I am not a business woman. I play at photography because I love it. I'm truly obsessed. It is always on my mind. I voraciously read everything I can get my hands on. I've spent thousands (!!) of dollars on continuing education, better equipment, webpages, and more. It is just the most fun I've ever had in my life. I love being a mother, I do. But photography is something creative. It is entirely separate from my role as Mom... something JUST for me.
When it comes to the business side, I just feel so torn about the whole thing. I keep prices low and offer digital images because I actually WANT to "work" (truthfully, PLAY) and love what I do. I seriously just plain LOVE doing photo sessions.
But there are a couple of things wrong with my pricing:
- There are families of actual professionals who DEPEND on the income. My low-balling hurts the photography community as a whole. Two of my BEST FRIENDS in the whole wide world (Kelly and Chryshelle!) are trying to actually make a real income. Kelly can't quit her day job until she replaces her salary. People like me make that really difficult. :(
- I don't make money. I just don't. I spend everything I make on more photography equipment or buy templates for announcements or new websites... I mean, this is truly not a business but a hobby. I listen to Dave Ramsey, and he makes fun of people like me!
- I spend a whole lot of time away from the family doing this wonderful thing. While I am perfectly content to "work" (PLAY) for free, it causes dissension in my marriage. It isn't fair to my family. Adam doesn't want to work for free, and he does work when he is home alone with the four kids all day and helping maintain the house/cooking/etc on his own.
- Yes, my husband supports us with his income. But I know I could be contributing more. I have student loans that I need to pay off. I want to adopt in 5-7 years. Money doesn't motivate me the way it does some other people, but it is necessary. I could really use it.
I've changed my pricing structure too many time, and I am afraid of alienating clients. When I tried changing my pricing at the beginning of 2011, I got a whopping total of ONE booking in 2 months. I was so sad. It really broke my heart to see clients going for the cheaper shoot-and-burners.
I try not to be snobby, because I started somewhere too. Those photos will never see the light of day again. But UGH. Everyone with a DSLR thinks that they're a photographer, even when shooting in AUTO and with horrible Photoshop actions run on 100% opacity on EVERYthing. So price-wise, I can't compete. And I really don't even want to compete.
So now I've talked myself in a circle. This is just really hard.
I really don't think the average person understands the work behind custom photography session. And I don't think the average person understands the difference in print quality between a professional lab and a retail store's one-hour printing shop. I reposted this yesterday on my page, thanks to Wendy in hopes of providing a great visual.
So the eternal question and struggle and source of much angst and conflict in my life.... what is the purpose of Lerin Photography? Am I a content hobbyist or is this a profession?
What do you think?