This post contains affiliate links.
If you have any mentors, who are they and what are the best things you learned from each?
My greatest mentor has been Arden Prucha Photography. When I was in college, I worked for Arden and got to see how she ran a very successful photography business as a wife and mother.
How do you figure pricing for a commercial client; like a boarding facility or vet clinic?
Start with a good understanding of what images they need and how they intend to use them. I base my quotes similar to my portrait pricing structure, without the products. I then customize all-inclusive packages based on their needs and offer different options (exclusivity vs non-exclusivity, different hours of coverage, different licensing agreements, etc).
As an example:
1. 4 Hour Shoot, High-Res fully release images, $X,XXX for non-exclusive and $XX,XXX for exclusive right.
2. 6 Hour Shoot, Web-use images, $X,XXX
Offering different packages allows the client to choose exactly what they need within their budget.
When do you offer discounts to friends?
When I gift a session to a friend, it is usually free or for my costs. I rarely offer discounts.
LCC or DBA?
My business is structured as an LLC, but I would venture a guess that most photographers are Sole Proprietorships. You need to discuss with your lawyer and CPA what the best option for your business is!
How do you get ready for taxes at each session? What is taxable vs what is not and payment.
Speak with your accountant or state comptroller about how to deal with sales tax (what is taxable vs not). In Texas, everything related to photography is taxable. I apply the tax for the city that I do the session in for the entire package amount, and set it aside to pay quarterly state sales tax.
In terms of federal income tax (Texas has no state income tax), I set aside a percentage of my profit to pay when the federal installments are due.
Best way to become a legal photographer?
There are plenty of resources at the state level if you check online on your state’s website!
What is your advice for finding good assistants?
I married one 😉
My husband was my assistant for several years, but a few things have changed (his job… our baby…etc!) so now I use various assistants at my shoots. Most of the time, I use friends who I know and trust well and I can use consistently. This year I also had an intern which worked wonderfully.
What is your favorite thing about taking pictures for other people?
Giving them the images that I wish I had for myself.
Thoughts on the Canon EOS Rebel T6 for a first camera?
Admittedly, I am not a gear nerd. I am sure it is an amazing camera, but I know virtually nothing about Canon products or camera bodies in general!
How do you get consistent skin tones in not-so-ideal light?
Watch very carefully what is reflecting back at the skin tone while you are shooting and try to find natural light reflectors (driveway, gravel, white buildings, etc). I don’t use/bring reflectors with me, so I always find what is available. If you are still having trouble, try using split toning in Lightroom when you edit them.
How long did you do photography until you registered as an actual business?
I got my first camera in December of 2011 and I registered my business in 2013.
Where do you most commonly shoot your sessions? Do you have a favorite place?
I usually shoot where the horse is located, but if my client is willing to haul I have several horse-friendly places around DFW that I love!
Are your “thank you” image cards or photos? Are they of your specific client?
I send an image card thank you note in the welcome packet, a regular thank you card with their proof prints, and then a custom photograph from their session on a post card about 6-8 months after the session. The post cards are from Artifact Uprising.
How long does it take to edit/deliver a shoot?
My contract states 4 weeks, my follow-up email says 2-3 weeks, and I do my best to turn around the images within a week.
Have you ever done a shoot where you didn’t really like the photos but the client was happy?
Yes! So many things are out of my control on a photo shoot: a naughty horse, a tough location, poor weather conditions, etc. but I try to do my very best no matter the situation!
How do you find your assistants to help with ears and placing horses, etc?
I usually use my husband, horsey friends, or most recently my intern to help me.
What would you do if for some reason photos from a shoot did not turn out?
Depending on the situation, I would likely offer to reshoot.
What camera/lens do you use?
D850 with a 135m lens. You can see what’s in my bag here.
What would be the first three things you recommend a new photographer do to set up their business?
First, you need a contract.
Second, square up the finances. I use 17Hats to send contracts/invoices, I use a CPA, I have a separate business bank accounts and credit cards, and I pay all of my sales and income taxes before they are due!
Third, you need stellar customer service. We do provide goods (prints/products), but primarily we provide a service as an experience to our clients. Make every encounter they have with you an enjoyable one!
Are you required to get a temporary business license in each of the states/towns you travel to?
Consult your CPA and check with each state’s comptroller where you are traveling to ensure you comply with their requirements for charging/collecting sales tax.
How did you know you were ready to go full time with photography? How did you juggle a full time job and your side photo business at the time?
I worked a LOT of hours when I did photography on the side! Every weekend I spent doing shoots (in Texas or out of state) and every evening I would edit. Virtually all of my vacation days were spent on photography trips across the country.
I left my full time job when I was confident that my photography business could replace the income.
How do you edit your greens? They always look so dreamy!
Thank you! White balance temperature and tint plays a big role in the color of greens. I also use the HSL sliders in Lightroom to move the green hue towards blue and take the green saturation down. When needed, I also lift the green luminance up. The amount I move the sliders greatly depends on the color of the greens in the photographs.
When you had started charging for your sessions, what was your marketing strategy? I am trying to get my brand started and marketing begun, but am struggling to put it in 5th gear.
My marketing strategy at the very beginning was to set myself apart as a luxury brand. I felt there was a hole in the market for an all-inclusive, once-in-a-lifetime photography experience and I sought to fill that market.
Of all the non-photo things involved in a business, what was the hardest thing for you to do/learn/tackle, and how did you overcome or master it? Has that changed from year one to now?
It is really hard to separate my feelings from my business. In many ways I view my business as my “baby” and my photographs as a part of me. I do my best to use this in a positive way to drive my passion forward and put a lot of love into what I do. But as soon as any form of rejection comes I try my very best to distance who I am as a person from the business I have created.
Favorite/most versatile lens?
The 135m is my favorite, but I think my 85m is the most versatile!!
Best tips for an amateur photographer?
Love people very well, serve them the best that you can, and always photograph special projects and shoots that mean a lot to you personally! Love and passion are two of the best ways you can improve your photography.
What do you do for your client’s skin? Do you use a skin smoothing tool in Lightroom or PS? Do you use a software program like portraiture?
In general, the way that I shoot and edit is flattering for skin. If there are blemishes I typically use the clone or healing tools. I do not use portraiture.
How do you deal with people who want a deal/discount after you tell them your prices?
It depends on the situation! If it is a project that I really want to be a part of, I am willing to work with their budget. If it is a portrait client looking for a deal, I have never discounted my packages.
I had someone steal photos from a private online viewing gallery I made for them and I saw that they had posted the unpurchased photos to their social media accounts. How should I deal with this person?
First, it is understandable that you are upset. I think it is really important to spend a few minutes fuming mad to get it out of your system… and then sleep on it. Never act on hostile feelings and only interact with clients when you have a cool head.
The beauty of this business is that we can do anything we want to. There are no rules! Personally, I would let this go. I would not approach the client, and I would learn from my mistakes and adjust my business practices so it couldn’t happen to me going forward (i.e. do not post proofs if they have not been paid for). This is because I do not like policing my clients and letting them have any negative interaction with me. However, you have been stolen from and you can handle this situation any way you please.
Have more questions? I offer Skype sessions if you want to chat!
Fill out the contact form on the home page to book.
This post contains affiliate links