Friday, January 27, 2012

All you wedding planners...

If you have planned a wedding you know how expensive it can be and one of the things that most brides want to spend the extra money on is the photography. Now I'm no photographer, but a videographer (see videos here). I would like to make it my full-time job, but I get a bit nervous that if I charge too much that I won't get any weddings booked.

I was ready this blog and she found an awesome response to a brides cry on craigslist for a "decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer." The bride went on to say..."WHY because the word "WEDDING" is involved photographers think they can charge you $ 3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without, so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have!"

Since I'm just 'starting out,' I did my first wedding in August 2009, but have still only done friends and family weddings for the most part, I don't charge near as much. However, if I was doing this as my full time job, I would have to.

David Grupa, a professional photographer, replied to this craigslist post in a very polite and explanitory way. It definitely shows that your wedding venders (at least those that are self-employed) really aren't walking away with that big check you wrote them...(it's a bit long, but explains well)

Dear [Craigslist Poster],

A colleague shared your Craigslist ad with me a bit earlier today. I wish I could say that "hanging out at a wedding and taking tons of photos" is "easy money" as you seem to think, but it's really not. While I agree that professional photography is not inexpensive, try working with a "weekend warrior with a camera" and see the difference. Sure, you may pay less money, but the resulting images will be of such poor quality, you'll be certain to feel "ripped off."

However, rather than tell you about award-winning photography, explain my credentials and attempt to convince you why a talented photographer is worth $3000 or more, I'm going to do some basic math instead.

First, let's talk about taxes. Don't you just hate opening up your paycheck at the end of the week and finding that Uncle Sam and friends have taken about 30% of your hard-earned dollars for federal, state and other taxes? Well, photographers have to pay them, too. That's $900 straight off the top of that $3000, leaving $2100. (You may think that 30% seems like a high number, but remember that since I'm self-employed, there's nobody else kicking in a percentage; the entire tax burden is borne by me.) Since there's no withholding, it's up to me to put this amount away so that I can make my quarterly tax payments on time.

Another huge chunk of the pie is a rather surprising expense to many people. We call it "Overhead" and "Cost of Goods Sold". In this category are visible items like albums, prints, frames and those items you take home. You don't want cheap things that will fall apart or fade, so I'm willing to pay a bit more in the search for a quality product. Remember, "good things aren't usually cheap, and cheap things aren't usually good." The photography industry is a showcase for that motto; really, ask around. (The pages of that "Snapfish" album will fade and discolor before your first anniversary.)

However, there are also other things in this group as well; things that we need to deliver our best to you, but are somewhat "invisible" to people other than business owners. They include our studio rent or monthly location payment, phone, computer, website and hosting, equipment and liability insurances (because we realize that we live in a litigious society), and local business and other licenses. Add in the membership dues to professional associations where we go for new techniques and to stay current so that we can deliver those amazing images you seek, and this Overhead category takes another 30% bite out of that $3000 so that just $1200 remains.

Then there's the equipment we use. Digital has brought some awesome advantages to photographers, but it comes at a price. New cameras and lenses are not inexpensive; we don't photograph with $500 Canon Rebels from WalMart. Since it takes a while to save enough money for this, I put away 10% of each job toward new equipment, equipment repairs, cleaning and maintenance. (Yes, I carry at least 2 working professional cameras to your wedding in the event something happens. A professional will simply pick up a new camera and continue photographing as if nothing happened. Your bargain photographer may panic or worse yet, not even realize that something is wrong. Not sounding like such a bargain anymore, is it?) Subtracting that $300 brings me down to $900.

Since I realize I won't be able to do this for the rest of my life (and I haven't found a sugar momma to support me) I'd better save something for retirement. Financial planners say that should be 10%, so there goes another $300. I'm down to $600 of the original price.

Being self-employed, I have to buy my own health insurance for me and my family. For an individual who's not getting it through their employer, this is NOT cheap. (I'm not going to use the term "WACK", but I think you get where I'm heading.) Another 10%, another $300 and I'm down to $300 "profit" from your wedding.

While I'd like to say that I take the remaining $300 and spend it on me, it's only partially true. As you do, I have responsibilities such as monthly bills, gas for the car, car payment, food, clothing . . . the kind of stuff you were mentioning.

Let's say I spend 6 hours at your wedding, another 8 hours editing your images, not to mention the meetings we've had that last an hour each. When you come back to select the images for your album, we'll spend another 2 hours going through choices and then I'll invest another 4 hours (minimum) designing the perfect album for you, prepping it for printing and sending it to the manufacturer. When it comes back, I'll inspect it and make sure it's perfect, then spend another 45 mins going through it with you when you pick it up. Almost a full 24 hours . . . divided by the $300 I got to keep . . . and I've just made $12.50 an hour. (Which totally blows the "You're making so much money it's crazy" theory.)

On a side note, over the past 36 years I have been photographing weddings, I can't even begin to count the number of ball games and other events I've missed. My kids got used to it; "You know that Daddy works on Saturday", but over the years it took its toll on my relationships as well. I refuse to make those mistakes again; those who refuse to learn from the past are destined to repeat it.

I'm sure you're probably tired of reading, but I hope you understand what I'm saying. Producing a quality product at a fair price IS what professional photographers do; it's always your choice to work with us or someone else. The problem is, what will you give up when you "get what you paid for?"


David L. Grupa
Certified Professional Photographer
M.Photog.Cr., AFS-MNPPA

So, think about this brides, mom's, anyone who is hiring someone that is self-employed for anything really. Remember they don't get a paycheck where their taxes are already taken out and their insurance is paid for. They have to save and pay for all of that with the money you are giving them, so be generous...especially if you LOVED their final product.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shout Out!!!

I like to do shout-outs every once in a while to let my readers know what I'm reading :).  Well, lately I have been catching up on one of my college roommate's blog's.  She just recently started her blog and for good reason.  On January 10th she and her husband moved to NEW ZEALAND!!!!  It has been aweseme hearing about her life as a kiwi!  Gary and I are planning a trip to see them, hopefully in July!!!  Can't wait for her to take us around to all of the exciting places she has been writing about! 

Now for a little flashback in time...

Oh man!!!!!  This is classic!!!  This was for a social club meeting at Freed.  We were all 6 in Phi Kappa and bought those jerseys on sale at a shop in Henderson.  This particular meeting was the air band meeting.  It was soooo awesome!!  There is actually a 15 second video floating around somewhere that I'm going to track down!!  Just in case you're wondering we are Boys II Men...

Here's Rachel and me at Riverboat our sophomore year!  Geez louise I was so skinny!!

Here's the suite at Halloween.  Rachel, Beth and Martha are Christmas carolers!  I was an Asian girl and Trish and Megan are pirates!

This is our senior year at the marshmallow fight, that obviously turned into mud sliding!

Senior year officers!!


Riverboat our Junior Year!

I think this was one of the first pics we took as suitemates!  This is at the Phi Kappa mixer at the very beginning of our junior year!

The 4 of us liked to go on the roof of Porter Terry and sing devo songs!!  We felt like such rebels!  We even recorded some of those...I should probably try to find those too :).


Megan actually didn't make it to this trip to Crossville.  This is us on Rachel's parent's boat. 

This is our junior year when we snuck out to go to IHOP...what a night.  That could be a whole post of it's own!!

The bean scene.  A skit we did in Gatlinburg with our church group at Stantonville

Mine and Rachel's senior year.  I was a Makin' Music director...we swept!!!

Our graduation!!

Suite 17 reunion for Martha's birthday!
Another mixer picture!  Suite 17 "THE VENT"  This is our classic picture!!

At Martha's birthday after we all left Freed!

Again at my wedding!!

Me and RD at the demo derby in Lawrenceburg.  The first and last time we hung out as couples!!
This is our very last picture together while she lived in America at the Race for the Cure.

I miss you tons and tons, Rachel, but I'm soooo excited for the life that you have in New Zealand!!  I love my little kiwi!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The birthday festivties continued this past weekend when we went to my parent's house and they took us out to dinner.  The birthday girl (or boy) always gets to choose where we eat.  I chose Cheddars!!  I love that place!!  We did my cake and presents at the restaurant because Shelley and Jared weren't coming back to mom and dad's to spend the night.  I got a new iphone cover (for my new iphone my manager gave me...crazy right?), some money and a best buy gift card.  The food was great and then we all enjoyed some cookie cake afterwards!  We even gave the server some, who told us he got a little bite because he was bombarded when he got back to the kitchen with it :).

So, the rest of this post is super random...

This is the frame wreath I made my friend Rachel.  I didn't get to celebrate her birthday because December was super crazy, so I took it to Gatlinburg with us and gave it to her there.  She loved it!!!

On Wednesday night I stayed up to make this canvas for my manager and his wife, who were having a baby on Thursday.
I love her name!!

Isn't she beautiful!!!

Monday night Gary and I needed to run a few errands. We have been needing to buy a new dishwasher since we got home from Malaysia, so Monday night we 'started' shopping. Our first stop was HH Gregg. We got out of the car and Gary said, "I don't want to buy anything, I just want to look." So, we started looking and one of the sales guys came up to us, asked us what we were looking for and what our budget was. He showed us 3 dishwashers within our budget. The Whirlpool was definitely the best out of the 3 and it was $30 below budget. He said he sold one earlier that day and checked all of the competitors prices so he knows they had the cheapest one, well the smart amazing man that I married said, "Let's just go ahead and check them again." What do you know...Lowe's had it on sale for $22 dollars cheaper than HH Gregg and that means that HH Gregg will match it and take 10% off of that...we walked in not planning to buy and walked out as the owners of a new dish washer!!! We haven't picked it up yet, but I'm SUPER excited to get it home and get it to work!!!

We also went to the grocery store that night.  We always shop at Kroger and I can honestly say that Gary is the better grocery shopper out of the two of us because he is really good about going in order through the store and not having to go back to find something he forgot.  I always have to go around the store at least twice before I'm done, but this particular night we were both all over the place and that is because they decided to move everything...
This aisle was the worst by far, but these signs were everywhere.  What normally went in that spot wasn't there, but a sign to tell you where to go.

Any ideas on why grocery stores decide to confuse and frustrate all of their customers by rearranging everything??  I sure hope they keep those signs up even after everything is moved so I'll still know where to go :).

I hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday!!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Birthday Weekend

The weekend started with this beautiful lady getting married!!!!
Congrats Beth and Kevin!!!

Pic by: Shonta Harper - Sharper Photography

Immediately after Beth and Kevin peeled out, literally, of their reception, Gary and I hit the road for the long drive to Gatlinburg.  Our GPS charger is broken and my iphone was dying.  Before it died I looked up directions and got some from Rachel so I could be prepared.  She even sent me a picture of the entrance to the cabins.  We arrived in Gatlinburg and turned left at the first light.  This is where things got crazy!!  We were supposed to go about 10 miles and the place we were staying (Bent Creek) was going to be on our left.  I knew the sign was lit up (per the picture text) and as soon as we hit 10 miles on the odomoter we were both looking.  We came to a golf course (Golf Creek) and I immediately thought that was it.  So, we turned in and made the lefts that was supposed to take us to our cabin on the left, but this road only took us up the scarriest, skinniest road I have ever been on.  The turns were sharp and steep.  We were driving Dora, so she really isn't the easiest thing to be driving in situations like this.  Thank goodness I married a patient, loving and good driving man because he was able to do a 50 million point turn at the top of this mountain while I literelly held my hand over my eyes the entire time and kept repeating, "I'm so sorry!  You're doing a great job!  I love you!!"  Bent Creek ended up being a few more miles up the road and there were no scary roads to get the cabin...
There were 2 couples already there for the party.  Lee and Rachel, who I've mentioned countless number of times and Rachel's sister Stephanie, her husband Richie and their baby Carson.  Richie and Stephanie surprised us at the last minute and decided to come and we were sooo excited to spend the time with them!  That night we played games and got in the hot tub.

The next day was my actual birthday!!  Rachel made me my birthday breakfast of whole wheat pancakes, turkey sausage and eggs!!  It was yummy!!!  She even added some blueberries and choc chips to some of the pancakes.  The boys then left us to do manly things, like fly fish.
Lee and Gary with their waders.
The water was too cold and the trout were not out.
This is Don Winningham.  He is an elder at our church and Gary's mentor when it comes to fly fishing.  He and his wife have a cabin in Gatlinburg and happened to be up there so the boys of course wanted him to go along.

He's such a cute fly fisherman!

Wading in the water!

While the boys were off doing that, us girls just hung out at the cabin for some relaxing time.  We played with Carson, he's 4 months old and oh so sweet, and watched movies!  That night we played more games including my favorite Hit or Miss

Monday was the day the girl's got pampered.  We went and got our nails done and then met back up with the boys to eat at Old Mill.  It was sooooo yummy!!!

Then we sent the boys back to the cabin and we went shopping!!  I came back with soup and lotion from Bath and Body Works to last me a year!! 

Once again games were played and fun was had by all that night!!

Tuesday morning we all had to say goodbye to the Polar Bear (our cabin).  Gary and I decided to walk in downtown Gatlinburg for a bit and left with 2 kinds of cheese and 6 bottles of sauce and salsa!!  Then of course you have to stop at Bass Pro!

We got home about 3:30 and it was back to reality!!  We did have such a great time in Gatlinburg and I can't wait until we get to go again!!  Thanks Gary, Rachel, Lee, Stephanie, Richie and Carson for making my 27th birthday one to remember!!

Happy birthday to me!!

Winter Table Centerpiece

I did end up putting a lot of my snowflakes away, just because it was easier when I had all of my Christmas boxes down from the attic.  However, I did decide to leave the table pretty much the same.  I did have change out the centerpiece since it was Christmas trees before.
I, of course, found this idea on pinterest.  I already had pretty much everything to do it, so the cost was nothing. 

I had some old bottles that I spray painted white and then added the epson salt.  The smaller salt looks more like snow and sticks better.  I used spray adhesive.

The silvery sticks I purchased our first year of marriage to be my tree topper.  My mom gave me a snowflake topper last year, so these weren't being used anymore.

The tall sticks in the vase are sticks from our yard that I painted white and silver.  I then added some more silver sticks to that vase and some 'snow' in the bottom.
It is all sitting on one of my glass platters scattered with 'snow' and snowflakes.  I'm not sure how I'm going to store the bottles because the salt falls right off if you touch it.  I guess I'll do the best I can to wrap them up, but it was so cheap and easy that it will be ok if I have to re-apply next year.

Happy Winter,

My new husband!!

For those of you who don't know, Gary was growing his beard and hair out until the end of the year.  At first it wasn't that bad because it was still kind of cute...
This was how long it was in November.

But once December hit, I was done with the facial hair!!!

Here he is the day before he got it cut last week.
Do you notice that his mustache is covering both of his lips??  Try kissing that!!

This one is a bit scary!!
He enjoyed fluffing his beard out!!

and flipping his mustache up!!

And this is what he looks like now!!
No, he isn't posing.  He's just laying on the floor watching TV and I got this pic.  I decided you could see him better if I didn't turn it sideways :).

He looks sooooooo much better and the morning after I woke up and was shocked at how stinkin' cute he was!!!  I just rubbed his face and told him how handsome he is!!

I love my new husband,