Sunday, January 27, 2013

Business Issues (aka dear diary)

Owning a business is awesome yet is a pain too. I'm always working. ALWAYS!
I bought a camera before the end of the year, so that means I didn't profit last year (for tax purposes, that was the plan). I was really fine with that and was ready to profit this year and pay quarterly taxes and everything, but let me tell you my issues of this month.

1) My 50mm 1.4 lens broke. I didn't know it was broken but felt really really dumb when my camera wouldn't focus on a friend who needed pre-modeling pics to send in to an agency. I did it for free so didn't feel as bad, but was like "this has never happened before, I'm so sorry." I tried focusing it by hand but that didn't work. I had to back way up to get it to grab anything to focus on, and I was focusing on contrast and in different lights too, both against my white house then against my white fence. I tried switching between camera bodies too. I still thought it was just having a bad day so tried again at my office's photo shoot but it wasn't focusing on the doctors either. I finally asked a friend to look at it and he showed me that it was getting stuck when it tried to focus up closer than 4 feet. So I took it to the camera repair shop b/c OF COURSE it was 2 weeks out of warranty. I didn't drop or bang it and have no clue why it stopped working! The repair man said that IF he could fix it, it would be about $140 for the part. It's a $340 lens (before tax and shipping) so I will probably get it fixed along with the other lens that I did drop.

2) I'm extra busy. I took December off, sort of. I did pictures for my step-sister Julie and her family. I still haven't gone through all of those b/c I'm crazy busy this month!!
We got new wonderful missionaries before Christmas so I took their head shots. (Free of course.)

I took pre-modeling pics that can't be edited so I did those for free even though she wanted them rushed back then had me re-size each of them and asked if I could do a tiny bit of retouching on them. (free b/c I thought it would be no work at all.)

I had a real beach maternity session, a referral from a friend. That was great except instead of the mini session, we went way over so it was so hard to narrow down the pics they would want. I'm SO happy that I'm doing a shorter session option b/c now I really can only do 10-13 images and don't worry about doing freebies or extras. It's just the cream of the crop images and I don't have to spend as much time editing! I did try to get this family to upgrade b/c there were honestly a lot more wow shots, but that's fine b/c I'm busy any way. Click here for their blog post. (I just made a custom app for their top 12 images, I took the most risque one out. Click here for the custom app!)

I've been working really hard and a lot of hours as the go between for my boss and other companies who are helping see my ideas come to fruition. I'm happy and feel of worth, but it's so time consuming! Along with that, I did a shoot at my boss's office along with setting up a video shoot by my friend. I haven't gone through those b/c she hasn't paid for the session yet and paying clients get priority. Actually, I'll do one now.
Then, when I was almost to Isaac's gymnastics class, another photographer called me to tell me that a different photographer had stolen one of my images and claimed it as her own. I stuck my lawyers on her with a scary cease and desist letter and she took it down, but that took a lot of time and energy out of me. I blogged it here.

I did another paid shoot downtown, a fun session for a guy's e-portfolio. We had fun brainstorming ideas and he went with my ideas which included asking for him to bring along his friends! Again, my lens was not working close up so I had to back up but with the new camera, the files are huge so it's fine when I crop in. This client found me through a google search and chose me when I paid for his lead through Thumbtack. He said that I was more creative and got his jokes:)

I did a little mini session hoping just for one picture of my own boys to use as their Valentines.
(See, I never edit my own boys' pics here. I did NOT choose the above pic, but that's what they wore. This is from half way on our jog at Seminole Park. We took a little break and I had my camera in the stroller and attempted a different pic. It didn't work - on so many levels. Wanna hear my own CC? Awkward pose. No light in eyes. Under exposed (I can fix that though). All on same level when it'd be easy to do a triangle w/ 3 subjects!. Not real smiles or even real expressions. Awkward posture. Isaac's hair is too flat forward. Dylan's bad barber hair cut is showing (who cuts strait across?!) I chopped through Isaac's fingers at a knuckle, I heard I should never amputate something at a joint. Isaac's collar is messed up. But other than that, it's a good memory and therefore family blog worthy!

I did a mini shoot for Corrie's kids to get one picture of the 3 of them and one of Malia to use for their Valentines too. (Free but not when you think about it, she watches my kids way more hours than I watch hers and my kids don't nap for as long or even at all sometimes.)

I took pictures for a friend for his fiance's 30th birthday dinner a couple of days ago. He rented out a big room at Cafe Ponte. I did this for free too b/c he gave me a nice lens a couple of years ago in exchange for me taking pics of his graduation party. Guess what, I no-showed. I thought it was the next weekend and when I checked my calendar to see exactly what time and to finalize details I was devastated to see that it was the day before. I owe him big time, so this was a good way to finally pay my debt to him. It was easy too, I knew my limitations with my lens by then the room was HUGE, and I just gave him both of my camera cards so that he could edit them how he wanted. He's a photographer too, but of awesome HD landscapes. He knew that I don't take indoor photos but was happy to not have to be the one with the camera for once. Maybe I'll add a pic from that later, but he has my camera cards still. I was supposed to have a tea party maternity session yesterday but the baby needed to be monitored so the mommy cancelled. I was sad of course b/c I was so excited for out tea party theme. It was going to be so perfect. But I was a tiny bit relieved b/c I am backed up and the downtown session asked me to get him his pics sooner b/c his e-portfolio is due in a couple of days. (He had been fine with my original time frame of two weeks before.)
I also planned my boss's 40th birthday GNO party and took some cheapo iphone pics that I haven't emailed out to the guests yet.

And I gave a talk in church which took some of my late night editing hours away from me. I'll blog that later. I'm also fighting off a cold, but I expected that, I've been up late almost every night! And now, late means after 4am. It used to mean around 2am. I do go to bed when the red "PM" indicator dot on my alarm clock is still on once or twice/week. That little dot is a treat:)

3) My new camera's pictures are too big for my photoshop CS3! This is my normal work flow. This is HUGE if you're a new photog! My secrets: Shoot in RAW + jpg. Upload to a dated folder in my ffp 2013 folder. Open in Adobe Bridge. Sort by file name. Slideshow through all of the images as a quick once over. Give 1 star to the rejects, both RAW and JPG. Give 3 stars to the maybe ones (usually the JPG file only) or funny ones that are not up to ffp standard (so they don't get lost/forgotten). Give 4 stars to the RAW possibilities. Give 5 stars to the RAW ones I LOVE and want to edit right then and there. Sort by rating. Delete all 1 stars. Edit 5 stars or go to bed and work on it in two days. Go through the 4 stars and delete some stars and just keep the best ones starred. (The majority of my pics get no stars.) Click on whatever pic I'm ready to edit and do the basic stuff in Adobe Camera Raw then it imports it into Adobe Photoshop where I spend at least an hour per pic usually. After I'm done editing all of the pics I chose, I sort by date modified. I move those into a "processed" folder. And if I'm not too tired, I upload them to a gallery and/or blog them. As I go, I sometimes sneak some to my ffp facebok page and see if the client will comment. Oddly, not all do.

Anyway, so now that the files are too big, I can't see the RAW thumbnails in Bridge. I can't open them in Camera Raw or in Photoshop! I re-uploaded Camera Raw to the right plug in folder only to then find out that I need to upgrade my photoshop. I haven't had this one that long! Why is it so expensive?! It's more than my camera I just saved for. I know that I could use lightroom for the initial stuff, but that's not part of my workflow!! I do have lightroom and tried messing with it and read the Scott Kelby book but then got frustrated b/c it's not speeding me up now at all. So I deleted most of my new RAW images. They're huge anyway. I CAN edit jpgs and many photogs do, but I'm not liking these images as much as I like my old camera's images.

4) I wore out and stretched out the rubber ring around the top roller thingy on my wireless mouse. But it works w/o it so I'm okay. It's just one more hurdle.

On the bright side, I can still edit jpgs. I love that I have something to offer to re-pay Corrie. I've been having friends over and have gone to other friends' houses for play dates. I don't have this cold as bad as Isaac, Tyler, or Steven (who has the ultimate legit Man cold and still has to go to work tomorrow b/c it's his first day in his new position, oh yea, he got promoted!!) But I'm thinking about opening up a credit card just for ffp. I have to fix at least one of my 50mm lenses. I seriously need another lens (but it's over $2,000). It's really going to get to me that I can't use the RAW files so I'll have to upgrade to the next Photoshop. And I'll need to buy another mouse. But my clients love me and are booking early and are understanding that they have to pay more and I'm learning how to say no and am referring people to other local photographers.

So this was either an informative post or so boring and confusing. But I needed to document this I think!


Kat Tilby said...

Yes, you need to document it! And we need to hear how being a photographer isn't just easy-peasy "Could you just take a few pictures? It won't take any time at all!" ... except it probably is like that for faux-tographers like the one who stole your Valentine's photos. Man, I think you should set up a donation center like Wikipedia for all of us who want to keep OUR perks free but understand that they aren't really.

Alicia said...

SO understand and so sorry! ALmost everything you mentioned I can relate to....I have a scratched lens, just bought a new camera that I need to upgrade my photoshop for, take pics all the time for free, and often wonder, "Is this worth it." You're more legit than I am though. Honestly, I do it because I love it. I want to get better and feel like I've plateaued with just taking pictures of my kids. So, this is the only way I know of how to get better and fund my hobby :) But, I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it. Do you still love it? If you don't maybe you should take some time off? Especially if the hubby just got a promotion :) I think you love part of it, just not all of it, huh? Good luck with all your expenses! Maybe we should start an I'm Broke Because I Love Photography support group :)