My 2019 by the numbers
I like being transparent because I know other photographers like to know what’s GOING ON with other photographers and we never give each other access. Well here it is.
If you don’t think running a business, or let me rephrase, if you don’t think running a PHOTOGRAPHY business is a battle that you’re jumping into, then you’re wrong. No one is fighting for glory here, but we are fighting for your attention, for you to pick us so that we can feed our family. There is risk, there are tears, there is sooooo much time spent, there are triumphs and there are failures. And no one knows this, unless you know this because you’re living it too — like most of my photographer friends who are trying to make a living doing this. And it can be done. But the image that you’re gonna be A PHOTOGRAPHER and just photograph families is false. What you’re gonna become is a entrepreneur who markets themselves daily, and also adds value to people’s lives by creating portraits for them. Am I right? Or am I right photog friends?
This year started off extremely slow but with a bang. I photographed my first session of 2019 as a fresh 48 session on January 1st last year. So one year ago today, I was photographing a newborn in Topeka, Kansas. I photographed 3 fresh 48 sessions through January through May. My goal would be 4 a month… but I can dream. And I only ended the year with 10 total. And two of those sessions were on the same day at the same hospital! Crazy how life works like that.
My second session of the year was a TWIN lifestyle newborn session. I remember it particularly because it was my first set of twins ever and it was like unreasonably dark that day so the light indoors was rough. I did my best though. I have since added bring a flash to my newborn sessions and have used it a few times in cases where I really wanted to get a great, well lit image in someone’s home when there was no available light. Upgrading to a Sony mirrorless or Mark IV would help this. I may invest in some new gear by next Fall — it depends on if I have enough money in my business expense account to do so. Otherwise – I’m gonna stay a minimalist and make what has been working so far continue to work for me.
I won’t go into super depth I guess about all my sessions — but here’s the recap.
11 fresh 48 sessions,
11 lifestyle newborn sessions – 2 sets of twins
5 maternity sessions,
42 outdoor family sessions,
2 magazine article stories for Baldwin City Living,
1 magazine cover for Baldwin City Living,
2 preschool portrait days,
2 single-child portrait sessions,
1 mini-session day (4 families),
1 gender reveal party, and
1 realtor banquet.
If you’re a photographer and you’re just read that and sized yourself up and gave yourself a pat on the back for doing “more” than me, than I hope it was at a price that was ethical to the industry and I hope it benefitted your family tremendously. These were my numbers I was able to bring in based on my marketing and pricing and you can believe I plan on adjusting next year so I can hope to do more business, at a slightly higher rate, but also with greater service and value to each and every client. I am heading into my third year, which is the year that most blogs and podcast say if you’re not perfectly profitable and happy by now, you need to fix it or get out. I was recently watching a CreativeLive class I highly recommend titled, “Building a Photography Business for under $3000.” I highly recommend it for the fundamental numbers and information it gives you. How much percentage profit should you be making per session? How much should be going to expenses? What can a home-based portrait photographer expect to make when running a legal, tax paying business? It’s all there — the answer is you should expect 35%-45% of your session price to end up in your pocket when all is said and done.
I wrote this out more for myself than for an actual blog post for others to read. But I know that I know where I have been now and it helps me see where to focus more on in the future. I hope to have a better plan laid out for next year so that I can work harder on my execution for more success. I plan on added other revenue streams as well next year. Well that’s my hope and here I am writing it out so — let’s hope that’s there first step to accomplishing it.
Peace and Love friends – I would love for you to email me a response or to say hi on my social media channels if you read this. What did your year look like?