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When to start charging clients

Someone new to photography recently posted a question in an online photography group. She asked a question about how to properly size an image for her client. Someone rudely commented back to her (whom by the way was not the administrator of the group) and told her that she should not be charging clients if she didn't know what she was doing.

WHAT? First of all, the poor woman commented back and politely said that she did NOT charge her client. Her client knew full well that she was new to phography and was happy to be her guinea pig while she learned her craft.

So, when do we start charging? In my opinion, any time that you want! Here's the thing about photographers, we are not required to have any kind of a license in order to photograph someone. Anyone can do it. There's no industry standard. Sure, there are schools of art and you could get a degree from those schools but you don't have to.

I went to Cosmetology school for 1600 hours and got my state required license to be able to cut hair. When I graduated from beauty school, I knew nothing! I couldn't cut hair to save my life. Crooked as a politician! Color...oh geeze. I turned everyone green and had no idea how to fix it. But, I had a license so I could legitimately work on anyone & charge them whatever I wanted.

The flip side to this is many amateur photographers are charging clients when so many of them have no idea what they are doing. They charge a super cheap amount, totally undercutting many photographers that have invested years of their time learning their art. Thousands of dollars in school and equipment to get where they are.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard "my friend can take my photos and she'll give me all of the photos unedited". Sure she won't edit them because SHE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO EDIT THEM! Ughhhh!!!

Yes, that part makes me want to scream! But here's the thing that I have to keep reminding myself. Those people that are hiring super cheap photographers don't care that the photos aren't perfect. They don't care that they're not shot with the best equipment. They don't even care if they're not edited. A lot of them are growing families. Their kids are changing so fast and they don't want tons of photos on their walls. They just want keep sakes of their changing kids. They also wouldn't hire a high end photographer because quite frankly, they can't afford them.

So, is it really a loss for those of us who've put in the time & spent the money on our art? I say no. Let the ameteurs charge what they want when they want. If you've done your homework, studied your craft, learned your editing and invested in your equipment, the more descriminating client WILL hire you and not an amateur!

Five years into this, COUNTLESS hours of photography classes and more editing classes then I could count and I'm still learning! Thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in equipment that I've invested in. The only way that I got here was by those amazing friends, family and clients that paid me whatever they could along the way.

Not only that but I'm super glad that I didn't start out plopping down thousands of dollars worth of school & equipment when I may not even liked photography. I ended up loving it so I stuck with it and worked my ass off! But what about those who didn't? I didn't like hair & got out of it after only 1 year & never looked back! No regrets. Glad I only invested in a beauty college and a pair of scissors.

We all start somewhere.

P.S. the photo was a few cameras ago. Shot in JPG. No sharpening, no adjusting. Just B&W but it was pretty. Surely worthy of a small 5x7 frame or on a greeting card.

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