I am writing something I thought I would never tell anyone.
I almost did not go to The Family Narrative two years ago (my first year). Despite being super excited to be able to go finally (first year sold out before I knew about it, second year I was due with my first child within a few weeks).
A blog was written that put me off, made me roll my eyes.
It just annoyed me. It was not an overly offensive post, considering what we read daily now in the news. It was all about PRICING. Pricing is a sensitive topic when it comes to the photographers world, and probably all creatives.
A few things that bother me about the creative community is the “you have to do this” mentality to succeed. People have found the road to the promised land and insist that is the only way to make it there. Things I have heard over the years said to photographers
- You have to pick ONE THING
- You HAVE TO charge more
- You have to SELL this one way
These discussions always bothered me because I do not typically fit in the same pricing structure as some very success photographers and at one point I wanted to do EVERYTHING. And, I was still successful. So, can’t it be true others are too?
Part of me doing a bit of everything was I LOVED photos of everything. I could not focus my energy because of FOMO. I was young, I didn’t have kids, I had all the time in the world to overwork myself. I brought money in doing weddings and then charged next to nothing for family photos that I only did once a year in the fall.
When I had my first kid things became more in focus. It became clearer what my time was worth. I invested more in my business by taking courses to enhance my talents. My family photos from pre kid to now are staggeringly different. Even so, giving up weddings was a hard jump to take (for 3 years I still took on the occasional wedding and you could still find engagement photos on my website). I finally spent the time and money to get my own family photos done by other photographers.
The more I met people in this creative small business world the more I understand where the original thoughts of “I know better” comes from but not everyone has found their educational community to help them yet. And not everyone who has something negative to say is offering up that community. My HR side of me believes we can always do better and learn more, but we have to have someone that is willing to teach us.
In comes the intro to The Family Narrative. I got all excited about my first in person learning with other photographers. Then came this blog.
I felt frustrated. I felt let down. Here was this supposedly inclusive group telling people what they NEED to charge. They don’t know everyone’s situation and business. HOW DARE THEY…. And then blog two came out. This deeper dive of what needs to be considered in business and pricing and practices was everything I have ever thought about why pricing varies.
From there more and more experiences from this group of artists and business people have continued to be eye opening and just connecting so many dots to make this crazy world of creative self-employment make sense.
In New Orleans in 2019 I learned from such a diverse group of teachers. My favorite part is they all were successful and they all had different messages on how to be successful. One stood by delegating, have an associate photographer, editors, and creative directors. The next did it all themselves. One stood by having very consistent photos and messaging on all media, the next said she does families, school photos, and weddings when she wants to. Because that is just what she loves doing. That may sound confusing, but it was comforting that as long as you are doing your business smartly, you can do what you want.
I was blown away by all of our speakers. But, there was the one talk that stuck with me and influenced my interactions on photo boards for the next year was the one on pricing. It talked all about three different business models and why they all can work as long as they work like their business model works. Just because you have found what works for you does not mean what someone else is doing does not work for them. HOWEVER if you are feeling burned out, booking lots of clients and not seeing a great profit at year end you also will greatly benefit from these lessons.
Photographers and honestly any creatives – if you have not heard Annemie’s podcast – go there now. I am linking the first episode about business models, but PLEASE listen to 38&40 at minimum (it is a two part series…. Episode 39 is a quickie mentoring session with yours truly…. Thank you Annemie for sandwhiching me in between these two I cannot think of anything more perfect).
After that – go and listen to the rest, they are all super inspiring and get motivated.