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Melinda, I used to live fairly close to you, in Westlake Village. I’m sure you’re familiar with the demographics of that area. A typical portrait sitting was as much as a soccer mom charges for a wedding here in Utah. When I moved here, I sold my medium format outfit for about 20% of what it cost, and wasn’t about to reinvest in more digital gear just to compete in that market. So I sold my lighting, backgrounds, and everything else too. Kept some film bodies for sentimental reasons, and one DSLR that I used for casual photography until the shutter finally became erratic and unreliable.

I enjoyed my time behind the camera in SoCal. Working with people has always been important. I view computers as a tool, nothing more. I loved delivering wedding albums, and watching the bride’s face light up as she flipped through them. Or showing a family their proofs, and having the parents comment that I captured the personality of each of their children perfectly. But times have changed. Photography has changed. Consumers have changed. In the past, it seemed that my clients were used to being photographed, knew which side was their good side, and what poses they wanted. Now, they are most accustomed to a phone pic taken at arm’s length, and are awkward in front of the camera. I have a lot of hurdles to overcome.

The two weddings I shot this year were for close friends and family. I didn’t charge either of them. Had I not shown up with a camera, they would most likely have not gotten any at all, other than what guests took with P&S cameras, or their phones. They got quotes from local photographers, looked at their work, and recognized that it was sub-par. Yes, worse than mine even. But I am here because I would like to improve my game, and sharpen my skills. That was easy enough when I was single and only worked 40 hours/week. I have a lot less free time now, but a long list of friends that are willing to come over and sit for me while I work on my lighting and posing. So any input from other photographers is appreciated.

Oh, as far as just being better than my competition, you’d have to see how bad it is to fully understand. Yes, I want to do the very best I can, but if I was just in it for the money, it really wouldn’t take much effort to get paying clients here.