It’s probably pretty obvious, but there is a lot to learn. Here’s a few of the things that I have encountered over the past days:

  • Accounting and bookkeeping is a lot of work to learn.
  • Liability insurance isn’t prohibitively expensive for a photographer with no studio.
  • Don’t take too many photos. 1,000 photos in a session are probably too many, much less 5,400
  • Contracts not only protect you, but they make your customer more certain and comfortable.

I’ve been keeping busy with photoshoots, all from word of mouth and one Facebook post. I even had my first paid shoot.

Accounting and Bookkeeping

There isn’t much I can say about accounting at this point. All I have been doing is saving receipts. And I will record my first paid shoot.

I’m using QuickBooks, which isn’t cheap, but it’s not prohibitively expensive. I’m hoping it’s an adequate tool for keeping track of things. I spoke with a fulltime bookkeeper on the phone today. He said that he does all his work on Excel. I figure I could work do that too. But I’ve decided not to because I would rather learn an industry standard program that I’m hoping will help me scale up my business in the future or help another small business.

Liability Insurance

Your quote will vary. But here’s a rough outline of what I have been offered:

$15,000 scheduled equipment with $250 deductible (camera gear)
$1mil liability (in case I set someone or something on fire)

Approx. $600 per year

I’m not sure what I would do if my lenses were stolen. It would take me a long time to earn enough money to buy them again. I don’t think they’ll be stolen. And there is a good chance I won’t drop any in the too-near future. (Knock on wood.) But I think it’s the right choice. At least, it eases my anxiety.

Don’t Take Too Many Photos

This could be its own separate post. But I’ll dabble into the topic here.

So, I had a great time shooting in Olympia, WA with an Evergreen College student named Vivien (Instagram link here). She has been the easiest person to work with so far. She was really good about knowing how to keep moving through various poses. She knew what angles she looked good in. So, it was quite easy for me to take pictures, which ended up becoming a problem.

I took over 5,400 pictures in under three hours. So, yes we were quite busy. And the worst part was that many of them were quite good. She’s quite photogenic. It might have been easier if there were more of a difference between many of the photos, but even with her well-paced movement, there wasn’t enough variation. So, picking the best photos was hard because there were so many decent photos.

It was an exercise in tedium and will.

If I happen to take over 1,500 pictures again, I will edit in batches of 500. Capture One was not happy either. The program crashed when I made it through the first 1,000 or so ratings, and I lost all of those ratings. But most importantly, I didn’t feel like I could pick the right images because there was too much to choose from. It could be done with practice, but I don’t see the need. I’m better off being more selective during my shooting.

Anyway, in conclusion, I’m glad that I learned this the hard way because I found my personal limit: don’t take over 1,000 1,500 pictures in one shoot. I’m hoping to keep it closer to 100-250 for a 1-hour shoot. But this might not be so easy because I like capturing motion e.g. having the subject turn their head quickly to capture motion in their hair.

On Contracts

My first paid client found me on a local Facebook page. My website isn’t live yet. She asked me for a quote for senior pictures. I told her $200 and a 20% non-refundable down for 10 pictures. She accepted. I thought all was well and good, but she wasn’t comfortable with our handshake deal alone. Which is totally fair. I didn’t have a website or a real reputation. I’m surprised she made the leap, but I think she chose well. –Call me biased.

People are used to dealing with a company that has a reputation and a Yelp! page. I have no reputation. So, a contract was in order. I spent the better part of a day looking up what goes into a typical photography contract. I added to an existing contract that I found online. I don’t expect it to hold up 100% under fire from a lawyer in a courtroom, but it did make my client happy, because I put my promises in writing with my signature.

And thanks to Bryn of and @geminieats on Instagram for shooting with me.