A Hobby Photographers Guilt

I would say that my full time career is in the Sub-Prime Automobile Business. Mostly because it takes up at least 80 hours of my week. Any full time career is stressful at points. I love what I do but also enjoy a short break. Everyone needs a release and I have several. Other than playing soccer and exploring music through recording and producing, I photograph. I definitely spend more time photographing than any other of my hobbies. I have also managed to incorporate it into my work and other hobbies. Anything you can do to achieve a release in tension is well worth the time put into it. So why the guilt you may ask?

It’s my hobby… I love it. Gets rid of my stress. I see no need to be paid for it.

There lies my problem.

I should backtrack and say that my extensive business past revolves around me marketing myself and my skills in marketing, sales, customer relations, management, and business. I use all social media with the exception of a personal Facebook page. I would say that I have an advanced skill set in setting myself apart from the competition, even when I am not trying. Because of this I may receive more photography opportunities than a full time photographer. Here is a sample of my workflow in regards to photography…

1. Photo Shoot
2. Editing in Lightroom
3. Import to iPhoto (mostly for streaming to my iPhone purposes)
4. Share on Instagram through iPhone
5. Forward to Twitter through iPhone
6. Share on flickr through iPhoto

Moving forward, recently I was offered a destination wedding event from someone that was referred to me from a follower on one of my social media accounts. The event details involved free transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, and drinks in return for luncheon, wedding, and reception shots. The wedding is to be held at a rental house in Destin Florida and the potential shots for my portfolio are amazing here. I spent over a week making a decision. I decided to consult with a full time photographer friend of mine that I send a lot of my business to. I told him about the event just like I have mentioned my other opportunities. Before I could get into the details he interupted me with “Where are you getting all this business from”? His sole marketing site is Facebook as well as his own website. This may be a testament to where Facebook is heading. I have told him in the past that he needs to be universal, if you post it in one place then you should post it in all the others. After reviewing marketing strategies we got back to the issue at hand which resulted in his advice of sending him the contact information and he would consider the work. This advice seemed more one sided in his favor despite as good of friends as we are. Who wouldn’t try to get this gig. Ultimately the decision was in my hands and these are the factors that weighed on my choice:

1. Schedule- This event would take me away from my business’ for multiple days
2. Stress- I use photography to reduce stress. Weddings are very stressful and I normally turn them down.
3. Vacation- I could use this as a quick getaway for me and the Mrs.
4. Portfolio- The location looks amazing and I already have a tone of final image results in my head.
5. Experience- I could use some wedding work.
6. Ethics- See below

I can’t help but feel that with every job that I take I am taking business away from a full time career photographer. I am not a full time photographer nor am I a struggling photographer that has a second job to pay for new gear in hopes to advance my photography career. I am lucky to have my career that provides me an excellent income and does not require me to subsidize it in anyway. I see my friends that are career Photographers some are seasoned, some are new and growing fast, and some are struggling. I hate thinking that they could have made much needed income off of a job that I completed. If I did “steal” business from them did I charge enough? Some I didn’t charge at all because I wanted to do it so bad. If I am not charging anything or not charging enough am I decreasing the going rate for all photographers? Now it becomes a question of ethics.

Below is my email response to the client of the wedding job mentioned above. Please post your comments/advise in order to help my decision next time.

“xxxxxxx”,

Congratulations!!!

Thanks so much for reaching out to me. I apologize for taking so long to reply back but I had a lot of thinking to do as well as research to complete.

I want to start by saying that I am definitely flattered that you considered me for your most important day. Photography is not my full time gig, I actually use it as a stress reliever and a “getaway” from primary income. Since it is just for fun for me the monetary aspect of your proposal is not of consideration for me as much as the fact that weddings are a very stressful event for all involved including the photographer. I typically deny all wedding requests because of this. There are too many moments that cannot be recreated and settings need to be perfect to deliver a workable file. It’s not a confidence in the ability to deliver issue but more so that it would not be “fun” or a “relief” for me. Your special event was especially hard to consider as the limited pictures the event website provided still excited me about the images we could create. My portfolio is screaming for a location and event like this. All things considered including if I paid out of pocket for an assistant to travel with me, I feel that it is best if I decline.

Any business that I feel is not right for me I transfer to a few of my trusted associates. It took me a week to gauge interest levels but my first choice for you is willing to consider your proposal. He is a full time photographer that has a local studio but specializes in wedding and fitness photography. His name is xxxxx xxxxxxxx from http://www.xxxxxxxxxxx.com. I have already spoke with him and told him your goals. He is willing to consider a trade on a portion of his normal rates for accommodation and expenses assuming that an assistant is included. He mentioned a total fee of $x after discount but you would have to negotiate that with him. I would never refer one of my contacts to someone I did not trust and knew could deliver excellent results.

I already have email remorse and I have not even clicked “send” yet.

My apologies

-Bryan

I hated turning down this job but it was probably in the best interest of all involved including all photographers in general as well as my friend. I thought I handled the transaction well with the exception that my response time was well longer than I would normally allow myself.

It should be said that I have not heard from the client at all since the email.

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