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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 02 Jan 2013 (Wednesday) 19:48
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Sorry, another 'How much should I charge' but this is a little more specific.

 
McMurry ­ Pet ­ Photo
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Jan 04, 2013 13:50 as a reply to  @ post 15444058 |  #61

When I move to DC I know I could charge considerably more.

You might be right, but be careful with that expectation. I'm in the D.C. market and there are a lot of people here with money to spend. But there is also a wealth of competition in the portrait and wedding game. I'm sure you will, but really research the other photographers' pricing and quality of product before considerably increasing your prices. I'm only a niche hobbyist, but I know enough photographers in the area to know it's not always that simple. Anyway, that's way down the road a little off topic. Best of luck.

I know too many male photographers who have every piece of equipment and certification under the sun but I wouldn't hire them to shoot my worst enemies wedding.

Can't we change this to "I know too many photographers who have every piece of equipment and certification under the sun but I wouldn't hire them to shoot my worst enemies wedding"?


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beegeeboy
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Jan 04, 2013 15:38 |  #62

glumpy wrote in post #15442455 (external link)
Want to take on a challenge to prove who's right and who's pretending??.....

Go to an accountant and tell them all about how this is a 2nd job etc and give them all the paperwork on your costs ( the ones you believe in will be fine, they will fill in the rest) and ask them how profitable your part time business is. Don't believe me or anyone else here, prove us wrong and get a qualified, professional, unbiased opinion.
See what they come back with.

I'll go so far as to offer you a public challenge.
You do that, provide copy's of the paperwork and assessment the accountant makes and if they declare your part time business is profitable, I'll transfer DOUBLE their fee to you. You can hold me to it publicly right here.

YOU think I'm a mongeral , not listening, don't understand and all the rest of it, lets put what I'm saying to the test. I publicly issued you a challenge, here's your chance to prove I'm full of it don't know what I'm talking about.
Matter of fact, I'll not only send you double the accountants fee, I'll send you $225 to rub my nose in it and compensate your time on top.

Are you confident enough in your position to put it to the test?
I am.


No argument there. That's most apparent as being a large part of the problem.
Unfortunately you are hell bent on defying anyone trying to make you see that.

Anyway, I'll leave you to it, Please just let me know if you are prepared to put my money where your mouth is and well settle the argument one way or the other. :D

Whilst I agree with many of your comments concerning how to run a full-time, profitable business, I think you would be losing your challenge here. You wanted the OP to prove that she didn't make a profit. Any accountant would make a profit out of a second income of more than $23000 per year. Easily. Don't forget a profit is 1cent or above...:cool:


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Caffrey123
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Jan 04, 2013 15:54 as a reply to  @ post 15444058 |  #63

McMurry Pet Photo wrote in post #15444388 (external link)
You might be right, but be careful with that expectation. I'm in the D.C. market and there are a lot of people here with money to spend. But there is also a wealth of competition in the portrait and wedding game. I'm sure you will, but really research the other photographers' pricing and quality of product before considerably increasing your prices. I'm only a niche hobbyist, but I know enough photographers in the area to know it's not always that simple. Anyway, that's way down the road a little off topic. Best of luck.

Can't we change this to "I know too many photographers who have every piece of equipment and certification under the sun but I wouldn't hire them to shoot my worst enemies wedding"?

Thank you for the reply.

Your input about DC is very appreciated! I think my plan of attack will be to introduce myself to the military communities there as I already have connections and military friends who can refer me to their friends there. I am very lucky in this respect. I don't really like gimmicks or discounts but I will probably have an 'introductory offer' or something for military families as Bolling/Andrews etc. For me personally, the most important aspect of my photography is finding beautiful locations. If I can work with a few families, find some great areas and figure out the clientele, I will start thinking more long term (I will be in DC for 4 years). Like you said, way in the future but thanks for the advice and comments!

I know I should have just said "photographers" but I guess from personal experience I know way too many male tech geeks who take awkward pictures of seniors, models and don't seem to have any style or artistic flare but are doing well because of technical skills or business savvy. More often than not, these types do not get returning customers. Saying that, I absolutely know that females do this too! I didn't mean to be sexist haha.

JakAHearts wrote in post #15443464 (external link)
Im not much for business advice but HOLY COW that location with all the large overhanging trees may well have been built for photographers. :D

Its is a walnut orchard, it is absolutely beautiful and a favourite of mine and my clients. I have Eucalypti forests, beautiful beaches, rolling hills, vineyards, ranches, oak savannah, beautiful parks and many more all within 20 minutes drive. I am very lucky where I am!

Allen K wrote in post #15443390 (external link)
Wow Glumpy,
I have enjoyed some of your points on this forum. I think they are common business sense that most people choose to ingore because you appear to be successful (which I do assume is true based on our PMs). But I think in this case you continue to beat down a path that the OP hasn't described.

If after her hard costs, she brings $450/week or $23,400/year part-time on top of her full-time job...I dont think any state in this country would call that a hobby. In fact, the way some talk about having a difficult time making $50,000/year in photography, I'd say she has a pretty solid business plan which some could benefit from. Whether you think it or not, almost all her equipment was already purchased for personal use which she then put to use in her business...not much of a brain-teaser there. Probably pretty standard for most of the "part-time" photographers out there. You, of all people should appreciate the low overhead, streamline process, and short work hours to produce this income. If I saw her financials (not asking for them), I'd call it a business, the State of California would call it a business, and the IRS would call it a business. She knows that the checks are coming in, after expenses $450/week is going into her bank account, and that is being used to purchase personal items with nothing more coming out to pay for other things (as she's already covered that). What's the argument here?

Her question was "so I am looking at raising my prices for 2013. Thoughts?" At which point she didn't mention any figures. Answer: Supply and demand, baby. If you can raise your prices, and possibly lose a few clients, but make more money...start raising your prices. I've been self-employed for 23 years, I'm in a VERY S&D type business...my price flucuate based on demand. I do the work...to make the income I need...to have a quality of family life I'm looking for. OP, I think your original question was answered by others...

Thank you! Great advice!

Go Go wrote in post #15443014 (external link)
Samantha,

Great thread.

Some points to consider, $225 is approximately what I pay an assistant.

Professional photography is very much about production values. Wardrobe, grooming, styling, lighting and location or studio production.

I could go on but I think I would like to offer positive advise here specific to your questions.

Register with a printing service and offer prints instead of a disc. No professional will offer a disc of images, consider retouching for your images.

Your images are your image!


Thank you for the reply. I am a little unsure on what you meant by "consider retouching for your images". Do you mean offering retouching/editing on one image for a set cost rather than 20 or so images included on the disc? From research and looking at the pricing of many successful photographers whom I admire, many are offering images on disc as part of their package. This does not seem to be harming their business. I understand that print service is something I would need to and want to look into if I were to take it full-time in 2 years or so. Right now I am truly happy with the way things are and despite the extra money I know I could make, I just don't want to sacrifice my already small amount of free time by filling it up with taking print orders, delivering prints, client consultations related to print products etc. At the same time, I do understand the value of my digital files and that they are my images but with the high demand for digital due to social networking etc, I know that 95% of my clients are particularly interested in receiving files more than anything. Many military families are frequent users of Facebook because they are almost always in a different state or country from their family and friends. With 80% or so of my clients being military families, it would be detrimental to my business to take away the one thing that I know they desperately want.




  
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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 04, 2013 16:02 |  #64

I don't have enough time to give a proper critique of your work, but in the 30 seconds of looking over your site yesterday, I noticed a couple of things that it seems could be developed:

1) images seem inconsistent in terms of exposure / color balance. It may very well be that I was viewing images over a huge time span and that your eye is now far more trained to do more coherent editing.
2) I perceive adherence to the 'natural light photographer' ethos--a subset of photographers that largely overlaps with the pool of photographers who don't know how to use flash. I could be completely wrong, but I just don't see flash usage in your work. What I did see are a lot of photos in which you used ambient well, and some photos that could absolutely have been improved with proper supplemental lighting.



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Caffrey123
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Jan 04, 2013 17:08 |  #65

Christopher Steven b wrote in post #15445014 (external link)
I don't have enough time to give a proper critique of your work, but in the 30 seconds of looking over your site yesterday, I noticed a couple of things that it seems could be developed:

1) images seem inconsistent in terms of exposure / color balance. It may very well be that I was viewing images over a huge time span and that your eye is now far more trained to do more coherent editing.
2) I perceive adherence to the 'natural light photographer' ethos--a subset of photographers that largely overlaps with the pool of photographers who don't know how to use flash. I could be completely wrong, but I just don't see flash usage in your work. What I did see are a lot of photos in which you used ambient well, and some photos that could absolutely have been improved with proper supplemental lighting.

Hi! Thank you for your feedback. You are right in thinking I use no flash in my outdoor shoots. I have a reflector that I use for my more stationary subjects (any shoots involving no children). Maybe it is the style of my sessions but to set up any lighting that is off-camera is a nightmare when working with high energy children running all over the place. I spend the majority of my time in bushes, getting grass stains, in the sea, playing with the kids that to set up any off-camera lighting would be detrimental to the whole theme of my session and style. In saying that, I do have a 480EX and a diffuser I bought a long time ago. I find on-camera flash very harsh and much prefer natural light when I get it spot on. If a child looks playful, beautiful and the composition is right but the lighting is not 100% technically correct, I still find beauty in the image. However, I am always working on improving my lighting techniques and am grateful for the critique, thank you!




  
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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 04, 2013 19:33 as a reply to  @ post 15444058 |  #66

If after her hard costs, she brings $450/week or $23,400/year part-time on top of her full-time job...I dont think any state in this country would call that a hobby.

I would agree, but she has already said that she is not counting a lot of her hard costs and subsidizing them with her real job.

Is she really doing 150+ sessions a year? Only she knows that. But her numbers are willfully inaccurate because she isn't including all her costs and allowing them to be subsidized by her job.

And out 4 hours of our lives, and $5 in gas, And another $1 for a disk...etc..etc... It sounds like you are beyond this. But didnt explain it at the beginning. The way it was worded, I took it you didn't understand this. That is where Thomas replied and was referring to, the break down of the money..... 2 hours labor shooting.... 2 hours labor editing.... gas to and back from the location... Equipment costs....etc...etc.. the math does not (usually) add up. What money is made... when you look at it this way... You would never "waste your time" to do it for so little return. And this breakdown is what you should base what you charge off of. Not just some random number that sounds good. Its been said.... if you can afford yourself... your doing it wrong.

Exactly.

Let's take a normal 1-2 hour portrait session.

You get contacted by the customer through email [15 min]. Respond and want to meet you. Send a couple emails pinpointing a time and location [15 min] So go to Starbucks with them. [15 min driving each way, 1 hour chatting/selling your services]. You are a gentleman/lady business person, so you buy your coffee and theirs. [$10]. They book you. $175 for the shoot+40 edited images on disk.

So you check your cards, clean your sensors and lenses and pack your bag. [30 minutes.] Drive to the shoot. [15 minutes] Shoot for 1-2 hours. Drive home [15 minutes]. Ingest and backup cards [30 minutes]. Cull and edit [4 hours [Six minutes a pic, hope you aren't liquifying] Burn disc and back up final images [15 minutes and $10 for disc and nice packaging] Call client to set up meeting for disc. [15 minutes] Starbucks again [$10.] [1 hour].

11 hours of work. $30 for disc and Starbucks. Not counted is depreciation of gear, insurance, money to upgrade gear, salary for the photographer, cost of software like Photoshop, Lightroom, actions, Photomechanic, etc.

$175
Taxes are probably 1/3rd.

117.25 left. -$30 in costs.

$87.25 left for 11 hours of work.

$7.93/hour.

But that is before you buy hard drives, cameras, flashes, insurance, repair equipment, buy a computer, buy software, pay dues to PPA, pay for gas to and from your meetings and shoots, etc.

But good news, Minimum wage is $7.25, so you beat that. If you ignore all your expenses associated with running a business.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 04, 2013 20:50 |  #67

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #15445898 (external link)
Exactly.

Let's take a normal 1-2 hour portrait session.

You get contacted by the customer through email [15 min]. Respond and want to meet you. Send a couple emails pinpointing a time and location [15 min] So go to Starbucks with them. [15 min driving each way, 1 hour chatting/selling your services]. You are a gentleman/lady business person, so you buy your coffee and theirs. [$10]. They book you. $175 for the shoot+40 edited images on disk.

So you check your cards, clean your sensors and lenses and pack your bag. [30 minutes.] Drive to the shoot. [15 minutes] Shoot for 1-2 hours. Drive home [15 minutes]. Ingest and backup cards [30 minutes]. Cull and edit [4 hours [Six minutes a pic, hope you aren't liquifying] Burn disc and back up final images [15 minutes and $10 for disc and nice packaging] Call client to set up meeting for disc. [15 minutes] Starbucks again [$10.] [1 hour].

11 hours of work..

If that is what you do boy oh boy do you need to work on efficiency.

I always find it amusing how some pros do not understand the part time / home based business model. That and they express hostility towards it because ultimately they can't compete with it. Caffrey123 , If you know your own costs etc then just ignore them. You know what profit you are making.

Caffrey123 if you ever want any advice on running the model you are either FB msg or email me. The "industry" in general doesn't like it as a model but it can and does work very well. For a supplementary income it is a fantastic way of combining something you love doing and making money from it.

I plan on launching a website/blog in a few months aimed at the part time / home based professional (domestic) photographer. How to run sustainably, putting the studio based competition under pressure to eventually taking some of their market share and moving towards being full time. Slightly sarcastically named www.unclebobphotos.com (external link)


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glumpy
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Jan 04, 2013 21:29 |  #68
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Peter,
Help us ignorant pros out here. As you do understand the home based part time business model, What is your breakdown of a 1-2 hour portrait shoot where the shooter is charging $175-$225?

I'd sincerely be interested in seeing as an example what you think the costs and profits ( with a per hour breakdown) should be.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 04, 2013 21:32 |  #69

That and they express hostility towards it because ultimately they can't compete with it.

I don't have to compete with it, just like you don't have to compete with it. We are both way outside the market of people that want a $200 shoot and burn. I also don't shoot studio work ever and only shoot family photos for existing clients because I have too much work to take on new clients.

I always find it amusing how some pros do not understand the part time / home based business model.

I always find it amusing when people put something down, yet offer absolutely no substance in a rebuttal.

The "industry" in general doesn't like it as a model but it can and does work very well.

I disagree. I know the PPA's magazine ran a pretty substantial article last year or the year before about how much easier it is to profit from a home based rather than a studio based business and how home based businesses could have a higher profit margin because of the lack of rent/additional utilities. Like I said earlier, pretty much everyone should (and does) start with a home based business.

Caffrey123 , If you know your own costs etc then just ignore them. You know what profit you are making.

We all know what profit each is making. It isn't like costs vary significantly from one home-based business to another.


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 04, 2013 21:33 |  #70

glumpy wrote in post #15446285 (external link)
Peter,
Help us ignorant pros out here. As you do understand the home based part time business model, What is your breakdown of a 1-2 hour portrait shoot where the shooter is charging $175-$225?

I'd sincerely be interested in seeing as an example what you think the costs and profits ( with a per hour breakdown) should be.

Why not just buy 2GIG SD cards in bulk and give it to them at the end of the session! That will cut down like half you time invested!


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glumpy
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Jan 04, 2013 21:43 |  #71
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Thomas Campbell wrote:
=Thomas Campbell;15446298
We all know what profit each is making. It isn't like costs vary significantly from one home-based business to another.

Exactly.

Which is why there is nothing personal about business costs and why there is good foundation to doubt and question claims which defy the costs anyone in the industry has regardless if they are home based or otherwise.

None the less, I'm always happy to be proven wrong in order to learn and correct my ignorance. To that end I look forward to Peters input of how profitable a home based business of this type should be and to learn what I am missing.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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Markk9
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Jan 05, 2013 07:36 |  #72

There is a big gray area between a hobby making money, a part time business, and full time business. We can each go back and forth on this subject, but like legal items, its' best to consult a professional, call and talk to an accountant or better yet a local CPA.

In the US there are multiple way to file taxes for a part time business, so again you need to talk to an accountant.

Here is a simple question: At what point does my computer and software (already paid for, before start of business) become a business expense for a part time photographer?


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Jan 05, 2013 08:22 as a reply to  @ Markk9's post |  #73

OP – Your thread has covered about everything except world hunger. I have a few thoughts you may want to think about:
1 – You have said repeatedly that you live in the military base, and have military connections. By living on a military base, your operating overhead is covered. You can think of this as being subsidized. So others in the general community may have additional fixed costs you don’t have. This translates into a profit for you at a lower cost than others at the same price point.
2 – Portability, that is, if/when you are required to move from your current base of assignment, your business model will suffer if you rely exclusively on word of mouth. You need to think about how to adapt if/when that happens . . . begin to bring advertising into your business model? What aspects of your current model are linked exclusively to your current location? Someone mentioned the great scenery locations, so make sure you can operate when those great locations are not always there.
3 – Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one. There are some terrific comments in this thread, and some comments that are not as helpful. Some are helpful, but come across in a gruff manner. Make sure you read each one and understand the point. You don’t have to agree with it, or even respond. My son who is in the Navy complained to me one day about a bad instructor he had one day, and that all he did was yell and criticize. I told him that you can learn something from every instructor, good one or bad one, just understand what lesson you are learning.


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Caffrey123
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Jan 06, 2013 21:42 |  #74

golfecho wrote in post #15447506 (external link)
OP – Your thread has covered about everything except world hunger. I have a few thoughts you may want to think about:
1 – You have said repeatedly that you live in the military base, and have military connections. By living on a military base, your operating overhead is covered. You can think of this as being subsidized. So others in the general community may have additional fixed costs you don’t have. This translates into a profit for you at a lower cost than others at the same price point.
2 – Portability, that is, if/when you are required to move from your current base of assignment, your business model will suffer if you rely exclusively on word of mouth. You need to think about how to adapt if/when that happens . . . begin to bring advertising into your business model? What aspects of your current model are linked exclusively to your current location? Someone mentioned the great scenery locations, so make sure you can operate when those great locations are not always there.
3 – Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one. There are some terrific comments in this thread, and some comments that are not as helpful. Some are helpful, but come across in a gruff manner. Make sure you read each one and understand the point. You don’t have to agree with it, or even respond. My son who is in the Navy complained to me one day about a bad instructor he had one day, and that all he did was yell and criticize. I told him that you can learn something from every instructor, good one or bad one, just understand what lesson you are learning.

Hello, thank you for your reply! I am trying my best to look at each piece of advice and take the good advice that applies to my situation.

I do worry about having to move after establishing such a great and reliable client base where I am. As I work full time and will be moving in 2014, I have not wanted to invest too much in advertising here (in fact, at the moment it is zero money but of course a some time spent through Facebook etc) When I move to DC, I will know that I have 4 year minimum in that area...so I will be looking at an adjusted business model for the area, different seasons, locations, clientelle etc. I am lucky in that I already know several people (through military friends) in the area. The military, in this regard, is a great community as each base has a Facebook page (free advertizing) and families who have known me in California etc. I would never rely solely on this but it will be a good way to start.

Glumpy was interested in a breakdown of my time/costs etc for my part-time $225 session business model. Seeing as I have only just started charging these costs, I will do my breakdown for $150 sessions instead (last years cost). I know that to have an accurate breakdown and accurate costs you must include all your time spent at a desk, all your time spent emailing, all your time spent editing but I am going to quote only what applies to my business. Many are convinced that I do not see the hidden costs. I am fully aware of the time spent on my passion/profession but in saying that, many things were bought because it was my passion before my profession. I am crazy about vintage dresses, but were I to start a vintage dress rental company...I would not count the costs of previously owned dresses. Depreciation, yes, but not cost. I think it is unrealistic to pretend that every piece of furniture in my office, every piece of equipment should be looked at as a cost. Yes, I will use items and equipment I buy now as write-offs but I won't be looking at past costs as an outgoing.

Session $150

Approximately 1/3 taxes - $50

Approximate travel costs to each session - 0.5 miles - 40 miles round trip - $0.27 to $20
(including gas, car depreciation etc 2012 CA rate is 0.55. Any round trip longer than 40 miles I charge this rate to the customer. The majority of my sessions are within 1-5 miles away from me)

Equipment - I am not sure how to calculate the depreciation or use of equipment per session. My current equipment costs are $1600 (lens & camera). So let's say I upgrade my equipment in 3 years, with weeks ranging from 1 session - 6 sessions, let's say the approximate is 2 sessions a week if going by last years rates (104 sessions a year, 312 session in 3 years) - $1600/312 = $5 - So, $5 per session on lens and camera body

Disc - $0.25 per session

Personalized CD label including ink & label - $0.30 per session

Custom stitched CD sleeves - $3

Thank you notes - $0.10

TOTAL $78.60

TAKING HOME $71.40

TIME SPENT -

Client inquiry and correspondence - 30 minutes
Shoot - 2 hours
Editing time using Lightroom - 3 hours
Client pick up or drop off + more correspondence - 30 minute
TOTAL - 6 HOURS

$71.40/6 = $11.93/hr

Now, I have laid this out for others but I look at this figure a little differently than just $11 an hour. I have used the maximum numbers for both tax and travel. All of my sessions usually take place on my way home from my day job. Most sessions are on route or just a little out of the way. Also, I work daily at a computer where I use my morning, lunch and afternoon breaks to catch up with clients if I need to. Not to mention I do all editing at home in the comfort of my own office and jammies! This model works for me, not just well but fantastically. Looking into 2013 and raising my prices, I couldn't be happier with how things are working. If you think I have missed out on any costs then let me know but if I do not know what they are then they don't apply to me yet or they are so small and insignificant that I do not notice it as an outgoing but just part of my other costs (phone bill, printer ink, paper). I have zero overhead, zero advertising costs and I purchased a domain name and web space a long time before I started my photography business.

Thank you all for your input and good luck to you all in every venture however big or small!

Thomas, you may not think that our little business models are anything you need to compete with but you forget that artistic talent comes before business savvy. I did not hire my wedding photographer for his business savvy or big business model, I hired him for his artistic talent. Just as I hope my clients to not pass me by because I am part-time, but hire me because of my ability to capture beautiful memories for their family. My wedding photographer along with many others whom I considered offer a disc of images and an online gallery as part of their package (approximately $3500) - are they not your competition? A 2 hour family session cannot be compared to an 8+ hour wedding day. My wedding rate is $150/hr at the moment. I have shot only a handful of weddings but prefer to focus on families as that is my passion. I offer the disc as part of my package but I always make recommendations to my client of what they should print, sizes and professional local and web based labs they should order from (someone commented that I am leaving the difficult part to them but after dealing with clients I only see that they are happy with the freedom and flexibility). I am not just "shoot and burn", there are a lot more steps to it than that. I recognize my clientele, what they want and how they want to use their images.




  
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Caffrey123
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Jan 06, 2013 21:52 |  #75

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #15446152 (external link)
If that is what you do boy oh boy do you need to work on efficiency.

I always find it amusing how some pros do not understand the part time / home based business model. That and they express hostility towards it because ultimately they can't compete with it. Caffrey123 , If you know your own costs etc then just ignore them. You know what profit you are making.

Caffrey123 if you ever want any advice on running the model you are either FB msg or email me. The "industry" in general doesn't like it as a model but it can and does work very well. For a supplementary income it is a fantastic way of combining something you love doing and making money from it.

I plan on launching a website/blog in a few months aimed at the part time / home based professional (domestic) photographer. How to run sustainably, putting the studio based competition under pressure to eventually taking some of their market share and moving towards being full time. Slightly sarcastically named www.unclebobphotos.com (external link)


Thank you so much for the offer. I will have a look at your website once it is launched! Sounds interesting. Thank you for the advice. I may stick around this forum a little longer after all.




  
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Sorry, another 'How much should I charge' but this is a little more specific.
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