Show #36 – Rachel Brenke – Photographer Business Plan

For Show #36, we are joined once again by the amazing Rachel Brenke.  Host Mike Howard & Tim Kemperle (Kathleen Bowie had the night off) interviewed Rachel with help from a ton a questions from chat and Facebook.  Rachel did an incredible job answering as many as possible and discussing her Photographer Business Plan.


Viewer Questions:

  • How do you manage and find balance between family/business/school…and every thing else you do?
    • First I “Cloned” myself 🙂
    • Working on the go
    • Outsource, Accounting Etc to balance life
    • Keep to Office Hours
    • Work from phone
    • Automate
    • Calendar – Schedule, Edit, Post Process added into the calendar
    • Average 2 sessions per weekend…with a max of four
    • Researched editing companies…have not found a company I like – Goal is to send out the reception shots and continue to edit the formal shots
    • Used my phone to perform many updates
  • This is not legal advice…just personal experience (what I learned)
    • Do you need to be registered?  No
    • 1. Automatically own the rights to your pictures
    • 2. If you offer digital files consider the phrase you give your clients…do not give the copyright, most clients are really looking for a Print Release…personal printing of any size to any object.
  • Does having a client pay a retainer fee ensure they show up for a photo shoot?
    • Yes, since instituted I have not had a customer not show.  When setting up a photo shoot I set aside my time, get a babysitter, and pay for a location.  This all costs money and having the retainer paid in advance has helped prevent no-shows
  • What would be the proper order to setting up your business
    • Depends on your technical skills
    • Become technically proficient you can then move on to the creative side
    • Know how to use your camera before you start charging
  • Pricing – It is an animal
    • What are the costs of doing business?  Your business?
    • Processing time
    • Marketing
    • Equipment
    • Outsourcing fees?
  • Best marketing tool that you have implemented into your biz
    • Social Media…price per reach is great.
    • Also looking for tangible marketing
    • Utilize Google Analytics to determine when people are on your page and how long they are there…it can help your site
  • Strong following on Facebook
    • Helping people…feel that if I help others it has paid back in customers
    • Developed a following from other photographers who have referred clients
    • Ensure people know where you are from otherwise you will lose them quickly
  • How do you have a great senior rep program
    • Identify the client you want
    • Get engaged with local schools
    • Have contracts in place
  • How old were your kids when you started and your husband away
    • Joshua – 5
    • Olivia – under 1 (she was the reason I received my camera as a Christmas present)
    • Make time to do it…you can always make time
  • Viewing sessions…in person or on line
    • Wedding is always in person
    • Individual sessions have been online but the goal is to do it in-person
  • What print houses do you use?  Did you try several
    • Tried several and knew the price point I wanted
    • Balanced the price / turnaround and quality
    • Millers Printing – colors have always been true to my screen
  • in the world of instant gratification do you email out a welcome kit or do you recommend mailing out a hard copy?  what should be in a welcome kit?
    • Depends on your style and what you want to do.
  • Discounts – Family / Friends
    • No…if I give a discount to my friends it would be most people.  I am in a business.  I prefer to give gifts versus a discount
  • Do you have a style? Does this prevent you from being creative
    • You develop a style as a creative photographer.
  • Since you do online viewing, when it comes to selling products do you feel that hurts you?
    • Yes…financially and personally
    • With online viewing you lose sales versus having the client with you where you are more likely to get a sale.
  • For how long do you save files from your clients? Do you always keep all of them or just pick out the best for your page/blog/advertisements/etc.?
    • Have files from way back when.  I have not deleted files and need to clean out my files.
  • Managing client expectations?
    • So far really lucky.  If I had an unhappy client they have not told me or I have not heard about it.  I have had some unhappy people from workshops.
  • What if a client doesn’t want to sign a contract?
    • They don’t go on the calendar, refund and don’t show
  • Alter a contract after a shoot?
    • No…a contract is a contract
    • Refer back to a contract if there are issues.
  • When should I register as a business?
    • My Personal View:  Don’t take a dime without being registered and collecting sales tax…it is a $500/day fine
  • Any tips on building self confidence
    • Continue trying to put best foot forward and the confidence will follow
  • Is giving “flyers” or something “physical” to neighbors or other people in public to advertise even for like mini sessions tacky? Is that a bad way to go about it?
    • No…just ensure you are not breaking any town ordinances







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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast ( and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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