Over the last few days something phenomenal happened. I posted on my blog a response that I sent to a bride who was upset about the price of wedding photographers, and it. went. viral! Not just a little viral, but all over the world viral. Getting 130,000 page views in 3 days VIRAL. Today is the fourth day and things are finally starting to slow down a bit.
First of all, I want to thank the overwhelming number of people who took the time to comment and e-mail me, both good and bad. I moderate my own blog and therefore I have to approve every comment before it appears on my site. Although it was difficult to approve some of the low blows and scathing messages I received, I thought it was important for everyone else to be able to share their opinion and thoughts on the situation, just as I did. Lucky for me, the number of kind words, supporters and people who understood the overall message I was trying to convey FAR outnumbered those who were critical or missed the point. To all of you, THANK YOU. You kept me sane over the last couple of days. I apologize that I am not able to respond to all of you individually due to time and sheer volume, but please know that I appreciated every single comment.
I also want to thank my brides and clients who understand my message. I
appreciate your support as well. My clients very often become friends. I
do try to work with every client and potential client to create customized
package options that will fit particular budgets and needs. And I work
very hard to give my clients a product worth every penny.
I am in the business of being judged – by clients, vendors, other wedding
photographers or just photographers in general. In college we called it a
“critique.” At the various news resources I worked for we called it
“editing.” Now, as a wedding photographer, it’s called a “consultation.”
Throughout my years in the industry though, no one has ever been as critical of me as myself… that is, until I posted this blog!! HA! I have never been judged on such a large scale! I have to admit that there were various
points over the last couple of days while I was obsessing over the hundreds of comments and e-mails that I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. Honestly, if I knew my response to this bride and my blog was going to get this much attention and spark such a debate I would have changed about 1000 things, from grammatical errors to the generalization and guesstimations of many of my expenses. BUT I still stick by my point
That being said, there were a few things that people were commenting about that I would like to touch base on – not because I am trying to defend myself (ok, maybe a little), but because after reading through all the comments I feel I owe a response.
The email was originally a response to a bride complaining *specifically*
about the money we photographers make because “all they do is hang out” for a day and then take our money and laugh all the way to the bank, which simply isn’t true. I addressed the bride back *specifically* about costs and expenses, and not talent or experience, because she addressed the industry *specifically* about our prices. The bride also had the unfortunate misconception that “You guys make so much money its CRAZY” — which, again, simply isn’t true. Wedding photographers and all freelance photographers are also small business owners. A lot of behind the scenes work and expenses go into owning a small business. Gross income for a salaried person is considerably different than gross income for a small business.
Could I have explained this point better rather than quickly estimating my
many many expenses and investments? Well, obviously. But, in my own
defense, I never in a million years guessed that over 100,000 people were
going to go over every detail with a fine tooth comb. I’m sorry I quickly
responded and listed things as I did, because a lot of people focused more
on the “inaccuracy” of some of my operating costs than on the very important point of the message.
Of course I don’t pay my taxes off the top OR deduct the full price of my
house, car, computer, equipment, etc. from my taxes. I used these figures to make a POINT to one specific bride. That point was sadly overlooked by those who decided to focus more on my car lease payment or how much I spend on internet per year. I will say that there are more expenses that I didn’t list which would help even out the mistakes in the expenses that people are nitpicking about.
Also, I don’t only work 4 months a year… Although wedding photography is the lion’s share of my business in the spring and summer months, I also do portraits and corporate events year-round. Did I include
that in the e-mail response to the bride? No. Why? Because it wasn’t
relevant to her complaint about wedding photographers.
In “my spare time,” I also create albums, fulfill print orders, advertise, attend workshops and continuing education classes, do branding, update my website, mobile website, fb page and blog (marketing), work on my websites’ SEO and involve myself in every online listing I can find in order to rank myself online. I attend bridal shows, send invoices and billing, file, copyright register my work, network with vendors in my field, create promotional materials such as business cards and brochures, create guest books, make new templates for both wedding albums and save the dates, make thank you cards and save the dates for my brides, take and edit engagement photos and create engagement albums. I offer my services pro bono for charity events, answer hundreds of calls and emails from brides, attend consultations to book brides (often multiple times), update contracts and other business documents, research, scout locations and the list goes on and on and on. In my “extra-extra spare time” I clean my studio, do my bookkeeping, keep my office supplied, and countless other odd jobs that small business owners do.
Another thing I want to explain is that I was in no way trying to complain
or cry a sob story or have people feel bad for me. I made the decision to
leave a very well paying job as a photo editor at a very large corporation
where most of my expenses including computer, software, office supplies,
health insurance, continuing education, and even transportation to and from locations were paid for me because I was MISERABLE.
Working in all different aspects of the industry for the last 8 years, I had
no misconceptions of what I was getting myself into when I decided to start my own photography business. I CHOSE to give up financial security, consistent hours, great benefits and a lot more money to run my own business, and I absolutely love what I do now. I have THE BEST clients, and I get to do what I love and build a career and business out of it! Why would you feel bad for me?!
What I did want people to feel was RESPECT – not just for me, but for
photographers and small business owners in general and see that there is A LOT of time, investment, sacrifice and things behind the scenes that many people may not realize when they drop that $3000 check in the mailbox. Most of that money is going to expenses and being re-invested into our business, and most of us are in no way pocketing that money and living the luxurious lifestyle this bride implied.
Again, I appreciate you all taking the time to share your support and
opinions, but over the last 3 days this has consumed way more time than I
can manage and I need to re-focus my attention onto my business and clients. Luckily I was supposed to be on a family snowmobiling vacation this week (which got rained out) so I didn’t have anything booked! Great timing eh??
As of right now I will not be approving any more comments on my blog related to my last post. (If you have already commented, you can still reply w/o moderation.)
To close, I want to thank you all again. Even with the good and the bad,
I’m glad that I was able to open up a discussion in the community and
educate some people. Also, I’m glad that I can walk away with a TON of new friends!!!
Oh, and to answer the #1 question I received? No…. I never heard back from the bride.