Right now, my business is failing. I haven’t had a job in five months, and while prior to this I was doing just fine on the part time work and able to balance even meager jobs with expenses, the lack of work is beginning to catch up with my bills (business loan, et all) and I’m quickly reaching a point where the only option left will be quitting and selling all of my gear. I don’t want to do that, not by any stretch of the imagination, because I love what I do and I’m just reaching a point where I feel like I’m getting good at it… but when it gets to this point I’m not sure what else I can do.

We’ve listed a number of pieces of furniture, and some electronics, in local classifieds (only one of which have sold) and it’s not really doing the trick either. Curtis is in the process of trying to leave his job, because even though he’s running the kitchen at his work, his bosses have no clue how to run a restaurant and the atmosphere is becoming rather tense as the employees realize how close they are to having the place shut down around them. They aren’t alone, unfortunately, dozens of restaurants in the area have closed down over the last year due to lack of business. Even ones that have been a community fixture for decades. It’s a tense time to be a business owner in this area.
With all this in mind, being an award-winning photographer doesn’t really seem that glamorous right now. Accolades look nice on my wall but they aren’t exactly bringing me enough business to pay my loan on a regular basis. And it’s really, really depressing.

I’ve tried everything I can think of to drum up more business over the last few months, from running insanely-priced specials, to approaching every boutique and store I can think of to try and have cards and prints hanging on the wall, contacting theatres and searching classifieds for anyone looking for a freelance photographer to do a quick gig, signing up for every business exchange known to man, contributing to coupon books and donating free sessions to fundraisers and charity balls… nothing is working. I’ve also approached literally every fellow photographer I know and offering myself as an assistant, graphic artist, second shooter or anything else they may need. Not one person has had an opening, passed on a session or even called back. I can only assume it’s because they’re having similar struggles, but it’s hard to think so when I see so many of them complaining about having too much business to fit into their schedules. It hurts because I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I’ve changed nothing about my business tactics, my price points, or anything else and suddenly everything just… went away.
I only just started getting a few inquiries again, and not a single one has resulted in a booking. Even people I had booked from last year into this one (for large events like weddings or births) have started emailing me to back out, or ask if I can offer them freebies to keep them interested. My prices are significantly less than most of the higher end photographers in the area, and I haven’t changed them in well over a year and a half.

I opened up an Etsy store last moth with the intent to start listing some of my fine art prints, and later on down the line some business templates for other photographers (forms and contracts, album templates, actions, textures etc) in hopes of supplementing the lack-of-income (particularly during my maternity leave). Unfortunately, it’s at a point where I can’t really afford the listing fees for all the things I want to list, so I have to wait until I get another job or two before I can really introduce that.

I’ve had a storefront attached to my business site for years, but most people don’t really see it (nor are they particularly interested: when you’re looking for a photographer to cover your event, chances are you’re not out to buy prints) so it hasn’t had much traffic in a while.
It also doesn’t help that having our car break down twice, two emergency vet visits and a car insurance payment have added an extra 2-3k to our normally fairly moderate credit card balance. A month ago I put all of our credit cards in the freezer so we wouldn’t be tempted to use them for any reason whatsoever, though to be honest we’ve never really been the splurge/spend type of people so that hasn’t made a difference.

A number of readers have said they would love to have prints of some of the images I’ve posted over the years, and right now would be a really good time to indulge that. I’m not going to lie: I could really, really use it.
So, in effort to try and get myself through the next few months, I’m actually posting this publicly and asking if any readers would like to purchase prints through my storefront (as that’s probably the easiest way to do it) and help a mama out. Right now even a single $35 print sale means half a loan payment for one month, and of course the more that goes on it the lower the payments get.

I’m marking everything down by 20% in hopes of encouraging some sales, so the prices you see in the store are pre-discount (since I can’t actually add discount codes into this software). If you decide to purchase anything, you’ll be sent an automated invoice immediately by the software, but don’t pay until you receive an updated one from me. I can accept both Paypal (credit card, bank or funded) and personal cheque provided that you’re patient enough to wait for it to clear first.

To get to the store and view the prints that are for sale, go to my business site :
> Heather Photo
Click on “Main site”.
Once it loads, click on the “featured” button located on the bottom of the page.
Click, “Fine art store”.
All the prints will load along the right-hand side and previews will show up in the center of the page. To add an image to your cart, click the “add to cart” text that appears over the bottom left-hand edge of the image preview. When you’re done making selections click the shopping cart icon along the bottom menu to get to the checkout screen. From there you can add in details like how many images you want and in what sizes. Checkout with your address, email and payment options. If you select instant payment by Paypal you’ll be taken to their site, but as I said please wait until I send you an updated invoice with the discounts applied. Regardless, we’ll both be sent a copy of the store-based invoice and I’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours with your updated one. If you have any special requests, let me know right away.

All prints over 8×10 come mounted for stability unless otherwise requested. All products are printed in a top USA lab with the highest quality archival paper and inks; they come UV protected and guaranteed to last decades (well over 100’s of years if proper care is taken with storage and display). The colours and contrasts are much richer with pro-quality labs, and the quality is second to none. You won’t be disappointed.

Shipping to the USA and Canada is $8 and all packages will be drop-shipped directly to your home, both to ensure you get your prints quickly and to help save your shipping cost. I will ship worldwide, though international shipping cost is extra. Once you create an invoice in the store, I’ll get back to you right away with the final total.
(Be aware that if the package is crossing a border, customs fees and wait times may apply and I can’t be held responsible for that. Though to be honest, in my experience they almost never hold prints or charge extra for them).

If buying prints is not your forte, but you want to help, I also have one of these:





As degrading and awful as it feels to even put this out there, it’s become necessary. I kind of hate myself right now, but I don’t really know what else to do shy of offering up all of my gear for sale on my blog (and if you wait a bit, that might come next). I’ve had this in my drafts for a while trying to rationalize why I should or shouldn’t put it up.
So… if you’ve been thinking about buying a print and left comments about it before, now would be a great time.
A massive, sincere, on-my-knees pre-emptive “Thank you” to anyone who wants to buy an image or two and help out. Every little piece counts right now.

Comments

comments

166 Comments

  • 1001petals says:

    I’m waiting till we move to Victoria in July to get family photos — I’d like to hire you. I have an infant and a toddler and have been really disappointed by department store photos and am really looking forward to getting some stellar shots πŸ™‚

    Athena.

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  • cmariewt says:

    As degrading and awful as it feels to even put this out there, it’s become necessary.

    LIFE HAPPENS. Don’t ever feel ashamed for being in a financial bind. There are many people out there experiencing the same. Anyone who can read this and not understand on some level is a complete asshat.

  • the_leh says:

    I will absolutely be contributing come payday.

    You’ve always been an inspiration to me. I still remember talking to you on AIM when Jane was just a baby. I think you’re an amazing person, really and truly amazing. So multi talented, beautiful, a wonderful mother and someone who lives life with such compassion and integrity.

    Your photography work is incredible, and I don’t feel that way about most people’s work. I wish you all the best in your business.

  • mikachubelle says:

    I guess I would be a lurker but I have written a comment here or there in the past. I just ordered a print. I doubt you remember me but a few years ago I had an extremely bad miscarraige and horrible surgery to go right along with it. I came out scared to death and had all these people telling me things like “to get over it you weren’t even pregnant that long”. I left a comment because I felt no one else would understand and you were extremely kind to me. I don’t know if I ever thanked you but that kindness was something I desperately needed at the time. So, thank you. I love your work and hope this helps at least a bit.

  • twirlgrrl says:

    It’s not you, it’s the economy, and it’s a horrible shame because your work is fantastic. I’m still hoping you make it out to San Francisco someday so I can pay you to photograph my kids.

    Is there a way that you can make the for-sale section of your website more prominent from your home page? Also, do you have a facebook profile for people to “like” and does it point to your website?

  • I KNOW WHAT YOU SHOULD DO!! πŸ˜›

    I’ve been reading from you since the picture of Xan as a baby in a sling while you were swimming and he was asleep and the way you write would be amazing you if you spoke it – YouTube vlogs can be great! I know it seems silly but it’s a way to get recognised! You can also pimp out the prints well over youtube – maybe at this point think of a short 1 1/2 minute to 2 minute advertisement showing your images, offers, print sizes etc.

    Just an idea – another way I’d like to try some day for low-income New Zealand families is a free SHOOT but charge for prints or for the CD or what ever. We fell for something like this by Session Expressions and paid about $800 for 11 a4 prints and a CD and one large print. I dunno if that’s good or not but I I liked the idea of the free shoot ;P

  • Anonymous says:

    i dont know if this has already been suggested, but have you considered doing animal portraits? i’ve always wanted to get them for my pets but could never afford it or find a photographer willing to do it for a small ammount of money. you could do like a 30 minute sit for $75, which includes editing and blah blah. something to think about at least!

    • admin says:

      It hasn’t been suggested here, but it is something I’ve thought about a lot and unofficially advertised. No bites for that, though… there doesn’t seem to be much demand for it locally?

  • admin says:

    It is there, I’ve had about a dozen orders of it actually… make sure you click through all the images in the gallery.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just one more lurking type who derives much pleasure from your wonderful artistic photography.. Don’t feel badly about this post – actually some dense types like me need to be hit over the head, as it never occurred to me to consider buying a print! We are doing some renovations, and I will take a serious look when we have painted. And one other random suggestion – I have recently been in the position of seeking graduation acknowledgments for my “kids” and their friends with multiple professional degrees – often choosing artwork. If anyone was in midwifery, I would have found a perfect gift among your images. Could you send links/flyers to the midwifery schools across the country – I’m thinking many of the graduates would love prints for their new offices.
    (sorry this turned into a whole epistle)

  • I wanted to just say that i feel you right now, we’re in a similar place financially and it is ROUGH. My husband is like you – he has an amazing creative skill and a ton of drive, but just a lack of bites. It’s rought.

    I used to be and absolutely loved reading your journal. Would you be willing to add me back on this name so that I could continue?

    luck and love to you and your beautiful family. <3

    • admin says:

      Almost everything I write is public, and that which I filter is filtered to friends I’m comfortable with because for whatever reason I find it a little too intimate to share publicly. So with that in mind, I only add people I know rather well… but anyone can read my journal and you never have to ask to friend me. πŸ™‚

  • pingback_bot says:

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  • I can’t buy anything until I get paid again on the 25th but I will definitely be buying 2 or 3 prints then.

  • lottiekate says:

    If you don’t mind I shall repost this on my friends list and get the word out…..

  • gracilejenn says:

    I hope you don’t mind, I was linked to your journal’s bra-fitting essay and poked around a bit. I’ve added you. You seem like the kind of person I’d like to hang around with!

  • Sending you what I can, it’s just loose change though. Will contribute more in the future, your blog has been seriously formative to my worldview and I can’t thank you enough for it. Wishing you all the best with your business.

  • Oh Heather, I love that you put yourself out there every time you journal…about your family, your pregnancy, your kids, your mom…everything! I’m honored to purchase something from your collection and have often said, “Boy, I wish I could have a copy of that for this room and that, etc.” when I see your photos. You got me at a great time – tax refund – and although I’m laid off right now (with plans to start a new temp job next week), I am more than happy to lend a hand to you and your growing family. I see that I am not alone here. Blessings and love to you and your family!

    • admin says:

      Thank you, both for the offer to purchase a print and for these kind words. They are very, very appreciated. πŸ™‚ the supportive comments and gestures I’ve received since posting this remind me why the internet can be a community of wonderful people helping each other, and it helps remind me not to feel so awful for putting this out here.

  • deird1 says:

    I’m wanting to buy some photos – but I’m not sure whether to use Paypal or offline stuff, given that you seem to be wanting offline invoices for discounts, but I live in Australia so sending me a physical invoice would take a while…

    What should I do?

    (Currently I’m opting for the offline payment – but let me know if I should change it.)

  • We’ve had several financial setbacks lately, and we’re not sure we’re done yet, but if we can get our tax refund, I will definitely see if I can buy something. I still cherish the dream of actually making it to BC someday and having you take pictures, so I don’t want you to sell all your equipment!

  • catling42 says:

    If I had known you had prints for sale, I probably would’ve purchased a long time ago. Your work is absolutely gorgeous and I am very excited to house one of your pieces in my home. (I would buy more if I could afford it right now, believe me…. several of your photos have just gone on my wishlist.)

    Also, what is your etsy shop name? I will pass that, and the link to your site, to the folks I know.

  • keilababe says:

    I was just last week looking for the link on your site to the prints. Weird. Perhaps you could sell some of your “smoking hot” silhouette prints. lol

    Please don’t feel bad about asking for help with your situation, and PLEASE WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t sell your gear and give up on the business. You have to do a session for my best-selling book, remember??

    I’m waiting for money to go into my Paypal from my super spy mystery shopping, but in the meantime, is there anything baby-wise or more importantly, pregnant lady-wise that you want or need? We have this cool half of half store, and they had baby things from some hoity toity children’s store for seventy freaking cents! It’s catalog returns. Thought of you when I was in there, but that was before you posted that it was a girl.

    Email me. keilaoliver@ymail.com

    • admin says:

      That store sounds AWESOME! If we had one of those I’d go nuts every time I had extra funds lying around.

      Thank you for the offer, but we’re actually doing just fine on baby stuff. Outside of the business aspect we’re doing okay. I mean yes we’re poor, but we’re stable. We just got rid of our cable and fancy cell phone plans (data, voicemail, extras) and it cut our bills in half. It’s just the business end for both of us that is such a problem right now. I try and keep business and personal separate for a lot of reasons, like tax and overall organization, but when the business side stagnates like this it can’t help but affect the rest of it… fortunately we’ve budgeted pretty well and our things like groceries, household and kids expenses are fairly balanced right now. It’s just the business loan and business card that are suffering due to lack of adequate funds coming in to pay them down while business expenses continued to rack up for 2-3 months past that.

      (Does that make sense? I had a rough night and a terrible headache right now so I’m not sure if I’m thinking straight)

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey,

    I think a lot of people are in similar situations so you mustn’t feel bad as such for asking, it’s good you have a way of asking to help.

    I know our food and living bills seem to go up constantly and myself and my partner both have full time jobs and a part time job each, and cover 50-60 hours of work each per week, just to ‘get by’. In the current climate a lot of people are struggling, so you are not alone. If I had anyway to help I would, and in the future if I was ever lucky enough to become wealthier these are the sort of people I would help, as you really deserve it.

    It’s a very hard time out there are the moment.xx

  • timmytm says:

    Can I hire you as my mom? Okay, fine. Big sister? Oh right, you’re already one of those, too. Little sister?

    Fine. The hot cousin. That’s my final offer.

  • kpnut says:

    I have read your journal for along time but don’t think I’ve ever left a comment!

    I love your work and have my eye on a couple of pieces,but I guess shipping to the UK would be tough to do?

    Good luck sweetie,keep up the good work Kx

    • admin says:

      Not at all. When I look through the shipping options on the lab site, their fee for UK shipping is about $13.25 + a 7.50 drop fee. So $20 would cover everything. It’s automatically shipped priority and gets there in about a business week.

  • jespere says:

    Okay, I feel totally weird for saying this. Totally. But here goes.

    I big fat puffy heart adore admire and swoon over your photos. Really. You are what I want to be when I grow up, although our styles differ.

    But when I go to your website?

    I don’t see “exclusive award winning amazing photographer”. I see “just another photographer”. Only when you take real time to gaze at each picture, your talent starts to show.

    Your pics don’t stand out enough on that site. The site attracts main focus. Which can’t be good in your case.

    That said, I’m super broke. But I’m going to spread the word.

    • tastyanagram says:

      I agree. I think you are superbly talented but your site doesn’t say that at all. The index page should give information, not just be a table of contents. Your shop should at least equally prominent with your portfolio. And it is very difficult to scroll through the photos for purchase and to figure out where the cart is. I know you are probably building this site by yourself and it’s WAY more than I could ever do, but I think that if it were updated to be easier to navigate and look more modern, while still keeping your aesthetic touch, you’d be able to sell more.

      • admin says:

        I didn’t build the template, I bought it (and it cost me a lot of money… well, for me anyway). I can’t build flash… the company I bought it from sells the templates that literally 90% of photographers use nowadays, and this really is what is used. Seriously, go look at the websites of other big photographers and you’ll see they’re EXACTLY like this.
        That said, I hate the fucking company I bought this from for a lot of reasons. I can’t customize any of the things you’ve suggested, nor do I have the time to rebuild from scratch an HTML site (or the money to buy another template that’s better).

        • tastyanagram says:

          Ugh, that’s a bummer. I wish I could help out at all. I am looking through deciding which print to buy right now. πŸ™‚

        • Personally I like the design of the site – I find it easy enough to navigate and I agree, it’s industry-standard. However, I did find it hard to find the fine art store – it wouldn’t have occurred to me to look in featured albums. Is there any way to reposition that page?

          The one thing I would sort of agree with for the future is that the site design (as in the look of it, not the functionality) is a bit heavy-handed… personally I do think the brocade-ish background and the photo borders do compete with the images a little bit. But then, that’s probably just a matter of taste. If you feel like it compliments/showcases your work then just ignore me, because there are so many different opinions on this kind of thing. And regardless, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about changing at the moment… maybe just something to consider down the line if you choose to update it?

          • admin says:

            I can’t change any of that stuff. :-/

            When I do change it, I’ll be buying another template. Preferably one more customizable.

            • Ah well. I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s a totally professional and industry-standard site. I’m sure it’s not the reason for business slowing down (it sounds like, from what you and Nette are describing, that local economy is the real problem?)

              Anyway, I’ve been thinking of you a lot since you posted this. I hope everything picks up again soon πŸ™‚

  • gngr says:

    I’m gonna get at least an 8×10 of ocean.jpg, I need to wait 4 days for my paypal funds to download to bank (I hate that part). Soon enough? πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous says:

    (sorry, so long since I used it I’ve forgotten my username)

    Someone has mentioned similar above, but could you set up a side line of editing photos taken by others. You are the other side of the world to us, but I would love to have your amazing touch on photos of my lads.

    Photos could be emailed to you and you would be able to do it at home. I personally would only be looking for things like exposure etc (I’m ignorant in this) and not head transposition.

  • missakins says:

    With the eye you seem to have what about doing digital scrapbooking for people? They send in their digital images, and you make hi-rez scrapbook pages that they can order as prints from you…you probably already have Photoshop, and there’s thousands of scrapbooking elements for free, and even pay ones can usually be had for cheap.

  • pingback_bot says:

    PSA: Ljer requesting help

    User referenced to your post from PSA: Ljer requesting help saying: […] I think it would be an incredible waste… Her photography is incredible.) She has an entry up here […]

  • Its not you… Its this town right now, its brutal. I walk around a lot and it feels like businesses are closing left right and centre. Well, actually it doesn’t just feel that way, it is that way. It makes me worry. πŸ™

  • roguewords says:

    I wish I could do more, but I have passed it on. I’ve got a couple of mommy groups on facebook, and they’ve both been informed.

    On to my livejournal and twitter friends. πŸ™‚ You’re an amazing photographer. If I could buy even one print from you, I totally would.

    Maybe I can convince my sister she needs to buy me a late birthday present. πŸ˜€

  • fallingwthu says:

    Have you thought of putting ads on your site? If you get the hits like you have in the past it can be some good extra bits of income.
    WE do that for our site and it makes a fair amount.

  • Heather, you are brilliant. I wish I could afford to fly you out to Alberta for a photo shoot. But hubby and I work and work and have little for what we should.
    YOU ARE BRILLIANT.
    something has GOT to start rolling for you and Curtis!

  • flutttergirl says:

    i put in an order for the goldstream park photo. that is where the bf and i had our first ‘date’ so it’s sentimental.

    i thought you had info on your site for pricing, etc. but i don’t see it now. is it not there anymore? i find websites with price points on them really helpful. otherwise i have no idea what to expect and i hate contacting people to find out that i really can’t afford them after all.

    thanks πŸ™‚

  • devilgrrl says:

    I think I remember you saying you sold off your diaper stash. Would a few newborns help? I have a few XS FuzziBunz I’d be happy to give you.

    • admin says:

      I really appreciate the offer a lot. πŸ™‚
      But I’m actually doing okay for diapers right now. Some months ago when I did have the extra funds I used some to buy a set of prefolds, one or two AIOs and some friends traded/fairied some more mediums-to-larges to me as well.
      Plus, LC and I have a trade going on for a set of newborn-to-medium OS, so I’m pretty set I think…

      In spite of that… really, thank you for the offer. I appreciate it a lot.

  • Photoshop work

    Would you be willing to be hired to edit some of our wedding photos?

    • admin says:

      Re: Photoshop work

      Sure, but I have to be honest with you and say that I have no idea what a fair rate for that work is. It’s been a long time since I’ve been active in the graphic design community for hourly works rather than large scale projects… so I’m a little rusty on the specifics.
      I suppose it also depends on what you want done? General balancing vs. hard core retouching (blemish removal, head swaps to create one presentable group photo from several takes, etc) or a mixture of both… you can email me more about it if you want: summerstorms at shaw dot ca.

      • Re: Photoshop work

        Would it be okay to send you a couple photos and just a general description of what I was looking for? I did have a paid photographer, but I own the copyright, so there shouldn’t be an issue.

        • admin says:

          Re: Photoshop work

          Oh yes, of course, thank you for clearing up the copyright issue as well! I assumed you did but didn’t think to ask… thank you.

          And yeah please do send a few along. I can send you back a few examples before we work something out to make sure I have a good idea of what you want done, and what kind of work it involves.

  • I ordered myself an 8×10 πŸ™‚ I would have ordered more if I could afford it! I really hope you don’t have to shut down – you’re too talented for that πŸ™

    I totally feel you on the business issue… I’ve been “in business” for almost two years, and I have yet to have a single paying client. That sucks hard enough – I can’t imagine actually having business, and then having it dry up for no apparent reason. I’m sorry πŸ™

    The photography business is such a damn money suck DX I had $50 in free Facebook ad credits from my web host that expired at the end of last year, so I set up an ad campaign that ran through the end of January. It balanced out perfectly – the $50 lasted exactly until the end of the month. I saw my fan page views go up a ridiculous amount, I got a handful of new “likes”… but not even one inquiry. $50 for a month of advertising, on only ONE website, and not even any inquiries? It made me confident that there is NO point in investing in advertising until I have money to burn… which is a catch 22 in itself, because how do you spend money without making it? Then there’s the fact that I only own a handful of gear (one camera, two lenses, one flash… no lights, no slaves, no backgrounds, etc.), and I sure as hell can’t afford to upgrade/add to it. It makes me less confident in putting myself out there, because I don’t feel adequately prepared for certain situations, namely related to lighting. But getting prepared costs money I don’t have.

    When I was in college (for photography), one of the things they drilled into our heads was that it takes an average of five years to get to a point where you can support yourself with your work – and that’s if you’re hammering away at it constantly. So… what are we supposed to in the meantime? :-/

    (And don’t even get me started on how my photography education and recent work experience has evidently made me completely unhireable for things like menial office work… WTF?)

    < /rant >

  • dwer says:

    just bought two 5X7 prints, in celebration of our baby who is due to arrive in the next three weeks!

    I had hoped to have you out for a pregnancy shoot — would have paid your way to Chicago — but then you got preggers, so…

    I’ll pass the website on to my friends, too. You’ll make it!

  • I wish I lived closer or could even afford to travel that far. I would hire you in a half of a heartbeat. Your work is amazing awesome!

    I am definitely going to look at getting a print as soon as I get paid next week. I have seen quite a few that I loved.

    Keep your head up – It will turn around.

  • crustyshoes says:

    Have you ever thought of putting some of your photos up as stock photos? I have a friend who does it on istockphoto.com and she makes a decent profit from it. I’m not sure how it actually works, but it could be something to look into.

    I hope everything works out for you, you have such talent.

    • crustyshoes says:

      Also, I would be very interested in pre-sets if you ever put some together. I bought a set from another photographer for $50 and they have been very useful during editing.

      • admin says:

        I’ve had a number of people ask about that, actually… and the other day a photographer friend and I were talking about it and she also strongly encouraged me to put out an action set. I have about 20 LR presets I’ve made that I use on my images very frequently, but they’re sort of set up for my use and not really for a beginner (they’re a starting point, not an ending point) so I dont’ know that they’re marketable. If I ever do end up putting out presets to sell I’d probably end up tweaking them, user-testing them with a few willing participants to get some constructive feedback, and then pairing the purchase together with a PDF of tips and tricks.

        • sualkin says:

          FWIW, none of the presets/actions I’ve ever bought have been ones where I haven’t had to tweak them quite a bit to ‘fit’ a photo. So I’m not sure you’d need to change yours any, or much, to get them to a selling point.

  • I’ve been reading your live journal for awhile now. Your stories have been inspiring and educational. I’ve learned so much about pregnancy and birth and parenting. I’ve been looking forward to having my future wedding photographed by you. I hope my small donation will keep you around long enough for my boyfriend to propose! Good luck!

  • quietseeker says:

    Sent something your way :). I hope it helps in some small way.

  • eiretamicha says:

    I just got my student loan last week and have drooled over your ‘mama with baby head down on belly’ print since you first shared it. So I ordered it because it’s beautiful, and because it will look lovely in my living room next to all my other midwifery and birth items. I hope you don’t have to sell your business…not just because you’re a fantastic photographer, but because you seem to love what you do…and that’s so important. ♥

    Good luck.

    • eiretamicha says:

      Oh, and I will share your page on my facebook. I know lots of midwives who’d love to have that same print hanging in their birth centers. πŸ™‚

      • admin says:

        I’ve actually had requests from at least a dozen midwives over the years to hang various prints, and 99% of them I donated without charge as a gesture to show how much I care about midwifery. I’m not in a position to do that right now, unfortunately… but please do pass it on. I feel really strongly about supporting the birth community.

  • moniska says:

    i am new to your friends list, and also a photographer, your work is gorgeous so i hope you are able to keep going! this is the worst time of year for money for all of us and i feel like bookings are coming in slower for us this year so far. i hope things turn around for you soooooon!

  • joleine says:

    You could check with some local mom -play groups about doing a photo-party. A friend of mine had one, where 5 of us brought our babies to her house and a photographer came over and did 15 to 20 minute shoots with each baby and then we all had a chance to buy prints or a disk from her.

    It was set up sort of like a tupperware party, where the hostess got a certain percentage of total sales in free product though. She didn’t charge a session fee, but I imagine you could figure out a way to charge one.

    • admin says:

      Portrait parties. I used to advertise those forever, but they’re really not that popular in this area… literally no one goes for them. :-/ I think it must be a cultural thing? Maybe the same reason senior portraits just aren’t a “thing” here.

      • joleine says:

        aah perhaps.. that’s too bad πŸ™ The lady that did ours sold a couple thousand dollars worth of prints between the 5 moms w/ babies and the pregnant mom that got her maternity pics done that day. πŸ™

        • admin says:

          Yeah, I hear nothing but amazing things about how crazy popular they are in the states. A lot of photographers swear by them! I see a couple of mid-to-high-end boutique style photographers here advertising them, but I know from the grapevine that they never sell for some reason. Like maybe one a year, if that.

          • sualkin says:

            You know, I’ve done 5 or 6 of them and have made about $600 between them all. I have no idea why I’ve had such awful luck with them.

            • admin says:

              Anecdotally, I hear that the “secret” to getting PP’s to work is attractive packages. Don’t offer a la carte pricing, have set packages, about 5 in all ranging from a few 8x10s and a sheet of wallets up to a large square canvas + all the digital negatives (10-15 max) and then have clients commit to a package when they sign up.

    • joleine says:

      oh I’m also interested in possibly ordering a print, but I can’t get the images to come up.. might just be chrome so I’ll try again later on the PC πŸ™‚

  • leahfu says:

    I’m interested in a picture if I have any spending money left after paying a crap ton of stuff, BUT(Pleeease don’t give me flack about this) I don’t have a checking account OR paypal. I can however get my bank/credit union to cut me a check in your name. I don’t know if there is any issue in doing this since you said personal checks?? But if I have the extra $$ I would really love to buy a picture and this is how I pay for anything that requires checks/credit cards(like rent).

  • noelove says:

    I would kill for some of those prints, but alas Im po.

    I DID tweet your website and commanded my minions to go forth and purchase your beautiful art.

  • I think *hope* I did this right but I have an order waiting, and I haven’t paid yet. Your work is stunning and I have said before that should I ever get married again I would love to have you out here doing the photos. I am so sorry you are in this situation.

    Have you thought of selling your handknit stuff on etsy or any other website? I died over the baby socks you posted earlier.

    • admin says:

      Yes, you did. πŸ™‚ I’m correlating any orders I receive, making up invoices with the discount applied an I’ll email each person individually with the final cost and any other information/questions I may need.

      Handknit: I would love to, but I’m not sure it’s a wise thing to get into right now. I’ve had on-and-off pregnancy induced carpal tunnel and I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, you know?

  • smellykaka says:

    I’ve been reading your LJ for 2-3 years now, and I have to say that:

    I love seeing the pics and reading the stories about your kids. I don’t love the pics of your husband, but I love the stories about him. I loved learning things I didn’t know about grief and loss and love the way you write about them. I love that you care so much about family. I love the awesome photoshoots you post and I love you writing about your work because hearing an expert in any field talk about their work is awesome. And, uh, don’t hit me but I loved the smoking hot silhouette nudie pic.

    So I flicked some $$$ your way, but it’s not a donation – you’ve earned it!

  • bondo says:

    Mini sessions. Offer Easter mini sessions, Mother’s day mini sessions, Father’s day mini sessions, etc. Charge half of your regular fee and cut down on what you normally offer in the package. You can book more of those at half price than you might at full price.

    Make sure you have decent SEO. I know WordPress has pretty good SEO.

    Call local Yoga centers and see if you can post about your mini sessions for maternity yoga or baby and mom yoga classes. I got a lot of families this way to help build my portfolio.

    I know a woman in LA who makes $100K a year and she most of her money comes from mini sessions. Make it look like it’s just something you’re starting to do and do it for any/all up coming occasions.

    I know Facebook ‘Like’ pages are iffy for business, but if you don’t have one, you never know, could help. You probably have one though.

    Oh, I never do this type of photography, but an old friend contacted me on Facebook. He asked if I’d consider photographing his daughter’s gymnastics team. Each individual family wants photos. There are about 10 families. I told them I’d do a group special. Step out of your comfort zone and try a local dance class or gymnastics, etc.

    Just my suggestions! Maybe you’ve done this!

    • admin says:

      Thank you for these, I’m adding them of my list of things to do over the next few days (the ones I haven’t already done/employed recently, I mean).

      • ditto on the facebook like page! It’s easy to get a lot of people to your website from social media. You have a twitter for personal use – you could start one for professional use too. Also websites like offbeatmama and offbeatwedding promote photographers through their websites, and they have a very devoted following.

        • admin says:

          I’ve actually had one of those for about… a year? The offbeat thing I’ll definitely look into.

          • I cant find it, but I did find heatherarmstrongphotography.com which is very obnoxious and not what i was expecting.

            • admin says:

              LOL, there’s another photographer with my name, similar style and who has almost the same website address who frequently gets her clients mixed up with mine. I often get email for her.

              Look under “Heather Armstrong Photography”, it’s listed as “artist” but there’s still an old group page that I abandoned some time ago… the avatar just has my little logo on it, no image.

  • I wish I could afford a print or two, but since I can’t, I am happy to have donated what I could. You truly are a phenomenal photographer, hopefully your business will pick up soon!

  • zepharum says:

    Groupon is a good idea, but I’ve also heard it’s kind of bad. A good friend of mine who is a photographer in Vancouver gave me the down low on Groupon. If you’d like to hear it, send me a PM. Do you travel to the mainland for work? If so I will get you in contact with her and she can tell you herself.

    In September my family and I took a mental health break vacation to Uclulet and we drove from Edmonton. I wish I had thought of having family photos done by you as we passed by the general area…your work is stunning. Maybe next summer…hmmm…

    • admin says:

      I get so much crap in my LJ inbox it’s easy for me to miss stuff, so it’s better to just email me it (summerstorms at shaw dot ca). I would love to know your experience.
      I do occasionally go to the mainland for shoots, but it’s rare. I haven’t been in about two years.

  • maelona says:

    The “featured” button on your website doesn’t appear to work for me. It flashes orange as though I’ve clicked it, but doesn’t send me anywhere. All I can get is the scrolling images on the home page.

    • dwer says:

      I had to bring the site up in IE to get it to work. The flash wouldn’t work in Chrome at all.

    • admin says:

      Let me know if it still isn’t working for you after trying another browser. the site isn’t actually my build, it’s a purchased template that was guaranteed to be cross-browser compatible (and when I test it, it works in Chrome, Safari, IE and Firefox run on both Mac and PC)… but YMMV. If you still can’t get to it, let me know and I’ll set up an alternative.

  • viellen says:

    As a free way to list your prints, have you heard of redbubble? You can list whatever you want for free and set your own markup. When people buy items you make money, if they buy nothing you don’t lose money.

    You’re such a phenomenal photographer, I hope you find more business soon!

    • viellen says:

      Also, I notice your site is flash-based (and I don’t see that it has an alternative to flash). That means that anyone who loads your site on an iOS device (like an iPhone/iPod/iPad) can’t view it. If there’s a way for you to put up a flash-alternative version you can appeal to a wider audience. πŸ™‚

      • admin says:

        I’ve thought of that, but right now I don’t have the time/resources to make an HTML version (I can, I just don’t have the time to spend to it because regardless of not having business I’m trying to stay busy doing as much as possible as I can to promote myself/take care of things/etc). About 95% of photographers in this area and beyond have flash only sites, so fortunately I’m not in the minority… but your suggestion is one I’ve thought about dealing with on numerous occasions. My first real career was in web design, so trust me, this bugs me. :-/

    • admin says:

      Thank you. I will add this to my list of things to look into over the next few days. πŸ™‚

  • This is probably something you already thought of, but does your area have a groupon? I know of some photographers who have posted themselves on groupon with a killer deal..like 50 bucks for an hour session with 3 prints or something, and it really gets the ball rolling.

    As long as you limit your clients, like only offer the deal to 25-50 people, it can be profitable, because you have the rest of the images taken, and some will buy extra prints. And a small amount of clients isn’t enough to burn you out, hopefully. Plus the clients you DO get, they will have your images hanging up in their house for their friends to see, and they will say “Well, Babyslime did these, she is very good, isn’t she?”

    • facethemoon says:

      This. I’ve seen some of the most ridiculous photographers on our local Groupon, H. And if you focus your listing right – boudoir or children or something, you can make A LOT of business this way. I know Groupon takes a cut, but it’s worth looking into.

    • admin says:

      I’ve only just recently even heard of Groupon… how do I find out if my area “has one”?

      • What Farfalla said. Although, I thought you lived in Victoria? So here: http://www.groupon.com/victoria/

        Somewhere on that site is contact info. You have to have the right balance of Good Deal vs Not Ridiculous. Because if you get too ridiculous, you end up losing money, or burning out when you are basically doing dozens of clients at cost.

        • admin says:

          Yes… balance is good. I’ve had a few friends suggest I lower my prices to match Craigslist-style portfolio builders in order to get more business. The problem is I can’t match those people, because they aren’t professionals… the costs I cover are apples to oranges: I have professional gear, professional labs and give professional products. It’s going to cost me more than some guy with his mom’s old camera developing snapshots at Costco. :-/

          • don’t lower your prices to meet those people, you know enough and have been mentored on your price points too. You’ve even said you’re a lot lower than most other photographers.

          • I think the advantage to Groupon is that it allows you to price-match the low-end people without ever removing the emphasis from the fact that you are indeed high-end. The whole appeal of Groupon is that it’s generally about 40%-65% off the sticker price of whatever you’re buying (In fact, I’m not sure but I’m guessing you actually have to select a discount off your previous advertised prices… as opposed to setting an arbitrary price? At least, that’s how it’s advertised.) But, again, the emphasis is on the fact that’s this one-time steal of a deal… not that your product is actually devalued, if that makes sense.

            I’m not sure whether or not businesses actually make any real money when offering Groupons, but it does get a whole lot of traffic through the door. I bought one for an LYS and when I spoke to them about it they said they were totally shocked at how many people bought them.

            I think another thing to think about is choosing a good expiration date… my yarn Groupon was only good for 3 months or so, so everyone had to show up and cash in relatively quickly.

            • admin says:

              *making furious mental notes about all of this*

              • It’s worth noting that you’re marking down your product around 50%, and then Groupon takes a substantial cut of the 50% that remains. Here’s an article about a business that regretted doing a Groupon because of all the money they lost. Someone recently told me that if the Groupon deal costs less than around $25, the business isn’t really seeing any of that money. I don’t have a source for that, though, just hearsay.

                Anyway, your situation could be bad enough that it would be worthwhile to just break even in order to get your name out there more, but you definitely have to be careful with Groupon or you could end up losing a lot of money.

                • This doesn’t surprise me, and it makes me wonder if the businesses that offer gift cards (i.e. $25 for $50 towards products/services) do better than businesses that offer deals on specific services (i.e. half off a listed price). Because the ones who offer gift cards can end up making extra money when people purchase more than the price of the gift card (like I did with the yarn store… I paid $10 for a $20 gift card and then bought $38 worth of product and paid the difference.)

              • twirlie says:

                If groupon isn’t for you, a photographer friend of mine had a lot of success with mamapedia (Sp?) last year. She’d just found out she was pregnant when she did the deal and I think it made her enough so that she didn’t have to worry about maternity leave so much.

                I don’t know the difference with commissions or whatever between the two sites, but it might be worth researching.

      • itsyspy70 says:

        Other similar sites that function much the same:

        LivingSocial
        Dealpop

  • effervescent says:

    Don’t hate yourself. You share so much beauty and knowledge through your entries here! Nobody is going to feel as though you’re guilt-tripping them into donating.

    *goes to look at prints*

  • thehobbit says:

    I donated. Too many artists struggling. I wish I had enough for a print, but, well, later. For now, I’ll do what I can.

  • I unfortunately can’t even donate, I’m struggling to pay rent myself, but I did tweet your website and passed it on to people I know who have the ability to buy prints! Hopefully someone I know will! I think you’re an amazing photographer and it would be so incredibly sad if you couldn’t continue with your business. Your photo sessions are awesome and I enjoy reading/seeing them.

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