Photography Answers

shot1I wanted to type this post up today to help update people on what is in my camera bag and a few thoughts on the “whole being a photographer” thing…

First off, a little disclaimer here. I do not claim to know it all… I have so many areas I need to improve in, business being one of those… I do what works for me and it may or may not work for you. I am thankful for the ability to do photography but will not lie, I do get burned out some days…(Which typically happens when I overbook myself.)

So first few Q&A questions I get asked a lot.

1. When did you start your business?
- Answer: 2007 shortly after Taite was born.

2. What camera did you start your business with?
- Answer: Canon Rebel XT with a 50mm 1.8 Lens

3. What camera do you use now?
- Answer: A Canon 5D Mark III – purchased it last year refurbished from Canon USA.

4. What lenses do you use now?
- Answer: 50mm 1.4 Canon, 28mm 1.8 Canon & a 85mm 1.8 Canon. Thats it. Would love more, but can’t afford any right now.

5. What camera bag do you use?
- Answer: I use a few depending on the location. For wedding’s I shoot with an old Tracy Joy shoot sac style bag. I can’t really link to any for sale. Tracy Joy is a photographer and no longer makes the bag I use… I love it though and paid very little for it. Thankful to have gotten one before she stopped making bags.

For every day shooting with clients I use either my Epiphanie Belle Bag (a review) or my Emera Tote Bag (also a review). Feel free to google both ;-)

To those curious where I review: I do all that on She {hearts} It.

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6. How did you get started?
- Answer: I first started by finding some willing friends to let me photograph them. I charged very cheaply, maybe $50.00 a session… and really the only reason I was charging was to raise money for better gear… at that point in the game, it wasn’t about making a living… it was about gaining experience through trial and error. After I got a few friends under my belt, I began setting up a website and prices… I believe my start price was $75.00 a session and included images on disc. Mistake btw. One thing I have learned is if you start doing that from the get go, eventually when you get better and realize you cannot support your family with a $75.00 session and no profit post-session & you raise those prices… you will face lots of unhappy clients who would have previously known you as “the free disc photographer.” Lesson learned, I suggest if you do want to give a disc with your sessions that you factor that into the cost right off or sell the disc in addition to a session for a small rate. You can always raise that rate as you get more experienced… make sense? :)

7. What do you charge now?

- Answer: I charge between $125-175.00 for a single session. If clients want to purchase a disc its an additional $400.00. Yes clients pay it and should. I remember when I priced myself after moving to Atlanta having such a doubt in my mind about charging basically $525-600.00 a session. I didn’t think I was worth it or good enough… but I also realized each passing year of doing photography, I felt burnt…. and weary with my business. I didn’t want to do it anymore…. and I realize now it was because I devalued myself and worked countless hours for very little. While so many think photography is nothing more than showing up, snagging 50-100 photographs and burning them to a disc… what is not considered is the communication time with a client… the travel cost… the time spent on location… the time spent at home putting and refining a blog post, posting images to facebook… touching up photographs, creating private gallery for client, touching up specific photos even more for client, ship cost, disc cost, branding cost… it all adds up and the $500+ price tag is well worth it for amazing portraits IMO. Can I afford me? Right now. No… but we each have to budget what we can afford… and if I was not a photographer, I know I would be the type to go to a small mall studio or find a new college student willing to brave taking my family of 6 portraits at a nearby park. I know the quality though would not be professional, they’d simply be, photos slightly better than an average joe could take and that really is what most want. Investing in portraits, professional ones, does cost money. We all invest in what we feel is important to us… and we all pay for what we want. If someone wants a huge TV that cost over $1,000… they save up and pay for it, because they want it. So in short, if someone wants the style photography you offer, they will pay for it… and YOU my dear photographer are worth it. You are worth the talent and the time spent from your home. It is a creative passion but it is also a job that supports your family.

You can view my print prices and such on my website if you are curious on that too: www.andrea-wood.com

Can you tell I am preaching to myself? :)

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8. Do you shoot in manual? If so how did you learn?
- Answer: Yes I do, 100% of the time… even with the kids :) – I learned how in high school. Took a basic photography class and the rest is history. Once you begin shooting manual and understand what it involves, its just a matter of practicing and getting use to adjusting your shutter, aperture and so on easily, without much thought. I can switch my settings so fast now that I don’t even have to look. That wasn’t the case 7 years ago when I started ;-) – confidence with that has def. been acquired more with time.

9. What is your favorite thing to shoot?
- Answer: Off the cuff events probably. I love spontaneous sessions… If I had more of me to give and a schedule that allowed it. I would strictly shoot events, births and weddings. I do however adore maternity sessions and couples. I oddly enough have grown fond of newborn sessions too… ever since I decided to give up being someone Im not and start shooting newborn sessions the way I felt comfortable doing. I also really enjoy photographing for Boba. All the images in this post came from sessions I shot for Boba last year. I adore photographing moms wearing their babies I guess ;-) – it really is such fun! I wish I could do it every month.

10. What do you edit with?
- Answer: Currently I mainly use Lightroom 4 for Mac. I also use Photoshop Elements 9.0 for a few other things… I have Photoshop CS5 as well but rarely use it. I started my photography business with Photoshop Elements 6… so I suppose I use Elements more because its more “familiar” to me. I have not felt CS5 did much more for me, so I have stuck with what works. My editing is light… I try to keep processing minimal as I think less is more.

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11. Do you connect with other photographers?

- Answer: Yes! I think one of the biggest mistakes photographers make when they start, is they become stuck up. Is that the right terminology ? You don’t want to connect because you don’t want competition? or you don’t want to connect because you are fearful you may loose a client to the other person? Obviously other photographers are your competitions… but I believe each photographer has something to offer and we should each learn and grow from each other… not shun or hide. I love connecting with other photographers and have no problem at all helping new ones. Be confident in who you are… I am thankful for those photographers I got close to in NC when I began this journey… who befriended me when I was the newbie… loved on me and guided me. I will be forever thankful to them… and miss them greatly!

I suppose thats a good place to end :)- Mad props to Coleen Verner – my dear friend and also a amazing professional photographer in my area. She took all the behind the scene photos in this post.

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One Response to Photography Answers

  1. ashleigh says:

    Just thought you should know that I really appreciated this post! I find it hard to find balance between charging what my work is worth and wanting to be considered “affordable” (and therefore devaluing the time and effort that goes into a session). I’ve had several disappointments recently including a wedding that I thought for sure was booking (after speaking back and forth via email and phone for several weeks) only to find out they basically wanted me to work for free (not speaking bad of them; people in general just don’t understand the time, effort, and expenses) when it was all said and done, so this post was an encouragement to me for sure. Thank you! Your work is beautiful btw and I always enjoying seeing what you post :)

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