to make processing work for you. Even if you have experience in editing, you can always learn new tricks.
To celebrate, they are offering 33% off if you buy today -Click here to read more!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What should you charge?

A reader sent me an email the other day:

I’m a newbie at my photography business, and a friend asked me to photograph her wedding. I really didn't know what to charge (and thinking of just doing it for free). I decided to go by what other photographers are charging in my area. I lowered my price from theirs, but I'm not sure if that's what I should do. What else should I do to come up with my pricing?

I cringe when I hear photographers guessing at what to charge for their services. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding what to charge.

You must look at the following:


editing time


business expenses

The bottom line to a business is profit.

Just "guessing" will lead to failure. You have to take into account where you are located, what the competition is doing, what you can give your clients and what your clients expect.

Another important factor is making a goal. This will help determine how your business will run. Some people want to replace the income from their present job. Others may just want some extra spending money. Still others may want to become a well known photographer.

Each goal is different for each person starting a photography business. Where you want to be in 5 years will help you to have a successful business.

So, where do you want to be in 5 years?
How to easily start up and market your own profitable photography business

Monday, July 25, 2011

i Heart Faces: Water

I had to do the i Heart Challenge this week! I love this photo I did last month:

Don't be afraid of your clients

When I shoot a wedding or portrait session, I get so excited to have a SD card filled with my work. I practically run home to load the photos onto my computer to edit. I love that part of my business.

The part that I used to hate was dealing with clients to get those goodies. When I first started, I was simply terrified to go on a shoot. What if I couldn't get a single good shot? What if they didn't like me? What if they totally hate my "vision" of the shoot?

I went through this for almost two years. I would get a stomachache the night before every single shoot I did. It (my anxiety) was affecting my home life because I would be grumpy all the time dreading a shoot or wedding. My husband would get so upset with me. He would ask if I ever had a complaint. "No," I would reply. "Do people love your work?" he asked. "Yes," I answered and hang my head down. "Then, stop it!" he would say very loudly. He just didn't understand how delicate we artist's egos are. But, I knew where he was coming from. I realized that I couldn't love to do something and hate it at the same time.

So, I had to sit down and decide if I was still going to have to hang up the camera and quit my business. I reflected back on each session and ask myself if anyone ever was mean to me at a shoot, or have I ever had a customer complain? No- AND if I ever did, would it be the end of the world? NO!!

I told myself that I wasn't going to be able to please everyone, and some day I might come across a client that won't like my work. If so, that's fine. I may also come across "not so nice" people-this was their problem, not a reflection on me. I also told myself that it's ok if a session goes wrong. I could always re shoot. When you shoot enough sessions, odds are, you could have an off day. It took alot, but I convinced myself that IT'S NO BIG DEAL.

So, I just let it all go and just had fun at the next shoot. I really did have a blast-and I was looking forward to my next shoot-I NEVER felt that way before! It was like a two ton weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I wasn't snapping at anyone anymore. I finally could honestly say I loved what I did.

If you are still nervous before a shoot, that's normal, but don't let it control you. Relax and just have fun. Your positive vibe will rub off on your clients and they'll love your work not only because your talented, but because they like you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are we people, or just hired help?

I shot a wedding this last weekend for a very rich family. They were a bunch of lawyers and the air wreaked of money. Let me tell you, I was very nervous to do this wedding! If anything went wrong, they had free lawyers! lol

Anyway, every wedding that I have shot so far I've never felt like the "hired help". I like to do laid back and fun type of weddings and the couples have treated us like a friend.

The day of the wedding, we arrived at the salon at the hotel to get "getting ready" photos.
The bride and her bridesmaids were very nice and I relaxed a bit about how I would be treated. Her mom was very nice as well. What caught us off guard was how we were treated by the staff at the hotel.

When we got to this fancy hotel, it was clear that we weren't a customer, so we didn't need to be treated as one. Wait. I mean, treated as a person. We were stared at the whole morning while we were taking photos, and if we even LOOKED at the platter of food and drinks they had out for the bridal party, we were given evil glares.

The party was running behind (as usual), so we took a break to go see if the reception hall was decorated yet. There seemed to be a staff member nearby where ever we went, so we went outside to get a drink and a snack from our car.

When we came back in, we finally got the bride ready and rushed her off to the church for photos since we were an hour behind schedule- I hate that! After we were finished with the outdoor photos, her family wanted photos inside, so we started on them. For the most part, everyone was cool, but I did get treated a bit poorly by some of the family.

Fast forward to the reception (meaning, back to that horrible hotel), we were back to being treated like second class citizens by the staff. I was relieved to see that the DJ was a friend of mine. Unfortunately, he wasn't staying since his business had grown big enough to hire someone to do it for him. Bummer.

I usually enjoy the excitement of the day (why I do weddings), but my mood was very down due to how I was treated this whole day. I just wanted to get the rest of the evening over with at this point. So, as we waited for the wedding party to arrive, we discussed with the DJ how the contract states that they must do the reception events in a timely matter so I do not have to stay late. After waiting and waiting, the DJ finally had to drag the party together to get them announced. So much for respecting my contract.

After getting the party in and settled, I talked to the bride about the evening and reminded her about making sure to keep on schedule. I took this time to ask how they were doing the eating arrangements. I require a hot meal at reception since we are usually there 10 hours. She proceeded to tell me that they would have a meal for us in the some-fancy-name-for-the-hallway. Great. Put us in a closet so nobody sees the animals eat.

We had a staff member come up to us and showed us our little whole in the wall spot and said she would bring our plates out. I asked where we would get drinks and she looked at me as if I just asked for a twenty pound lobster with butter and black forest cake for dessert-sorry, I haven't eaten yet. She asked what we would like, and I said maybe a small pop with ice?

We went out to the hallway (after asking the DJ to get us before announcing anything we needed pictures for) and waited for our glorious dinner. The same lady came out shortly after and set down our plates and a basket of rolls. We didn't get our drinks until ten minutes later-wasn't that so nice of her?

Now, I can't believe as a photographer I didn't think to get a photo of this. What we had was chicken and a salad with the rolls and butter. Sounds fine, right? Well, not the way that we got it. They (wait staff) put the semi-hot chicken on the bottom of the plate, then just threw the salad on top of it. The lettuce was warm with no dressing. The chicken was hard and the rolls even harder. It took us 5 mins to just cut through it (roll)-no, we didn't eat it, we just wanted to see. We just ended up taking our Pepsi (came in a can-THANK GOD) and decided to hit Taco Johns on the the way home. We didn't even get cake.

This all brings me to this-as photographers doing a service, should we just deal with being treated as the "hired help", or should we expect to be treated as a person as well?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Succeeding at photography

Just a reminder that Digital Photography School's Going Pro Kit will be going up after Tuesday!

Take advantage of their special price of 29.99-Going up to 49.99!

Check out my review HERE.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marketing ideas for photographers

If you are in business for yourself, then you know that advertising is the key to building your business. Advertising can be expensive and without guaranteed results. Thinking outside of the box tends to get more results and if you are creative enough, cheaper as well.

So, how does a photographer stand out above other photographers to get work?


One way to stand out is to specialize in something and then broadcast it to your community. Do you love taking family portraits the best? How about pets? My goal is to specialize in maternity/newborn photography. If you want to go with this route, then it narrows your market down to make it easy to connect with the right people.

Some marketing ideas to attract specific clients:


Connect with maternity clothing stores:

  • Ask to swap brochures, business cards, etc.
  • Offer to hang a maternity or newborn portrait on their wall if they will put your business cards on their counter.
  • Offer to do a photo shoot modeling some of their clothing.

Connect with Ob Gyn offices:

  • Make a desk calendar with photos of babies and drop off at all doctor's offices-I do this and it's a big hit with the doctors. They love them!
  • They would probably love to have a baby portrait on their wall as well.
  • They might be will to exchange advertising too.
  • Make a mini "magazine" with short articles about pregnancy and babies in it and include an ad for your photography services. Stick a postcard advertising a special in them as well. Drop the magazines off at doctor's offices, letting them know they are free for patients to read. This isn't as expensive as you might think!

Do maternity "model" casting call sessions:

  • Put an ad on Craigslist, offering a discounted (or free) sessions stating that you want to try out new props or outfits.
  • Offer prints from session with every referral they send.
  • Offer a free newborn session if they send 5 clients your way.

Children Portraits:

  • Go to local second hand clothing stores and exchange advertising.
  • They might be interested in free portraits for their walls.
  • Have a give-a-way and ask if they would let you put a bowl on their counter for people to enter.
  • Go to mom related vendors and ask if they would be interested in networking.
  • Go to family restaurants that do parties, like Chuckie Cheese types and offer to do a give-a-away to shoot a party for free in exchange for your business cards on their counter.

Pet Photography:

  • Go to shelters and offer to do their pet photos for the paper.
  • Volunteer to shoot a pet event like doggie runs, etc.
  • Hold a holiday photo event, like Halloween costume contest. Donate proceeds to local shelter.

Marketing for all photography markets:

Below are ideas that you can use no matter what you specialize in:

Start a "vendor bag"- Collect local businesses' cards and specials and put them together in a pretty bag that you give to clients.

Mini "magazines"- You can make wedding and family mini magazines as well. Sometimes, a business may turn up their nose to networking-I don't know why-but, I have come across businesses that think you are trying to get free advertising out of them. That's why I find it easier sometimes to be able to walk into a business and offer them something for free to hand out to their customers instead.

Desk calendars- These work well for other doctor's offices and even dentists!

Do a charity calendar or book-I heard these give you lots of free publicity!

Some more expensive advertising routes:

If you have the budget, I would definitely recommend putting your business in the phone book. I really don't think that it's THAT expensive to list your business. Ours is 300 a year. I don't have mine in there yet, but, I think I'm going to see what my budget is around the time that they do printing.

Another more expensive route you might want to consider especially if you specialize in seniors is renting a kiosk at your local mall. These can be costly, but the return could be worth it. Our mall has 1-3 months options, so I might consider doing two months to see if it pays off.

I'm sure there are lots of more awesome marketing ideas that you readers have and I'd love to hear about them! Leave us a comment and let us know what you do!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Featured Vendor: Speckled Frog

Today's Featured Vendor is

Cyprianne from

She's offering a giveaway for all you lucky readers!

She's giving 4 patterns away to one lucky winner. Find out how to enter after the interview.

What type of product do you offer to photographers?

I specialize in crocheted products. The majority of my business is crochet patterns but if someone is looking for finished items I will either make or recommend my customers who are selling my designs. I have many photographers who contact me for custom designs - they have an idea but are unable to find it anywhere. In most cases I am able to come up with a design they are looking for.

What made you want to start this kind of business?

I decided to stay home and give up my career after I found out that my first son was delayed, and would need extra help. I have always been crafty and I saw a need in the market for unique designs. There were tonnes and tonnes of the same patterns just different colours. I soon discovered that combining stitches created beautiful textures and this could make stunning items for either every day items and especially photo props.

Are you a photographer as well, or just a photo-taking junkie?

Total photo taking junkie!!!! I wish I had an ounce of a photographers talent. Out of every 100 photos there are probably about 5 good ones 2 great ones. I have over 20,000 photos on my computer (no wonder my memory is almost full) I really should print them off or my babies are going to grow up to be jpg;s (another mom told me that one LOL) When I first started designing I thought I would take my own pics. No way! I leave it up to the pros and they can leave the designing to me:)

Do you have a favorite photographer that you drool over their photos?

Too many to list. I really love when the photos look natural without being over processed. I can only imagine how hard it is to capture the personalities, mood and expressions the way so many great photographers do.

What do you do like to do when you aren't running your business?

Love my family. I really have started to take the time to look at them everyday, listen to what they say and look at life through their eyes a little more. They are a constant reminder of how great the little things in life can be. They are my rock, my strength and my drive. My business has made such a difference to their quality of life and I watch them flourish more every day.

Any advice to someone wanting to start a business?

Do what YOU love. Stay true to yourself, your style and your needs. Find a balance between what is important to you now and what you are working towards. Don't let it consume your days or you will look back and that time will be gone. Celebrate small successes and keep pushing forward even when you feel like they are few. There were many many many days I had no sales at all. Put your time into YOUR business not looking at what everyone else is doing. I feel so strongly about this - there are always people doing better and some doing worse either way it doesn't change how you are doing only the way you feel about it.

Still find a little time to just do what you love doing for the heck of it! And on that note - I'm going to make Mr Freeze Cozies for the heck of it!

Thanks for the great interview!

Enter contest:


Visit Speckled Frog Crochet and then come back here and leave a comment telling us which is your favorite product.

Extra entry:

Follow us.

Contest ends: