Owning a Small Business

Before I opened my photography company, I couldn't understand why some of the photography companies around me were charging so much money for a photoshoot (ie. $200-300 for a mini session). As a photographer and prospective business owner, I felt it was unfair and the opposite of who I wanted to be.

At that point I was working a full-time job and doing photography on the side for experience and reputation. I saw nothing wrong with charging $60 for a full session and giving people a thumb drive with all edited images on it. After all, I was doing what I loved, and $60 still seemed expensive to me as an amateur. However, what I began seeing was that I was getting burnt out and people didn't notice that outside of my immediate family. However, my family was taking the brunt of me working overtime for basically nothing. Let me explain.

1) Photoshoot: 45mins -1hr

2) Selection (50-75 best photos to show customer): 1 hr

3) Editing - approximately 1hr per picture

4) Exporting/Uploading - 20 mins to 2hrs depending on how many images there are

5) Advertising - 30 mins - 1hr

To do the math, let's use my deluxe package as an example ($100 for unlimited images + 3 full edits).

So, $100 (Package)/6 (hours, as seen above) = $16.67 (earned an hour) and that does not already have taxes taken out. That's right. Those photographers who are making "hand over fist" are barely making more than a first-time employee at McDonald's (no offense).

When I had a full-time job and this was my side-gig, that didn't bother me. Additional money was supplementary. However, once you decide to launch your business full-time, things change. You have to register your business (costs hundreds), get a tax number (costs hundreds), pay for monthly insurance costs (approx. $100/month), pay for advertising (varies), pay for monthly subscriptions to your editing program ($10), website ($15) and delivery service ($10). Not to mention the new props that you are constantly buying for your customers (varies - but likely hundreds of dollars).

In addition to that, photographers paid a fortune for their equipment. They either pulled money out of their own bank accounts or took out a personal/business loan. My equipment cost close to $10k and it would be nice to get that money back into my bank account. But how on earth am I supposed to do that when I am making $16.67/hr before deductions? Which brings me to my final point, I'm giving myself a raise, starting tomorrow. :-)

If you decided to stop working for someone else and to start working for yourself, how much would you pay yourself? How much would other people pay you?