Last year, specifically the summer, was one of the busiest times of my life. I grew as a Delaware photographer as I practiced the same session, over and over, meeting brand new families every day. I experimented. I invented. I honed my craft and I discovered my style.
Last year, I was a decent photographer. And a terrible business person.
This year, I aim to be an artist. And a decent business person.
Why This Year Is Different
If you’ve reached out to me looking to rebook, you were probably shocked that the prices are significantly higher than they were last year.
And I want to tell you that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I can’t keep offering $300 photoshoots. I truly wish I could. This decision was not made lightly and I've spent hours toiling over how to run my business this year. But after lots of training and education, I’ve discovered that according to my cost of doing business (CODB), I was essentially paying you to let me take your photos.
After diving into my expenses and spreadsheets and taxes, I walked away last year with less than $20k to pay myself. And if we’re being honest, I’m not a good bookkeeper, so it was likely less.
I have a family. I have a husband, and I have rescue animals that I care for. I have a mortgage. I have student debt.
Photography is my full time job. It’s not a fun side project that I do to make some extra cash. This is how I feed my family and support myself.
And even by taking on 60 clients a month last year, I had nothing to show for my work but debt and burnout.
Photography By the Numbers
Photography is so much more than just the shooting time. To make the magic of your shoot happen, I likely spent around 10 hours on your family. Beyond the marketing and social media management and SEO and content creation that brought you to my website in the first place that I don’t count in this 10 hours, answering your initial inquiry, nailing down the details, sending over the contract, communicating with you before the session, driving over an hour to the session, getting there between 30 minutes to 60 minutes early, spending between 45 minutes to an hour and a half with you, driving home an hour, uploading your photos, editing previews to send that night, culling all your photos (which I usually outsourced, paying people $15/hour to do so), 2-3 hours editing your photos, and sending you the final collection (not to mention any extra edits you requested after), 10 hours is a conservative number. To run my business, I use Profit First, so 50% of the sales goes to my owner’s compensation, 34% goes to my operating expenses, 15% goes to taxes, and 1% goes to profit.
So I get paid $150 to do 10 hours of work. That’s $15 an hour. The same amount I paid my cullers. And that money doesn’t just pay me for that time, it has to pay for my healthcare, my time off, my sick days, and every time I’m not getting work in. Since I live in a community with a disproportionate number of clients over the summer, what I make over the summer has to subsidize my salary for the rest of the year.
If you worked with me last year, you know that I am a good person who genuinely cares about her work and the clients she takes on. And I hope that even if you can’t afford the new prices, you understand that my time and talent is worth it.
Why This Year Is Better
I’m not just raising my prices for the same experience you got last year. This year, the exclusive number of clients I work with will enjoy a much more luxury experience.
If I don’t know you yet, we’re going to get on a call so I can get to know your family better. Who will be joining us? Do grandparents have mobility constraints? Are any of the younger kids on the spectrum? Do any of the grown ups not want to be there? Knowing all of this will help me better serve your family, from suggesting which location we choose to how I interact with the family on the day of the shoot. I specialize in serving neurodivergent clients of all ages, because I am neurodivergent myself! I can even help you decide on clothing choices so everyone looks cohesive.
Everyone who signs up for a session this year will choose an art package to prepay for. It makes me so sad to think about all the gorgeous photos I took last year that are just sitting in hard drive graveyards. You did all the hard work of getting your family to dress up and smile for the camera. You should have art that showcases those efforts!
I have spent many hours sourcing the best professional labs for each of the art types we offer. These are not Shutterfly quality pieces. These are museum-quality art purchases that I format and order myself so that you don’t have to! The turnaround time for your photos has decreased from 3 weeks to 1 week, since I’ll be serving less clients. Within 1 week, we’ll get on a video call together so we can go over your photos. You’ll choose which photos you want for which art piece, and if you want to upgrade your art collection then, you can! And if you have a large family, every family member can have their own call. If there are specific and manageable edits you’d like before we send off the photos for the art order, I can help.
Afterwards, I’ll send along the digitals in a web-sized JPEG format. When most photographers switch to In Person Sales, they don’t give any digitals away. But I still want you all to be able to post on social media and upgrade your screen server, so I send the web-sized digitals as a courtesy and thanks for choosing us.
This shift is drastic. And I understand if a photo session with me is not in the budget this year. I completely understand. Right now, I wouldn’t be able to afford a session with me, either!
All I hope is that you understand why I had to make this change, and that I’m not doing this to crowd out my original clients. I’m not doing this because I want to become a millionaire.
I’m doing this because I want to stay in business.
If I don’t make this change now, Still Poetry Photography will have to close for good. And I think you all know me well enough to know that this would be one of the worst things that could happen to me. I love my job. I love my clients. And I love that I get to be an artist for a living.
If you can’t afford a session with us this year, you’re still just as valuable to us as a social media follower and someone who cheers us on from the sidelines. Continue to recommend us to your friends, take advantage of our numerous flexible payment plans to save up for important sessions, and keep sending us digital love.
And if you do decide to work with us again, I guarantee that I will prove to you that we're worth it.