So, do I get to call myself a professional now?

PersistentNomad

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Okay, so this post is mostly just to brag on myself with people who know how it feels to be starting out, cause I'm feeling super jazzed right now!

Early last month I made the decision to start trying to make money with my photos, largely because I want to upgrade my gear and I just can't justify that unless I start making it pay for itself. I've worked as a second shooter for a photog friend of mine a few times and been the photographer for a few friend's weddings, and I love the work. I know it's easy to get burned out on it, but I think that has to do a lot with pacing yourself and not saying "yes" to every job that comes up.

So... I built a website with my limited portfolio (emmathurgood.com, c&c welcome, link fixed), and started advertising on two sites, Thumbtack and wedding.com. In just two weeks I've had six client inquiries!! What? And the weird part is that one of them actually found me on a google search. Double WHAT?! I can't even find me on a google search!

So, one of the clients has already said they want to book, so I've sent the contract and I'm awaiting a deposit. I have two consultations set up for this week, a shoot with a modern hooper for this week, and I'm working out a session time for an engagement shoot in the next month or so. In addition to all this, I took up a job at a retail studio where I am already killing it and my new boss seems pretty pleased with my ability.

So what do you think, am I a professional photographer now?
 
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table1349

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Depends are you set up to pay taxes on your earnings and are you now insured both gear and yourself for liability? Many a "Professional" has crashed and burned thinking they could make a "few bucks" without covering the basics of any good business venture.
 

OGsPhotography

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Your website crashes my phone :(
 
OP
PersistentNomad

PersistentNomad

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Good luck
I suggest you add how many edited pictures you give.
No way! I know every wedding is different no matter how uniform it may seem and that the number of images will probably not always be the same. I'm not going to promise a client a number of images that I may not end up being able to deliver on.

Yes you are. IMHO, once you've booked 3 weddings you should up your price. :)
Actually, I really don't want to do that. I am a firm believer that great art doesn't have to be expensive (years of working in non-profit galleries). It kills me to think that some people are paying an arm and a leg for a photographer, and that in a lot of cases that photographer is maybe not all that great but they know they can ask that price because of the market. Or that people are going with terrible photos because the photographer is within their price range, which in my opinion is even worse than the first scenario. Just because you have a lower budget doesn't mean you should be subjected to terrible, or have you life be devoid of, art.

Your website crashes my phone :(
That sucks! What's your phone/OS? It's a Wix site optimized for mobile and no one else had expressed that issue, so I'm kind of curious.

@gryphonslair99 Once I start actually receiving money, those things will be taken care of.
 

KmH

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table1349

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A business sets those things up before it receives it's first dime. Something happens at that first gig retro-insurance to back up and cover you from a lawsuit or damage to your gear does not exist. The old saying, you have to spend money to make money is absolutely true.

FYI you site does not open on my Mac or my iPhone 7.
 

Designer

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There is something about the hotlink that makes it "touchy". I had to copy and paste it without the parentheses punctuation for it to work.

(from your website) "You will receive an online gallery of your images for easy sharing and download, as well as a flash drive with pre-sized, fully edited images for print."

Is this a thing nowadays? I mean; most professionals on here would tell you to not do that. Don't do that!

Also your pricing structure is like a buffet; people are going to pick and choose, and eventually someone will ask to substitute some items. I think you need to sit down with a business consultant to work out your business plan. The way it is now, you're not going to make any money, and you're leaving money on the table with giving away electronic files. Also, as Keith mentioned; the proposed deal is too open-ended. Tighten it up.

Oh, and since everything is on one page (no objection here) you don't need those tabs at the top.
 

The_Traveler

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Good luck
I suggest you add how many edited pictures you give.
No way! I know every wedding is different no matter how uniform it may seem and that the number of images will probably not always be the same. I'm not going to promise a client a number of images that I may not end up being able to deliver on.

One of the keys to successful business is managing expectations.
Both you and the client should know in advance what you will deliver.
If you shoot 60 pictures per hour for 10 hours, not an unreasonable amount.
That's 600 pictures.
Are you going to edit all 600 and deliver them?
How long will that take?
What if you edit the best 200 and the clients want all 600 of them?
What if you pick the best and they ask for pictures they know you took but you didn't include.

These situations need to be covered in advance or every wedding will turn out to be a tussle.
 

Vtec44

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Actually, I really don't want to do that. I am a firm believer that great art doesn't have to be expensive (years of working in non-profit galleries). It kills me to think that some people are paying an arm and a leg for a photographer, and that in a lot of cases that photographer is maybe not all that great but they know they can ask that price because of the market. Or that people are going with terrible photos because the photographer is within their price range, which in my opinion is even worse than the first scenario. Just because you have a lower budget doesn't mean you should be subjected to terrible, or have you life be devoid of, art.

To each their own I guess. I'm a big believer in valuing my work and myself.
 
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Gary A.

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My opinion, is that you are a professional when others call you one.

Again, my opinion, there is an accountant/legal/tax methodology to determine if you are a "professional" ... as in 50%+ of your income will legally classify as a 'full' time" professional. Anybody can self declare themselves a pro, (or anything else for that matter).

And there is "professional" as in your skill level is on par with a professional skill level. That definition is best bestowed by your peers. Additionally, in my opinion, one of the biggest difference between a pro and a highly skilled hobbyist, is consistency. Day-in and Day-out and upon demand, the pro will capture the exceptional image.
 

tirediron

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I will add another vote for 'get the paperwork done right away'. Why? Let's look at a couple of potential situations: (1) You're doing an engagement shoot for a wedding client, you've left your tripod laying on the ground and the bride trips over it and falls. Her clothes are ruined by mud, and she winds up with a chipped tooth and black eye from a rock; is she (a) going to laugh it off and accept your, "Sorry", or (b) leave the set and call a lawyer? Situation #2: The local municipal office finds out that you're in business somehow and makes a check, and finds out you have no license. They're going to want you to get one, and they're probably going to impose a penalty. AND... they're can impose a penalty based on a percentage of what you could have earned since you started. Not what you did, but what they feel you could have.. The $1000 for insurance & licenses is starting to seem like a pretty good deal now...

On to your 'site. First and foremost: People are lazy. I mean really lazy. They are not going to scroll. Configure your 'site so that one page displays more-or-less completely on a typical monitor. The vertical cascading style is fine for a personal blog, NOT for a professional website.

Change your bio image and write-up. I get that you want to be seen as cool and modern and that's great, but of far more importance, you want to be seen as professional. Remember that even today, parents of the couple often have a big part to play in picking out photographers, flowers, etc. Chances are, they're not going to be overly impressed. They are not going to want a LOUD photographer, nor one who is interested in having a 'good time' at their wedding. You're there to work. To see how this should be done, look at James' 'site (Vtec44).

You have some nice images in your gallery, but it's lacking formals. While in many cases today, these are not the posed, studio-style images of 30, 40 or more years ago, they're still a critical component of many weddings, and the bride (and more importantly) the mother of the bride want to know that the bride is going to look good on her wedding day. You have nothing to show that.

Your pricing needs some work. The prices seem low IMO, but I don't know the area or economics, so... on to the important things. LOSE the whole "a zillion edited images on a flash drive" thing. Let's assume you're booked for a full day wedding and you wind up with 500 images to process (an optimistically low number) and each image, takes on average two minutes to process (again low), that's 16 1/2 hours of processing, plus the 10 hours at the event, plus, let's say four hours of prep/recce time. That means you're working for something like $29.50 an hour. That's a decent wage if you make it 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year. As a newbie wedding photographer? Probably not going to happen!

You are leaving thousands and thousands of dollars on table by giving away digital files. The wedding price is for your time; essentially the creative fee. Product is extra. As well, what happens when the bride gets these printed at Wal-mart (and by the way, how do you know what size(s) they will want- your "print ready" files are going to get cropped all sorts of crazy ways) and they look like crap. She shows them to her friend who is looking for a wedding photographer and the first thing she says is, "Well, I'm not using Emma, those colours are awful!"

Your $150 album... how many pages? Have you ever put an album together before? Unless this is <10 pages you're losing money!

Overall you're off to a good start, but there's room for a number of improvements IMO.
 
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