While working for the photo lab, I learned all about running a profitable business.
This experience taught me about average sales, costs of goods sold, and how to read a profit and loss report.
The more profitable my photo lab was to the company directly influenced how many payroll hours I received for employees. Having help made my job easier, so my I quickly learned how to make that happen.
This is where I honed my sales tactics, by pushing more profitable items over time consuming ones. I mean, it takes the same amount of time and energy to print a 4×6 ($.39) as it does an 8×10 ($4.99). So I pushed the 8x10s!
Quickly, I became a Regional Trainer for the entire district. It was challenging and exciting to write and teach classes to my Photo Lab Managers on how to print better quality photos for their customers, how to use & sell cameras, and how to read their monthly financial reports so they too could earn more payroll hours. The gig also came with a company car and a lot of daily freedom! Perfect!
It turns out that I love teaching and I love math!
Teaching others and seeing them thrive is so rewarding as an instructor. Having others succeed is a direct reflection on my own ability to coach and inspire, which in turn fills me with pride. The challenge of having to figure out 20 different ways to explain the same thing in order for a student to finally ‘get it’ keeps me interested and learning myself. Especially when it comes to math.
I never realized how easy math was for me. I just never thought about it. I only realized I loved math when I started getting excited trying to show someone how being more profitable directly impacts their own day-to-day life. When my students see me all lit up about perfect pricing formulas, they get excited too. I love that look on their face when everything finally clicks!
When digital photography was outpacing film, my friends were all starting to get married. At the time, I saw the writing on the wall with my thriving photo lab career getting downsized and I also thought that my friend’s $1000 wedding photography budget was a crap ton of money.
I quickly learned on my first wedding that $1000 goes QUICKLY. There was my new $650 lens and a good $450 in film and processing. Oh, and $80 for a wedding photojournalism class.
So there I was, hoping to pocket two week’s salary in one day and I had already lost money.
Something had to change, because I also realized the shocker of all shockers: I friggin LOVE photographing weddings. I love managing the crazy personalities and I love trying to get the World’s most interesting photo while chasing people in funny costumes.
It is the most challenging type of photography there is. Each day is completely different from the previous wedding day… the lighting, the location, the people, the expectations.
At the beginning, my mentor just picked a number for me to charge. After a handful of wedding photography gigs, I’d gain confidence and ask her again, “what should I charge now?” and she again would just say, “Oh, I guess charge $X now.”
One day, I woke up and realized that there had to be a better way to know how much I was worth.
That’s when I got serious, joined professional photography organizations and sought out the information that I needed on how to set realistic prices for my photography.