Working Moms And A Photography Business

With Mothers Day this weekend, and as a working mom for 18 years now, the concept of being a “working” mother is just as emotional as ever. Start a conversation on “working” moms and you’ll quickly get into a heated discussion no matter what side of the fence you are on or what your belief system is.

The facts say it all.

  • A full 61 percent of mothers work outside of the home.
  • 4 in 10 working wives currently out earn their husbands. This has increased over 50% from a mere 20 years ago.
  • And with female college graduates currently outnumbering males with a 60/40 ratio, these numbers are only expected to rise in the coming years.

Whether you own a part time studio out of your home, or you’ve chosen to build a full time business out of a commercial studio, how can you be the best mom AND the best business owner at the same time?Working Moms And A Photography Business

Split Your Time

It’s impossible to do two things at once. You can’t take care of your kids AND provide 100 percent customer service. You can’t give a client your full attention if your child is running wild in the next room. When kids are with you, they want your attention. Even if they have nothing to say. In order to be affective as both a business owner and as a parent, dedicate time to both activities and be conscious of keeping that time exclusively for the activity at hand.

Be Present

When I’m with a client, I dedicate 100 percent of my attention to that client. No cell phone or texting. No interruptions from outside sources.

The same holds true when I spend time with my daughter. Even at 18, when she comes home from school, she wants my time to talk about her day. She may have activities to discuss, thoughts from happenings around school, or just in need of some attention after “kid-friction” that invariably goes on at every grade level, including high school. [Read more…]

Will Photography Make You Rich?

How do you define “rich”?

That, of course, is a matter of opinion.

According to the IRS, the top 10% of income earners in America today make 43% of all income and pay 70% of all taxes. The top 2% of income earners pay approximately 50% of all income taxes.

According to the Tax Policy Center, if you make $107,628, you are in the top 20% of income earners. If you exceed $148,687, you are in the top 10%. If your annual income is $208,810 or more, you are in the top 5%. And if you exceed $521,411, congratulations, you are in the top 1%.

But that is income. And does your income truly signify your wealth?

It doesn’t matter how much you make if you have significantly more expenses than you do income.

So maybe we should turn to net worth. According to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, a net worth of $415,700 would put you in the top 20% of Americans. A net worth of $952,200 puts you into the top 10%. $1,863,800 would put you into the top 5%, and $6,816,200 would put you safely into the top 1%.

How do those numbers affect you? Did you think they would be higher than they are?  Do they seem attainable to you, or are they so far off, they almost seem imaginary?

Now let’s look at photographers. According to the US Department of Labor, the National Employment Statistics for May 2012 show that to be in the top 10% of all wage earners, you would need to make $66,990. To be in the top 25%, that number would fall to $43,930.

And more importantly, studies have also shown that average salary for photographers over the past 10 years has fallen anywhere from 8 to 12 percent per year. That is attributed to improved digital technologies and the barrier to entry that has allowed huge waves of photographers to enter the field.

Will photography make you rich? Again, the definition of rich can be arguable. But when we look at solely from a physical money standpoint, the odds are not in your favor. But does that mean it’s impossible? Can photography still be a viable option for you?

Yes, and here’s how.

Will Photography Make You Rich

1. At the lowest end of the spectrum is the general photographer, making on average $19,000. The photographers that are in the upper 10% are all niched and specialized, known within their genre. Which means for you to do well in photography, pick your niche, specialize, become as good as you can within that genre, and continue to promote yourself all over the world.

2. Focus on the bottom line, not what everyone else is charging for something “similar”. If you’ve read my Pricing Your Photography, you know how important it is to start with the end in mind. What do you need from your photography to survive? How can you create packages to achieve those results?

3. What is your revenue every year for your photography business? Have you ever added everything up to truly figure out how much your business is bringing in? In some cases just looking at the numbers can give you a wake up call. Make sure you use an accounting system and look at your reports all the time. I use online Wave Accounting – it’s free – and it has a wonderful graphic dashboard that tells you your numbers as soon as you enter the program. You don’t need sophisticated programs – just something to help you keep track of where you are and where you want to be.

4. Make more than you spend. If you are defining wealth by how much you make, yet you spend more than you take in, you are losing every single year. Instead, focus in on what comes in, and how you can spend less than that to put some away. Remember, to be in the top 10%, your net worth needs only to be $952,200.

5. Never focus your mind on making money with your photography. Instead, focus in on how to build a business. If you want a Six Figure business, you have to build the structure and the systems that will allow you to attain that level of business. You’ll never make it if you hand over your digital files for whatever price you can get. You must have a business model set in place that allows you to “see” your business long before a potential customer ever walks through your door.

What You Should Really Do With Your Photography Competition

You’ve decided to set up shop as a high school senior portrait photographer. And you think you have a chance of becoming pretty good at it. You love photographing, and you’ve photographed a variety of friends and family in the past. So you put together your business marketing tool set and start on your way.

Then you start looking at the marketplace. Dozens of photographers are in your area, marketing themselves as senior portrait photographers. The local high school’s latest newspaper has 15 ads for photographers in the 10 small pages of news.

Ugh. Do you really stand a chance?

How do you fight all of this competition?

You may be making one fatal mistake if this sounds like you. You may be thinking of other photographers as competition.

What You Should Really Do With Your Photography Competition

Why Photographers Aren’t Your Competition

Let me tell you a story of a group of wedding photographers.

A number of years ago, we ran into a nice couple at a local wedding expo. We had booths next to one another, and we chatted throughout the daylong event. We even agreed to have dinner together after the expo, and spent another few hours talking. We hit it off immediately, and decided these “dinner talks” were something we wanted to do again and again.

We decided to meet a couple of weeks later, and had another friend in the business we asked along. So the three of us had dinner, boosted up our concepts for our businesses over a few hours of chatting, and agreed to meet again the next month for another round of business, wine and friends. [Read more…]

What Does It Mean When Sears/Wal-Mart Portrait Studios Shut Down?

So what does it mean to the photography industry when more than 2000 studio locations across the US shut down? That was the announcement last week when financially struggling CPI Corp, with locations in Sears and Wal-Mart stores, decided to shut down its outlets.

You can look at it in two ways.

1. The photography industry is doomed. Digital photography has done so much damage to the industry as we know it, that even big box store can no longer make a profit. People can take quick portraits with their own smart technology, and share it in dozens of ways. They don’t want the 8×10 on the wall anymore, and have no desire to sit through a traditional family portrait anymore.

2. People have no desire for the “stand on the x” portrait experience. Everywhere they go, there is someone with a “camera” in hand. From standing in line at the movies, to playing at the park with friends, cameras and quick action images are now something that’s part of our every day life.

What Does It Mean When Sears/Wal-Mart Portrait Studios Shut Down

Which one resonates with you?

I go with option 2.

People use to go to Sears or Wal-Mart for a quick way to remember the year in photos. When they wanted to send out holiday cards, or even update the photo on their desks, they loaded the family up in the car and spent a couple of hours at the big box store. It was their best option.

Not so anymore. Now, everywhere they go, they have the ability to shoot an image. If their child looks cute in line at school, they take a picture. If the family is enjoying a picnic in the park, they shoot a few pictures. Then they load those up as wallpaper to their computer screens, and voila, instant memories on their desks at work. Who needs a frame with a photograph?

The big box stores made people dress up in ways they didn’t want to, stand on an x they really didn’t feel comfortable with, and pretend they are all happy, even though they’ve spent the last 45 minutes trying to keep “Johnny” happy as they sat in line, waiting for their turn. That fake smile just wasn’t worth it anymore.

Today’s world is changing. People’s ideas of photography are changing too. And unfortunately, many photographers don’t get that. They’re still trying to sell old world photography to a new marketplace. I hear all kinds of questions surrounding this issue every day.

“Should I give them the images on CD rather than make them buy a package with a 16×20?”

“Should I be concerned they only want digital images?”

Nope. Its not clients that need to change. Its us as photographers that need to change.

Its not that people don’t want photography any more. They do. But they want something more than the standard “stand on the x” format. They can do that themselves. They want something that says “WOW”.

And they don’t want an 8×10, they want a digital file to do with as they please.

Is there a problem with that? Nope. You just have to charge for it.

Dig Deeper >> Making Them Pay For Social Media

How do you think this latest shut down will impact the photography industry? I’d love to hear your take on things.

Why Are You So Negative About Your Photography Business?

I literally read it every day.Negative Photographer

“All you give is pie in the sky advice. Everything’s great. How can you say that when it’s anything but?”

“People are awful. You can’t trust anyone. I want to provide quality work but I have to deal with all of this ‘stuff’ within the industry. Why can’t I just shoot and be the artist I want to be?”

And I feel your pain. I really do.

But when I read things like this, I know there is very little I can do. I can’t turn a switch in your brain and make you look at things differently. I can’t rework all you’ve done up until now to come to the conclusions you’ve reached.

I read a great book recently – one I would highly recommend. You can read it in an hour or two if you put your mind to it. It’s a fast read. But the thoughts are incredibly powerful. Thoughts that will make you think about how you approach things.

The book is Risky Is The New Safe by Randy Gage. I’ve followed Randy for years. I’ve attended one of his seminars. I love his “no bull” approach.

In this book, he wrote something I’d like to share. Something I’d like you to take to heart.

“Take the same opportunity and offer it to a broke person and a wealthy person, and I guarantee you they will see it differently. When I was poor, I looked at everything through the lens of the mind viruses I was infected with. No matter what business venture I was exposed to, I approached it with the beliefs that you need money to make money; you need an education and have to know people, and so on. I could look at anything and immediately give you 15 reasons why it wouldn’t work. While I was accumulating all the evidence why it couldn’t be done, people with prosperity consciousness were simply doing it.

For those many years I was struggling financially, I was a cynic. And nothing kills innovation, creativity and ambition faster than cynicism. It’s poverty consciousness.

Wealthy people have a healthy skepticism that causes them to evaluate things objectively and make good decisions based on solid assumptions. Skepticism is healthy; cynicism never is. Here’s why: If you ask the wrong question, the answer doesn’t matter. “

Make sense?

If you ask why the photography industry has changed, why you can’t make money the way you used to, or why consumers are terrible for wanting the digital files, you’re asking the wrong questions.

If you ask how you can change your pricing structure to give people what they really want, look for alternative ways to build your photography packages, or ask how photography will impact people in the coming years, you’re on the right track.

Photography isn’t dead. In fact, it’s anything but.

We read a lot now. But that’s changing. We’re incorporating more than ever into video and audio. We’re a graphic society. We attract through imagery. We’re obsessed with quick pictures. We love color and vibrancy. And that’s not going to change.

But the way our society lives, works, moves and thinks is changing.

Go back a hundred years or more, and it took a generation to get a new idea into place. Now it takes a year, or even a few months.

With that much change, it’s hard to wrap our brains around new ideas. Even before we come to terms with one idea, we’re on to something else.

But don’t think photography is alone. Ask anyone in any industry, and they’ll probably start talking about the chaos. Look at the music industry. Or the publishing industry. Or education.

Watch this year’s TED prize winner – Sugata Mitra and his wish to design the future of learning. Its simple. Its brilliant. And I couldn’t agree more.

Everything is changing. And yes, it’s difficult at times. Mind-blowingly difficult.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and exhilarating and full of potential.

What if you approached one thing differently today? Instead of saying “this sucks”, what if you said “I’m going to do one great thing?”

I know it’s not easy to believe this. I know it’s not easy to do this.

But what’s the alternative?

Our Top Photography Posts Of 2012

What does 2013 hold for you?

In many ways, you can look back to the previous year to learn all you need to know for the future. And as we went back and looked at everything we’ve written and posted in 2012 – and what your favorites were too – we discovered a wealth of information that can help you as we roll into the New Year.

If building up an income stream from your photography business is on your list of to-do’s for 2013, get started by looking through our top posts and using the information to help you as you plan out your coming weeks and months. Here is a list of the most popular:

5 Secrets Professional Photographers Will Never Tell You

I remember when we first started out in photography, we would look at the professionals who had “made it” within the industry and somehow think they were different then us. They had a fan base stretched out around the world. They traveled to exotic locations to photograph their clients. They were featured in magazines and talked on stages in front of hundreds of people.

They were real photographers. And deep down we questioned all the time whether we had what it takes to make it to that level….read more>>

10 Steps To Becoming A Better Photographer

When you read the title of this post, what was your first thought? Did you think “better photographer” meant learning how to use your camera more effectively? Did you think “better photographer” meant taking better photographs? Did you think “better photographer” meant building a stronger, more successful business?

In reality, it can mean all of this and more. Photography has so many facets; each one you delve into can take years to learn and perfect.

Yet if you had to sum it up in 10 steps, what would they be? As I thought more about it and looked back over the past 20 years I’ve been a photographer, I realized I didn’t just look at it from a “taking pictures” angle. To me, being a better photographer also means building the business. And since that is the purpose of this blog, I thought I would divide it into 10 steps…read more>>

15 Things You Should Never Say To A Professional Photographer

What are some of the funniest (or maybe scariest) things your clients have ever said to you? I know we always said we should right a book with all of our experiences. Clients can say the most amazing things – and most of the time they don’t even realize the implications of what they are truly saying. Take a look at these 15, then come up with your own…read more>>

How To Start A Photography Business Without Wasting Money

What made you decide to take your love of photography to the next level and start a business with it?

Perhaps you aren’t sure if your 9 to 5 job is secure; will it really be there for you in the near future to pay your bills?

Or maybe you’ve seen a program on television that inspired you to the lifestyle some photographers have. I’m always inspired when I watch Art Wolfe’s Travels To The Edge.

In any case, your new business venture can very quickly take on a life of it own. As you begin to learn more about the business side of things, you’ll find things that are hard to live without. Training programs. New equipment. And so much more…read more>>

14 Do’s and Don’ts To Win Over Your Photography Clients

The key to a great business is having great clients. Here are some simple rules to ensure that your customers love you and want to use you again and again. And again. Do find your competitive edge. What makes you special? What makes you unique? Its not just your passion or your love for the business. It has to be your approach to photography and the way you run your business. Find that one unique thing that sets you apart and use it to bring in a ton of clients. Don’t badmouth your competition. You probably have one or two competitors who you think very little of. They run their business completely against your ethics and you know “dirty little secrets” about them that makes you have anything but trust. Don’t tell. As much as you know about them, its important to turn the other way and…read more>>

12 Words That Will Change The Value Of Your Photography

This infographic will let you choose your words that will change the value of your photographyread more>>

The 7 Deadly Sins Of A Photography Business

If you are operating a photography business, you are in competition with thousands of other photographers all vying for your prospects attention. When it comes to photographing, many have a natural eye for creating amazing art. But when it comes to running a business, most of them don’t have a clue as to what they are doing. The same problems come up again and again, keeping them away from doing the one thing they want most of all – finding success. So how about you? Do you commit one of these deadly sins with your own business….read more>>

The First 4 Steps To Becoming A Wealthy Photographer

What is the number one reason most businesses fail? It isn’t lack of ideas, lack of enthusiasm, or lack of potential. People go into business for all the right reasons.

Instead, the one reason they fail is they run out of the one resource you simply can’t build a business without – cash. Cash is king when it comes to owning and operating a photography business. There are certain things you can do yourself to avoid using cash – market using Facebook and Twitter, do your own editing instead of hiring, or typing in your own data entry and tax information. Yet if you don’t pay…read more>>

The Code For Blocking Pinterest … And 12 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use It

There are a lot of photographers out there up in arms over Pinterest.

Pinterest allows people to create visual pin boards by finding things online and “pinning” them to a board on their Pinterest account. Because Pinterest is a visual social site, what attracts you to click on things is the photograph. Yet you can look through the images on Pinterest without having to go back to the site of origination to view who’s images they are. Which means there are many photographers upset by copyright infringement – can people really “move” your images around and share them in a variety of ways without crediting you, the photographer…read more>>

Your Blog Post Checklist – Make Your Photography Blog Attractable

Do you blog on a regular basis? If so, you’ve probably posted a few that were anything but complete. You forgot to spell check. You didn’t include the link you planned on using. Or you simply made it a short post because you didn’t know what else to write. Writing posts on a regular basis takes more than talent; it takes a checklist to make sure all of the pieces are included. Even if writing isn’t your “thing”, here is an easy way to make sure every post you create is perfectly targeted towards your more>>

5 Secrets That Make Some Photographers Successful … And Some Photographers Fail

I bet you’re like this: If someone asks how your job is going, you say okay. You may elaborate a little, but it’s just a job. Nothing exciting. It pays the bills. You worry if you’ll get a raise next year, or if your job will even exist next year. But for now, it gives you the income you need.

But I bet if someone asks you what you really want to do, something different will take place: You’ll get that spark in your eye, you’ll sit a little taller, and you’ll feel a little excitement way down deep. You’ll talk about how you’ve been shooting for a while now and really love photography. You met a photographer (or found them online) who is doing something close to what you would love to do. You’re dreaming of turning that idea into a reality … but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So, did I touch any buttons…read more>>

Wishing all of you a prosperous New Year!

To your success,


5 Keys To Finding Clients In The Future

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 5…

Future gold key

Doesn’t the marketplace seem a little overwhelming right now? Everywhere you look, there is an ad for something. You get hundreds of emails a day. Your newsfeeds rotate constantly with new content. Retailers are doing anything they can to bring in a buck or two – several stores in our area are open 24 hours a day right through Christmas Eve.

At some point it all becomes a bit too much … and you simply shut down.

But that doesn’t mean customers still aren’t out there. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people that want and need what you do.

They may have shut down as well. They may be so overwhelmed by all that is happening around them, they simply need another way to notice you.

And that’s where we have to be innovators. It’s not business as usual. To market the way you always have will get you nowhere in the coming years. The only way to survive – to thrive – will be to take a new approach.

Key #1: It’s Time To Be The Un-Photographer

At one point in time, cola was all the rage. People loved the bubbly drink, dark in color, sweet in taste. Then something new came along – the un-cola. It brought you a bubbly drink with a twist. The color changed. The taste changed. And it was refreshing in its own right. It took something old and put a new twist to it. You can’t photograph like photographers did twenty years ago. The marketplace wants something new – something different. And yet very few are offering the twist. The one’s that create the twist – the un-photographers – will move ahead in this new industry.

Key #2: Think Of The Internet As A Horizontal Marketplace

How many marketing tools do you need to survive? One? Five? Fifty? There is no right answer. Yet for most of us, it is well beyond one – very few could operate with just a business card. Different people “see” things in different ways. Which is why you need to be in different places, off line and on. A simple website won’t reach out to the new customers of tomorrow. Likewise, just a Facebook page will do little to reach customers that are rarely on Facebook. It requires a variety of tools – a horizontal reach through many different tools. Your blog, a Facebook account, reviews on Yelp, a YouTube channel – all reach out in different ways. And provide you with a wide plane of potential. [Read more…]

6 Tribal Laws That Affect Your Photography Business

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 6…

“I’m really wondering what to do next year. My business has never recovered from what it was a few years ago. I try and try, but I just can’t find the clients who are willing to spend what they used to. I’m struggling to stay in business and I just don’t know if it’s worth it anymore. People want different things today. They just want digital files to share on Facebook, they don’t care about wedding albums or large portraits above their fireplace. Maybe I should shut my doors and do something else.”

I hear this story again and again from photographers all over the world.

And in many ways he is correct.

What is happening in today’s marketplace isn’t the same as what happened a few short years ago. We don’t shoot film, we shoot digital. We don’t need photo albums, we have our iPads. We don’t need to print a 4×5 to send to relatives half way around the world; we share it on Facebook and they see it instantly.

Times have changed. Which means we must change too or get lost in the shuffle.

Its like selling buggy whips in the era of horseless carriages. If the marketplace is changing and you don’t change with it, you will be put out of business.

Finding Your Tribe

One of my favorite books by Seth Godin is Tribes. A tribe links a small group of people to an idea. It creates a movement. And it is lead by the one person that foresees the change and decides to do something about it.

Will photography go away? Nope. Never. In fact its bigger now than it has ever been in the past.

Yet today’s technology has made “old time” photographers obsolete.

Which means as an industry, we have to find new ways to structure the business and move into a new direction. Seth Godin explains it best; it’s worth the watch. Then use these six steps to help you create your own movement.

Find a group that’s disconnected

This is the easy part. Photography doesn’t exist like it used to. You’ve figured that one out, right? Now its time to look at it in a whole new way. What can you do differently? What can you do to reach out to people that still love photography, yet want something in an entirely new way? [Read more…]

Will Photography Be One Of The 2 Billion Jobs Disappearing By 2030?

What if someone told you the job you were in today, or the job you were truly interested in training for right now, would disappear in your lifetime? Would that stop you from pursuing it?

That was the question that jumped out at me when I read a recent title, 2 Billion Jobs to Disappear by 2030.

Think about that for a moment. 2 billion jobs to disappear in 20 years. Considering there are 7 billion people on the planet, and many of them do not hold a “job”, what that is basically saying is 50 percent of all the jobs held today will disappear in less than 20 years. And I don’t doubt it one bit.



At a recent seminar I attended to help my daughter decide on direction at college, the speaker asked parents how many people held jobs today that weren’t in existence at the time they attended college. I held up my hand, along with around 10 percent of the audience.

Will that be even more of a trend in the future? Only time will tell. But with the rapid way our technology is changing, its easy to see how that can be the case.

As I read through the article, one thing became apparent. [Read more…]

3 Habits Of Highly Unsuccessful Photographers

Plenty is written on successful companies and how you do things the right way. But I find it equally helpful to go in the opposite direction once in a while and discover things that businesses do wrong. You know, the things that really hold people back and prevent them from creating a sustainable, successful photography studio.

By understanding what factors some people have that limit success, you can begin to generate new ideas and ultimately find a better way of doing things.  If you look at failing or even businesses that have failed in the last few months, most of them would cite reasons that would fall under one of these key inhibitors.

1. They believe their current circumstances are unchangeable – they must accept them no matter what.

2. They reorganize so much they never establish a true clientele.

3. They do not test and evaluate to determine when its time to change.

Unchangeable Circumstances

Opportunities exist in every circumstance. Yet for many people, they get caught in the rut of what’s happening in the world around them and forget they can change and manipulate things any way they choose.

Now is the perfect time to find “old time” photographers who fall into this category. Talk to them for two minutes and you’ll start to see the patterns. They’ll say things like “things are rough and nobody wants photography any more” or “everyone wants a CD with digital files for virtually no money at all”. They look at the world as if they are living in the past. They’ve always made a great living in the “old” way and they simply can’t find a way to turn it around and continue to make a great living in today’s world. [Read more…]