An Open Apology To New Photographers

Dear New Photographer,

How’s your day going? I hope it’s going well. Take any cool photos lately? Good to hear it!

Anyway, the reason I’m writing you is because I want to say I’m sorry. Sorry for how you’re so often treated by “the industry”. Other photographers. The “pros”.

I know you love photography, and are excited to start making your photo dreams come true. You may have worked up the courage to email your favourite shooters asking for advice. Or maybe you posted your questions online. And you might have been met with a cold shoulder. Possibly even dismissed and mocked. Or criticized. Called a “newbie”. Blamed for “ruining the industry” and making it hard for others to make a living.

And that sucks. It really does. No one deserves to have their dreams dashed. No one.

I hope you know that it’s not personal. I mean, they don’t even know you. They don’t know how long you’ve planned this, how much you care about this, how hard you plan to work, or how happy it makes you. They don’t remember how scary it was to jump in. To make that decision to go for it. If they did, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick with the mockery. Maybe they’d actually see themselves in you.

But it’s all too easy to forget that stuff.

For one thing, these photographers are busy. Really, really busy. To run a successful business takes a LOT of work, and they’ve sacrificed countless evenings with friends, weekends off, and general relaxing-fun-time in order to make their dreams happen. Going for years without summer weekends is enough to make anyone a bit cranky. Trust me.

And if they’ve been in business for a while, they’ve probably started getting emails on a weekly (or daily!) basis from new photographers, asking for answers to questions, or to shadow them while they shoot.

Maybe at first they were flattered. Someone thought they were good enough to want their opinion! But trust me, that wears off quickly when you find yourself spending hours answering the same questions over and over while your client work keeps piling up.

So don’t feel bad if they can’t answer your questions, or let you tag along. Like I said, it has nothing to do with you. They’re just crazy busy, and their clients have to come first. (That’s a key to a successful business, by the way. Write that one down.)

Oh, and if they do answer some questions for you, please make sure you thank them profusely. Send them a gift card for a cup of coffee or something. Show them how much you value their time. Because soon, when you’re neck deep in client work, you’ll realize just how important time is.

Now, regarding the name calling, and the finger pointing for “ruining the industry”. Y’know, I think on some level the pros are quite jealous of you. No seriously. Let me explain.

Photography has changed dramatically in recent years. Photographers used to have to invest thousands and thousands of dollars to get the basic equipment. I mean, memory cards alone used to be a couple hundred dollars a pop! Now you can stroll into BestBuy and for under $1K you can walk out with a decent setup. Add in a free WordPress theme, and you’re ready to roll. It’s a LOT easier (and cheaper) to start up a photography business these days, and they are a bit miffed by that. They struggled a lot more to get running, and now you have all these luxuries they wish they had when they got going.

Of course that’s no excuse for being rude. But realize that you have a lot of advantages these days that didn’t used to exist.

Which brings me to something important that I think the pros wish you knew. And that’s that a nice camera, a spiffy logo and a website do not make a business.

See, they know this deep in their bones. They’ve been through the trenches. They’ve come to realize that it takes a megaton of hard work, a lot of business savvy, and countless hours spent doing boring tasks like bookkeeping to make a photography business run. They see you all caught up in the honeymoon phase of freshly printed business cards, and they wish you knew that it takes so much more to make it really happen in the long run. It takes so much to support your family with photography.

I guess that’s why they get cranky. They’re trying to feed their kids with their art. That’s crazy hard to do. And that brings me to the biggest point of contention. Pricing. I swear I’ve literally seen steam come out of their ears when they see new shooters charging next to nothing. They foam at the mouth. They grab the pitchforks. Things get ugly.

Now, I’d wager that many of them started off charging way too little. It’s an easy mistake to make. But over the years they’ve come to realize that you can’t succeed by undercharging. It leads straight to failure in the long run. They figured that out the hard way — by spending way too many late nights trying to get caught up, and realizing they didn’t charge near enough for how much work it really takes. So they figured out how to charge appropriately, and upped their prices, and worked hard to show clients the real value in what they do.

Then they see you charging so little, and they get mad. They know it’s a bad path to go down. And they wish they could make you understand how critically important it is to price your work well. For the industry. And for yourself. 

Look, I want you to know that you do have a real shot at this. So often the pros make it seem impossible, but it’s not. Of course it’s not. But it is hard. You need to WORK. You need to LEARN. About pricing. And marketing. And taxes. And insurance. And contracts. And social media. And client relations. And just straight up photography! In fact, you need to accept that you can never stop working and you can never stop learning if you want to make it. Things are changing fast, my friend. Every week there’s a new camera, a new product, a new app that makes the whole industry shift. And if you pause for a moment, you might get left behind.

The pros feel that pressure. They are at their desks every day working to keep up. To stay on top of things. It’s draining.

And when they see you, all fresh and full of energy, with your shiny new camera that they can’t afford because it’s not in their yearly gear budget, and your website that looks a million times better than their first website did, they lash out at you. It’s not fair. But they’re tired. And scared. And working like mad to keep their dreams alive while putting food on the table and a roof over their heads.

So don’t let it get you down when you see pros bad-mouthing beginners. Just get to work. And understand how much heart and courage and sheer will it takes to make things happen. Soon enough they’ll see it. They’ll see that you’re just as passionate as they are, and they’ll welcome you with open arms.

Because in the end, we all just love photography and want to spend our days shooting. And it makes us so happy to see others get to live that dream alongside us.

Lots of love,

Lauren :)

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photography ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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118 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Every new photographer should read this. A simple thank goes so far and many to most of them forget that.

    • Nicole Watson says:

      As a “newbie,” this is great advice! Thanks for the post and the encouragement.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      “Thank you” — two of the most important words in any language! Thanks for the comments guys!

  2. I agree 100%, and I’m surprised that this is one of the first articles I’ve ever read like this. Well done.

  3. Such a great article. I love how you tell it like it is without getting all negative…because, as much as I know people are scared at the pace things are changing and how they are going to feed their family and stay doing what they love–getting negative doesn’t solve anything. And, yes–answering many emails and NOT getting a thank you…that wears thin pretty darn quickly. It is surprising how far a small thank you goes. Love you guys :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Negativity never helps anything hey? Sure doesn’t feel good either.

      Good manners are so important for anyone, and especially those running their own business. Guess our moms knew best on that front! ;)

  4. This is perfect!

  5. Excellent post. As what would be considered a new photographer (hobbyist for around 10 years and in business for just 1), I have learned very quickly to harden myself from the comments long-standing professional photographers have aimed at me.

    On the one hand, I completely understand their frustrations because, yes, there are a lot of people out there calling themselves ‘professional photographers’ these days and all they’ve done is gone out, bought a fancy SLR and a couple of lenses and have been taking photographs for a matter of weeks or months. On the other hand, as a new business owner, still working a full time job and trying to run my business as well, it annoys me that I’m seen as second rate because my business isn’t my full-time profession yet.

    It’s making me think long and hard about my future and one of the things I fear the most is that, by taking on the photography full-time, I will start to lose the passion for it and end up angry and frustrated like those pros you speak about. And that’s not why I got into photography! Which is why, at present, I’m keeping it a part-time profession. I’m still working hard to keep it going but my whole income is not reliant on it. If anything, it’s getting me extra cash to finally be able to buy the gear that I want! I hope that doesn’t upset any old pros out there, I don’t want to step on any toes but I’m not going to stop what I’m doing because I love it far too much!

    • Nicely put, I feel EXACTLY the same way. I have been disgusted at the lack of professionalism from “pros” on their blogs blasting the dreams of new photographers. Weather Pro or Not, if you have a great eye and people love your pictures…. your gonna make money – PERIOD!

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks so much for sharing Sarah! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had some negativity aimed your way. You should never be considered second-rate, regardless of whether you are part-time or full-time. What matters is great photography, and great business practices, not how much of your income comes from shooting.

      And trust me — there are many, many pros who aren’t angry or negative at all. They are open with their knowledge, and help new photographers to live their dreams too. You won’t automatically be cranky by becoming a full-time pro ;) You do have to work hard to balance the business work with the love of photography though, and that can be tough to do some days!

    • Theressa Putland says:

      I actually find this letter very patronising and almost as bad as those ‘pros’ who constantly degrade newcomers to the industry.
      I am new. I have a shiny new (entry level) DSLR and my rates are very low. They are low because I don’t have the client base or word of mouth respect yet that makes me able to justify charging higher amounts. I can SAY I am a $500.00 a session photographer but if no-one books me at that rate then I am a ‘nothing’ a session photographer. I am always honest about my experience and portfolio and explain that this is why I charge so little. I always give the comparison of the more reputable business and explain that I understand completely if the client is more comfortable going with the more well known photographers, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. There is a business in my area who charge a great deal more than me – they have worked long and hard in my area over many years to get a reputation as being the very best and I take my hat off to them. Their hard work and professionalism has paid off and they are very well known in town. I on the other hand am making a name for myself through word of mouth and networking, I do not have the money for a fancy website and my gear is not the best. However the fact that I can produce quality images on an entry level camera should speak for my talent as much as someone who can take a quality image on a very expensive camera. (My gorgeous entry level is like an old friend to me, trusty and reliable – doesn’t like the dark much though :( ) I have worked very hard to learn to shoot in manual mode, see the light, be diverse and understand composition – many many hours being mentored, taking workshops and reading reading reading. I don’t do weddings, because I know I am not at that level yet – I leave weddings to those who have specialised, I know am not there yet. I take my hat off to newborn photographers – some of that work takes my breath away. Just because I am at a lower rate doesn’t make me a hack, it just makes me very new, trying to find my way in an industry that is very unfriendly – at least the online community is.

      • Lauren Lim says:

        Hi Theressa,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m very sorry if my letter came across as patronizing —that was truly not my intention at all. I sincerely respect new photographers, and wish that there wasn’t so much animosity in the industry.

        But clearly I need to do a better job of communicating that, and I apologize for the misunderstanding. I wanted to shed some light on why there is some tension, and pass along some lessons I’ve learned that may help new shooters. It was not intended to put anyone down, and I’m sorry I’ve upset you.

        In regards to pricing, I don’t think low prices make anyone a hack. As I mentioned in my letter, most photographers start at lower prices — when you’re new you need to in order to balance lack of experience. That’s the nature of most industries!

        You are clearly passionate about your business, and working hard to create great work, and that’s fantastic. I’m sure you’ll find great success. Please don’t let this experience make you feel like all of the online community is unfriendly. There are many wonderful photographers out there who are happy to help new shooters (ourselves included!)

  6. Great post! It’s the simple thank you that means so much!

  7. Great article, although I wish that there was less about how pros are jealous of how it wasn’t so easy for them to take the leap. The thing that gets frustrating for most pros I know about the lack of barriers degrades the perception of what is quality. The fancy website and all of the work that they are getting for $50 streaming through their facebook feeds makes their businesses appear as though they would be a great place to get quality photos as the average consumer doesn’t know how easy it all was to obtain. They can’t even see that photos are grainy and half of the time not even close to being in focus. Then the verbiage on these sites proclaims that this is the place to get the same quality as the pros, but for a fraction of the price. Once their session is over, they have little to no business expenses and they don’t pay their taxes. It’s just extremely frustrating to put in the time, effort, and expense to watch people over and over go to people who know that they are undercutting and cheating to offer those prices. It’s not all “newbies” that are frustrating. It’s the ones who don’t care about the quality of the work and the fact that they go about it in such a dishonest way. If you can find a nice way to address that, I’d share your article all over the place. :-)

    • AMEN!

    • Could’nt agree more! The quality of the work from the amateurs is my “biggest” problem. We create memories thats suppose to be cherished for many generations and for me thats just sad when clients choose an amateur with a nice camera to make theire memories. Buy´t sadly some clients don’t see theire lack of experiense. And they end up with photos with a bad quality (bad lighting, ugly colors and I’ve even seen some people in white sweaters that has lost theire arms!
      But than again I have found to love that with the amateurs I get the clients that I want:) I get the clients that are critical, know what they want, what they like and who trust me to do that for them. Or they like my work so much that they lay it all in my hands and trust me to make beautiful memories for them. The amateurs usually end up with the clients that only looks at the price. Who want thoose clients anyway? And thats sad for the amateurs. But that’s the clients they get when theyre cheap and honestly there are not many amateurs who can take good prices for theire job.

      My oppenion is that people think that the camera makes the photographer and thats the biggest mistake a client can make! If you read a good book you don’t email the writer asking witch typewriter they use?!

      • In response to Hanne’s post, all I can say is wow. I am floored by your insensitivity. “Who wants those clients anyway?” Can someone please acknowledge the fact that there are many people and families out there that can’t afford meals for themselves let alone $200-300 on a photo session plus the price for the prints? I am an amateur photographer and in no way proclaim to be anything beyond that. In fact, I adamantly argue with those who use that word to describe my work. Yes, I could probably charge more for my sessions, but I like to feel good (not SORRY FOR MYSELF, as you expressed) about the service I provide to those who can’t afford other “PROFESSIONAL” photographers (side note: your professionalism was quickly ruined by your poor grammar and spelling. Consider that when emailing those high class clients of yours). Do those individuals not deserve captured memories? Sure, they’re only concerned about the price…but does that mean that they should be forced to have canned, super-posed studio portraits at Walmart or JC Penny? It absolutely does not. How rude that you would even imply as much. Some amateurs are better than others, also. And while I have the utmost respect for the pros and their work, I also just want to scream sometimes when I see this attitude. You picked a profession that can double as a hobby! Face it! Cultivate those amateurs so that they don’t “ruin” your profession. Be different–help those who need it and answer questions that are asked of you. I know I always recommend the pros to others who have been respectful towards me. If you don’t care about those clients, who can’t afford your services that’s fine; but don’t undermine those who actually believe these people deserve at least semi-equal treatment as those who can afford the more expensive professional pricing. Thank you Lauren, for this great article and for addressing this topic. And thank you, Hanne, for exposing the very attitude for which Lauren is apologizing.

        • Theressa Putland says:

          I love your response here – I too am a ‘newbie’ and I am also a mother and wife in a very modest income range. I cannot afford the luxury of highly expensive portraiture no matter how much I love the images I see – I simply CAN’T – Knowing this about myself I cannot bear to charge other mothers amounts I know are beyond their reach. This is where our place is, happy to provide good quality images to families who can’t afford the ‘buy prints only option’. I proudly give my clients their quality edited hight resolution discs and tell them exactly how to print them, what ratios mean and the 2 print labs in town that I feel best print my images. I found Laurens post patronizing and equally as offensive and have posted my own comments below. I should be about comment 101 for those who wish to read it. We may offer economical packages but that does not mean we are hacks.

      • Hanne, Molly is absolutely right and you are exactly what is wrong with some of the photographers today. My sister is what you call and amateur and she charges next to nothing to get her business started and guess what…she can not keep up with the demand, people are waiting for her to have an opening because they love her eye for photography and she is brilliant! Hanne, what I think it comes down to is you may feel insecure and not happy about people growing wise to pricey photography sessions that should not cost no were near what some are charging. Most people can not afford the ridiculous amounts some photographers are charging…so good luck with that attitude!! :o)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Hey Laura! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I totally understand your viewpoint. There is a LOT of learning and practice that have to be put in to be able to create high quality images for clients. And believe me, it makes me really sad every time I hear of people ending up with poor photos, and missed memories.

      I certainly didn’t intend for the “jealously” part of my letter to be the main point. I know that I sure wish I had these neat gadgets and inexpensive high quality cameras when we were starting out! But that’s such a small part of what makes a great business.

      What’s so much more important is being good to your customers, and putting in the time it takes to learn how to create great photos. And, as I mentioned in the letter, pricing yourself well for the good of your business and the whole industry!

      Thanks again for commenting!

    • YESSSSSS. I have absolutely no problem helping and trying to motivate a photographer who wants to get better and provide a quality product at a reasonable price. I do have a problem helping someone make a little extra cash on something they actually care very little about.

  8. Wonderfully well written! – and from such a positive perspective.

    I see/read so many negative comments on this topic (looking at the issue from a somewhat objective view I appreciate both sides) on Facebook and elsewhere, it’s so nice to see it framed in such a truthful and encouraging way.

    Thank you so much for making my day.

    Warmly, Janet

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thank you Janet! I really believe that positivity goes a lot further towards creating change, and helping people to understand each other :)

      In the end we all just want the same thing — to create great photos, and have fun doing it!

  9. as a still newbie ive been operating for just over a year this dose make a lot of sense but on the other hand there are some “pros” that are just down right nasty and rude !!! today i received an email after answering a local photogs call for an assistant for a wedding telling me im not qualified and only applies to people who are pros { my work is a high standard then hers go figure } only to realise this is the same photog when i first started photography that send me hate emails , theirs always a bad egg somewhere that just likes to knock people down

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Hi Missy! I’m so sorry to hear about your negative experience. There is no excuse for being mean at all. Unfortunately you are right, there will always be some people who just want to bring others down. But keep your chin up, and keep creating great work, and you’ll see your own success!

  10. As a newbie (and no where near ready to start advertising or charging or being a business at all) I really love and appreciate this article!

  11. Fantastic article. I have felt this way, far too many times but couldn’t find the proper words to explain it. Kudos to you for delivering it in such a truthful & positive manner.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words Kristen. I’m very glad to hear I was able to get the message across and still be positive!

  12. Beautiful words Lauren! Your honesty is refreshing.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thank you for the support Rima! It’s so wonderful to put something like this out there, and get so much kindness and positivity back :)

  13. Lauren, thank you for writing this post. We really all need to be in this together and support each other, because I think that benefits the industry as a whole and puts positive energy out there instead of anger, resentment, jealousy, and other negative, non-productive emotions.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      You said it perfectly, Alexandra! The more we all support each other, the better we all become. Negative emotions as so draining for everyone. I love how being positive gives us all a great energy to make things happen!

  14. I am a newbie and have been working very hard to learn the craft. I had no idea how much there was to learn before I started and realize I have so much more to learn. Quality is very important to me and that is why I am not willing to open my business until I feel I can deliver. I have signed up for classes, done hours and hours and hours of research, have asked pros for advice, practiced, practiced and practiced. I understand that many of the pro’s are very busy and I wish that could be me, I honestly really appreciate it when a pro gives me advice and I take it all to hart and try my best to improve. It is not easy being a newbie, it can feel lonely at times trying to learn. Sometimes it feels like stumbling through a maze and hoping that you are not unknowingly busy going down the wrong path which in turn is going to cost you both time and money. At times we desperately seek advice, because we also want to get to a place where we can make a living and pay our bills. Trust me we want to learn, that is why we are looking for advice.
    Thanks you so very much to all the pro’s, who are willing to and have helped the newbies!!! Your kindness has meant a lot.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, and for your honesty Eunice! It sounds like you have so much passion for creating a great photography business, and that’s so wonderful. High five to you!

      Keep working, and you’re certain to see success! And know that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in one of the biggest clubs in the world — people who love photography and are learning more about it every day!

  15. Thank you so much for this article. I myself am just starting out and have come across some of these situations, when all I was looking for was a bit of insight. Reading this article has given me more motivation to work hard and reach for my dreams. I’ve been dabbling in photography as a hobby for the last 5yrs or so and have had some great feedback from family and friends to encourage me to follow my dreams. I do have a full-time job that I work Mon-Fri and have only been persuing my “photography dream” for the last couple months after work and on weekends. Once again, thank you for this article and giving me the “push” I needed to not get discouraged. Amie :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Amie! I’m so glad I was able to give you a bit of motivation today! Keep up the hard work and you’ll get there! :)

  16. Although I think you gave WAY too many excuses for these insecure “pros” bashing any new-to-the-business photographer – the general thought behind the letter was nice. All in all whether you have been in the business for 30 years or 3 – If you are good at what you do – You will make money and be successful. So if a “newbie” is generating business and you are not…. Dont hate the new photographer – go hit the pavement and improve YOUR business and skill. I’ve been in the business for 8 years and photography has always been my side job. Just because it isn’t my sole means for paying my bills doesn’t make me any less of a photographer than one that only shoots for a living. The quality of your work and professionalism and demand for your portraits – Makes you a PRO.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      You are right Kendra, there’s no excuse at all for being mean. I certainly didn’t intend to excuse pros for bashing newbies. It makes me really sad when things get to that point. Instead I was hoping to shed some light on why there is tension between the two groups, so that maybe we can all get along a bit better!

      But I agree completely, there should be no reason to hate on new photographers if you’re focusing on making your own business stronger and stronger!

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  17. Thank you so much for this, This is great! So true! As a new photographer, who is not charging yet, I am very intimidated. I feel that if I do enter this field and try to make money doing it, I need to seek advice. I have found some generous photographers and some not so generous photographers with their time and their expertise. Its hard to not take it personally when you feel you are falling on your face and they are kicking mud on you, but there are many that are there to reach out their hand and pull you back up. This gives me hope, so I thank you!

    • Lauren Lim says:

      You are most welcome Jess, very happy to help! That’s fantastic that you’re seeking out help, and finding it! Keep at it, and you’ll get there! :)

  18. I’ve rarely met a “professional” that wasn’t willing to help me, but I will be sure to keep this article in mind if it ever happens again. I figure at this point, I need to have a tough skin and just do my best. Most of the photographers that have helped me have become great friends and have actually helped increase business through referrals and networking.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      That’s great to hear, Lauren! There are tons of absolutely wonderful photographers out there who are happy to lend a hand, and I’m so happy you’ve had great experiences! We’ve made tons of great friends through photography as well, it’s awesome! :)

  19. Loved this so much and I hope you don’t mind but I posted it on my facebook page. I am a “newbie”, not really established as a photographer, a hobbiest is more like it. But I do accept clients. I do believe all “newbies” should read. Also more “pros” should be more encouraging.

  20. Thank you sooo much just want to try taking good pics that’s all

  21. Hey Lauren,
    A precise article on how an amateur shouldn’t underrate his work just for the sake of excitement in getting a work. Also liked the way you portrayed the professional photographers’ hectic life and how they strive hard. And thus sometimes do get a bit harsh on newbies.
    Great write up! :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks Vinay! It’s a lot of work to create a great business, but totally worth it. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  22. This is just my point of view, but I think Pros need to consider that not all of us newbies want to make it big. Some of us like taking pictures for friends and family for lower costs because we enjoy it. It’s also a way for us to have some extra spending money, especially for those of us stay at home moms who have no desire to work full time. I understand where they are coming from, but there is a lot of big egos in Photography. Frankly there are a lot of pros who are good, but have only really been at it for 4-5 years. That amount of time wouldn’t qualify them as a professional in many other professions. Great article. I hope we can all just get along! In the end a client is going to go where they need to. :)

    • With complete respect.. that is a lot of what is hurting pro photographers. For every town that has 1 or 2 pro photographers there are 100s of moms who are willing to pocket $50 and stick an etsy hat on a newborn and call it good. if it were just a handful of stay at home moms.. it wouldn’t be a problem, but in my town.. I think every single stay at home has started doing photography as a way to make extra money. Which doesn’t really make sense in the long run.. it’s like the most expensive hobby ever. And eventually those “friends and family” that WOULD have paid a premium price for a pro are now just using their friends with fancy cameras… is their a quality loss. I hope this doesn’t classify me as one of those “mean” professional’s.. because I promise, that is not my intention.

      • Lauren Lim says:

        It’s really interesting to hear from both sides of the issue. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts!

        There is a lot that can be done by both groups to improve the situation, I think. Folks who just want to do photography on the side can work harder to create great images, and to understand the value and importance of what they do. They’re capturing once-in-a-lifetime moments, and that deserves a lot of effort to ensure you’re doing a great job.

        One the other hand, pros can recognize that there will always be people charging less than them, and swaying some price-conscious clients. The pros have to work hard to communicate how what they offer is different. And to ensure that what they offer stands apart!

        There are lots of clients out there for everyone, as long as we can adapt and differentiate.

      • This article is frustrating to me altogether, as I feel it is offensive and condescending to new photographers out there, but this comment is also quite irritating. If everyone remembers what it’s like to be new to a career field, it’s hard and takes work, just like any career you want to make something out of. And there should absolutely be no bashing of stay at home moms trying to find something they enjoy doing for money while they endure the difficulties of their “full time” job in which you never get a break. You maybe have never been one. I garuntee it’s harder than being a photographer. I do both. And quite frankly, the family and friends I charge my measly price for would never be able to afford the prices people pay for “professional” photographers. And just like a previous commenter said, if your work isn’t measuring up to the stay at home moms, figure out how I make yourself better. This all just seems like a big hater message. No matter how much I work my butt off, there will always be someone like the people on here to bring me down so I suppose better to just leave the “pros” alone and keep making my own way. And to the commenter that talked about being rude about customers who can’t pay $300 for a session and nice memories for their families and being able to offer services for less so people can have those same opportunities…THANK YOU. Well off people aren’t the only ones who deserve nice family photos. This whole article and subsequent comments have tainted my view of people who consider themselves to be professional photographers.

        • Lauren Lim says:

          Hi Brandy. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’ve very sorry that my post came across as offensive and condescending — that is not my intention at all. I genuinely believe that all photographers, no matter what type of business they have or how long they’ve been shooting, are important. You can check out our About Us page to see more of our philosophy on that.

          As for bashing stay-at-home moms, I completely agree. There’s no need for negativity whatsoever.

          If you have a moment, take a peek at some more of the comments in this thread. You’ll find many folks, both new and established, who echo your thoughts. There are clients at every level of the market, and the challenge for those doing this full time is to find ways to make their business stand out. Complaining about new shooters isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.

          You’ll also see that there are lots of pros who are very happy to help out. I’m sorry you’ve come across people who bring you down, but don’t give up. We created this website in order to help all photographers with what we’ve learned, and there are tons of others just like us working hard to help the industry and everyone in it.

          Thanks again for your comment!

      • You’re exactly right, Beth. I see those same folks taking “snapshots” with their SLR cameras, NOT making a family photo a work of art. There’s terrible framing, no bokeh, bad camera settings…the list goes on. I could do better with my iPhone in many instances. Granted, we all must start somewhere, and there’s work I wish I could hide away, of my own, from years ago, and yet I still see a difference- bokeh, good use of DOF, good use of natural light, proper white balance etc that many today don’t understand and don’t utilize. Those techniques, to me anyway, are what separate a pro from an amateur. And a lot of the general public doesn’t understand the difference between a snapshot and a true portrait that’s a work of art. I’m sorry if this makes me come across as a snob but I can’t not side with Beth.

  23. I love this! So well written. We all have to remember that we started somewhere! I think I am going to have to share this!

  24. I remember when I started out I got some pretty bad attitudes from other photographers – not wanting to talk about gear, refusing to give any insight into their shooting or editing process etc. Interestingly, the photographers who had been established for a few years were more than happy to talk to me, I had dinner with a few who gave me fantastic advice, and who were very honest about how much money you can expect to make – something nobody really talks about. The more established professionals will always share, because they know that even if you have the same lighting, camera, photoshop actions etc, there’s no way that someone is going to be able to “copy” your style or “steal” your clients.

    I make it a point to always reply to every email from a newbie with an offer of meeting up for coffee and helping them out – it’s a kindness that costs nothing and it’s actually really nice to be able to help someone.

    Just as a final note, I’d like to say that when I meet up with other pros, we NEVER newbie bash – we’ve all built our businesses from scratch and we know how hard it is. So if you’ve had a bad experience with a pro then keep trying! We are not all scary and mean :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Erin! It’s so awesome to see how you’ve been able to pay forward the positive attitude that you were fortunate to receive!

      And you’re absolutely right. We’re all so unique — if we can portray what makes our business different, we shouldn’t be so afraid of others “stealing” our clients!

      Thanks for the positivity!

  25. This was exactly what I needed to hear. I would not say I’m a newbie anymore, but I’m not one of the most experienced in the city either. I’ve sought out help from a number of photographers and did not get replies. I now understand how much work it is to run a business and hone your skill. And how draining it all can be. It’s tough. And competitive! I think they key is focusing on what you are doing and try to do it well. And not take everything personally. Awesome post! :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks Courtney, so glad this was helpful! And you’re totally right, focus on your business, do your best, and you’ll get there!

  26. Hey Laurenator, great post. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this negativity first hand, though I know it’s out there. I would agree that the barrier to entry has gotten lower and lower over time. This brings new blood and ideas in to the industry, but it may create a false sense of security for the new entrants. If it’s such a small investment to get in, why bother thinking about all the other details like insurance, contracts, taxes, accounting, etc? If the barrier was higher, as it was in the past, there was more incentive to make sure everything was complete as one had more to lose.
    As for the issue of undercharging when you start out…I have no issue with this. Photography is driven in a large part by referrals and having previous clients helps drive this. Your pricing should never be static though. It should always be increasing. The rate of increase should correspond with the number of sessions you shoot. As you shoot more, your price should go up. If after several seasons this is not the case, then the issue is your product, not your pricing. As photography is and will always be a part time job for me, I decided early on that I was willing to commit a maximum of XXX hours per year to it and wanted to make $YYY per year. Whenever I hit either of those limits, I started increasing prices. It works itself out.
    It’s been mentioned a few times above, but not everyone can afford 1-3K for a good family session (with files and prints, etc). The median family income in Canada is around 70K. When you take off tax and essentials, spending that kind of money on a portrait session is a lot of money. There’s a market for every price. On the whole, people can tell the difference in quality between a high end and a low end photo. It’s up to them to justify whether they can afford the difference.
    One thing that I am adamant about when it comes to new entrants in to the photography business is that you have to book and pay for a full photoshoot for yourself with a pro that you respect and admire. You have to be able to see value in that investment if it’s something you are going to be selling yourself. The whole experience may be an eye opener for you as well as you see all the things and details that go in to the experience. Usually all you see is the pricing on the website and the end results on a blog. But it can be the details and process that happens in between that makes the experience.

    • Thank you for this post. It is very informative. I love it that instead of criticizing and complaining you gave advice. It says a lot about you as a person. Your advice is great and it is appreciated.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Fantastic points, Evanator! Really insightful regarding how the lower barriers to entry create a false sense of security. That’s why it’s really important for pros to try to share the reality of what it takes to run a business, so that information is readily available. Best practices help everyone!

      Also great points about pricing. It should always be evolving! And just like any industry, there are definitely markets for every price. It’s up to the business to communicate how they are worth the higher investment!

      Thanks so much for sharing, always love hearing your viewpoint!

  27. Lauren, THANK YOU so much for taking the time to write this. It definitely has not fallen on deaf ears and I’m so glad to hear someone like you put this out there in such a well written way. Being a “newbie” myself, I can totally relate to this and understand that the industry is going to be the way it is. Great post!

    • Lauren Lim says:

      You are so welcome Nikki, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I wish there was a lot more positivity in the industry, but I can understand why both sides can get frustrated. We’re just working to try to help!

  28. Well to be honest I am not sure what to think about this post. It comes off as a bit sarcastic and snarky to tell you the truth. I’m pretty tired of the “bash the newbie” attitude in photography lately, and really this post pretends to be “apologizing” for that and really it’s just more newbie bashing, coupled with my other pet peeve, pro photographers complaining about how hard they have it.

    What is a “newbie” anyway? Someone who has been at it less time than you have? That’s pretty subjective. I laughed right out loud at ” I mean, memory cards alone used to be a couple hundred dollars a pop!” To me, anyone who harkens back to the day of expensive memory cards seems pretty much like a newbie. I’ve been at it one way or another since the late 80s and remember the expense of polariod back, darkroom chemicals, 120 film etc, etc, etc. I apprenticed for a photographer who had been at it years and years longer than me and still supports his family with photography. So photographers shouldn’t run around all high and mighty because they have been at it for 5 years and someone else has been doing it for one. There is and always will be someone more experienced than you. We ALL started somewhere.

    And photographers, if you don’t want to help or mentor or apprentice someone, don’t. And stop whining that you didn’t get a thank you gift. Please. Maybe the person you mentored WAS rude and should have thanked you. Or maybe your condescending attitude was offensive and your help wasn’t worth the time. Whatever. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. But don’t go on public forums and whine about it.

    And everyone please stop complaining that you are busy, or that you have to work weekends, or whatever. Shouldn’t have been a surprise to you that weddings happen on weekends, or whatever. You are not happy making a living doing a creative pursuit and working for yourself, then don’t do it. Easy enough.

    Anyway, I did not mean for this to turn into an angry post, but in the 20-plus years I have been in photography it has been only recently I have seen these kind of things pop up. And I see it a lot lately. It’s not nice, it’s childish and it’s tiresome. And above all it’s NOT professional. Grow up.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Alice, I’m very sorry that my post came across as sarcastic, because that wasn’t the intention at all. I very sincerely wish there wasn’t any “newbie-bashing”. In fact, I’m not a fan of negativity in any form. I find it quite counter-productive!

      By your definition, I myself would be a newbie! I’ve only been a photographer for a short 6 years. And that definitely is a very small part of what I hope to be a life-long pursuit. I have a lot to learn!

      But we created this site to try to help others as much as we can with everything we’ve learned so far. So I hope it’s clear that I’m a big supporter of folks just starting out in photography. I don’t like the term newbie, because it suggests someone is a lesser shooter, and that’s definitely not the case. If you check out our “About Page” you’ll see that we think all levels and types of photography are valuable!

      In terms of being busy, I don’t think anyone is complaining about it. I would guess that anyone who is making a living as a photographer feels incredibly grateful for the opportunity (as we do). What I was trying to explain was that it takes a lot of time to run a business, and so pros don’t always have time to respond to the emails they get from new photographers looking for help.

      That’s how this site was born, actually. We found ourselves answering the same questions over and over, so we started posting our answers online so we could help LOTS of photographers at once.

      From what I’ve heard over the years, there has consistently been a lot of closed doors and secrecy from established photographers. New shooters have often found they get the cold shoulder. Hearing about it more these days is likely because of more blogs, more forums, and more public discussion about it, rather than it being a new trend.

      My letter was intended to try to create some understanding. And offer guidance and support. I want new photographers to feel like they can do it. And I want them to know that even if they are met with some resistance, to not take it personally and let it deter them from chasing their dreams.

      I hope that clears things up and that you can see that the very last thing I would do is bash anyone. I’d prefer a big old-fashioned group hug. :)

      • Well I apologize if I misinterpreted your tone in the article, and I am glad you are supportive of new photographers. To be sure, it surprised me that on a site like this there would be any “newbie bashing.”

        In my humble experience the closed doors, bad attitude towards newcomers thing is pretty new. I have worked in many areas of photography and with all kinds of other photographers, and I have only begun to see this kind of nastiness in the last year or so. I don’t know if it is the result of social media or not, but I do know that the true professionals that I know have always been helpful to other photographers. I had sort of been hoping that the nasty photographer attitudes was a regional thing – we moved to a new area about a year ago, but sadly, that does not seem true.

        Thank you for clearing up my misunderstanding and for supporting everyone trying to make it in this business.

        • I’m a relative newcomer to photography- I picked up my first DSLR in 2008 and have since been published in several publications, and books, as well as internationally. And I think the rub is this: it seems like, to me anyway, that with SLRs becoming cheaper, anyone and everyone that buys one these days decides they’re now a “professional”.

          I am always happy to answer photography questions, and even provide tutorials to those that ask, because I’ve had some awesome pros help me. But it is hard and frustrating when you’ve worked your tail off only to be undercut by someone who has half the credentials you do, and half the portfolio, only because they charge less.

          I reside in two of the poorest counties in the US and while I am among the most expensive photographers in the area (and don’t stay busy doing portraits for that reason), I also give back to the community in the form of senior sessions for the kids that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. I donate fine art pieces to fundraisers, etc.

          So before people go getting all on their high and mighty about me being a photography snob (and I don’t deny that I can be one), I make sure to take time to give back whenever I can and I am always happy to answer questions that folks may ask.

  29. Hey Lauren!
    Thank You for this post. It is really inspiring, useful and has this feeling like You’re speaking directly to me. And I think it’s very rare one can get this feeling. So compliments on Your writing as well as on Your photos! :)
    Pricing (yes, I would like to include myself into “newbie” category) has always been confusing me. I don’t think I should do the work for free (at the very beginning I did actually) but I am sure not even close to call myself a photographer, so I can’t be charging as much as pros do. But where is that fair middle road where I don’t offend myself, clients and pro photographers?

    Cheers from Latvia :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Hi Gunta! Latvia, wow, that’s awesome! So happy to have you here!

      You find yourself right in the same place tons of new photographers are. They know they need to start charging for all the work they do, but without the experience, and reputation of the established pros, you can’t possibly command the same price point.

      I think Evan had a good point above. The key is to always be increasing your prices as you gain experience. So yep, at first your prices will be low, but don’t leave them there as you get better!

      In terms of offending pro photographers, honestly, I wouldn’t stress about it. Learn as much as you can about pricing, set them where you think is fair for your experience level, and then work hard to give your clients your absolute best.

  30. I guess it’s easy to say mean things and have a bad attitude, when you’ve forgotten that long ago – you once used to be the very same newbie…tsk tsk..I think, like with most negativity in the world, it stems from fear. Fear of losing clients, fear of being less than the other person, and yada yada yada. It’s really hard to stay confident with one self in a saturated market, but dreams are meant to be nurtured, not crushed. For one thing, stop comparing yourself (btw, I am not immune to this) Besides, there are plenty to go around – and seriously – it shouldn’t be about competition – since the same clients that the “pros” attract and or get are not the same clients that a first year (in business), newbie like myself will attract. No one is stealing anyone. Can’t we all just get along?

    And thank you Lauren for the article and this site!

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Well put, Cherlyn. Fear is at the core of a lot of this negativity. And I think you’re right. If we would all focus on ourselves, and stop comparing, we’d be able to see things more positively!

      Group hug! :)

  31. Oh Lauren, I love you so much for posting this. I often joke tax returns are what separate pros from mere mortals. I mean that in the funniest possible way but I am in the middle of filing them and there is a little truth in that joke too :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      :) Thank you Stasha! Haha, tax returns, yuck! Hope yours are done quickly and painlessly!

  32. This is totally the best thing I have read on the internet in years!

  33. I speak as a hobbyist and have been for a few years. I love taking photos of anything and everything that seems to take my eye. But never for money, or at the expense of a pro TOG.

    True some pro’s can get cranky. and why shouldn’t they. I have seen some extremely rude hobbyists around. Who don’t care where, or whos feet they stand on to get a shot. Some never listen to advice. I always have a laugh when I see a sign that say’s “Please DO NOT use a flash” And here is Joe Blog with his entry level DSLR, popup flash up, and shooting away.

    I have a philosophy were I treat people the way I would like to be treated. With kindness and respect. I know many a pro, and I have a healthy respect for them. I would never get in their way, or try to take any work from them. And it works both ways. They are willing to help me learn the craft, knowing that I would never work against them. I have been asked to do weddings, but generally refuse on the grounds that I don’t have the time or the knowledge to produce those everlasting memories.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have taken photos at weddings, and passed them on to those concerned. But only after they have received their images from the professional.

    Or I advise them if they want it on the cheap.. To buy a heap of disposable cameras and get the guests to take the images for them. That way, if the get a load of photos of poor quality, it’s “you get what you pay for”. I will take photos myself, and again pass them on. But only as a guest at the wedding, never in a formal way. Once again, I don’t have the skills to direct those concerned. Which I believe is 90% of good wedding photography.

    To those pro’s that do see an amateur that say “Hi” then sits back and watches, takes the odd image without getting in the way, and shows the respect that a professional deserves.
    Then when you are packing up and that same person comes up and says “I hope I didn’t annoy you or got in your way, and thanks for letting me watch” Treat this person with the same respect. I know it might be 1 in a 1,000. But it might make you feel good, and the hobbyist will be forever greatful.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thank you so much for sharing Geoff. You have a wonderful approach! The Golden Rule really applies to every life situation doesn’t it? We can all learn a lot from how your respect is met with kindness and sharing from the pros you know. Thanks for the great reminder of how important that is!

  34. Thank you so much for writing this Lauren! It is absolutely true and so many “newbies” or even not so “newbies” are changing the standards that clients expect by practically giving away their work. Maybe it’s because they don’t do it full time and rely on it to pay their bills or maybe because they don’t value themselves, their time and their talent enough to actually charge what they are worth. Either way it is becoming an epidemic in our industry and extremely frustrating. My colleagues and I talk about it often and how now matter how positive we are and how much we believe in ourselves and our work it is still affecting our business. So thank you for saying this so well and I just hope it will be truly heard by the people who need to hear it. Unfortunately I’ve already seen some defensive comments about it from those “newbies”, but maybe in time it’ll sink in. :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Hi Michelle! It’s certainly a tricky time in photography, as gear prices come down, and barriers to entry becoming ever lower. There are a lot of challenges for established studios to remain profitable for sure!

      Hopefully with a lot of sharing and education we can create a situation that is sustainable in the long run, with new photographers priced at an appropriate level for their skills and experience, but still enough to value their time and energy.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  35. Thanks so much for the straightforward advice! We are just starting out and trying to learn everything we can -the good and bad, about the business. Really appreciate the honesty and will most definitely take it to heart!

    • Lauren Lim says:

      You are very welcome Mary, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! That’s awesome that you’re so committed to learning. High five! :)

  36. This is a wonderful tone to strike up a much needed conversation! Lauren, you’re healing the great digital divide between the young and old. :)

    And at the right time too! There are so many hurting people in the photography community — the aftermath of “giving everything to your passion” has bankrupted businesses, ripped apart marriages and mislead new photographers. It’s difficult to know where to begin or how to tell the truth about this kind of stuff when we’re all supposed to be “living our dreams.” But it needs to be seriously addressed so “mature” photographers aren’t cranky, grumpy, cyclical people who tear down the dreams of new hopefuls. Imagine if that could change and professional photographers were generally known as skilled craftsmen and women, financially healthy business owners, and passionate people who care for their own hearts? That’s my dream, and what you’ve shared here is a dose of honesty that helps us all to move towards that dream. Yet it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    I’ve come to believe that passion, if it is unsustainable, becomes a self-destructive addiction. How we can “sober up” as a culture of creatives? What can the individual do in the midst of these community wide struggles? If anyone is coming to WPPI this year, I’d love to share ideas and brainstorm possibilities to address these issues more in person… I’m creating a space where we can do that. See the link below.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Hey Kameron!

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I really dig what you’re saying. Balance is so critical in every aspect of life. And especially in creating a healthy business.

      We won’t be at WPPI this year but your get together sounds awesome, and I hope you get a lot of great discussions going!

      And here’s a digital high five for taking some positive action. :)

  37. Well said Geoff! I cant tell you how many times a hobbyist has stepped in my line and been totally unapologetic when they ruined the shot. Part of professionalism is what you talk about, etiquette.
    Laura – great points about problems with “pros” who dont even charge or pay taxes. Not to mention, how many hobbyists out there shooting weddings even pay for insurance? If you’re a soccer mom/professional photographer without a business license or insurance – you’re not competing, you’re cheating. And thats not a business model.
    Educating the amateur isnt as big a problem as a public that needs educated as to what makes a picture, and what makes a photograph. If John Q. Public knew the difference much of this issue would be a moot point.
    I enjoy helping people who are wanting to learn the craft and pass along advice and tips. But when that person hands over a business card to my client soon after and they don’t understand my upset, that gives one pause about helping again.
    “Which brings me to something important that I think the pros wish you knew. And that’s that a nice camera, a spiffy logo and a website do not make a business.”
    Chasing your dream doesn’t mean you step all over mine. Just saying.

  38. Thanks Jim.
    I recently was at a nephews wedding were I took a few images myself. I was the MC for the evening, so taking photos wasn’t a high priority. I worked with the photographer so that she could get the shots she required. Not only during the reception, but also for the photoshoot after the ceremony.

    I waited about a week, then contacted her. Explaining that I was going to pass on the images that I had taken. I had also got a good shot of her, and asked if she would like it. She then gave me her email address, and I passed it on. I received an email from her a day later. Thanking me for the image, and for making her day a little easier. I didn’t know the photographer, only met her on the day. But I felt good after the message. And I believe she was appreciative of the help I provided.

    We are not born with “Common Sense” It’s something we learn throughout our lives.

  39. This is the single greatest thing I’ve read in all my career. I wish you wrote this when I walked out of college with starry eyes in the beginning of 2009 and a determined Canon 400D, completely gung-ho and ready to “make it happen”!

    I’ve had my dreams crushed by MANY pro’s in those early years and while I’m still a newbie, I’ve learned SO much.

    Thank you for this <3

  40. Wow comment fail. I copypasted this comment that I wrote on another article that reposted this because the comment was intended for YOU and not the reposter.

    Thank you again xxx

  41. Great article and very spot on! I get my fair share of beginners who email me, and I try my best to lend a hand when I can. Really, the only thing that makes me bitter is the fact that I RARELY every get a thank you. So please, if you run across a pro who’s willing to take time out of their day to help you, just give them a sincere thank you – it really makes our day (and we’ll like you more too)!

  42. Anna Pintane says:

    Great article, but honestly I’m sick of evey person out there with a camera calling themselves a photographer. I can buy art supplies and throw down some paint on a canvas, but that doesn’t make me an artist. It’s not the camera, but the artist who makes the photographer. I’m sick of seeing photos shot in automatic by so called photographers; pictures out of focus, blurry and over exsposed. Oh, or the amazing wedding shot, but a car in the background. If I was a photographer it wouldn’t be the “New Photographers” to the business that bothered me, it would be the people who enjoy taking photos, but don’t actually have an eye, or talent and have the nerve to call themselves a photographer. I’m not a photographer, but I have worked with photoshop. If you have, you know that even photoshop can’t fix garbage. -An outsiders perspective.

    • Hey Anna! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I guess one thing that I’ve always been confused about is why anyone would care whether someone else called themselves a “photographer”. Essentially it just means “a person who takes photographs”. If someone really loves shooting, and is always practicing, what does it matter what they call themselves? Everyone takes bad photos when starting out. All that matters is that we keep working to get better. Terms and definitions don’t mean too much in my eyes.

      • Anna Pintane says:

        I see your point. I’m speaking of people who are in business, or charge a fee.

  43. Plain and simple…thanks for the article and love your site! Love, a Newbie/Hobbyist/Part-time School Counselor/Full-time Mom :)

  44. I was not impressed with this article …

    I am a new photographer. I have been doing it professionally for 2 years. I have studied graphic design for advertising I fall in this weird area. People admire my work and ask me questions, but I have not been professional enough it guess because I still fit in this category of “Every one wants to be a photographer.”

    Some times I am so arrogant. I will look at my work and feel in awe. I have said out loud oh my god I take amazing pictures, “and I feel my head getting bigger”. However as a new photographer I am blown away at how mean I would say most professional photographers are. I had recently read this article where it comes off to me every apology was followed by but this is why we do maybe you will understand someday”
    My response: Something I hear (a lot) from seasoned photographers “professionals” is “everyone wants to be a photographer these days” There is not possible way for me to hate that saying more then I all ready do. As a kid everyone wanted to play soccer some were trained as little kids some came in to the game in 9th grade and had to learn what the others all ready knew. Some of the new kids were naturals and some of the seasoned ones knew what they were doing but still weren’t the best. No one ever said “everyone wants to be a soccer player these days” or acted jealous. We were a team and every one had something to offer. As photographers we need to be more of a team.
    I understand photography is a business and there is competition. Likely the reason with my first analogy some photographers are saying photography is not a team event. “There are people out there selling work for nothing and taking our business.” “ This is not like a soccer team.” What I would like to say is: What makes photography any different than any other business? “Everyone wants to be a carpenter” “everyone wants to be a mechanic” on, and on and on. Just like with photography if you’re a cheap carpenter, mechanic or whatever. There is likely to be two scenarios. One, that person is starting up their business and getting their name out there or two, that persons work is not as good as the one that’s charging more and one is likely to get a lesser quality product. This is how the world works it is nothing new but photographer over look that and take it so personal.
    Likely the person willing to buy thirty five, forty, fifty photos dollar was never going to save up the 300+ for your session. It was likely out of their price range to begin with. You are likely NOT losing a customer. You may be offering art comparable to a BMW but that person likely knows they are getting a GMC .
    Just like you did a new photographer starts somewhere. It would be silly for someone with no portfolio to ask 300+ for a session and get that. Just like you may have put time in photographing everyone and everything being some ones apprentice they are doing the same thing. Putting a low price to it is merely a way to see if someone would value their work at a set price. When one hears your story about “everyone wants to be a photographer” because that IS what this is, you come off sounding jealous. If you put more money in to something to make your business a BMW, good for you?? That will show and as long as your style and skills are also in line someone one looking for a BMW will likely choose you. If someone new they are probably also offering “BMW” quality work…. and if it is for less and stealing your business they surly don’t see their skill yet or you are charging too much.

    • Hi Jasmine! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I think you and I agree on a lot of things, so I’m sorry if my article came across as negative.

      I absolutely agree that there will be clients for all levels of work and experience. Established pros need to communicate what makes them stand out from those just getting started. Educating potential clients is something that I believe isn’t done enough, and will really help with this.

      Now, it’s my belief that photographers in general are not mean people. In fact I think the majority are very wonderful and giving. You can see a lot of evidence of this just in the comments on this post! But sometimes they aren’t able to help, and may come across as mean because of that. This is what I was hoping to explain with this post.

      Sadly, even though there are many kind photographers, there are also some who look down on new shooters, and there is no excuse for that. I wish that didn’t happen. And for that I do truly apologize. I can’t change the way people act, but I can try my best to help new photographers by sharing what I’ve learned, which is the reason for this site.

      I hope that clears things up a bit. :)

  45. If someone new is concerning you, i would assume they are also offering “BMW” quality work…. but for less and stealing your business they surly don’t see their skill yet or you are charging too much.

  46. Great article!

    I am planning on turning pro, will have to be part-time initially, but once the momentum is sufficient, will be full-time. I contact one pro, that is one a photography forum I frequent, and we promptly had a 30-minute phone conversation about the ins and outs of being a pro. I was quite impressed that he bother phoning me, never mind speaking for that long. Needless to say, I did thank him, and even offered to buy him a drink/meal at some point.

    • That’s such an awesome story Douglas! So glad you had a great interaction. Thanks for sharing, and hope your business goes well! :)

  47. Worth mentioning… Not all of us with a fancy cam and website want to go into business. I shoot with a Canon MKiii and have a site about photography… But I am not in business and don’t plan to be. I just love photography.

  48. Great post! My wife and I just started our photography business (but I won’t call myself a “newbie” – I still remember when a 100ft roll of TriX was a great birthday gift!). One thing we have found is that photographers outside of your geographical area are much more willing to share information than those you might be competing against. Search facebook and send a few messages to distant photographers and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how helpful they can be.

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks David! That’s a great point, to connect with photographers outside of your area. Thanks so much for sharing!

  49. I have learned to put myself in my own personal bubble with my business, I am never rude to the new, up and coming photographers, but for me I have to pretend they don’t exist and focus on me and my own business plan. 6 years ago I remember asking questions of a couple of the “biggies”, they never responded, and now I know why. I have had people contact me about shadowing and general advice, and I have tried to respond without giving away my own branding style at the same time…and sure enough, no one says thanks :( I recently put an away message up saying that I could not respond to inquiries from other local photographers…not to be mean, but simply because I value my time. Bottom line is we are all trying to make money at our business, sure we all have a passion for photography, but in the end why put ourselves through all that goes into running a business if we are going to be successful and make money doing it?

  50. THANK YOU so much for writing this!!!

  51. Thank you! Awesome article – full of a lot of great points!

  52. This post makes me so mad! Haha I think any one posting in response to this should be sharing a picture from their first year and a current picture… here is a blog posted where I shared work from my first year and from more current work I have done…
    Some of you photographers I really shake my head at. I’m most certain you started out some where and that your work was more worse then what it is now. Get off your snobby high horses. For any one to grow they have to start out some where they have to do crappy work and want to make it better. No doubt if they don’t people will not continue to pay them to do work for them. If people are then it is not as bad as you think it is. Some of you sound like such mean people!!!

  53. Michelle says:

    Jasmine, I don’t believe the post was meant to bash newer photographers’ talent. In fact there are many many talented photographers out there. I’ve seen many brand new photographers who are more talented than some seasoned pros in many cases. The frustration in the post and which many of us who do this full time to make a living share is that a lot of newer photographers are not charging what their time, talent, equipment, skills, etc. is worth and therefore slowly changing what clients expect to pay. If a client sees two different photographers and thinks they’re both talented and likes both of their work equally, but one is charging next to nothing and the other is charging more (aka a reasonable market value) most of the time they’re going to go with the cheaper photographer.

    All photographers are constantly learning and trying to improve their skills and I bet no one would debate you that when they started their work was probably worse than it is now. But that’s not the issue here. It’s not about talent or jealousy. I am secure in my work and my talent and I am happy to have all the talented competition around me…as long as it’s fair competition. For the newer photographers who are not doing it full time maybe it’s harder to understand or maybe they don’t value their time and work enough yet and are scared to raise their prices. I was there once and remember that. But I respected the more seasoned photographers around me who helped me realize I needed to get over that quick if I wanted my business to survive long term, not burn myself out, and have the respect of my peers.

    Setting your prices isn’t an arbitrary thing. There are worksheets and formulas you can use to calculate your Cost of doing Business (ie equipment costs/repair, software, workshops, insurances, rent, utilities, travel, etc) and then the cost of your actual time for each client from the first initial email to delivering their final product (ie 15 hours for each) and then adding in your cost of the actual prints, gallery wraps, packaging, shipping, etc. When you add that all together – it adds up to a lot. So it’s very frustrating when those of us who have been doing it for awhile and are trying to make a living, see a huge number (that’s increasing every day) of new talented photographers who, for whatever reason, only charge a 1/4 of what they should be.

    When I first started out I assisted and interned with several seasoned professionals for a couple years so I could get better, learn the business and develop my portfolio. And I’ve since done the same to help other new photographers whenever I have time. And I’ve grown in my work since I started out and I did that with friends, family and acquaintances and did charge less, yes. But once I actually started my business officially and got into the industry and joined professional organizations and listened to other seasoned pros talk I made sure I was figuring out my formulas and pricing my packages correctly.

    And that’s all we’re asking. We’re not used car salesmen who deliberately try to undercut the prices of their competition. We’re professional, talented artists trying to make a living by doing what they love. I’m in a social group with a few other professional photographers in my same market. We have a great time together, we are friends and we are all each other’s competition. But we all value each other’s work and respect/support each other. And we’re fine with that because we know that we’re all talented, capable and have pricing structures which are fair and may even be competitive, but still based on Cost of doing Business, what our time/talent is worth, and general industry standards.

  54. Theressa Putland says:

    Might I remind you all that the great Gary Fong began his wedding business charging $150.00 per wedding, no time limit. This article and all the responses continues to really rub me the wrong way. It is no-one else’s business how much I charge my clients. If my clients like my work and are willing to pay what I ask then that is no-one else’s business. If a client truly adores your work and feels as though they must have you as their photographer then they will pay the price you ask. I have done my calculations, I know why I am charging what I am charging and I do not and should not have to justify myself to anyone else. I am not going to plan my rates around what Joe Black down the street is doing because I am not Joe Black, different photographers, different circumstances. You all sound like paranoid, nasty people who have nothing better to do than worry about what other people are doing. And if all the wonderful pro’s out there don’t want anyone else to pick up a camera and become professional then stop overloading the internet with tutorials on how to do it. Everyone wants to be able to charge to teach others how to be good and then when they do become good you all complain about the rates they charge. Suck it up people, seriously – you all sound really childish. No-one who is business minded and wants to get ahead is going to say “oh dear – poor old Nancy down the street has way more overhead than me and has to pay rent, I better charge an extra $100.00 to my clients so poor old Nancy can remain competitive”.

  55. Michelle strictly talking about talented beginners… what makes you think those talented beginners charging “1/4 of what they should be charging” haven’t figured out their expenses just like you and because they have !!! or they would not remain in business. Maybe they are doing something right that your arnt. And when figuring out your budget think of all the business your loosing because people don’t want to invest in your art. Some one with reduced pricing is getting more business then you are they are working alittle harder for a reduced cost but getting more jobs thus affording their business… just saying, your doing it wrong.

  56. Michelle says:

    Most of the people I’ve seen posting here, myself included, have been positive and are just calmly trying to explain how they feel. You talk about all the “mean” photographers out there, yet there are a couple people, yourself included, who have been lashing out, defensive, angry and name calling.

    I have plenty of work and clients investing in my art and I probably don’t have to work as hard as you because I charge appropriately for my time. It’s not just about expenses – it’s about time and “industry standards”. And in the end yes, Theressa you can charge whatever you want and not listen to advice, but it is our business, because you’re not doing photography on an island somewhere you are doing it in an industry in a specific market. You are part of that community/industry whether you think you are or not and what you do affects everyone else. And it’s clear that you don’t really care about that. In a few years when you’re burnt out and have no time for a life because you have tons of clients and are still only charging a 1/4 of what your work and time are worth you might change your mind. If not good for you.

  57. Theressa Putland says:

    See, this is exactly what I am talking about. It’s okay to imply that photographers who charge less and give a disc are hacks, not professional, ruining the profession etc etc (and please don’t try and say that this isn’t what is being said across the profession – we all know it is) but when those on the receiving end of these comments get defensive about it (as I am sure you all would if it was you on this end) we are again ostracized.
    I have had so many clients use my service solely for the reason that I give them a disc – they don’t get all the images, they get the images I choose and it’s capped at 20-30 images per session. I am happy to do this because it’s what the client wants and they are paying my wage. Some families simply cannot afford the asking price of some photographers and we simply can’t get blood out of a stone, and if we all charged really high rates then we would all lose those clients because if they don’t have the money, they don’t have it – period. Send all those clients to me, seriously, send them all. I’ll have every single one of them and be very happy to have them in my photography family. Art is a luxury – I know of so many photographers whose work is outstanding, smashingly beautiful talented artists but I know I could never ever afford them, so I look but never book. I am happy to be the photographer that gets those bookings. One day I will increase my prices to be more in line with what I want to earn but I will always cater to the families whose budgeting is a priority – they matter too. It’s not fair to be judged, no-one likes it and that is why we get defensive.

  58. Lauren Lim says:

    Hi everyone!

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this article. There are clearly a lot of very passionate photographers here, and that’s wonderful!

    I wrote this article with sincere love for all photographers, but I can see that I didn’t communicate that well enough, and have upset folks. For that I’m very sorry. I’ll work harder in the future to share our position more clearly.

    For now, we’re getting back to writing articles and creating tutorials that will help photographers, no matter what level they’re at, or what their goals are.

    I’m going to be turning off comments now. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. See you around the site!


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