DISCLAIMER—– this is not about *you*…I promise this is a very generalized way for me to express some collective stress I’ve probably put more upon myself than others have put on me. If any of my sweet clients dare email or message me and ask I’m gonna get ’em! This is just a common issue for MANY business owners, not just photographers. I have a lovely little string of emails from some people having a hard time that I can totally relate to and they deserve this post! πŸ™‚

Last year, I began my business on my Mark II, a battery grip, a 430ex II flash, 24-105 4.0 and a 50 1.4.

This year…….

Mark II (another new one different from last years)
Mark III
50 1.2
85 1.2
35 1.4
2 600ex’s
100 2.8
70-200 2.8
lightstand, batteries, $90 compact flash drives galore
{all L lenses^}
A promotional video in the making this fall
$40 a month for website
$30 a month for photo hosting
3 $100 external hard drives
Lawyer fees to switch from Sole Prop to S-Corp
Both trendy πŸ™‚ and appropriate camera bags to haul my stuff around πŸ™‚

This business is expensive. I remember getting my business license in Virginia Beach two years ago and the lady said now remember it’s going to be stressful trying to invest in this for the first couple of years but if you stick with it, you can grow and really make money to support your growing family someday.


I knew it’d be an investment. The first year I really really rocked out with what I had because I wanted to get to know my camera and lenses as well as I could before investing like CRAZY like we did this year. The reason that we decided to heavily invest this year is because we plan to expand our family again at some point in the nearer future and we wanted to get all of the ‘good stuff’ ASAP to get that heavy spending out of the way while Cammy was REALLY young and we were able to!

Now, do you need all of those prime lenses to run a successful business? NO! Seriously though, I am finding out that not having those before I was missing out so much on what I was looking to accomplish with certain ‘looks’ at weddings and sessions, so I am so glad I did! It takes a while though. We didn’t hit the lotto, we simply took an estimated 85% (EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT) of what I made this year and put it back into my business. That’s insane!!!!!!!!!!! But we don’t wine and dine or go on long fancy vacays. We took two ONE night vacations to Nags Head this year and the gnarly China Bus to NYC for one night. That’s it! Not even half a week vacation y’all. This was the year of Amanda Hedgepeth Photography building itself to support family and get everything I needed/wanted for it.

With this being said, I started getting kind of discouraged when I looked at how much I was discounting and giving sessions for free. Between free sessions and discounted events, I have donated $5000+………FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS………..towards people who implied that they wouldn’t be able to book without a discount or some sort of deal. My heart hurts when I realize that I do this for people who are trying to support their families and want pictures, because this is my paycheck and I have a family that I need to support. I have taken away $5000 from my own family because of being a total sucker. I owe my gracious and giving in-laws who saved our butts in our time of need for a car when my transmission died on the Ford EXPLODEr and I have donated way too much this year πŸ™

I have no one in mind in particular, again, like I said before, when I write this but just the expectation of the free-ness in general that I think is really hard to turn down because of guilt– isn’t really fair when your own family suffers for it. One person once wrote me about a wedding inquiry and asked if I give a discount because they grew up on the same street as me.

Are you kidding???

If you don’t value me, I can’t bear to walk out of that door away from the most beautiful little girl in the world to value you and working with you.

This post topic comes from a consecutive string of emails I received from a handful of local girls and guy who felt that they were ALWAYS obligated to give discounts and were in turn losing the opportunity to earn a living and be paid in full for their craft that they so heavily invest in.

Β If your boss was a friend and kindly asked if it was okay that your paycheck was a couple hundred short, just because, what would you do? This is a similar feeling. So to sum up the point, if you are inquiring with someone that you know for a service, whether it’s a relative, best friend or friend of a friend…please anticipate to pay the full amount of a service they charge out of respect for their craft and their hard work servicing you to support their family πŸ™‚



Posted by:amandahedgepeth

<p>Hey there! We’re a husband and wife team who has the honor to document inspiring wedding days for the most cheerful couples around. We have three daughters lovingly referred to as the mermaid mafia and we love nothing more than salty beach days, laughing as much as possible and living the simple, good life.</p>

16 replies on “Discounts & Guilt | Photography

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! I have told you about my issues with this same topic doing hair and makeup..It was pretty insane!! I am so proud of you for writing this and putting it out there!! I value your work so much!! <3

  2. I hear you! I do give discounts to just a few family members (not counting my Mama’s for free of course), but I’ve had so many people ask for the craziest of reasons….My favorite is my husband’s 2nd cousin who I had never met who emailed me and asked if she could get a family discount. πŸ™‚

  3. Amanda, this is the first of your blogs that I have read…even though I have been an admirer of your amazing work for quite some time. πŸ™‚ I truly needed that! I am in “the beauty business” and have been for over 5 years and I have given away so much of my “store” for this very reason. I have cost my family a lot of time and money. I am preparing to re-energize my business and pursue other business oppertunities and truly appreciate your blog…I am certain it will change the way I do business. Family is #1 and absolutely, positively should come first. I am good at what I do and am totally worth the money! THANK YOU!!!

  4. Amanda my favorite quote “If you don’t value me, I can’t bear to walk out of that door away from the most beautiful little girl in the world to value you and working with you.”

    Totally agree with you!

  5. And here I am telling everyone who will listen that you’re worth way MORE than you charge!! Can’t wait to work with you again in a couple weeks!

  6. I somehow missed this post the first time around, but it is so valuable and incredibly important – not just for clients and potential clients to realize, but also for photographers!! I realized about two weeks ago that I’ve been giving some sort of discount on almost everything this past year, and it’s KILLING my business! So proud of you for putting this out there, and definitely going to take the message to heart!!

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