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The Costs of a Traveling Photographer

You know that awkward re-entry when you get back from vacation, and you take a look at your ‘regular life’ to-do list and think “Um…. I’m supposed to get ALL of this done?  Like, today?” It’s as though you’ve forgotten how to be productive or something. No?  That’s just me? Okay.  Well, I’m still in […]

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Wayfaring Wanderer - My fiancé and I spent two weeks visiting our families in FL and GA over the holidays. During the last few days of our trip, I was reflecting and planning for 2014 with a lot of excitement and determination; I was so ready to come home and TAKE ACTION! That didn’t happen, unfortunately, because we brought back the flu and have spent the last 5 days getting it out of our system.

Both of us are feeling much better, thankfully; today was the first day I could get off the couch and do some cleaning. I’m so ready to get back into my routine! I have so many new ideas I want to start implementing!

All my camera gear came with me on this trip because I knew that my sister and I were going to do a shoot together. I brought it out on Christmas Day for a handful of images but I never used it for anything else during my 2-weeks away. Casual pics were captured with my iPhone!

Now that I’m a full-time photographer, I don’t feel the need to have my beefy gear on me all the time.


Dennis - I totally get this post! For the family summer vacation last year, I forced myself to leave my DSLR and primes at home and took my Fuji XPro1 with two lens; 18mm and 35mm. Best decision I made as I had to really slow down using the XPro1 and think slightly different, but I captured some great location shots and some lovely images of my two youngs girls. I plan on doing exactly the same this summer. … :0)
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Allison - Two things – what I take on vacay is usually dependent on where I’m going, but the last several vacations I’ve been on, I’ve taken my whole bag, with all of my gear. Granted, these were driving vacations, and I knew and trusted where I was staying. Last time I flew, I created a smaller camera bag out of my purse (removable velcro dividers and padded inserts made that easy) so I was able to keep the limited gear I took with me, ON me, in a bag that didn’t look touristy.
The other thing, finding balance, is kind of a downer story… Our dog passed away three weeks ago, suddenly and unexpectedly. We got a call from the vet at 10:30pm that he was gone. In the first 15 minutes of shock and grief, I found myself staring at a toy that he had left on the floor, backlit by the Christmas tree light coming from the next room. Without even thinking, I retrieved my camera and started shooting, freezing that deeply emotional moment forever in time. I had to pause in the middle of shooting to cry uncontrollably, and it was really hard to steady myself from shaking in the low light, but the mechanics really just took over and I got the shot without having to think much about it. My husband understood, and understands, that photography is a huge part of my (our) life, and just as we whipped out the camera the first night Hauser came into our lives 7 years ago, and documented all 7 years of our family together, he had no objections when I wordlessly grabbed it again the first night Hauser was gone. It probably wasn’t the reaction that most people would find appropriate for such a moment, but it was the only thing I knew how to do at that very helpless moment.
Sorry to bring a sad story to your upbeat (and helpful – Nexto looks awesome) post, but that’s immediately what I thought of when you mentioned balance. It’s still a raw wound. I hope your vacation was awesome – where did you go? ~Allison
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Mica - Totally get this!! The last few vacations I’ve left the camera at home but I’m taking one body and three lenses on my next overseas vacation next month. It just killed me seeing so many shots that I couldn’t take, even though the mental break and not having to carry gear around WAS nice…

Michael - I weigh what I need/want with how much room I have to store the gear. When I was on a cruise in the Caribbean, I took only a single 18-55 mm lens and my camera body (with a moisture absorbing pack), but on all my other vacations, I pack the pelican case (or back pack) with all my gear in the trunk and hit the road. I’d rather have choices and take good photos than have regrets. I can always padlock it and spend time away from my camera (its hard, ask my wife) so we can enjoy an evening out together.


Tyler - I usually travel alone so photography doesn’t take me away from other people or experiences. In fact, I often use photography to ground me in a faraway place. It gives me something to focus on when I need it.

As for gear, my 20lb DSLR kit stays at home. I carry a point and shoot. I’d love to upgrade to an X100s because my old p&s is slow and the screen is awful in sunlight, but the image quality is fine. Two magazine spreads and counting!
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Carey Ann - I’m really bad about the whole “leaving the camera home” thing. When my teenager and husband and I recently traveled for two weeks to the South Pacific, not only did I NOT leave the camera home, I bought two more of the same pro cameras PLUS took our two waterproof cameras. When we went out, all three of us (including the teenager who was suddenly interested in the camera) would shoot.
This led to 4500 photos, all of which were backed up daily onto a laptop and external hard drive. Which leads me to Lesson 2: one of the waterproof cameras was lost in the drink (wrapped in a towel and flipped out, going away with the tide) and the other waterproof camera was not so waterproof when left in the kayak for an hour. Luckily all the images were all backed up and we lost only a couple hours worth of a church service.
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Kaylie - Wow! It’s so good to see that so many relate and I’m not alone! All us photographer’s just want good picture’s where we’re making such good memories. It’s such a battle sometimes.
When I went to the temple square lights after two tries of getting a family picture I cried.. on temple square in the visitors center. No one knows how to use anything but an iphone these days, but then after seeing someone with a nikon strap I got a picture!
Thank you for doing this blog!
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Top 8 Posts From 2013

Well 2013, it’s nearly time to pack it in. But before we scatter to the wintry winds to celebrate, eat, wrap, unwrap, toast, dance, carol, and generally swirl ourselves in holiday bliss – Here’s one last peek at this past year.  Did you miss any of these posts?  Some were the most-trafficked, some were the […]

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Allison - Happy holidays, Jenika! See you next year! :)

David Johnston - Thanks for sharing! 2014 is going to be a great and productive year!

Jessica Daniels - Thank you for being you, Jenika. Ironically, I can’t find the words to describe what your blog, Skype mentoring and products have done for me and my business! Thank you and Merry Christmas!!

Profitably Responding To (Annoying?) Client Requests

Earlier today I sat in a tiny conference room to watch a terrifying academic ritual. A friend of mine was defending her dissertation. If you’re not familiar with this perfunctory yet dreadful academic rite of passage, a PhD candidate essentially has to give a presentation about their research and conclusions, then endure an hour or […]

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Annie - Excellent post. I’ve been getting better and better at doing this, and I think reading this will certainly reinforce it in me. Thank you. :)

Cynthi - Most of my communication with clients is through emails and texts, and it can be so difficult to judge a person’s feelings and meaning with just their words. On more than one occasion I have too harshly judged a client, then after meeting them I felt like they were the nicest person in the world! I think some people just have a really hard time communicating through email, so I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt. :)

katie - I completely agree with Cynthi…I’ve had clients that have come across as incredibly high maintenance via email and slightly condescending over the phone, but when I met them, I fell in love instantly. I think we all have to take a step back sometimes and just take a deep breath.

Jenika - Thanks for the note Katie – I’ve had experiences similar to these, too. It’s good to take a breath and give people a chance!

Jenika - Hi Cynthi – it is so hard to communicate well through email, I’ve had experiences like those you described too. I’m definitely a fan of the benefit of the doubt, especially where the Internet is concerned! Thanks for the note.

David Johnston - Very helpful post! I’ve had a few of these myself. A couple times is fine but when it occurs over and over I actually find it best to tell them that I cannot work with them anymore.
There’s a story I read about Southwest. They had a flyer who would send complaints after every flight… and she flew A LOT. Finally her letters were sent to the president of the company. He wrote her a letter that consisted of three words. “We’ll miss you.” Sometimes when it happens multiple times, you just have to cut them lose.

Eric - Your suggested approach makes a lot of sense when considering how much time, expense, and effort is required to get the client in the door the first time. A snarky response from you could cause the client to make a fundamental attribution error of their own about you, resulting in the end of a relationship instead of future business. You can control your own response to snarky and rude. But you cannot control your client’s response to what they first read as snarky and rude — even if all you are doing is referring back to the contract.

Jenika - Hi David – Thanks for the note! Gracious reply from Southwest, ha. Agreed that sometimes you have to cut people loose – this post was more addressing the kinds of emails photographers routinely get and that cause a lot of anguish when (I believe) the photographers are contributing to their own anguish by misreading or misattributing intention. By no means is this all circumstances, but I see it often enough I thought I’d address it here. Cheers!

Wayfaring Wanderer - Loved this post! As a libra, I’m usually considering many different perspectives before coming to a conclusion. Although, sometimes, I do take things personally and I need to remind myself that I’m just assuming what I believe to be true, and that what I think is going on might not be the case at all.

For instance, getting rejected by a client who told me that I was “too professional” felt like a slap in the face, but once I considered what else they could be facing I changed my tune and attitude.

Thank you for the reminder to give people the benefit of the doubt! :-)

Jenika - EBeck – That’s a great added perspective; YOU can control how you react but not how the client reacts to your reaction!! Worth considering!! And since you’re the one trying to get them to spend money it’s best if you end the cycle of snark. Thanks for the thoughts!

Allison - This is great for anyone reading any kind of email or communicating via social media… so good! Thanks Jenika!
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Andrew - I love this advice, especially at this time of year when everyone seems to want everything right before Christmas, even though they’ve had weeks or MONTHS to get things sorted.

I’ll definitely be rewording my reply emails and can see myself becoming attached to the “rush charges” term :)

BTW – what would you do now when someone asks you to mind a seat and you’re receiving those looks from strangers that you referred to?
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Sarah C - Have to ask. Did your friend make it through and why did she have you save that seat for nobody? : ) Loved the photos too!!

Stephanie - Gatineau Newborn Photographer - Honestly, though I know all this to be true and think about ti all the time, it really helps to read through it. That’s my New Year’s Resolution right there!

Richard - Fantastic article. The reason that we make decisions by emotion and not with statistics or figures is that all incoming information first has to go through a part of our brain that is only used for survival and instinct. It doesn’t have the capacity to digest complicated pieces of information, such as creating a scenario that may have caused someone to react in a certain way. Once it gets through this part of the brain, it can make its way up to the neocortex which IS capable of thinking like this. Great to see a well written article grounded in strong theory.

Tyler - This was awesome. I’m going to have to reconsider whether a certain gatekeeper actually hates me or just doesn’t communicate well via email.

Do you have any writing tips so we don’t cause people to make these judgements about us? Not just in a photographer-client relationship where we’re the boss, but in a photographer-art director relationship, for example.

Also, does you have an email subscription to posts here? I’m on your “snail mail” email list but since kicking Facebook to the curb I haven’t found a way to subscribe to your posts on the blog.

Keep being awesome! :)

Michelle - Thanks so much! These words help a lot when responding to a client request.

Why Do Some Images Stand Out Over Others? (Read Before Running Your Next Ad!)

You’ve got a fantastic promotion idea for your business.  It came to you in a flash of genius, you scribbled out the marketing copy, and have the ad platform all queued up. But when you go to design the ad….you simply cannot pick just one image. You know you need to show off the dream […]

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Kati - Jenika, yours is the only blog that never gets skimmed by me! Always an interesting perspective. Thanks for the ideas!

Rachael - Thanks for this incredibly helpful article. I’ve just taken your advice and done a critical review of my profile pictures as compared to other photographers on wedding websites, and (needless to say) I had some work to do. My new photos definitely stand out about the competition. Thanks!

Megan DiPiero - Great info! Perfect timing for my New Year promotional ads. Appreciate your advice as always!

Eric - I love how you can work in headlines like:

Gulp. Crap. There’s always a snag.

Well said, without being distracting. It’s exactly what goes through people’s minds when faced with a dilemma — and interesting that my shifting gaze settled upon these words.

Some folks use automatic features of website software which substitutes a photo from a list of photos each time the page is rendered. Your words help us see that the list of photos from which one is selected should have the elements you discuss considered when putting them in the list of candidates.

Good stuff, Jenika.


Samantha - Great points! Well written as well, I certainly didn’t skim through the article! Thanks so much for the info :)
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The_LovelyBee - This is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Brilliant, Shiny and just what I need at the moment! ;)
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Get Whatever You Want Without Arguing: The Magic Words

It’s when a client does something that feels scuzzy. Something that isn’t technically against your contract, but you’re still pushpins-in-your-pants uncomfortable with it. Or when you go buy something at a store, then get home and realize that the coupon (which was the whole reason you bought the item) is still folded neatly at the […]

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Charlotte Reeves - Simple but fantastic advice! My partner actually uses this ALL the time; to me, to his customers (he’s a mechanic) and it really works.
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Debi - What great advice! I am definitely going to try this out. I’m usually fairly fairly good at diffusing situations, but I really like this tactic. Thank you for sharing this.

Holli - Such simple, sound advice. I’m definitely going to give this a try the next time there’s a conflict. Thanks!

moi - Brilliant post, wish I’d read it yesterday. Never mind I know I’ll still have many other opportunities to use the magic words. I love your blog, you are so great at what you do.

Laura - excellent advice, i’m loving it and will put it immediately to use. Another thing my dad told me (he is an expert in negociation) is that you should get the person try to answer yes to questions. Even if the question is irrelevant, only by saying the word “yes” it puts the person in an “afirmative” mood making it more likely to get a compromise

Jessica Lopez - This is such an eye-opener! I’m definitely going to try this with my clients ( and everyone else for that matter LOL) and see how that goes. Thanks for sharing!
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