Cheap Newbie PhotographerI’m with you. It sucks. Some post where a newbie is charging $20 for sessions including the whole kit and caboodle shows up in your Facebook newsfeed and it makes you want to scream. Your fists are balled up and your face is turning a very deep shade of red. The kind of red that only exists in cartoons and causes steam to come out of your ears. I totally get it.

We worked so hard to get where we are today in this business. Sometimes people don’t even fully understand the sacrifices we make with business loans, our families, time, and beyond. So when you see someone jump in head first without considering the rest of us in the industry it stings a little.

I was that newbie once. I’m sure there were people complaining about me, saying I wouldn’t make it, and would amount to nothing as a photographer. Maybe I still have failed in their eyes, but here’s a few steps I’ve learned along the journey going from a nobody to a photographer, or at least someone who has been there.

Step 1 – Take a deep breath and remember where you came from. It would be totally awesome if we all rolled out of the womb with mad photography skills and all the money in the world to buy the equipment that wouldn’t limit our innate and highly evolved skill set. Unfortunately that’s pretty rare. If you are that person, hook a girl up, yo!

Step 2 – Keep it to yourself. I know you want to hoot and holler in the nearest Facebook group with people who understand you, but you never know who is watching. Be the bigger person and keep your rants off the net. Don’t put stuff out into the world unless you want to get it back tenfold. Karma has been waiting for a very long time to get even with internet trolls.

Step 3 – Those cheap clients were probably never going to be your current clients to begin with. I’m assuming if you’re reading this post and you’re a fairly established photographer that you are charging more than a couple of ‘Andrew Jacksons’ for your work. That cheaper photographer isn’t your competition. That’s like comparing a McDonald’s 99 cent menu burger to a gourmet Kobe beef burger. I’m pretty sure the place serving Kobe beef burgers for a pretty penny doesn’t see McDonald’s as its competition at all. They’re working with totally different demographics. There are people that value a really nice juicy high quality burger and will pay more for it and there are people who just want a burger and aren’t too picky about the quality. Then you’ve got all the other value points in between. The only person you should be competing with is yourself.

Step 4 – Unless the time you’re spending thinking about those other photographers is bringing in more clients for you, increasing your income, or boosting your skill level…then stop. Stop right now. Worrying about what everyone else is doing doesn’t make your business any better. In fact, it’s wasted time you could be spending on making your own business better.

Step 5 – Look at the statistics. I quote these from Michael E Gerber’s ‘The E-Myth Revisited’ book for entrepreneurs (I highly recommend it). He got his stats directly from the Department of Commerce and I’m going to paraphrase them from him for a moment. Every year more than a million people start businesses. By year’s end, 40% of those businesses are gone. In 5 years 80% will fail. More than 80% of those business owners that survive the first 5 years will fail in the second 5.

Those statistics kind of make me worry more about myself…crap, I should get to work now. Thinking about all of you worrying about everyone else isn’t helping me get more clients. I’m out.

Carrie Swails

I'm a serial entrepreneur. Owner at Photography Awesomesauce, Rock Your Weird and Made in the Lab and I photograph offbeat weddings. In other words, I'm crazy. I have a birthmark in my armpit, and am a terrible mathematician. What I lack in understanding of complex theories such as Pi (clearly a food item - apple is my favorite) and invisible numbers (if I can't see them, why should I care?) I make up for in awesomesauce. I believe there is no right way to put the toilet paper on - I'm just happy it's available. I believe there's no such thing as a bad fortune in a fortune cookie. I believe we only live life once so we should wear costumes as often as possible. I believe wine is like the force - it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together. I howl with my basset hound every morning, call my brother to beat video game bosses for me, and love eating fried cheese.

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