Wedding photography is about art, composition, and creativity. That’s why wedding photographers become wedding photographers. You picked up your first camera, and you just knew that this is what you wanted to do.
Not many wedding photographers decide to jump headfirst into being a wedding photographer because they want to do business taxes and manage expenses. However, behind every photo is a business that needs financial success and understanding to thrive.
Owning a business is not for the faint of heart. It’s not the easy way out. It’s probably the hardest path you could choose, and guess what? You’re out here doing the dang thing!
*Cheer for yourself here*
As wedding photographers, we’ve faced our fair share of financial challenges, and today, we’re sharing our insights to help you navigate this crucial aspect of your career. At each stage in owning a business and in a career, these answers will vary. We’re going to dive in with the mindset of being 0-2 years in your business ownership journey but these principles are applicable to different stages in business ownership as well.
Setting Competitive Pricing While Ensuring Profitability
Pricing is a delicate balance. Set it too high, and you risk alienating potential clients; set it too low, and you undervalue your work. We’ve learned to analyze market rates, understand our unique value proposition, and factor in our expenses to set a price that’s both competitive and profitable.
The easiest formula for pricing when starting out is:
Revenue minus Variable Costs equals Profitability divided by the number of weddings you plan to book.
You’ll want to factor taxes and fixed costs into that as well.
Fixed costs are costs that happen whether you book a client or not. These are things like Adobe Lightroom, insurance, and utilities like the internet.
Variable costs are costs that happen because you’ve booked a client. These are things like transaction costs, gifts, editing, travel, and second photographers.
You can dive deeper into Revenue vs. Profit in this blog post.
If you’re just starting out, you may want to set prices simply with a revenue minus expenses equals profit mindset. If you’ve been doing this for a while and have years of experience, then you probably are pricing yourself based on worth. It can be a tricky field to navigate. If you’d like to dive deeper into your own pricing model and strategy, apply for a 1:1 coaching session and we’ll get everything working for you.
Managing Expenses: Equipment, Travel, and Software
Equipment: Investing in quality gear is essential, but it’s also crucial to maintain and upgrade it wisely. We recommend setting aside a budget and planning purchases to avoid impulsive spending. Nothing can give our bank accounts a jump-scare quite like stepping into a camera store like Robert’s Cameras or B&H. It’s hard to not fall in love with a new lens or camera!
When it comes to upgrades, we recommend upgrading lenses first because they have a significant impact and are typically more affordable than a new camera body. For wedding photographers, it’s definitely our recommendation to have full-frame camera bodies with dual card slots.
Travel: Destination weddings can be lucrative but come with added expenses. Always factor in travel, accommodation, and other related costs when creating a proposal. If the wedding is one or more years away, be sure to consider travel cost increases as well.
Software: From editing tools to CRM systems, software expenses can add up. Look for bundles, annual plans, or industry discounts to save. Your favorite wedding photographers may also have discounts you can use on your software to save! We have discounts for Honeybook, Flodesk, Zapier, Asana, Slack, Quickbooks, and more! Just reach out for those codes and save on your software.
Diversifying Income Streams: Workshops, Presets, and Affiliate Marketing
Relying solely on wedding bookings can be risky. We’ve ventured into hosting workshops, selling our signature editing presets, and even dabbling in affiliate marketing for products we genuinely love. These additional streams not only boost income but also provide stability during lean periods.
Preparing for Off-Peak Seasons: Savings and Financial Planning
The wedding industry is seasonal. To ensure consistent income, we’ve learned the importance of savings and financial planning. Setting aside a portion of our earnings during peak seasons helps us during off-peak months. If you want, you could also get a supplementary job during the off-season. We have our clients payments broken up so that revenue comes in throughout the year instead of just in the heavy booking and wedding season. This has helped us a lot as well.
You’ve Got This
Financial literacy is as crucial as your photography skills. By understanding the financial landscape, making informed decisions, and planning ahead, you can build a wedding photography career that’s not only artistically fulfilling but also financially rewarding.
And, you don’t have to do this alone. Hire a CPA, business coach, or even book a session with us. Build a support network that can help you achieve your big goals.