Struggling in September

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by chesirecatcamera, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. chesirecatcamera

    chesirecatcamera TPF Noob!

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    I think I have bitten off more than I can chew. Let me explain. I was a second shooter for three years and then the person I was second shooter for moved across the country at the end of last year. I had a brief stint as a second shooter for another photographer last summer as well (at the same time), but was only getting paid $60 for shooting all day. Maybe I could understand that rate if I was inexperienced. However, I had my prior years experience with the other person so this was not the case. Nevertheless, at the end of the wedding season, he offered me a contract for working with him at $12 an hour. But there were stipulations so I asked questions, none of which were answered.

    So this year, I found myself with no stable second shooter position open. So I decided to go at it alone. To shoot weddings myself. I booked myself gigs using Thumbtack at rates that I did not think all the way through. And now, I pay the price. After I rent out all of the equipment I need, I barely make a profit, if any. I am also not a legal business and it gives me anxiety that I will get rejected to shoot at a venue because of this. And sometimes I doubt my abilities.

    I think I jumped the gun and got into something deeper than I understood. I loved photography, but I don't think I understood how much work and how expensive it is to do. I know I have made mistakes and maybe I am not fit to do this anymore and maybe shouldn't be doing it now. But nevertheless, I booked people and need to fulfill my commitment them. It is not that I don't like photography. I think i have just gone about it the wrong way. So I am just trying to survive my last few gigs this season. Please don't be too harsh.


     
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  2. Matt Friedman

    Matt Friedman TPF Noob!

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    1. Don't doubt your abilities. Focus. Read up. And shoot the best photos that you can Remember: It's all about the light.

    2. If you signed contracts with your clients, then you are contractually, and legally obligated to provide the service to the letter of the contract. If you do not provide this service, then your clients can sue you. Because you are not a company, that means personal liability. If you have no contract, then it will be more difficult for your client to sue you. Having said that, any kind of letter of intent can work against you.

    My advice is to do the very best work on the jobs that you are committed to, regardless of whether or not you have an explicit contract. If it is absolutely impossible to do the job, see if you can negotiate some kind of withdrawal (by referring to another photographer, for example). Never just ditch a job. I repeat: Never just ditch a job. Not only is it a sh*tty thing to do, it will hurt your reputation. Weddings are all referral jobs. If you get a bad reputation right at the beginning of your career, you will never have a career.

    Going forward, organize a Limited Liability Company. That will give you some liability protection, and it can actually help you with taxes. As a rule, professional income added to regular income will be taxed more highly than LLC company income.
     
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  3. chesirecatcamera

    chesirecatcamera TPF Noob!

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    Thank you so much for responding! I would never ditch the gig! I will certainly show up! I just feel overwhelmed in more ways than one and feel like I am losing a lot at this point in time. Two weddings that I shot this summer required travel and I was paid $500. This was my fault for quoting the prices that low. But this is taking a toll on me financially and stressful in general. The end of this month i have a wedding one day, an event the next, a wedding the day after that, and another wedding a few days after that. Once again, my fault. I am simply paying for my own mistakes, I am nervous about that many events so close together. On top of that, I am planning my own wedding that will happen in November. I 'm trying to hang in there and make it through the season.
     
  4. OGsPhotography

    OGsPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If your not anxious or nervous or scared, or all three, your not trying.

    You already do it, now do it some more and better!
    Failure is not an option.

    Im out of quotes at the moment. Good luck!
     
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  5. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Take a deep breath.

    Sometimes getting organized and doing some planning ahead of time might make you feel like you've got a handle on things. Maybe write down for each upcoming job some notes on venue, schedule or time frame, etc. - if you think it thru and jot down some thoughts step by step or as a list (or whatever works for you) it might not feel so overwhelming. If you've got a good game plan that might relieve some stress.

    Obviously stop scheduling any more til you're ready to move forward. Learn more about how to go about doing this as a business. Check your state and maybe local gov't. websites to see if there's anything you have to do for now. I don't think you necessarily have to set up as an LLC right off the bat but might need to keep track of everything and pay taxes. You could look up the small business admin. site - I think it's SBA.gov. - or look at that later on when you're ready to move forward.

    Also start getting on sites like American Society of Media Photographers - Homepage or PPA and learn from pro photographer organizations what's involved in photography as a business. ASMP does webinars that are free, you don't have to be a member, just sign up - I've done some and they've been pretty good.

    Learn other ways to market yourself. I think sites like Thumbtack might be the worst way to go because they seem to be geared to amateurs wanting to make a buck but are pricing way low. That seems to just attract people that want cheap. Maybe over the winter would be a good time to regroup and spend some time learning and doing preparation, then see where you are at some point to move forward.

    Later on if you can do some networking with other wedding photographers or vendors that provide services to weddings that might help you learn from other more experienced pros. The good thing is you realize what mistakes you made and can learn from that in moving forward. Don't be too hard on yourself, we probably all have had some live and learn experiences.
     
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  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Do not rent gear. Use simple gear, and use it better.
     
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  7. FotosbyMike

    FotosbyMike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would also piggy back off of Derrel's comments, what are you renting, you really don't need much to make great photos.

    If you are learning from your mistakes/short falls you are growing. Create a plan from start to finish for each event. Best of luck.
     
  8. chesirecatcamera

    chesirecatcamera TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everyone for your kind comments! It is this week that is my really busy week and I'm hoping to implement some of your ideas and motivational quotes!
     
  9. chesirecatcamera

    chesirecatcamera TPF Noob!

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    I rent a wide angle lens for large group photos, a macro lens, 70-200 and an alien bee light for indoor family photos.
     

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