A Letter To My Clients

As I have recently posted about and some of you may have already noticed, some big changes have been made at Talia Lehman Photography.  Good communication is important in any relationship so I would like to take some time to talk to you all, my valued clients, about not only what has been going on and what has changed, but also why.

A little back story:  a few years ago when I started my business, I didn't really know it would become just that - a business.  You could say it kind-of happened by accident.  I always loved photography as a hobby but never imagined I could actually earn an income from it.  I started by "borrowing" my friends and their children just for fun for "practice" and it eventually evolved, my services being requested by new clients more and more.  Wow, I could actually make money and support my family doing something that I love?!  Sign me up!  Of course, in that case I needed to start charging for my services, but the dreaded question: how much?  I had no idea where to begin.  To be honest, I didn't feel comfortable and it was really hard for me at first to start charging my friends and family.  Truthfully, it was just plain awkward.  So like many just beginning in this business, I threw out a random number that simply "sounded good."  But it was still quite low for what I was doing, and even then I found myself constantly justifying discounts and doing favor...after favor...devaluing the very service I was providing.  It took some time before I learned what really went into it all and how much work it would be - how much I would need to learn, how much new equipment actually costs, how much of my free time I would be spending on it.  I came to realize that doing all those favors for everyone else wasn't doing me any favors.  This was a business and I needed to treat it as that.  What I was charging just wasn't cutting it.

See, I pretty much started from bare bones.  I had always previously worked with film so the digital realm was one I would enter so green - literally everything was new to me, from purchasing new cameras, lenses, and equipment, to the computer and software that makes editing possible.  I had to learn how to use my new digital cameras, learn how to use that ridiculously in-depth and creative editing software having fellow photographer friends show me the basics (y'all know who you are, THANK YOU!) to spending hours watching videos online, to investing in classes and all-day seminars from some of the country's best-known photographers learning some of their secrets and tricks of the trade.  Just to get started I invested a lot of money and a lot of my time simply educating myself.

I soon realized I was also spending a lot of time working.  Too much.  You see, a session isn't just a session; it's time spent before the session preparing equipment and props, figuring out a location and sometimes even visiting that location just to make sure you know the lighting situation at certain times of day.  Then it's the actual session, and then it's the hours spent afterward uploading and culling images and then editing each of those chosen images.  Every session amounted to hours and hours of work.  All this time I was working was time spent away from my husband and family.  Late nights up until all hours just to finish that last client's session and get their images delivered on time.  On a few occasions I even brought my laptop on camping trips to edit pictures when I should have just been relaxing.  I was working so much, but the problem was that my bank account was absolutely not reflecting it.  Something needed to change, and fast.  Enter: The Thriving Photographer.

Thanks to my own wedding photographer, Stephanie Stremler, I was introduced to a program designed by Leah Remillet specifically for photographers to help re-vamp your business into being a successful and profitable one - basically a business and marketing boot camp - and my business was so out of shape it needed it!  It was one of the best investments I have made and though it took me much longer than the planned time to complete it due to a selling/buying of a new home and moving, I finally finished and have now begun to implement some of the big changes the program was designed to help me make, one of the main focuses being pricing.

My goal has always been to become a photographer who offers something a little different from the rest.  We all have different styles, we all have a different "eye" for what we do, we all provide a different experience for the client; therefore, we all have a place within each other in this business.  I have always valued high-quality tangible products and wall art: framed pictures hung up, gorgeous new-age metal prints floating off the wall, large canvases hanging in your hallway, so every time you pass by you're reminded of happy memories of your own work of art: your family.  When was the last time you pulled out that disc of wedding images?  The disc from your last family or even newborn session?  When images are put on a disc or USB drive, they're often forgotten in the bottom of a drawer, waiting for that day you are "finally going to get that album made," which oftentimes doesn't end up happening.  

I realize that we all value things differently.  Some spend hundreds of dollars on a professional color, cut, and hair products every six weeks, and some are just fine with box dye and drugstore shampoo.  Some shop at high-end couture boutiques, while others are completely fine with second-hand.  It's all a matter of preference and no one choice is right or wrong.  As masters of each of our own crafts, we all put value into what we do and what we sell.  When it comes to photography, I, personally, appreciate high-quality photographic art that will last and hopefully be passed down through generations.  The art we create together is your personal masterpiece and I offer products from some of the best professional print labs to ensure my clients receive genuine quality, something that just cannot be found at a drugstore or big box store photo lab.  I also know that it is important for most clients to have those digital files maybe for those Christmas or announcement cards you want to send out or those small prints you want to frame as a gift for the grandparents, and that is why they are still included in some of my packages.  But no greater value can be put on a printed memory, and delivering high-quality products of art is my focus and where I have chosen to accentuate my business, and so my pricing has changed to reflect that value.

I feel lucky and I am so happy to have the opportunity to be doing something that I love so much.  I truly appreciate all the support I have received over the last few years since I started and I hope you will continue on this journey with me.

~Talia