5 photography business mistakes I made… why did I do this!? 😫


(jazzy piano) – Now I started my
photography and video business about 10 years ago, that’s a decade. Damn I’ve been doing this a long time. Now the first few years were rough, I barely made any money and to be honest, I took a lot of shitty photos. And you bet your ass I made a hell of a lot of mistakes. What is going on everybody, in today’s video, we
are going to be talking about the five business mistakes that I’ve made throughout my career. Now, long story short, I (beep) up so you guys don’t have to. As you guys know, we just
recently got an office, which is super exciting, and there’s a lot of
errands to run for that. We have to get shelves, we gotta bring gear in, all this other business
that needs to get done. So I will be taking you
along on that journey. Look, I’m already messing up, breaking the eggs, already making mistakes in the mistakes video. All right, we’ll start here and we’ll move on. Aw there’s a shell! Gah! (jazzy piano beat) (eggs sizzling) All right, lesson number one, your clients are not your guinea pigs. Let me tell you the story. (metal clanking)
All right, so, it was my second year of business, I was just starting to get a few better paid clients, which
was actually really exciting, so I was investing back into the company, I was buying gear, like all the gear we’re trying to move to the office right now. And I bought these three
big Freznel lights. They were cheap Chinese made ones, but they were better because I had never used lights before. Key point, never used lights before. So it’s the day before the shoot, I buy the lights, and
the next day I’m on set, I set up all the lights, and I start asking the talent “Hey, go and stand in
the lights over there.” So the talent stands in the lights, and literally this is the talent. They were like “Ah! Is this normal? “This is so bright!” And I was like “Yes, it’s totally normal, “this is how production
is Hollywood does it.” PS, it’s not how production
in Hollywood does it. So I shot the client for them trying to read the script, literally their eyes were like squinting, they’re like trying to get through it and they started getting red because they were
getting really really hot because the lights are old
and they’re really bright and they’re really hot. So then I finished the video, I sent it to them, and they’re like “Oh, this is great, we love it.” And it really wasn’t great at all. It looked really bad. So what did I learn through all of this? You gotta be comfortable with your gear before you use it on a paid project. So, test out your gear
on personal projects or you’re gonna lose clients. Guitar case, that’s gonna stay. ♪ Say say say I’m sorry ♪ ♪ I could just say say say we’re through ♪ ♪ Why did you take take
take my heart away? ♪ (door closes) All right, lesson number two: knowing when to give discounts. Also, fun fact, C Stands
make great coat hooks. (snap) All right, do I have a story for you. So a few years ago I was hired
for a destination wedding. A woman hired two videographers. Myself, and someone else. And without getting into too much detail, the day before the wedding, I couldn’t make it down to the location, but the other videographer could make it. So, now here I am, calling rental houses
in the middle of nowhere to get camera bodies and lenses and lav mics for this other videographer to shoot this wedding. So, the only person that
could actually go up and pick this stuff was the bride. Oh I am the worst human in the entire world. She’s already stressed out and now there’s a videographer “Um, sorry, can you go
to this rental house “and pick up a lav?” And she’s like, “I don’t
even know what a lav is!” But now she’s picking it up. So, we finished the project, the other videographer
did a really great job, and guess what I did? I sent this woman a bill, for the full price that we agreed on. What? I wasn’t even there! All right, so, what’s the lesson here? Know when to give discounts. This woman was so furious
when I sent a full bill. And looking back, it makes sense. That’s a stupid move, but I didn’t have a lot of
money then and I needed it. And in that case, the best thing that you should always do is take a hit on your business because your integrity is worth more. Know when to give a discount. Lesson number three, do not charge for things that you did not agree on up front. All right, a couple
years ago I did a project let’s say it was for $2,000. And I had to travel a very
far distance for this. So I sent them a bill with transportation because I heard somewhere that you’re supposed to charge
for transportation. But, we didn’t agree on it up front. And then I get an email back, they’re like “Well, you
got transportation in here, “we didn’t talk about this.” And I was like “But I
needed to get to this spot.” And they’re like “Okay.” And then I never heard from them again. So, make sure you label
everything up front. Where are my keys? All right, lesson number four, safety trumps everything. (cart rattling) (funk beat) All right, so it was about
five or six years ago, we were making a music video one day. And music videos notoriously have super low budget, but
we want to get creative and have fun, so we don’t make money, we put all the money into the production. And at that time, we
had not shot with a RED, so we’re like “Let’s get a RED camera.” And the DJI Ronin had just come out and we’re like “And we’ll
put it on the DJI Ronin. “It’s gonna look so good!” So we spent all the budget on that, and the one thing that we didn’t rent, which is arguably the cheapest thing that you can rent, was sandbags. I think you know where this is going. So, it’s lunch time now, and everyone’s getting a little tired, and someone bumps into this Ronin and RED, and all of a sudden the RED falls over and then it hits a light stand and then that light stand falls over and hits another light stand. Literally it was like the domino effect. Like it was, what do they call that, Rube Goldberg Machine? We built our own Rube Goldberg Machine, so everything’s falling
and then one light, there’s an assistant here, goes … an inch past her head. It could’ve destroyed her. Luckily it didn’t, but I could’ve faced a serious lawsuit there. So always put safety first. Like literally out of everything in this video, this should be the one, put safety first always. Do not risk your life or the crew’s life for the production. I don’t know why I walked by the cart, I still need this. (chill pop beat) What’s up guys? Fancy tricks with remotes. All right, final lesson. The last mistake for you. Always, always get everything in writing. Couple years ago, everything is always
a couple of years ago. In the last couple of years I haven’t been making as many mistakes, but a couple of years ago, I was on the phone with a client, we agreed on $4,000 for a project. I was like “Wow, 4k, all right, let’s go.” So we went out, we shot this whole video, we spent around like $2,000 to $3,000 on like locations, people, talent, all this stuff, and then
I showed them the video and they’re like “Wow, this looks great, “send along the bill!” Sent the bill for $4,000, and he was like, “$4,000? I thought we said two?” And I was like “No, you
definitely said $4,000 “on the phone.” And he was like “Well, do we have this “anywhere in writing?” Nope, we didn’t have it in writing, we just agreed, over the phone, and I went out and spent $3,000 and got paid two. So always get everything in writing. All right, so here’s the truth. It takes a lot of courage
to start your own business. Nobody’s gonna hold your hand and trust me, you’re
going to make mistakes. But what’s on the other side of that? You’re gonna learn, you’re
gonna build a business from the ground up and you’re gonna start succeeding, which
is the exciting part of the chase. From there, you’ll start
getting the clients that you’ve always dreamed of. It might be one year, it might be five years, or it might be 10. But I can promise you, if you stick at it, it’s going to happen. A friend of mine once told me that you’ve gotta make a lot of shit before you shit gold. That always stuck with me, and as crude as it sounds, it’s so true. So go out there, make some mistakes, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll shit gold. (chill pop beat) Guys, guess what? You made it to the end of the video. Just like in the last video, ASMR clap. (soft clapping) I realized I didn’t film an outro. That’s always fun when
you’re really into the video and then you’re like “Wait a second, “I didn’t do anything to say “here’s the end of the video.” So you guys made it to
the end of the video, thank you so much for watching. If you guys enjoyed this video, please press like. That stuff always means
a lot to YouTubers. Did you know that? That’s why everybody
always asks you to do it. Because they’re like “Hey, algorithm, “I need your help to build a career!” So if you could do that, that’d be really helpful. Thanks so much. Subscribe and hit the bell to be notified for future videos. And I thought I’d also take
a quick second to mention Lizzie and I just announced our big travel course and photo course that we’re gonna be doing in the next little while, so if you guys wanna check that out, we’re going to the Azores, which is this awesome island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, one of my favorite places. We’re hosting a course, we’re gonna teach you everything about business, photography, you’re
gonna have an amazing time. There’s some testimonials
and other fun stuff so if you guys wanna hit the link below to sign up for that photo course and just have a killer time in Portugal, I’d love to see you guys there. All right, guys, we’ll catch
you guys in the next one. Peace out, let’s say
guys a couple more times. Hey guys, hey guys, I’m a YouTuber, what’s up guys? Hey. Hey guys. – What’s up guys, I’m a YouTuber. – Sup guys, I’m not a YouTuber. – What’s up guys, I claim
to do this for a profession and people are like “Oh,
you make money with that?” That was my weekend. Bye. (chill hip hop beat)

100 Replies to “5 photography business mistakes I made… why did I do this!? 😫

  1. Anyone want to share a story when they made a mistake? Also – drop links to your photo websites/business below. I want to see your portfolios and businesses 🙂

  2. Cool tip for you. Use the egg shell to remove broken shells. Works like a charm.
    Thank you for all your tips and inspiration!

  3. The thumbnail was sucks compare to the video, your videos are the best ones man, but you need to improve your thumbs hahahaha, makes some mistakes is normal.

  4. WOW, seriously ?!?! I have learned a lot with this channel and love you man BUT… charging for a job you didn't do because you weren't there and charging for things you didn't agree to charge for are NOT MISTAKES these are complete DOUCHBAG MOVES. WTF?!?!?! Here's a little something I learned about business from of all people Bruce Springsteen. Always give your customers more than they expect. Follow this rule and you will have a successful business.

  5. Dude, this is aaa amazing advice! Thank you for your videos, been learning so much from you Matti and PM. ❤️😊

  6. My man spent $3K and billed for $4K, but he ended up getting $2K so he was in the hole $1K. Wow. OK, moral of the story is the dude was not charging nearly enough for his creative fee. Even if client would have ponied up $4K he would have only made $1K on the shoot. And I'm guessing for a shoot that required $3K of expenses, it was probably a pain in the ass to shoot. Lesson number whatever: Charge more. 🙂

  7. I've obviously loved your videos for a while now but idk something about this video took you to another level for me. Everything was paced and timed perfectly! And the constant back and forth of having a camera in a weird/unique spot to someone filming you (I'm assuming Lizzie?) worked perfectly! And all your videos (especially this one) have a genuine and unique charm to them. Loved this video!

  8. Great set of tips!! When you were cracking the eggs, I thought to myself, yup. I constantly make that mistake. haha.

  9. Awesome video! To someone who's last day of the 9-5 is tomorrow and finally going in full time, this is all great to hear. Thanks man!

  10. My first wedding. I was principally an editor, and covered events with videocameras (tripod, in auto, you know) and I thought I was able to go further…and was learning to shoot with borrowed DSLRs and had no more than two or three shots of experience…and I was hired as third camera to shoot a wedding…and I decided to trust in the live view (it was a Nikon 5200 and I did´nt noticed it had 2 stops + of exposition compensation activated) and decided to proof my new steadycam…with a 50mm on the camera, he he he. The other guy told me "hey bro, are you going to use a 50mm with this steady?"…and I said: "oh…of course…I know what I´m doing"….yeah…right.
    As a result, my footage was almost unusable; overexposed (specially the bride´s dress), and so shaky than was almost imposible to rescue something (I did, because I was good as editor and colorist). So I decided to take the footge and…rescue something to help the person who hired me. It was so embarassing.
    But thanks to that, I decided to not take any shortcuts and study really consciously my triangle of exposition, lenses, the steadycam correct balance, etc, etc, etc…and now…I´m considered a good DP, he he he…but I have this dark past…he he he

  11. Julia Moriah Photography on Instagram 💕 Mistake #1 allowing friend to take raw images from me after she convinced me that she needed them and didn’t like my style of editing. 🤦‍♀️ Senior Portraits, man.

  12. maybe add some insurance to those extra sandbag purchases. Things can go wrong even if you do plan ahead so being insured is helpful.

  13. Great video Chriss! So… basically i just started filmmaking about a year ago… This definately helps! But im sure ill make a ton of mistakes. ^^

  14. Keeps these vids coming! Absolutely loving the style you’ve got going right now!
    Extremely helpful btw! I can say I’ve been in that… some of those positions before 🙄🙈

  15. at 4:05 counter you had leather purse in your hand and when you turned up you have something else in your hand..continuity problem….heeee…sorry

  16. ok.. I have to admit that I started watching your videos a long time ago, then stopped. This has brought me back. Thank you

  17. Solid video. I respect those that aren't afraid to share their mistakes. It's a humbling transparency that we don't see enough of. As far as the end of the video, however, instead of shooting your outro, I feel that it may have been more impactful to fade out everything except for the text saying, "Its okay to make mistakes". Let that black screen with white text just sit there as a beacon to everyone that are afraid of messing up. Ending it there would leave us with the reassurance that we don't have to be perfect, and it could give someone the courage to face that fear, and finally start their business. This is just my opinion though. I still very much liked the video, and as always, you nailed it.

  18. Man I know you are busy and much more but I need your help to teach me I need a little from your time. I hope you read it and appreciate the reply in advance

  19. Great tips! I'm currently trying to figure out how to invoice clients and your 'know when to give a discount' really gave me a 'aaaahhhh' moment.

    I love Lowe's sales btw. I'm redoing my flooring and they have great deals on baseboards.

  20. Oh thank godness, he's swearing ……phew, now Im so much more relaxed. To be hearing an honest & believable guy that does that really makes me feel like we're finally connecting! (Sarcasm)

  21. Great video Chris! Can you make a video or point us towards place to learn the legal/business side of a photography/video business? Aka Setting up an LLC/Sole proprietorship, how to factor in taxes, legal contracts, that kind of stuff?

  22. Mistakes are the prices of getting there…Here is one I made. My business was booming and I hired someone. We were both overworked and I had a shoot in Africa in order to get everything done had them pack my gear for the trip while I finished up a project. When I got to Africa I discovered I had no tripod mounting plate and battery charger. I was in the jungle with no chance of replacing them. What did I do? I mounted the camera with gaff tape or went handheld – that was the easy part. For the batteries, I figured I had about 8 hours of roll time for a week shoot. So I shot listed everything turned the camera on only for the shots I needed never reviewed the shots. I got through the week sweating bullets got home and delivered a video the client was crazy about (I did get rehired) but I nearly had to bite the dust. I never go anywhere without a checklist for gear which is doubled checked by me or whoever is actually traveling I also take 2 battery chargers and I have a phobia for not having enough batteries so I always carry at least 2x more than most shooters would ever think is necessary.

  23. Thank you for this video! Do you have any idea of how to convince people that a photography business can work out? I am trying to get help to start my own business, but so far all I am hearing is "you cannot make money in photography", "photography is a hobby, not a career" and more of that nonsense.. And I know it's possible, I'm convinced that it is.. Just how to convince them.. I've been thinking about taking the risk and just starting without help, it's getting frustrating..

  24. Am at your couple of years ago……thanks for letting me know …it's ok if we make mistakes….keep inspiring bro

  25. Dude I think you just became my new favorite YouTuber. Your content is dope. Great dynamic storytelling. I like how you're moving from place to place. It gives the story momentum. And of course great on screen presentation.

  26. This is a great video Chris. I’ve been starting my photo/video business from the ground up and sometimes I get discouraged because I have so little gear. But yeah, this is encouraging because nobody ever started out perfect.

  27. Just started my business a year ago, in a tiny 1 horse town where half the population is over 50, and the rest are either kids in school that can’t wait to get out or druggies. Talk about bad location. So besides working on a portfolio, and saving up for pro gear, I’m also saving up to get the hell out of small town Iowa.

  28. Very insightful and great gear suggestions! I love my Sony Tough SD cards, average lifetime of previous SD cards were about 1 year but spending a bit more for a 10x stronger and many times faster SD card has saved me a bit of money.

  29. good video, everyone shows success only, they never talk about how much they failed before reaching where they are now after years and years of hard work . thumbs up 👍👍👏👏✌

  30. Hey Chris

    Been following you for a while now (I started looking into agency businesses a while ago) and found myself invested in your story and becoming a fan of your video and photo work.

    So much so that you inspired me to start my own Instagram (@cantuseacamera) and YouTube channel (this one) and invest in a semi-decent camera to start creating content.

    Hopefully it gains some traction and maybe we could create some content together in the future!

    Thanks for the great work!

    Stewart!

  31. I wish I were like everyone else and just felt my way through things and learned from my mistakes as I went along. I overthink things to the point where I need to be perfect in order to start. Can anyone else relate?

  32. Hey man I love the video I feel so much better now. you're right mistakes are hard but you can learn so much from them thanks again for the video!

  33. Yup, everything you said is so true. While I haven't been a pro photographer/videographer, I have been in pro audio for nearly 40 years and it's no different.

  34. Hi Chirs just kidding Chris LOL

    I would like to buy my first camera to shoot short video for social media and also take some photos any advice regards which camera I should purchase? … Thanks

  35. Wait, you charged full price for a wedding you did not even go to? Hau did we skip over the details to defend yourself here? you were broke? ..WOW!! Chris ..NEVER ADMIT TO THIS OUT LOUD AGAIN

  36. Great video, especially for those of us that doubt ourselves, mistakes will be made, it’s just important to learn from them….thanks Chris 🤙🏻

  37. Great video Chris! Get everything in writing before you start the project! I had an issue with a hard drive a client gave me that was unreadable, it was my biggest $$$$, but because of the delay I got annoyed and cancelled the whole project. It was an editing project and I have little desire to edit boring videos. It ended up working out because I met my fiance do to the extra time I had!!!!

  38. As a self employed one man architectural office I well understand Chris – "Trial by fire", we do learn by our mistakes.

  39. It’s very inspirational to see you’re putting a lot more work into this videos now, and I think it shows. Like

  40. I’ve started a videography tips and tricks channel! Would love anyone to check it out would make my day. Awesome video as always Chris your colour correction is madddd

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