Photographing With Transparency
Why I do things the way that I do.
As a small business owner, I seek to connect as much as possible with my clients. I remember every face, human, horse, and dog, that I have the pleasure of having in front of my camera. I love hearing your stories, following your journey, and watching you and your animals grow in life - as I grow too. With all of that being said, I want to be as open and honest with you as possible. For that reason, I have decided to break down a bit of why I price my collections and work as I do.
Not Making Millions
As much as I would not mind "rolling in the dough" (who wouldn't?!) so to speak, that is definitely not the case as a business owner. While my most expensive collection runs $650 + tax, that does not mean I pocket that $650 or make anywhere near that per hour. Sure, I take some home to help pay the bills for our little family of two, but not one cent of that is considered "spending money". Below is a general break down of how I price out my $650 collection.
~$10 per hour of time (so about an average job).
- 2-3 hours of shoot time
- Average about 1 1/2 hour-3 hours of drive time
- Average of two hours prep (contact with client, cleaning and preparing equipment, researching location, helping client prepare, researching and gathering props, weather and time checks, etc.).
- 30 minutes-one hour per edited digital x 25-30 digitals
- One-three hours per complementary product ordering consultation
- One-two hours for miscellaneous (setting up gallery, exporting/importing, product ordering, sorting images, etc.)
So, adding up all those hours (up to 43 hours per client) = about $430 worth of work at $10 an hour. This may seem like I am taking home $430 per collection, but that is not the case. $350 goes home to help pay the bills per month, and the rest goes straight back into the business. Below I will list a little simplified break down of the expenses I expect per month.
- My camera, lenses, and lighting equipment are worth about $7000 all together. This equipment wears down and will eventually break, so I need to keep a solid amount of cash on hand for when the inevitable happens. This equipment also needs to be professionally serviced and cleaned on a regular basis, which costs a few hundred dollars each time.
- Each month, I pay about $300 in software and computer related expenses.
- I can expect anywhere from $300-$1000+ in print and product order costs per month.
- Insurance per year is about $500, part of which is paid monthly. I also have various accounting and other not-so-fun-parts-of-business fees.
- I spend about $300-$400 per month on various expenses such as processing fees, promotional materials, gifts for clients, travel expenses, car expenses for my work vehicle, and countless more. This month alone I put almost $300 down on my car repairs, and a couple hundred on workshop and valentine's day session supplies in addition to everything else! Some months are different, but that is a general idea.
Is your head spinning yet? Mine too! There is a whole ton of things that go into this business. During the crazy times of year, I work probably 50 hours a week trying to get things edited, uploaded, and delivered. During the slow times, I sweat and wonder if I will be able to make the bills this month and question what I am doing wrong. This is an industry that ebbs and flows rapidly, and keeps me on my toes. Despite the hairy times, it is so worth it every time I hear the excited reaction of someone who just received their gallery, or listen to another fascination story of yet another interesting person I get to meet. Yes, this business is about photos, but it is even more so about people. I wouldn't give up standing in the baking sun for eighteen hours a days during show season, or staying up until 2am cramming to get galleries delivered, or the times of struggle, for anything. YOU make it worth it. Relationships are what this business thrives on. That is why I wrote this blog post. I seek to be real with you as my client or potential client. I want you to know that there is a purpose to why my pricing is what it is. If you have worked with us before, whether it was to purchase one 4x6 from a horse show, or to enjoy our biggest collection, thank you. I appreciate you! I can't wait to see what 2018 brings for you, me, and Elizabeth Knight Photography. Here is to more new relationships, beautiful memories, and captured moment!