An open letter to my photography clients

This is an open letter to my photography clients. 

 

As I make a decision which has ironically been a rather easy decision, I wish to say “thank you” to everyone who supported me over the last several years. This past year has been one of tumultuous feelings. I have experienced great joy and great sadness. 

 
It is with great joy that I have made a decision to close Christopher Kijowski Photography.

 

I had an amazing time spending the day with many brides, grooms and their respective family’s. The family’s and children I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with and photograph reminded me of what was important in my life and central to my happiness. I enjoyed seeing the smiling faces and the happiness which resulted from many family’s having an opportunity to have their photo taken. 

 

Last August I made a business decision designed to enhance my marketing without the need to increase my rates. This decision backfired and cost me dearly both financially and emotionally. I underestimated the kindness of others. Just to be clear, the decision was to have a coupon accessible through LivingSocial. Initially it did it’s job as business flooded in. Unfortunately, as a result of my naiveté, the business stopped as quickly as it had begun. I underestimated the goodness, the kindness of individuals who saw nothing more than a really great opportunity for themselves. As a result my business lost over 10K in just several months. The emotional toll which this decision took on me was even worse. I found myself rationalizing and justifying the photo shoots just to complete them and even thought at one point of rescinding the coupon and returning the pittance I received from LivingSocial. My value system, as strong and as ethical as it is took the lead and I am in the process of fulfilling the last several photo-shoots. I am very thankful to the small handful of individuals who understood, without me saying anything about my financial dilemma and took care to go above and beyond to financially compensate me for my efforts. My deepest thanks and gratitude to you.

 

My heart hurts at the thought of no longer being able to follow a dream that has been mine for many many years. The ubiquitous nature of digital cameras and  the number of people who have purchased a digital camera and offered both low cost and low quality photography has, in my opinion harmed the art of photography. The desire of many people to take advantage of a small business trying in this economy to eek out a living simply became too much for me. It was resign from my photography business or continue to attempt to manage the feelings of anger and sadness which became genuinely overwhelming. I bristle when I hear others use the word cheap as they refer to wedding photography. Please learn and understand  the difference between “cheap” and “inexpensive”. You get what you pay for. More times than I care to think I spent time with couples who had refused my prices choosing instead to go with the “cheaper” option only to be frustrated with the poor quality of the completed photography.

 
I will be returning to my two great loves; social work and writing. Thoreau wrote, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you.” I feel that in this way I contributed to the demise of my business. I think it is possible to chase a dream so hard that we can actually damage the dream or at the very least the process of pursuing that dream.

Again, I wish to thank everyone who supported me over the last several years. My camera will always remain with me, in my car, in my pack and with me on my runs. If you wish to contact me regarding a wedding or family portrait shoot I would be happy to discuss your needs. If your only concern is the price which you place on your photography, please don’t contact me.
 

Oh yeah, just one more thing…please don’t purchase a coupon through LivingSocial, Groupon, etc. I know the deep discounts are enticing but what you’ll end up with are small businesses like mine falling by the side of the road because we can no longer compete with the big retailers who can offer volume discounts. Also remind yourself of the difference between words like “cheap” and “inexpensive”. My work is not inexpensive nor is it “cheap”.

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