I have been sharing six criteria every senior should explore when choosing a S-E-N-I-O-R portrait photographer. Today’s last critera, R, stands for how a photographer Runs Their Business. I will warn you that even though business is business, this criteria can get me emotional from time to time. I think that would be true of any professional photographer as there comes a moment in their life when they take a leap of faith and decide to take that next step, turing a passion or hobby into a legitimate business. Professional. The real deal.
To run a business professionally takes having pride in your business, but it also takes a lot of paperwork, fees, licensing, permits, etc. Everyone with a camera is a photographer, yes, that is true. A professional photographer has gone the extra mile (spending months and money) to file for a business license, set up an account with their state to pay appropriate sales tax, sign up for business and liability insurance, and design legal forms to protect themselves and their clients. All this takes time, and money. Sometimes it also takes tears. I can’t tell you how many times in that process that I cried over how many hoops I had to jump thru, how much money I had to pay, to run my business right, and how my friends could not understand why I needed to charge what I charge. It made me more protective of my business, and all the time and talent that I invest in it. In the process, I met many wonderful and supportive fellow photographers. These are some of the deepest friendships I have as they believe in my dreams and are always there to encourage me. We watch each other experiment with new ideas and celebrate each other’s achievements. (See what I mean about how emotional I can get about this business?!)
When I have to step beyond my emotional commitment to my business, I realize that everything I have poured into my business will reflect back to my clients. I run my business by the books, as they say. I charge sales tax to my clients, and I pay it to the state. I pay liability insurance every year. And I never do a session without my client signing a model release, consenting to the terms of the session, the fee, and when they will expect to receive their portraits.
I encourage seniors to choose a photographer who runs their business wisely and correctly. I do understand that novice photographers have to start somewhere (as did I years ago), and it takes time to get all their ducks in a row (business license, sales tax account, etc). But if someone is seriously talented and devoted to this business, you will likely see them take these official business steps fairly quickly, and in stride (but they might still secretly shed a tear or two).
In summary, when you are interviewing different senior portrait photographers, consider six important factors before making your choice.
S – Session
E – Equipment
N – Notebook
I – Items of Quality
O – Offer of Commitment
R – Runs Their Business
If you have explored each of these six criteria and your photographer impresses you, then they are worth the investment, trust me. Your senior portrait experience is an unforgettable moment in your young adult life and you deserve the best senior portrait photographer. Do your homework. Do not settle. Do some shopping. And smile!