Its winter! Here in the states its getting cold, we are doing less sessions, taking less photos.
Perfect time to reflect on the past year figure out what worked best, what didn't work so you can do more of the stuff that worked at future sessions.
My biggest lessons I learned this year were....
Don't assume what people can pay for your work.
We assume that since photography is a "luxury" the people who can truly afford is must be well off. Upper middle class. But this year I found that a couples economic status does not mean they will value your work any more or less than someone with lower economic status. I had a couple this year who seemed perfect! A Dr and a Lawyer, came from a history of past professional family members, super nice and thoughtful, getting married at a beautiful venue, had one of the cities top planners to make sure everything was just as they wanted it, but they were just hiring a wedding photographer because they knew they needed a wedding photographer at their wedding. The booked my base package and just went that into it on the day. Again super nice couple, I truly enjoyed my time but their personal value of photography was low.
And just few weeks later I shot a wedding where the bride told me at our meeting that her photo budget was less than half of my base package but she was going to "make it work somehow" because she loved my photos and could see herself in every one of the images on my website. she booked my middle package which is almost $1000 more than my base package and they were totally involved in the photography. So don't just assume when you get that email or FB stalk them. Give everyone the best experience possible.
The power of the long lens.
Ive always be drawn in towards ultra wides but I felt I couldn't get the same amount of context that I loved so much. So I started using a longer lens a bit more at the beginning of the year and this year have fell in love with it. I start the day with it now. Ive said this forever but Photos just have so much more emotion when you can get close to people! Whatever emotion they are going through is dialed up an extra notch.
Its ok to take the same shots as everyone else.
When I graduated from film school I had this huge invisible weight on me that I should be able to create something really unique and at the drop of a hat. But that is just not me. Some people can do it but even then it comes from a lot of practice. Its ok to walk in and get the "easy shots" if anything it will help you be MORE creative. When you allow yourself to get the easy shot first, its easier for your brain to be on the look out for more creative shots. If you tell yourself you have to get the most creative shot ever, right away, your brain will blow a fuse.
Lastly that photography is a really bad business model.
At first you think about how cool it would be to make $100 in an hour at a session to do something you love! Then when you have to make the business legal and file taxes you realize you can't survive charging $100 per session. You do the math and figure you would have to shoot 1000 sessions per year just to make what your day job pays. Thats almost 3 a day every day, no weekends, no holidays, no birthdays, no vacations.
It seems tough because you are selling your time. Your time.
Thats how we have been taught to make money. Sell our time to a business who pays us for it. But as the only employee, if you get hurt or sick and can't sell your time to make money... you don't make money, your family starves, and you go homeless. Feeling stressed out?
Its a bad business. And that's why this year Im committed to turning mine around so that I can keep photography as fun as possible. Automate as much I can so I can spend more time focused on shooting, and maybe even have others shoot for me.
If you're a premium member you have been listening to the members only episodes on Patreon where I document my journey to a 6 figure photography business. Where I talk about what success looks like to me, Ill be breaking down real numbers and even walking you through how I will make a strategic plan to ensure I build the business I want to run.
Its funny because someone told me the other day that they were jealous of me for being a full time photographer. And I said, Im jealous of you being able to shoot care free! When doing commissioned work, you can be creative but you also have to deliver what they are looking for, which sometimes might not be what your idea of good photography is.
I want hear a lesson you learned this year in your photography! Shoot me a message on Instagram! My username is RHatfieldPhoto I would love to hear it!
Thats it for this week.
Next week we are going to talk about Growing your skills here in the off season! Don't miss it!