Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Should I bother charging?

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  • #6021
    creyes8519
    Member

    I am a fan of photography in the sense that I’ve always hired pros to photograph family milestones and events.  My second daughter was born and I could not afford to pay a pro any longer, but I still wanted to capture my kids with some good photos so I bought myself a Nikon D3100 and started learning to take pics of my kids and my family.  I have taken a lot of photos of family members and friends for free because I don’t consider myself a pro at all.  But at this point there are too many requests at this time that I am considering charging and actually starting a business.  Still, I don’t know if my photography is good enough quality to charge the money that I want to charge.  If anyone can please take the time to look at my photos and tell me is it worth making money from on the side?  Or do I have a lot of work to do before I actually get into business?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cristinaspics/

     

    #6022
    dont.care
    Member

    Well, I’m a firm believer that so long as you’re not trying to up-sell yourself into something your not and you stay within your social circle and they know you’re just starting out / been at it for a short while and are willing to pay you.. I honestly don’t see any problems with it.. So long as you’re honest about it.

    As far as starting a business goes? I’d suggest you hold off.. Not because you’re terrible or anything but when people that don’t know you start paying you, you have to be able to change gears in a hurry and adapt quickly.. I don’t know as I can’t see your EXIF data, but I’m assuming you’re probably using a 3.5-5.6 kit lens with that 3100 and a popup flash.. So, waiting wouldn’t hurt so you can save up and invest in some faster lenses (better gear) and more experience.. Even family can be hardcore when they pay you..

     

    Additionally, a business involves:
    Registering a name with the State
    Getting a Tax ID
    Insurance
    A Brand
    A Website
    A physical location (preferably not your living room)
    Marketing..

    a legit business anyway.. Good luck 😀

    I am sure others will add to this 100 fold.

     

    #6026
    creyes8519
    Member

    Well, if I were to get into a real business I would certainly invest money into it and get the proper equipment I need.  I have a couple lenses (50mm 1.8 and 17-70 2.8), a couple strobes, a reflector… but I would definitely want a full-frame camera before I go outside my family circle.  Sometimes going outside the family circle is inevitable… co-workers of my family members want me to take pics of their kids, etc…   I really would be happy not getting into business but I feel like an asshole turning everyone down because I’m not a professional photographer.  Also, the extra money really wouldn’t hurt.  But I like others have mentioned on this board and I do tend to agree with them, that getting into business does slow one’s growth as a photographer.  I don’t really know if I’m ready to start getting into it professionally.

    I know the composition isn’t the best in my photostream… keep in mind that they are mostly snapshots of my kids, but further down you can see I did a couple of family portraits and a Sweet 16 shoot for my niece.

    #6031
    IHF
    Member

    Ditto to above poster
    Didn’t look at your photography, because I think you can answer this question yourself, and with some honest feedback from friend family and/or potential future clients.

    Here is a cost of doing business calculator.  Enter your expenses, your desired salary (Starting out you will want to just aim for at least minimum wage. PLEASE!  you’re worth minimum wage!  It’s hard work being for hire, and its expensive.  Most don’t even bother to figure out hours doing business vs pay, and then fail miserably) and it gives you an estimate on what it will cost you per assignment/session.  Keep in mind that even hobbyists charge for profit on their products and services.  Or at least try to break even. I say this because so many togs don’t realize their true value, and many end up going into debt only because they didn’t think things through.
    https://nppa.org/calculator

    Be honest with yourself while filling out the form, and if needed, add any expenses or fees not covered.

    What do you need to charge to make at least minimum wage per hours working? (don’t forget hours spent marketing, updating sites, networking, editing, traveling etc

    Then ask yourself, ” is my photography products and services worth said amount?”  If yes, and your target market agree… Go for it.
    Chances are, if you are honest with yourself while filling out the form, and you are seriously contemplating going into business, the answer will be no, especially since you have only been shooting a short while.

    #6036
    IHF
    Member

    And please, if you decide to make a go at some hobby income, be HONEST in your marketing.  Don’t be all “I’ve been photographing for years.” Or “why pay a high priced pro?” Or the like.  Be honest that this is all about  trying to support your hobby, and never be afraid to say “no” when it’s something beyond your capibilities.  Honesty, goes a long way, and this industry is in dire need of it.  Also most states require you to charge sales tax and have id, even for hobby income, and be sure to look up your tax laws for income tax as well.  Don’t quote me, but I believe anything over $500 needs to be claimed federally.  Good luck!  I hope you make the best decision for yourself

    #6045
    dont.care
    Member

    Ya, don’t forget how expensive redundancy gets.. Oh, how the thousands accumulate..  Like I told someone else, pro gear isn’t because it makes for a better image.. It’s for ruggedness.. That ruggedness and reliability = $$$$.. Which is why I mentioned that you take your time and accumulate your gear. Give’s you two opportunities.. a) learn your gear b) polish your skills and area of interest. By the time you’ve accumulated a small fortune in lenses and camera bodies I think you could essentially start a business and be relatively successful depending on how passionate about it you are.

    It’ll all work out for ya 😀 again, good luck to ya!

     

    edit: not to mention by the time you’ve invested double digit thousands into it, you kinda are financially obligated to make it pay back.. 🙂

    #6056
    IHF
    Member

    After reading your reply…

    I have to say, I’ve never been made to feel like an asshole for saying “no”.  And I say it ALOT.  I think it’s obviously worse to say you are able to do something that you’re incapable of doing properly, and collecting cash for it.  Everyone with a camera is asked, most times over and over and over again.  If you take it on, and you’re cheap or free, you’ll be busy regardless of your skill. Seriously, when you’re cheap  the demand has very little to do with your skill, only the price.  You’ll be working hard and not getting ahead at all.  It’s entirely up to you to be honest and say “no” when it’s something you are not capable of, or when you are unable to handle the work load involved.  People will respect your honesty, and learn from your explanation, if an explanation is needed.  That’s not asshole behavior, that’s good behavior.  Not only are you helping them, but you are also setting the standards for your work.  So when you are ready (that is IF you have decided you arent now) to open up shop, your intentions are clear, and your future clients will know what they are paying for, and understand the value of it.

    The last time I was bombarded with “you should start a business.  You’re really good.  Would you take our family pictures?”  Part of my explanation was “$$$ is what I would have to charge per gig, $$$  is what I would have to sell in prints and product per gig, to make the same as someone flipping burgers part time.  This would be my starting rates.  Do you still think I should take your family photos and start a part time business??”  Crickets… Then they started with the “but I know someone with a nice camera like you that…” etc  Sorry, I can’t afford to be in business like that, we already have enough debt, and I think professional photography is worth more than a fast food burger.  You can totally steal this convo from me if you need it.  It worked well

    #6059
    fstopper89
    Member

    The above poster reminded me of something I saw the other day: It was a post on a local buy/sell group on FB. A woman was asking for a “cheap professional photographer” to take pictures of her kids. In the same post she said “or just someone with a really nice camera I could borrow so I could just take the pictures myself.” LOL. Because the camera does all the work.

    #6062
    IHF
    Member

    Browneyed,

    I think this is what a lot of togs that are in it for quick cash should think about doing.  Why not insure their camera, and loan it out. They could still have a fb page and gather likes if that is what floats their boat.  They could post what their renters shoot with their camera and lenses. This would be a lot less work, and there would be no need to learn all that photography stuff that seems to bore them to the point of avoiding it at all costs.  They would also be able to honestly say they “earn money from photography”.  Win win and much more legit and honest way to go about it too.

     

    sorry for getting off topic  creyes

    #6069
    fstopper89
    Member

    ^ Haha!

    #6077
    dont.care
    Member

    I’ve showed up at legitimate shoots with a powershot just to see the reaction.. You would be amazed that over half are complacent about it. I don’t use the damn thing but it’s fun to see the reaction when there is one…. What’s funny is, is that these people are paying big bucks and to suit the purposes of this site they quite frankly don’t know any better to expect more or less whereby allowing a select group of “photographers” to exploit this and make money producing crap like you see on the main page.. However, I did do that one time and the guy point blank said, “Are you f’ing kidding me?” I immediately said yes..

    But anywho.. I have a powershot for a particular reason.. I don’t care about breaking it for 1 and it’s nice light small and takes somewhat decent photos.. When you’re meeting someone and they want you to do something, it’s nice to have photos to formulate a plan you can return on more confident.. personal preference but completely a choice and a fairly straight forward tool to help build ideas on before you go do the real thing. q:D

    #6100
    fstopper89
    Member

    Yeah my Powershot is decent for taking out to bars with friends (phone camera used to be decent, but the poor design places the little camera lens flush with the phone body which resulted in it getting scratched up from sliding on surfaces) anyway, the Powershot is also a quick little camera to take photos of some of the items I sell online, but to be honest, I’ve resorted to actually using my DSLRs to take nicer photos of some items, better pictures help sell things quicker. Sometimes I feel like I wasted the $140 on the Powershot but everyone should have a point-and-shoot I guess. My boyfriend’s dad found an Olympus 8 megapixel waterproof/shockproof camera in a snowbank by the local college last year after it had been plowed up and the snow melted in the spring, the thing didn’t work and there was no battery charger, but my bf found one of those universal charging mats and once the camera sat for awhile, it worked! We took it out in the lake last summer and it was very useful for that purpose.

    Now I’m seriously tempted to pull out my Powershot when I’m doing a hired gig to see the reactions.

    #6109
    Intuition
    Member

    Okay. Please don’t take this as me speaking down to you or anything, just something I noted as pretty funny. It’s no less a valid reason then mine for wanting to be a pro but it made me giggle.

    You said in your OP

    “I could not afford to pay a pro any longer,”

    and because of that you decided to drop what has probably equated to over a grand on camera equipment lol. I thought at first it was only the D3100, which you can get for probably 500 now, or maybe less now that the 3200 is out. But then you mentioned your lenses and strobes. Just weird reasoning for a profession that doesn’t come cheap or easy 🙂

     

     

    #6114
    creyes8519
    Member

    Well before I would hire a pro and between the sessions and the prints I would shelling out like $400 to $500.  After I had my first baby in her first two years I had 5 photo sessions for Christmas, her birthday, and a family session.  I spent $2075 in less than 2 years.  I spent $1500 on my own camera equipment over the last 3 years.

    #6125
    fstopper89
    Member

    If I was a beginner (I’m not really calling you a beginner now, but you were at one point), I’d still rather pay the pro (while I was still learning to be a good photographer) just because I’d probably be hard on myself. But once you get yourself to that point, where you’re confident in your ability to take photos of your own kids that rival the pros you used to hire, then it is worth it. But remember, you still want to be in your family photos, so you would have to hire a photog to do those yet. Even if you have a tripod and a remote, it’s almost always better to have someone take the photos. My friend, who is a photographer, did her own engagement photos. They were pretty good, technically-sound, but they lacked the really fun poses because she didn’t have anyone directing them. It’s great too to network with other photogs in your area, so you can trade services. They can shoot family photos for you and you can shoot family photos for them- sometimes you can work it out so that you can edit “your” own photos. I did this with the photog I used to work for, I took her family photos for their Christmas card and she did the editing, and as a tradeoff, she took photos of me and my brother in her studio for a gift for our parents and grandma.

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