Thursday, October 27, 2011

Boundaries in Business??

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a way to get to know a little more about me personally...

Running a business is tough... and this year has seen lots of tough times with starting a new photography business.  It means the world to me to have other photographers, clients and fans from all areas of the world stick along with me on this journey. It has been one decision after another, finding what does work and what just doesn't.  Deciding what kind of photography business I wanted to develop was half the struggle (whether I wanted to be a shoot & burn photographer {no}, studio photographer {no} or my final option to be a Boutique Photographer offering unique custom photography for clients to proudly hang as Wall Art in their homes {YES}.)  Then came the tedious job of setting my prices.  Fortunately I've had some awesome professionals help me with that... giving me advice and guidance, teaching me that there is, afterall, an actual formula set out by the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) to guide with setting proper pricing for your photography business.  And always remembering that I want to retain dignity and integrity in the world of Professional Photographers.  So I painstakingly set my prices by that guide... I didn't look at everyone else's prices and find a happy medium, but I set fair prices to run a Boutique photography business. 

Working with people is tough sometimes...but it is what I love so much, and the reason I went into this photography business.  In running a business I have to understand that things do happen: emergencies come up, minds change, and seriously that hard-to-please person comes along once in a while.  Life has taught me much patience, but life has also taught me the importance of boundaries - and boundaries are important in both personal and business life.  

My prices are not the cheapest.  I will be the first to tell a client that from the beginning.  I put a lot into my business: I use only top-of-the-line equipment (from camera equipment to props), editing software and the best products available.  I take no shortcuts.  I search out unique and special locations, and customize each session to that particular client.  It would be impossible to compare what I am offering a client price-wise to what they would get at Walmart, Sears, Portrait Innovations, JCPenney, etc.  Unique is my personality (I like shoes/purses & clothes that are different from everyone else, I like jewelry that is different from everyone else) so it would only make sense that I would run my photography business to be unique and totally custom.  Boutique.  And I deliver above and beyond every single time for my clients.  So this would be one of my business boundaries: setting the pricing that will work to support what I offer my clients, being clear on my pricing and sticking to it.  If someone comes to me and their budget clearly won't work with what I offer, I will try to find any compromise possible (maybe a mini-session that would work? Saving up for the package they really want just a little further down the road?) - but if there's simply nothing I can offer that will work for them, I will offer them alternative photography options...I'll do all I can to refer them to another photography studio that might suit their budget needs.  And I'll hope that at some point in the future they will still become clients of mine!

Another boundary in my business (and in most businesses that are service oriented) is a schedule.  I respect that clients are most often having to rework their schedules for their photo session.  Many times the client(s) has to take off from work to get the session time that is best for the pictures they are desiring.  I always want my answer to be YES to my clients or potential clients, but the fact is that sometimes the answer has to be NO.  And I have to learn better to feel comfortable with saying "No, I'm sorry... that's not available, that's not an option but let me offer you another option, etc." and move on from there.  And I will trust my talent and my art... I will trust that my clients will continue to share with their friends how much they absolutely loved their experience with me and the products that I provide.  And I will always offer my absolute very best to each and every client.  My desire is that they have the most awesome framed portrait or collection hanging on their wall or Album on their coffee table that is priceless to them for many years to come.  

Boundaries are necessary in all aspects of life... but in my business they are never set selfishly - they are set to offer respect and the very best service to all of my clients. 



Tracy said...

Love this! Am sharing w/ various small business owners I know. Because lots of people struggle w/ saying no to a client. We all want to say yes to our clients and meet every request they make!
Awesome blog, DK. I love reading your posts!

Jill Samter Photography said...

GREAT POST DonnaKay! :-)

Yes, our hearts are one on this topic for sure!


Ashley Fretto Photography said...

I just stumbled upon this entry and had to smile because I have "been there, done that" lol.
There are so many clients that have no real idea just how much goes into starting a photography business! Thanks so much for sharing! =)

Unknown said...

Ashley, that's one reason I personally feel it is only right for professional photographers to follow guidelines in pricing and in what is provided to clients - not to just give their work away. I definitely follow PPA guidelines with my pricing, and always want to maintain a business that honors professional photography in every way.