Hello and welcome to the Oh Penelope Photography Blog! I'm Caitlin Trantham, the lady behind the lens. Here you'll find pictures from recent sessions, fun contests and giveaways- as well as my own personal musings on life as a mother of two, military wife and photographer! I am currently located in Saint Louis, Mo- enjoying the midwestern lifestyle ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Free Photography Secrets : Don't make the same mistakes I did!

Oh, the world of photography is a tricky, tricky mistress. When I started this journey I did not realize how much other stuff goes on, beyond "Click, Click, Edit, Edit- Happy Client". I still wrestle daily with all that other "stuff" I never took into consideration. Too save you all some of the potential hardships I though I would share with you some advice, and some of my biggest photography FAILS ever. In no particular order:

#5: If you follow the Facebook page at all, you've seen me recently ranting about this. ALWAYS watermark your images. Even images of friends and family. Even snapshots of your kids. Even the picture you took of your breakfast. It doesn't matter. WATERMARK it. I can honestly say, at one point, annoyed by watermarks.
I thought,once upon a time, in my non-photographer mind, "Does this photog really think that highly of themselves- that they have to watermark everything!? Really, who would steal THAT!?" Well people... you would be surprised. The internet is a huge, vast, insanely crazy place. With the rise of things like Pinterest we have to be extra cautious with our work. Just think- every time you post something, how you would feel if that image of your cup of coffee, or that silly picture of your dog, ended up someplace with a million hits- or thousands of re-pins. And you get ZERO credit for it. Ouch.

I still struggle with this all the time. I love being able to share my "talents" with my friends and family. And yes, certain situations may require a free little shoot with Grandma Bertha, or little cousin Susie. BUT, I have come to the point where I need to value my time, and my work. I'm using myself as an example of course, but this really does apply to everyone.

I have two kids, and a husband who works a lot. I barely break even as it is, with my current pricing. When I throw in that freebie shoot, that's at least 6 hours of my time that I'm just giving away. 6 hours I'll never get back with my babies. 6 hours that really... gave me nothing in return. Remember, the time I spend actually taking the pictures is like 25% of the whole process. Editing, emailing, going to and from locations, making CD's and packaging... those steps all take time.

I've had a ton of free shoots that I thought would lead to referrals or more paid shoots with a family- and more times than not, it just hasn't happened. I've also come to realize that when people get things for free, they really do not value it. You need to learn to value your time early on. You need to figure out how much you think your time is worth from the get go, or you'll end up like me. I so very often waiver, and get stepped on.

Their are some exceptions here that I would like to touch on: I'm a huge fan of bartering. But be careful and only exchange your work for things of equal value. I LOVE shoot swaps with other photogs, and could think of a hundred things I would exchange photography for. Only barter if BOTH parties get what they want.

This is the subject that prompted this post. I am notorious for forgetting to bring my contracts along to shoots, and it has screwed me a million times over. I also seem to get into a mind set that, "Oh so-and-so doesn't need a contract, I trust them." DON'T. lol That sounds harsh...and I guess it is, but once again, you'd be surprised. EVERYONE you photograph needs to sign a contract. Grandma, Cousin Bobby Jo, your best friend since second grade, the preacher at your church- everyone. A contract is there to protect you and your work. You can put whatever you like in yours- but one of the biggest aspects of my contract is that " the client can not edit or re-touch their photos in anyway, shape or form." (Ok, those aren't the exact words... but same thing...)

That is one of my biggest pet peeves and the number one thing that clients who haven't signed a contract do. It's my complete and total fault, so I shouldn't complain to heavily about it. BUT, when I spend 30 minutes re-touching, editing, and perfecting an image with all my expensive software, hours of training, and creative eye- and my client decides to take it into Picnik the moment they get their disc home... It kind of breaks my heart and crushes my soul. Word. Have everyone sign that contract. Don't feel bad, because you'll only feel worse later when your client innocently does the above, and you know you could of prevented it.

This includes- office hours, photography advice, editing...etc. I'm awful with this. AWFUL. I work until 3am. I give out all the free photography advice in the world. I've photoshopped people to look completely different than what they actually look like in real life, as per request. I tell people, without thinking, that I'll have a CD done for them in a week- and then stress/ worry/ want to jump off a cliff when I can't finish it in time.

I tend to feel obligated to share myself, my time, and knowledge with everyone. Once again, you have to realize your own worth. I can not tell you the 100's of hours I've spent teaching myself photography, practicing, researching, struggling- and how easily I give all of that information away. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE teaching and helping people, but often feel violated by the amount I give away. Know your boundaries, and DON'T let your clients, friends or family push you around.

We all want happy clients, but how un-happy are you willing to be to make that happen? All of that can be avoided by setting boundaries, and expectations. If you don't want to be working until 3am, 6 nights a week, trying to get images finished- simply because you shorted yourself on time- then don't. lol Your clients are going to be more upset if you tell them one week and it takes two, instead of you saying it will take two and you finish it in one. (Thank you Zach & Jody, for that little nugget...) Haha- I really need to follow my own advice on this one *cringes*.

#1 This sums up the post entirely: Value yourself. Value your time, your work and everything you stand for. Be more confident-  and don't let people push you around, break you down, and devalue all your efforts. The more confident you are, the more your clients will respect you AND your work. It's the truth, I promise!

*DISCLAIMER: None of this is directed at anyone. I'm not yelling at any of my past clients, I swear. This is about my personal FAILS as a photographer. If you have done any of the above, this is not a jab at you. This is a jab at ME. 


PhotographyByDanielle March 6, 2012 at 10:24 AM  

Thanks for all of that advice! I'm very guilty of all the things you mentioned . I'm a begginer and a people pleaser...... Ugh. Lol.

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