Struggles of Being a Photographer – How to Get Through it
There are struggles that come with every profession, even the really great ones that you absolutely love. Here are some problems you’ll face as a photographer and some solutions to get through it. This may not be what you want to hear but it’s the truth.
Seeing Your Value
Potential clients will not see your value if you do not show it to them. Your value isn’t what’s traded, it’s not “you get X photos for X amount.” Your value is what makes you special, it’s the thing that makes you stand out from the rest. So show them! Maybe they weren’t following you when you did all that celebrity schmoozing, understand that people are living in their own lives they shouldn’t be expected to remember everything about you that makes your service a unique experience.
When I had a day job, I interviewed for a full-time position, after the interview was over, one of the two people who interviewed me gave me some feedback. He said “you spoke to us like we knew you” (yes, they did know me.) But that interview was my time to brag about my accomplishments, instead I went in with the mentality of “you know I do amazing work in X” I relied on them remembering the great things I do. Big Mistake. That advice was amazing and I use it till this day.
The truth is, no body wants a sub-par photographer, they want the best even if their budget might not always reflect that. They need someone they can trust. Show them that they can, why you’ll work hard. Give them proof. Why You? Tell them before they ask.
Remember how I told you that people want the best photographer? Those same people also want the most bang for their buck. You may not like this advice but I promise you it will allow you to keep your sanity. We all have a CODB, cost of doing business. Being a photographer is in NO way cheap, we have cameras, batteries, lenses, memory cards, hard-drives, laptops, we have to pay for the electricity in our homes to power all of those. Not to mention your website, your online gallery service where you upload client photos for them to download, business insurance, advertising. Those are all the things you have to pay for before you even meet your client. Then once you set up your session, you have to pay to get there whether its public transportation, gas, toll etc. Costs add up so you have to set your prices to profit every time you get out of your bed.. and if you’re being low-balled, believe me, you could lose money on the transaction.
Okay, so what do I do if someone “low-balls” me? Don’t take it. That client doesn’t value your work, you’re going to lose money if it’s a price below your CODB. In my experience and I’m not saying I’ve been in this forever, but when I’ve accommodated low prices in the past (very long ago) the whole experience was the worst. Clients who don’t value you will post and not credit you, they’ll pay late, they’ll want you to photoshop them to look thinner or more buff in every photo. Give an inch they take a mile. Here’s the most important thing, when you say Yes to a client who low-balls you, you say No to a client who will value you and see’s the beauty in your work, because time is finite. Which is why every client I take on, I’m stoked about! Every project I do, I’m passionate about. No regrets. What you don’t want to happen is to book a date for a low-ball client and then a dream client hits you up about the same date. And No, you can’t cancel on the first one because that’s just straight up rude. Leave yourself open for great things.
Collaborate for Exposure
I’m sorry, can we just stop doing this already? As I said earlier, we all have a CODB and if you’re not getting paid, you’re coming out of pocket to take photos. “But Amanda, they have 100k followers on instagram, they said they can credit me in the photos.” I’m going to tell you a cold-hard truth right now. Those followers? They love that person for everything they are. You aren’t them. So what makes you think they’re going to go to the photo-credit, follow you and then magically become your client. No. Sorry I’ve been tagged by paying clients with 40k followers, 160k followers etc and ask me how many clients or follows came from those tags? Basically zero.
I have a friend who tells people who hit her up in exchange for exposure that if she does book paying clients through their referral she’ll gladly refund them the cost of the session. So basically “hey so and so I found you through X’s IG, can we schedule a shoot?” I asked her how often that happened. Zero. You have to understand when they say “exposure” they’re going to expose you to more people in their circle, and we’re the average of our 5 closest friends, if they don’t want to pay you, what makes you think their friends or followers will?
Not Getting Paid
I want to cover this because this is an unfortunate problem naive people face. As a photographer, you should be paid when services are rendered. Not when photos are delivered. Did you show up for the session, did you physically do your job? Then you should be paid. This is where trust comes in, understand how uncomfortable it might be for someone to hand over money before they physically get what they’re paying for. This is a unique industry. So having real-people reviews that prove you’re a good person, not running away with their money goes a long way. I believe this is why so many people get booked through referrals because people are afraid to trust a stranger (totally understandable!)
This is also why I deliver photos pretty quickly, I know every moment waiting for photos is unnerving. So I give sneak peeks ASAP so they know they’re getting good stuff and then deliver photos before they ever have to wonder “when am I getting the rest?” I fortunately, can afford to deliver so fast because photography is all I do, I don’t have a day job I have to work through before I can sit down in front of my computer.
So, with all that said. Do Not Deliver Photos Before You Get Paid. People will have some really great reasons they can’t pay you, that’s fine, shit happens but don’t deliver photos before you get what is owed. What I truly suggest is getting paid day of before you leave your client.
Side note, you’ll have less of an issue if you have multiple ways for your client to pay. Nobody carries cash anymore, if your client is under the age of 65, they won’t have checks. Make sure that you have a convenient way for them to pay you.