closing a door… hoping a window opens.

When I first started, I heard that most photography businesses don’t last much more then a year.

Add me to that list.
I’d like to explain….

I have always loved photography, and once my son was born, I was averaging 300-500 photos of him a month.  I loved capturing him.  I must have said a million times that I was envious of photographers.  I loved the idea of doing THAT as a living.  So about 15 months ago I photographed my neighbours – like a “real” photographer would, and I was hooked.  Loved it, wanted to do it for others every day of my life.  Being a spontaneous, easily excited person, I jumped.  Hard and fast.  That evening I was buying supplies, backdrops, a website, setting up a facebook page- the whole nine yards.  I was so excited to follow this passion.  
A tiny bit of back story.  I’m a social worker by training who has decided to take a hiatus from my career to raise my son.  So the idea of this new venture being compatible with my choice to stay at home felt good.  I was struggling with a bit of lack of identity after having been a busy career focused person.  Moving from that, to an at home mom was what I wanted, but did honestly come with a bit of a dent to the identity of self, and sense of purpose.
In the months that followed I had up and down success.  I was starting to become keenly aware of the over saturation of photographers in Kamloops.  So many photographers, of varying skill sets, some offering their services for free or next to nothing.  
True to my soical work training, I also learnt (probably re-learnt) that i’m more of a “building relationships” type of person that a highly competitive personality, which did not always serve me well in this market.  I did though enjoy the relationships I established with clients.
What I didn’t love was the other stuff that comes with charging for a service.  People who try to nickle and dime you, and want to negotiate your prices.  To me, when someone says they’d like you to do photos for them, but don’t want to pay your asking rate, it’s basically a slap in the face; a subliminal message that you/your work aren’t good enough.  
There is a definite lack of understanding among the general public about the work that goes into photography.  The overhead costs, the camera, the lenses, the equipment, the editing programs, the props.  That cost has to be absorbed into session fees.  Those are our work tools.  The time a photographer spends corresponding with clients, discussing sessions, the time that goes into planning a shoot, scouting locations.  All this is done in preparation for the shoot.  Then the travel time to and from the shoot, and the shoot itself.  Following the shoot, the time it takes to edit photos, to post previews for clients who are excited to see a glimpse of their session, the time it takes to burn discs, put in print orders, prepare materials for clients, and in some cases even deliver to clients.   It’s time consuming.  So when someone says, ” you charge THAT for just an hour of photography”  they are not informed of  the bigger picture.  And as the photographer, it feels crappy when people don’t understand the amount of time/work that goes into the business of photography.  
It sounds like I am complaining, and I guess I am.  But moreover i’m telling you so that you understand and think of this when you hire your next photographer.  And because it’s important for you to know why I’m finishing up with my photography business, and it’s important for me to be able to tell you.
For me, the down side of the business of photography was overshadowing the photography itself.  I’ll still continue to shoot, but i’m really looking forward to getting back to the enjoyment and love of photography that the business was eroding.  Maybe another person in my situation could just get over it and push on, but I don’t think that’s for me.  I’ll be happier and more fulfilled going back to being a hobby photographer.  🙂  I’ll do more of what I love without worrying about everything else.  But I will miss working with clients, those relationships, and capturing smiles and great images of lots of little ones.  My son is probably going to revolt when he finds me stalking him with my camera more often then I was in recent months.
So 15 months after I started, I sit here with my unopened business licence renewal, and feel fairly confident I’ve made the right decision.  
I still have a couple of photographic commitments into 2012 that will be happy ways to finish up.
So thanks to clients who I had the pleasure of photographing,  I did love every minute of the sessions, and thank you for allowing me to capture your families.  And to my fellow photogs, I hope your talent and passion see you through many years of a successful photography business.
Ready to post this?   I think I’ve antagonized enough about this… here I go…
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5 thoughts on “closing a door… hoping a window opens.

  1. Good Luck to you Tracy in your new ventures….eventhough I never got the opportunity to have you photograph my family. I wish you luck in whatever passion excites you next.

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  2. Oh wow that's sad Tracy, but… maybe not. Maybe you'll be able to get excited about photography for yourself in a different way. And if you're looking for some fun photography adventures… let me know! 🙂

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  3. I know how you struggled with finding a new 'niche' when you moved and left your job. I was so happy for you when you found your photography and sad to see it come to an end. On the other hand, I am happy you are ending it if it has caused you so much anxiety. You are a cheerful and lovely person at heart and no career is worth your awesomeness!!! I know something will come your way again. Keep the faith, Tracy. Love you!!!

    Dianne

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  4. Tracy,
    I was saddened to read your post. I admire you for having had the courage to allow yourself to explore and then pursue your passion. I have no doubt that you will not be long finding your next employ should you decide to do so. Best wishes, and as we sailors love to say; fair winds and following seas.

    Tari Lightwood
    Fellow December Mommy

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