Photographers, Stop Selling Yourselves Short

www.BebaPhotography.com

I write this post with passion in my heart, because I see so many photographers looking to determine their value based on what someone says or doesn’t say about them. The problem with this way of thinking, is that their value level is always going to rise and fall, depending on what the person they are inquiring thinks about his or her business.

Consider this: We all shop at different stores and why?

We all value different things.

We may be a spender or a saver.

The amount of our paycheck may influence us and what we purchase or don’t purchase.

If we are saving for something we would like to purchase, we may or may not pass on something that someone is trying to sell us.

Where do you shop at? Think of all the department stores available to you when you need to purchase an item. There’s a variety of stores available to you. How do you decide where to shop at?

Sears / JCPenney / Macy’s / Dillard’s / SAKS 5th Avenue / Nordstrom

What about retail stores?

Walmart / Ross / Marshall’s / Target / Kmart / Kohl’s

The truth is, we all shop at different places, depending on our personal values and oftentimes, our current financial status.

Different people shop at different stores and what might be okay for one person to purchase at is not okay for the next.

The price-conscious consumer, for example, may balk at the idea of shopping at a fine department store, no matter how much he or she makes because for him or her, the value is in the actual process of saving money instead of spending  it (i.e. transferring that value to an item that can be used or enjoyed).

On the other hand, if a consumer finds value in purchasing (in the transferring of value from money itself into the object or service), then he or she is more apt to shop at any store and not limit his or herself to what they have earned/not earned.

If there is a limit with the amount of paycheck that he or she earns, but the desire for that transfer of value (to purchase) is there, then he or she will see it as a temporary financial setback instead of a permanent roadblock. He or she will often save up money in order to make that purchase,  because the desire to have the object or service is greater than the limitation itself.

So, what is a photographer to do?

How does one set a value on their own work?

Rather than pricing their work at what others are charging or in what he or she feels is the right amount, emotion should be placed to the side for some time and cold, hard numbers should be crunched and evaluated.

What are things to consider when putting together numbers?

(This list includes suggestions but is by no means exhaustive)

ACTUAL COSTS

  • Cost of goods being given to a client
  • Shipping from the lab to photographer
  • Shipping from the photographer to the client
  • Gas and wear and tear to and from a photo session
  • Packaging (labels, boxes, ribbon, bubble wrap or crunchy filler, tape, etc.)
  • Stationary (thank you card, letters, stamps)

TIME 

  • Initial contact on phone or via the internet
  • Pre-consultation
  • Driving to/from the photography location
  • Photographing clients
  • Uploading images
  • Culling through images
  • Editing images
  • Exporting images
  • Uploading images to client gallery or for in person sales presentation
  • Slideshow creation
  • Online/Over The Phone/In Person Sales presentation
  • Uploading images to lab
  • Ordering images from lab
  • Packaging products
  • Hand delivering items or shipping to client
  • Writing a thank you card

OTHER FACTORS

(Things You May Need to Pull From What You Earn)

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Rent or Mortgage
  • Health insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Business insurance
  • Business licensing
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Taxes (business and personal)
  • Retirement
  • Childcare
  • Debt you need to pay off
  • Phone
  • Gas
  • Toiletries
  • Education
  • Studio rent and costs (if you own one)
  • Props
  • Computer maintenance
  • Hard drives and backups
  • Internet
  • Printer Ink
  • Marketing Fees

Are you realizing that you need to be making quite a bit more in order to become a sustainable business? Are you charging $150 a session, $300 a session, $500 a session and thinking that’s fair to charge?

When you really look at all that you need to pay from what you make, you realize that those amounts are not sustainable as a business or as a lifestyle. The money you earn will go out of your pocket so quickly to pay for things, it won’t even seem as though you had hold of it.

You will be living paycheck to paycheck and not only is that not fair to you as a business owner, it’s not fair to your talent or to your life.

You deserve to charge what you need to earn in order to live sustainably as a person and as a business. If you feel you cannot charge at least this amount, then you must consider why you are in business in the first place and, if you cannot sustain yourself for 1 year, then where will you find yourself at in 5 years?

In all honesty, if a business cannot charge what is necessary to stay afloat, then it will eventually sink.

You may feel guilty at the thought of charging your clients more until you look at the data itself. Your clients deserve a fair price, yes. But don’t you deserve to charge a price that’s fair to you and your life as well?

If you find that clients are resisting, then instead of selling yourself short, you will need to find a new demographic that can pay you what you need in order to survive and thrive.

With photography, you need to set your level of where you need to be at and then find the people who will join you where you are at, instead of setting your level to where each person is at and saying that that is your level…because that level will always be illusive and always be changing with each person you meet.

Be fair to your clients while seeking out the clients that will be fair in return to you as well.

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Photoshop Tip — Removing and Changing a Background

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

This blog post is for all you professional and aspiring photographers out there! Sometimes, when you do a photo session, you find yourself wishing you had a different background to work with. If there is a limitation on available location space, you may opt to remove the current background and add in a secondary one.

To do this, you must use Photoshop. In this tutorial, I will be using Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud, which is commonly referred to by photographers as Photoshop CC.

I will break this process down step by step. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below. I also offer private, one on one tutorials across the US either in person or via phone if there is a specific skill you are looking to learn. You can contact me at: alicia@BebaPhotography.com for more information.

Let’s get started!

  1. Open the foreground photo you will be working with. In this case, I decided to work with a photo of a family I recently photographed:

Family (61) WITH LOGO

Now, I personally love the background in this image, but decided to use it for this example.

2. Your next step is to turn the flattened background layer into a workable, free layer. To do this, double click on the background layer in your layers panel on the right side of your work space:

step 2

A dialogue box will come up saying that you have a new layer. Hit OK. You now have a free floating layer that is no longer locked. You will see this change when you look at your layers panel. You will see that your background layer has changed from being labeled as “background” to “layer 0.”

step 3

3. The next thing you want to do is select the lasso tool from your toolbar on the left hand side of your work space. Use this tool to quickly grab the areas around your subjects. It doesn’t have to be right up against them and it doesn’t have to be super close. It should just be somewhat near to them. We will clean things up in the next step:

step 4

step 5

The lines around your subjects should connect and they will look like little dancing ants.

4. The next thing you want to do with your mouse is to right-click. This will bring up a drop-down list. You’ll want to select the option that says, “Select Inverse.”

step 6

5. Once you have done this, hit your delete key. This will suddenly make your background disappear and you will be left with what looks like a grey checkerboard. These squares indicate that there is nothing there and you are to treat those areas as “transparent” as shown below:

step 7

6. What about the little bit of background surrounding the subjects? How do you get rid of this? Go to your toolbar on the left side of your work space and select the Quick Selection Tool:

step 8

7. Use the Quick Selection tool to select the background area around your subjects. You can add to your selection by holding down the SHIFT button on a PC and subtract from your selection by holding down the ALT button on a PC.

(Here is a cheat sheet on Microsoft’s support website for equivalent keys if you are a MAC user: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/970299)

When you have selected all of the background areas that you need to, your photo will have lines that look like dancing ants around the areas you will be deleting:

step 9

8. To make the deleting of your background look smoother, you will want to make sure you transition to the regular lasso tool. Without clicking off of your selection you’ve just made, right click with your mouse on the screen until you see a drop-down list. Select the “Feather” option and set the radius to between 1 and 3. After you have done that, hit the delete button and your entire background will be gone:

step 10

9. Your next step will be to open the second file you would like to use as your new background in the photo:

step 11

10. In order to drop your free floating subjects onto the new background, you will need to view the photos so that you see them at the same time. In order to do this, go to the top of your screen. Go to:

Window > Arrange > Select any multiple view option. In this case, I used 2 up vertical.

step 12

11. Click on the Move Tool in the upper left hand corner of your work space in the tool bar and use the tool to move your subjects onto the new background. You can do this by holding down the left side of your mouse and dragging the photo over.

step 13

When you are finished, go back to:

Window > Arrange > Consolidate All To Tabs

This will take you back to a single image view at a time.

12. You will now want to play around with positioning your family on your new background layer. Keep the ratio of their size by holding down the SHIFT key as you scale them smaller or larger.

step 14

13. You may notice that your subjects look a little flat or oddly popped out from your new background and this is something you’ll want to correct so that the new image looks authentic. Use other tools withing Photoshop to match the tones and lighting between the two photos. In some cases, you may want to recolor and crop the photo down as I did to make it appear more believable in regards to aspect ratio and believability:

last step

14. Your last and final steps are to flatten your image once it’s to your liking and to save it.

Again, if you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below.

Enjoy!

For private 1-on-1 tutorials learned at your skill level and pace, contact me at: alicia@BebaPhotography.com or 480.399.3030 for more information.