Saturday, June 23, 2012

Well Guess What

Alia by
Alia, a photo by on Flickr.
I started this blog as a way to chronicle my journey through photography. I had these abstract ideas of what I'd do in the future... I knew I wanted to work for myself, but it seemed like it would never *really* happen.

But it did.

I was working for a retail photography company, and I hated it. It was everything I disliked about photography and very little that I liked.

Most customers were "okay" with the studio... some were very unhappy... and a few really liked it.

Which is all wrong.

The customers complained that they felt rushed, and I agreed... I felt rushed, too. They only allocated 15 minutes to shoot a full session, and even under the best circumstances, that was rarely possible.

The customers complained that there weren't enough pictures to choose from. There weren't. We were only allowed to shoot 12 poses. Maximum. Even if we only had one session all day, they didn't want us "overshooting", because then the customer would have no reason to come back for more pictures.

That makes no sense.

If a customer is happy, if they enjoy their experience and they find good value in the photography, they will come back.

If they are rushed, pressured and double booked, they won't come back. Even if they wanted more pictures.

For some people the studio was a great bargain. They would come in with their coupon for 35 portraits for $10, or a free wall portrait, and leave.

For most people, it was a huge letdown and they resented the "bait and switch".

Not to mention the crazy rules the company had. We could never ever turn anyone away. Even if we were quadruple booked. You want an appointment right now? Okay, you got it.

The problem of course is that EVERYONE was waiting for over an hour for their session.

And the employees almost ALWAYS had to work 1 or 2 hours (if not more) past their scheduled shift.

I was lucky that the girls who worked with me were driven to do their best, they were fast learners and hard workers. But that doesn't change the fact that they were working for just above minimum wage, had less than two weeks in training, and often didn't know what was expected of them.

So I left and decided to go it alone.  I am now a portrait photographer serving Lenawee, Washtenaw and Jackson counties on a regular basis.  I can now offer my clients a wonderful FUN experience, unique images, beautiful expressions and awesome prints.

I've been fairly busy (thank goodness!). I'm renting a studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and doing a lot of "on location" shoots.

It usually takes about an hour to get a complete session. Sometimes it takes more time, and that's okay because I don't over book myself.

I love the freedom of being able to focus on good photography instead of on trying to find a way to minimize time spent with each client while maximizing profit.

It's still pretty stressful, money wise. I worry constantly about my bills and expenses... but it'll all work out. I know.

I've also been doing lessons, which is awesome. I love helping other people learn how to capture the beauty around them.

The moral of the story is that everything happens as it should, and while I'm not religious at all, it does feel like fate had a hand in this.


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