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An Open Letter to Last Year’s Clients: Thank You

Delaware beach family photography

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

Delaware beach family photography

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

Delaware beach family photography

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