How low can you go to make money?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by tecboy, May 22, 2017.

  1. pendennis

    pendennis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are millions of "real" photographers out there who aren't "professionals". They follow their love of the art, and aren't cashing a check when their work is finished.

    I worked professionally for a number of years, and I never started a project (portrait, wedding, etc.) where my heart and soul weren't in it. I never "mailed it in", and no photographer I've ever known that was dedicated ever did so, either. The joy of seeing a client smile when viewing my work made me know I did it right. I also still believe in the "rule of ten"; that is, your best clients tell ten people just how good you are, and they tell ten more...

    To be a professional, you have to be a business person; have a good business plan; be a "people person"; and understand that your maximum effort every day is what will help you be successful.

    Collecting a check was always secondary. But that's what your occupation should be; something you would do for free, but get paid.


     
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  2. nerwin

    nerwin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't have clients but sometimes my photos do put a smile on people's faces and so I completely understand the feeling you get when someone smiles viewing your work, its a good feeling. It absolutely makes you feel like you did something right.

    But I've come across numerous so-called photographers who advertise like crazy on FB that they professionals and have ridiculous "photo packages" and produce half-assed work to simply collect a paycheck and I personally don't believe that is right.

    My cousin who got married asked me to edit the photographers photos because they liked my style in which I thought was weird because I didn't know I even had a style. But they decided not to because the photos weren't even worth my time. To make it worse, they all shot in jpeg and looked like they used snapseed to process them. I felt bad for them...but honestly, it's partly their fault for hiring cheap photographers.
     
  3. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Seems to me that you need to define definition of "in business", not "professional". An attorney who provides free or low cost legal advise for those who can't afford it, is still a "professional", but obviously he can't pay the bills and support his family doing it. In photography you have a number of hobbyists who have visions of $$$$$ as a paid professional, but no clue as to what it takes to run any successful business. The IRS provides a pretty comprehensive definition of a business vs hobby. Business or Hobby? Answer Has Implications for Deductions
     
  4. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I dunno, I just see a lot of dead horses in this thread. ;)
     
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  5. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    One absolutely can do so. And there's two methods one can utilize. One is called a Loss Leader. You lose money on the up-front work in hopes the person will come back later and pay full price the next time.

    The other is Pro Bono. You provide the services for free for those who cannot afford it, while marking up the cost to those who can to cover it.

    Of course, you can't stay in business working for free (or at a loss) all the time. You still need profitable jobs to come along.
     
  6. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    ?????? Not sure what you're disagreeing with or if you are, because it seems we are saying the same thing. The use of marketing methods doesn't define if you are a business or a hobby. The ability to make a profit (The IRS presumes that an activity is carried on for profit if it makes a profit during at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year), is necessary to be defined as a business, otherwise it's a hobby.
     
  7. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Just clarifying a generalization.
     
  8. waday

    waday Do one thing every day that scares you Supporting Member

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    One doesn't necessarily need to mark up other costs to cover pro bono work; one can simply do it as a volunteer for the public good.
     
  9. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Ok. I think your earlier post about profit being equal to $.01 is more profound then many realize. According to IRS rules, a penny profit qualifies as a business and allows you to deduct all your expenses. If you're only interest is to "pay for your toys", then only doing enough "paid work" to put you over break even is great way to do it. I know several wood turners, carvers, craftsmen, painters, etc. that do this. They have other incomes that pay the bills. This is why my first post said it's more important to define the business. So the answer to the question "how low can you go" depends on your definition of the business model.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  10. tecboy

    tecboy No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  11. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Professional and photographer in the same sentence means zero, zip, zilch, nada. Accomplished and photographer on the other hand does. The sad thing is many of the accomplished photographers have no business sense. It is the much rarer, elusive accomplished photographer that does understand business that survives for any discernible amount of time in the business world.
     
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  12. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    IMO this applies to all business enterprises. In transportation after deregulation anyone with a few thousand dollars for an old truck,trailer and insurance premium could get an authority for hire for $300, and start competing with companies that had a large asset investment. Unfortunately there were willing customers in the form of brokers who would often cut the rates below break even, because they knew these suckers with no knowledge would take them until losses forced them out, and there were always new ones starting up. My cousin and her husband were recently forced to sell their large machine business because the number of little shops with a couple tools and foreign competition cut the margins so thin, they couldn't compete. Sadly many of those little shops have also now gone away.
     

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