Why am I so snarky about the hobbyists, “summer-ists” and the newbies? Because I’m a struggling small business owner and when clients can’t see the difference, it degrades the entire photography industry and pushes the hard working folks like myself out of business. Some of the folks that claim they love the art are actually, unknowingly, killing the business.
I know people have to start out somewhere – I’ve been there (well, not the summer thing – that’s a new one). I know what they are doing, and I know the journey they will take to learn. And learning is important. The technical stuff is just the tip of the iceberg on what you have to learn to be in business today. This is a complete juggling act of photography technique, client interaction skills, marketing, purchasing, accounting, computer skills, social media savvy, and in between all that I plant pretty flowers and cut grass to make a nice background for a potential pretty photo. (because taking on entire “portrait park” is a LOT of work)
And in between all of that, I’m trying to stay in business. While still having money to pay the licensing fees, taxes, insurance, and other expenses a true small business has to deal with, in addition to being creative and current. And pricing enough for my ART to have enough money left over to invest so you have equipment (including the low light lenses) that can actually give you the results you see the professionals get.
My BUSINESS can’t compete price wise with people who don’t pay for licenses, charge, collect and submit sales tax, pay personal property taxes on their equipment, carry insurance, reinvest dollars into more for their customers, pour hours into marketing, and the hundreds of other details I have to do to be a small business person IN BUSINESS. I can’t compete with someone who just does it for “fun” and a little pocket change.
Because somewhere out there is a small business person that is working really really hard to offer you a great option for your senior photos, family photos, wedding photos, and they have put a lot of work into their business, but they are actually competing for your business with the hobbyist or the start up…and they shouldn’t be. We can all co-exist nicely, if YOU can see the difference, and know who to use and when.
I hope you can.