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Scott Alan Photography

Creating portraits and documenting life!

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Portrait photography business on a budget…

I’m not looking to get into business… I’ve been there and done that… However, I believe after doing photography since 1995 and doing it as a business since 2001 I may have a couple of bits of good advice… I’ll make this short, sweet, and to the point…

Starting out you don’t need a bunch of money. I’d say work on your craft and business skills and focus less on acquiring flashy new or the lastest gear that a lot of people will say that you need…

These images were made with the following:

  1. Used Canon 60D which is about 10 years old as I write this in 2019 ~$200 – $250
  2. Used Canon 70 to 210 F4 lens that was discontinued by Canon in 1990. People say it’s too slow and too loud. For portraits you don’t necessarily need fast auto focus. (Slow down and take your time anyway! Cull images in your brain before you shoot, not hours in post!) ~$90 used
  3. Yongnuo 565 EX II speedlight (I paid $150 for this brand new about 7 years ago
  4. 60″ shoot through /bounce umbrella $40
  5. Adorama / Flashpoint background stand ~$100
  6. Black fleece fabric from hobby lobby ~$10-$20

Are you a minimum wage photographer?

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I always see people posting on social media about how they are unhappy about the fact that “hobbyist” photographers are undercutting “professional” photographers pricing. I see people complain about how its ruined the photography industry and how they are discouraged. However, some of these professional photographers that are complaining still have some stuff to learn as well. Recently someone posted about this topic and stated what they were charging and explained that they wanted to eventually do photography full-time. Now, while everyone has to start somewhere we never want to sell ourselves short of the end goal. I started doing some thinking about the rates they were charging clients and started doing a little math on what it would take to pay bills, buy groceries, pay taxes, and put some in savings…

I wanted something to compare to so I started with the United States national average minimum wage which is $7.25 an hour… At $7.25 an hour while working 40 hours a week for an entire year one will gross $15,080. The figure this person said they were charging was $175 for a shoot. To make this same amount in a year this photographer would need to shoot roughly 86 photo shoots in a year which averages out to 1.7 photo shoots per week. That does not seem difficult but it is actually more difficult than it seems considering the thousands upon thousands of other professional and hobbyist photographers who are charging the same amount of money. Keep in mind…. This is just to make minimum wage…

I used to have a job where I was on straight commission. I made close to $70,000/year a few times. I was married and in the process of starting a family. and the sole income provider… Lets do the math using that $175 per photo shoot…

$70,000 / $175 per shoot = 400 photo shoots per yr or 7.7 photo shoots per wk… Forget it! Photography may be your passion but you don’t realize how quick photography WILL NOT be your passion anymore doing that many shoots a week while shooting stuff your clients demand and stuff you may not even WANT to shoot! I’d say that the photographers who are shooting 7 shoots per week have people working for them doing post work and other jobs, and those photographers are grossing a lot more than $70,000 / year.

Weddings tend to be a little more pricey in the photography industry so lets say one wants to gross $70,000 in a year doing weddings and the photographer was going to shoot one wedding a week they would need to charge…

$1,333 x 52 weddings in a yr or one wedding a week = $69,316 and that’s if you can average one wedding a week for an entire year at $1,333.

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All this is to just make one think about the future… You may not desire to be rich and make lots of money off photography. However, if you want to do photography as a full-time job and make a decent living you are going to have to figure out your cost of doing business and how much you’re going to charge. You definitely don’t want to charge $175 for 5 years or so while establishing a target market and a client base, then figure out you need to double, triple, or quadruple your rates to make what you need to make to live how you want to live or raise a family. If so, you will lose your clients and need to start from scratch gaining a new target market and client base. And you definitely don’t want to be stuck being a minimum wage photographer!

The One-Two Punch In Photography

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We all like to purchase new gear. I think that is something that every photographer goes through at some point during the years while doing their hobby or business. And over the years I’ve seen so many people question what lens should they buy for this or that. During the last year and a half or so I have tried to practice minimalism to an extent. I’ve thinned out everything from the clothes that I own, to books, to my photography gear. While I like gear I’ve come to learn what I need and what I don’t need. After some thought I’ve come up with a photography minimalist gear list and there are only three items on the most basic list. I will compare my list to a more common list of what a lot of people end up with.

The minimalist photography gear list consists of the camera and two lenses which is as follows: (The One-Two Punch)
Camera – I won’t list a cost here because, one, there are many different bodies that can be used for many different reasons. Some might think they need a full frame body while others may want to take advantage of a body that houses an aps-c sized sensor and can shoot 12 frames per second. Plus this article is supposed to be about lenses.

Lens: Canon 24 – 70 F2.8L = $1699.00
Lens: Canon 70 – 200 F2.8L = $1799.00
Total = 3498

Compared to option 2 which covers the same focal range:

Canon 24mm f2.8 = $549.00
Canon 35mm f1.4L = $1699.00
Canon 40mm f2.8 = $179.00
Canon 50mm f1.8 = $125.00
Canon 85mm F1.4L = $1599.00
Canon 100mm f2 = $499.00
Canon 135mm f2L = $$999.00
Canon 200mm f2.8 = $749.00
total = $6398.00

The difference here is that option 1 allows one to carry around only two lenses and it covers all focal ranges between 24mm and 200mm. This focal range is useful from portraits, to weddings and events, to some sports, to documentary photography, and product photography, landscapes, and other types. Compare the costs and option 1 is almost half of what option 2 is. Many people would argue that prime lenses are lighter than the zooms, which is true, however, if one is shooting a wedding, event, or even portraits and decided to bring multiple lenses, I would bet that the weight difference ends up being very minimal if anything. Another argument would be that primes are sharper than zooms. While this is also true, while viewing the end product which would be an image on a screen or a print, no one would be able to tell that the image was made with a zoom lens rather than a prime.

I would like to note that during this quick research, I did not include all L glass throughout the primes. If I did the cost different would even be greater. I decided to go with Canon when comparing, but the difference would be about the same if comparing Nikon lenses. No matter what option one ends up choosing to go with, I’d strongly suggest buying used from Used Photo Pro or KEH and saving. In my personal and professional opinion one could build solid photography career with just one camera (it’d be wise to have a back up) and two lenses, the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8.

Sensors Gathering Light, ISO & Exposure Triangle…

Most Underrated Piece of Photography Gear…

Rock Hunt

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Recently, I discovered the painted rock hobby that kids and adults alike are involved with. I’ve found several at local parks and have let my kids hid them again for others to find. Friday the 13th is traditionally thought to be a day of random bad luck happening. However, this past Friday the 13th was a blast. Several people painted rocks and organized a rock hunt at a local park. Around 40 people showed up for the event and plenty of kids left happy and excited with their findings.

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Photography. Dance. Music.

Photography and music are big passions of mine. While I’d argue that I cannot dance, I really have the utmost respect and admiration for those who can. For this shoot I photographed a young lady who is involved in music, dance, acting, and modeling. Talk about talent. She’s got it. Here are a few images we ended up with for the day…

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