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How line 37 on IRS form 1040 has defined me as a photographer.

I get in an email that says “I love your blog and I am so happy to hear that someone so successful is helping other people!” and I think “Successful?”  I just gave my children a lesson on how to use only one hand towel when washing their hands so I could save on paper towels this year.  (Seriously, watch’s brilliant and my new party trick)

I remember our friend Zack Arias saying years ago that success to him was being able to pay for new tires without draining his bank account. I really can’t think of any more fitting analogy.

Am I “successful” as a photographer?  Sure, I guess.  I’ve won awards, I know how to work a camera, I’ve been in business a long time, I’m well respected and referred often in my market, I’ve taken some nice photos in my day and in general I make my clients happy. I really, really love my job.  If sucess is defined by loving my job and the fact I work from home and wear yoga pants 90% of the time, I am rich.  But in terms of numbers?   Line item 37 on  IRS Tax form 1040 tells me that I am not rich.

I talked about a really bad year in this post.  After that year, I decided I was really tired of not being rich. And by rich, I really mean “making a decent living wage” but for the sake of dramatic license, let’s just keep calling it “rich”. That shit sells better on the blog.  So I decided that I wanted to be rich, and decided to figure out what I was doing that was not making me rich.  I made all sorts of lists like

Not enough  money!

Not enough clients!

I should be blogging more!

I don’t know what SEO really means!

I should maybe have a goat farm!

The problem was I was not budgeting well.  I knew what my  COGS and CODB and FU were (that last one was to see if you were paying attention) and I really did price myself for profit, I knew that much.  I might not be rich, but I am not DUMB.

My problem was that when things were good, I had plenty of money and I didn’t pay attention to my money. I was at least smart enough after the “great tax debacle of 2007” (that’s a post for another day, but let me leave you with this number…17K) to put away for taxes and money in savings for the slow season, but I never really BUDGETED.  I mean I thought I did, I kinda did…

It took me so long to wrap my brain around the business side of all that whole CODB, COGS that I just wanted my bank account to STFU and figure it out for me.   Turns out, that doesn’t happen.   And every year I feel more like a failure because this shit just does NOT come naturally to me.

The good news is Wedding Wire just sent me a badge saying that I am one of the Top Photographers of 2013 so YAY ME!  I can’t wait to send that badge to my mortgage company in lieu of my February mortgage payment!

Every “Successful” photographer has something that they just don’t feel so successful at. In 2012 and 2013 I made huge strides in facing my fear of accounting, but it’s not over.  This year, I am going to lick it.


What’s your not so successful thing?


P.S.  I’m now a big fan of the P.S.
P.P.S  Speaking of issues, Charo got a passel of emails in response to her post about ostriching when things were bad.  Seems like us artist types are a special kind of special and this is more common-place than we realized.  She’s working on a response , but as you can imagine that kind of post takes some retrospective thought and a lot of Jack Daniels. So stay tuned for that.
P.P.P.S   Marketog Ends TODAY.  If your something that you don’t feel successful at is marketing, then this is the course you need. Period.   If you’ve got a limited budget to work  with on your marketing, this course is designed to show you all the best ways to be using that small budget. Get on it, control your marketing and improve your business.  BAM!





  1. BAM…. LOL! I love you! :)

    Great post by the way. The 17k number… good gosh, can’t wait to read that one. :)

  2. hahahahaha another BAM. awesome.

  3. Nice post. Thanks for the info, it’s easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a , I found a blank form here.

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