Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coming Together

I was about ready to give up on my photography business, because it's been a year and a half since I started it, and one thing after another keeps getting in the way of me being able to focus on it.  I threw a lot of money at it in the beginning, when I still had a paying job, but that job had me working 60 to 80 hours a week and gave me no time to do photography assignments.

After I was laid off, I invested a lot of time and money into advertising, but it didn't pan out.  I did not get any jobs as a photographer.  In the meantime I wrote a couple of ebooks.  Then my mother died and I got swept away in the vast abyss of estate settlement.  It suddenly hit me that I only have three months left in the year to get a paying photography job so that I can prove to the IRS that I have a legitimate business.  I was going to do one more advertising campaign, and if that didn't work, I was going to close down my business.

I had it in the back of my mind that I wish the animal shelter would allow me to take some dogs to my studio for photo shoots, instead of just having me take pictures of them running around the shelter compound.  I could do so much more in a studio environment, because I can control the background and props.

Then, out of the blue, a lady I had chatted with on Facebook contacted me about photographing some of the dogs in my studio!  It was like she read my mind.  She did all the arguing and was able to convince others that this would be a wise move in helping these animals find homes, since animals in impressive photographs tend to attract more attention than those just sitting in kennel cages.

First I went out to the shelter to do my usual routine of photographing the dogs there.  That gave me a chance to get to know the lady who would be assisting me in picking out and posing the dogs.  She and I had a great time.  I found out that like me, she's been out of the loop for a while and wants her life back -- only in her case it was because of a divorce.  In my case it was because of a death in the family.  Already we had so much in common, struggling to resume our lives after big setbacks.

The way she interacted with the dogs brought tears to my eyes, and I found myself photographing her just as much as the dogs.  Of course, the photos where she was included turned out to be the best.

Today I have to clean up the backyard patio, photography studio, and bathroom to get ready for the studio photo shoot.  The fun part will be looking for creative backdrops and props.  Unfortunately, before I can do any of that, I get to fix another fence panel that the horses broke last night.  I swear, those horses have the worst timing.


Judi said...

Yes, beautiful photos like that will definitely help the dogs get adopted!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oooh! That's such great news! I'm so happy for you!

But yeah, the horses breaking fence panels, not so great.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

By the way, when your Mother's house finally sells and you have more options, you might want consider checking out a new neighborhood that is going in just a 5 minute drive, straight shot, north of my house.

The Founders of ACTHA, The Scrima's will be moving there from Texas and building their new home. And best of all? It's going to be the new headquarters for ACTHA.....and be a full equestrian center!!!

All home sites seem to be affordable starting at $65,000 per 2-8 acre lot. And horse facilities/barns/corrals are permitted. There will also be equestrian trails throughout the neighborhood, too. And fair covenants to prevent "annoying neighbors".

You'll recognize several of my ACTHA and NMMSAR buddies in the photos, including Theresa, Joe, Matt, and Melissa (she has twin boys, too!).

Check it out!

You really need to move....and I would love to have you as my neighbor! :)


Katharine Swan said...

You really don't have to be able to declare a profit in order for the IRS to see your business as legitimate. Of course, if you declare a loss year after year after year, they might get suspicious, but it's generally expected that businesses in their first couple of years will not be making a profit. If you were ever audited, you could easily prove that you were advertising, volunteering at non-profits in order to start a portfolio, etc. What really defines it as a business to the IRS, and not a hobby, is running it like a business -- not whether or not you make a profit.

Katharine Swan said...

I should note, of course, that I'm not a tax professional -- just someone who has been filing self employment taxes for the past 5 years. I've done a lot of reading up on the subject, both IRS booklets and books on taxes for small businesses, and they've all said the same thing -- it's not whether you make a profit, it's how you run it that makes it a business (and not a hobby).

Crystal said...

That is awesome timing! I love the shot of the dog jumping out of the pool! Makes me want to be there.

appydoesdressage said...

Those are some great pictures! I am glad it is working out for you and am keeping my fingers crossed things go easier for you on this last part of the year.

Sydney said...

Good for you! I am glad you got a paying gig. A lady I know who is coping with issues of her own (her son got hit by a van and stuggles to this day to cope with how his life has been affected) she started a photography business. She really got her start on facebook. She wrote "from now until december I am doing free photo sessions to build my portfolio" and what do you know people started piling in. Shes building a wonderful portfolio and learning a lot about using her props and setup. Maybe a facebook group might be worth a shot and offering some free sessions to build a large portfolio?

fernvalley01 said...

so glad it came together for you ! Great shots so far!

aurora said...

What a fun & rewarding job. These photo's are excellent. I like the composition's. You've done a great job capturing their personalities. Who wouldn't want to take these sweet fun dogs home?! I think you've found yourself a nitch!!

appydoesdressage said...

To elaborate on what Katherine said. As someone who is building a new business themselves, I would recommend talking to an accountant to ensure all ends are wrapped up. We use the gal at HR Block that does our taxes. You have to have a viable biz plan (regardless of if that plan plays out right away), showing if all went well you would be making a profit. Something in Excel listing your expenses vs expected income is sufficient to start. You must then show a profit at least 2 of 7 years else the gvmt will go back and make you hobby vs a business.
Hope that info helped, good luck!

achieve1dream said...

That is so fantastic! Congratulations! The picture in this post are gorgeous. I can't wait to see the studio ones. :)