I’m pretty broke at the moment. Being a Professional Wedding Photographer I have got lots of exciting projects and work to look forward to this year, and all of it paid, yet I’m dreading my car’s MOT next month and wish I had a spare few pounds to take the family away somewhere over half term. Besides ringing up a massive credit card debt (something I promised myself I’d never do again!) this is just not going to happen, so I emailed my boss to ask for a pay rise. This is what I said:
For the past two years I have been a loyal and hard working employee. I have developed my skills through courses and take on board your constant criticism and act upon it. You have asked me to work long shifts, usually over evenings and weekends, but because I love this job so much I would never complain about that.
As you know, I have a young family I need to support. I have to run a car out of my own pocket, pay the household bills, food shopping, clothes for my son and never have any left over for myself. Next week is half term and we’d love to get away somewhere for a few days, although on my current salary I simply cannot afford it.
I really would like to attend more training courses this year, as it is SO important I continuously update my skills and do the best job I can for you. There are also exhibitions and events that would be really beneficial to attend, although again money is the main problem.
According to Brides magazine the average wedding in the UK spends £1400 on wedding photography. This is similar to what we charge for a basic package, yet I rarely see much of this money after meeting the clients, preparing for the big day, scouting the venues, working for 12-14 hours during the wedding, the 30-40 hours of editing 450-500 photos.
I have built your websites for you and keep them all up to date, using skills that are self-taught in my own time. I have become an expert at SEO, Google ranking, online marketing and promotion. I respond to emails and Facebook enquiries as quickly as I can, sometimes dozens per day. I take long phone calls from clients, marketing companies and set up meetings with clients, venues, wedding companies, printing companies. I run the PR department, keep all your accounts up to date, write your business and marketing plans, act as your chief executive yet also make the tea and keep your studio clean.
I hope that you will appreciate how hard I work for you, how dedicated I am to your business and how much I am willing to sacrifice personally to make your business succeed. All I ask is for a small rise in my salary so I can occasionally take my wife out to dinner and maybe even afford a holiday in the sun this year. (That is if my old Ford doesn’t fail its MOT next month).
What do you say boss; do I deserve it?
I thought that was fair. I do work hard and he pays me peanuts, if at all. But here is his response;
I appreciate how hard you have been working for me. You have given up so many of your evenings and weekends to my business and consistently work hard. I know that I am sometimes over critical of your work and providing motivation isn’t a strength of mine; I apologise and thank you for your dedication.
But these are difficult times. We are still starting out in this business venture, and we have a long way to go before we are ‘top of our game’ and hopefully reaping the rewards of all our hard work.
I appreciate how you feel when you see what we charge for our services, yet we are running a professional organisation and are certainly not the most expensive out there. There are many costs in running a business that you might not see or appreciate, these include;
- Insurance – equipment, public liability, loss and indemnity – this is expensive in this industry.
- IT Equipment – we spend £2000-£2500 each year on upgrading our IT, software, back up systems and cloud storage, all essential to our business.
- Camera Equipment – We buy a new camera each year (£4k each), one new lens (£1500 each), flash guns, stands, batteries, bags and hundreds of other pieces of essential gear.
- Marketing – including our websites, targeted advertising and other costs, this comes to a minimum of £100-£500 per month, £5k per year.
- Gifts for Clients – We are still growing our business and need to invest the £1k we spend each year on cards, branded good etc.
- Staff development – each course you have been on has cost around £500 and last year you went on four courses. I appreciate the many hours you self teach and save us greater expense in this area.
- Second photographer – There is a fixed cost to each wedding we shoot and needing the skills of someone reliable comes at a cost.
- General expenses – this includes fuel, stationery, postage, equipment maintenance and other bits and pieces and comes in at over £3k pa.
- Taxation – About 1/3 of what we have left.
- Pension – You’re not in education anymore, we need to put 25-30% of what’s left away
- Sick pay – We cannot afford that. You get ill; you don’t get paid!
I hope that you will see, after reading that list, that we simply cannot afford to pay you any more money this year. I have attached an infographic by Francesco Spighi which helps to explain some of our costs.
What is essential is that we put in a little more this year, work a little bit harder, longer hours and more time keeping our clients happy. I know this means less time with your family, and with no more pay to offer you, I’m sure you’ll have to think long and hard about continuing to work for me.
When we started on this journey in 2012 I promised you we’d one day be making enough money to buy you a new car and to be able to take your wife and son away on holidays several times every year. We are getting closer to that goal, and I know together we can make it, although you might have to continue to drive your broken old Ford and shop in Aldi for a little while longer.
Keep up the hard work
Your boss and taskmaster,