Remember to stick with what you love, a key to staying creative

As tax time is getting really close I was chatting with my wife remembering the old days of our business just a few years ago. Right before tax day when I would meet with our CPA I would empty out this huge box of all receipts we had for the business on the floor and we would sit down for hours to organize them into categories. Then the even more tedious task of grabbing the calculators and adding up these thousands of receipts to get a total for each category. Over the years I streamlined this a little and tried to break it down into a monthly task but still it was tedious work that was not what I loved.

I got into photography because it was something that I loved ever since I was a child. It has always been a huge passion for me and the creative aspect of photography is what keeps me up late nights editing, thinking and just brainstorming about the perfect shot. But when I started my own business there was much more to be done other than being creative and after a few years those non-creative tasks became more and more. Besides being a creative mind I also can be somewhat of a control freak so it took me way too long to learn the value of hiring others to help out. Even if you are doing photography as a part time job there still are many tasks that you are currently doing that you probably shouldn’t.

As photographers what should we really focus on? This answer will be totally different for everyone but what I would like to focus on (and am still working on fully getting here) is only 2 things:

– Being out doing what I really, really love which is shooting
– Post production. For me this is a huge part of the creative process and one that I do really enjoy.

So that means that all other aspects really should be sent out for someone else to do. Here are a few things that you probably are doing yourself but really shouldn’t be:

– Marketing. It’s a big part of running a business and in today’s competitive world essential to survive. While parts of it can be creative and I do have fun with Marketing it really would be best to have a true professional helping out. This doesn’t have to be super expensive either and can easily be a contractor who is helping you out 10/hours a week.

– Accounting/office tasks. These can eat up a huge amount of time. Get a good bookkeeper and a CPA to help with the finances. Also helping with filing and other small office tasks can be easily transferred over to someone eager to learn more about photography. You can find a student intern very easily and get great help at a very good cost.

– Client calling. Some of us hate all the time it takes to call clients to setup appointments, call for reminders, etc… Why not hire an online virtual assistant that can help you out. In today’s world you don’t need to hire someone to come into your office but can hire someone anywhere to help you with calling. Check out online job marketplaces like and look for a virtual assistant. Interview them just like you would anyone and then provide them with a daily list of people to call and access to your calendar. It doesn’t have to cost much and just 1 hour of savings a day can be huge.

– All the other things we put together like slideshow creation, album design, maybe even the post production deepening on how much you enjoy it. If you don’t love it then don’t do it.

And if you are thinking that you can’t afford to hire people or send off a wedding to be edited you are missing the big picture. Say all of the tasks you do for a wedding take up 40 hours of your time and within that you spend 10 hours just editing. If you shoot 30 weddings a year that editing time is 300 hours. So hiring someone to do the editing saves you a ton of time that you could instead spend shooting another 10 weddings (300 hours divide by 30 hours a wedding, not including the editing time now). Even if you pay on the high end for editing and the cost is $400/wedding that would only be $12,000. Sounds like a lot but if your average package is $3000 and you can shoot 10 extra wedding now a year that will bring in an additional $36,000. You might not be charging $3000 yet but when thinking of pricing should be factoring in costs like editing, album design, your CPA, etc… We will talk about price soon though so stay tuned.

The goal of it all is to continue to stoke the fire that drives us, to keep creative and do what we do best. Lets focus on creating art and let the rest be done by others who are passionate about that task.

One company that I absolutely love that really saves me time with taxes and organizing my receipts is shoeboxes. Check out this review of I did awhile back . I’ll review a few other companies that I use coming up soon so check back later.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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