I guarantee I’m not alone when I tell myself every new year that I want to do better financially. The older I get, the more I value every dollar brought in by myself and my husband. Money, however, is not what I intend to value most in life.

Honestly, I grew up very well – just not in the money department. We didn’t know we weren’t rich – just knew we were loved, and had a wonderful home. Our parents always came through on Christmas and birthdays. Otherwise, we were too busying being kids to notice anything else.

But here is where the point of this post comes in…we had photographs. These pieces of paper mean the world to all of us. From the lovely studio portrait below (one time thing for my mother who had four children to wrangle), to tons and tons of candid ones taken during each and every special holiday – and all the moments in between. Far too many adorable ones to show!

The day I was born – a very top favorite photograph of mine.
I’m the cutie on my father’s lap!

My Grandmother’s had both passed on photos to me throughout my life. I will never forget the moment my grandma had moved into a very small apartment and was giving up belongings she could no longer keep. She had a laundry basket of shoe boxes – full of photographs. She said “Sammi (how she always spelled it) – I want you to have these, you’re the one who loves looking at these.” You could have handed me a million dollars and I wouldn’t have felt as good as I did then. So many memories. She never hesitated to snap a photograph, nor to invest money in film and prints.

Where I’m headed with this is the value of what I do as a photographer. I will tell anyone who talks to me about business the same thing over and over – I HATE THE MONEY END OF IT ALL!!! In a perfect world, I would not charge for any service. And in a perfect world, I would be able to make that possible without any overhead expenses.

Um yeah….I am only two years into owning a studio – I have a large startup loan to pay off, monthly rent, electric, security, taxes out the wazoo, and more things to pay for! I truly won’t make a “profit” from my business until I’m ahead of the game.

But when do you hit that point in a business that requires updating equipment, purchasing props and backdrops, and oh so many other little things that add up. I’ve been told it happens…in time. So for now, I have to charge for my time – and I honestly don’t charge enough.

As I’ve said before, my heart is fully in every session. More than a few times, that has resulted in hurt. But I’m building off of each low point – and rising to a higher mountain. I have drawn a line and will continue to follow my path to a better business. In order to stay true to that, I must charge the same for everyone and not give breaks. This burns me, as it does many other business owners. We all have to build a wall – or perhaps a privacy fence – around our personal feelings when it comes to business decisions.

I could go on a rant about how much it hurts small businesses like mine when “photographers” pop up left and right – buuuut that’s such a touchy subject and I don’t want to say the wrong things or discourage anyone with true talent. Do what you feel is right, follow your heart. But keep checking in with your heart as you continue charging people for your hobby. If you’re not going to put your all into a business and pay taxes on your earnings, might be time to take a second look at what you’re doing.

Those of you who may have been kind enough to read this whole post – you’re amazing! If you’re simply a client, who just happens to like to read my random thoughts, please know that your money spend on my services is supporting a local small business – a one woman show, just trying to do what I love while raising a family. I’ll get around to making a post about my life someday – meanwhile I’m just trying to type out my thoughts between dishes, laundry, and grumpy children who shouldn’t have been up passed midnight.

At the end of the day, I’m still your (or yet to be) photographer who is endlessly investing my money into making better photographs.

This year is definitely the year for business policies to hold stronger and take effect immediately. Excuse the formality, but I’m building an empire here!

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