Disclaimer: I am not getting any money from TripLog and I am not affiliated with them at all.
So it’s important for you to get the most out of the tax deduction by tracking your mileage. The IRS lets you deduct some of the costs of using a personal vehicle for business purposes. Just like you can deduct the cost of business expenses such as marketing, you can also deduct your business mileage.
Beginning January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 58 cents per mile for business miles driven, up from 54.5 cents for 2018. 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up from 18 cents for 2018.
Normal commuting from your home to your regular workplace and back is not deductible. You may deduct business mileage only if you are traveling to and from a temporary work location, from one work location to another, to meet with a client, to a conference, etc.
Yes, you can deduct the mileage. As an independent contractor (received a 1099-MISC) you are considered self employed by the IRS. … You can deduct the miles driven for business. The other option is claiming all your actual expenses such as gas, tires, interest, etc.
I live in the Metro-Atlanta area and on average the round trip to a job is about 40 to 100 miles. That means on average I write off my taxes $23.20 to $58.
You can just use a notepad and write down all your mileage, your fill-ups, repairs and auto expenses and then at the end of the year spend some time adding up things into those categories that you want to use for deductions on your taxes.
I have found after doing this for more than 35 years that having an APP is so much easier.
I like that this app can be customized. TripLog has three auto start options and also a manual start for each trip.
You can use your phone’s GPS with the app to track your trips.
They even created a device you plug into the car’s USB which will pair with the phone so that you are not using data to track your trips.
Here is the video of how that works:
I use my one account on both of our vehicles. My wife tracks her mileage with her Toyota Camry and I track the Toyota Sienna.
Keeping a mileage log
The IRS tends to be strict in its documentation requirements for business mileage deductions. For this reason, you’ll need to keep a thorough, accurate mileage log each year you attempt to claim a deduction.
Your mileage log must include the starting mileage on your vehicle’s odometer at the beginning of the year and its ending mileage at the conclusion of the year. Each time you use your vehicle for business purposes, you must record the following information:
The date of your trip
Your starting point
The purpose of your trip
Your vehicle’s starting mileage
Your vehicle’s ending mileage
Tolls or other trip-related costs
You can keep a mileage log in a notebook and update it by hand, or use a spreadsheet to continuously track your mileage. You can also use a mileage-tracking app. The key is to update your records regularly to ensure that they’re precise. Additionally, the IRS requires you to keep your mileage log for three years from the date on which you file the income tax return containing your deduction.
I just recommend using an App to help you capture the data you need for reporting purposes.
Some of the most successful restaurants are those with the simplest of menus.
The menu itself is a prime example of In-N-Out’s intense focus on simplicity to maximize quality and minimize expenses. Items on the menu are largely unchanged from the original restaurant stand and exhibit a rare marriage of quality and affordability:
Beverages: Soda (4 sizes), Shakes (3 flavors), Coffee, Milk
Since its inception, In-N-Out Burger has enjoyed tremendous success, growing annual sales to approximately $400mm per analyst estimates and consistently earning a #1 ranking in the fast food burger chain segment, ahead of competitors such as Wendy’s, Five Guys’ and Fuddruckers.
While you may have created a very complex spreadsheet to figure out your pricing, don’t show this to a client. Don’t abandon it either. You need this to help you in the future as costs change to figure your pricing.
After you do a job you may want to go back to that spreadsheet and adjust the numbers.
Keep Menu in Mind
Just like in photography you keep things simple for design purposes, this holds true for your estimate and pricing. Restaurant patrons aren’t looking to be overwhelmed when it comes to reading a menu. A clean, simple design will convert better than a list of options or large chunks of expository text. A visually pleasing design effectively uses white space and naturally guides the eye to key menu items.
Your customers are the same. Keep it simple.
Ditch the dollar signs
Pricing shouldn’t be the center of attention. One way to downplay price is to remove any associated dollar signs as they tend to elicit a negative emotional response. You want them to concentrate on the content, not the price.
Don’t line up the prices
A list of prices that is aligned to the left or right is easily scannable, which could encourage people to choose lower-priced items out of habit. Mixing up the placement of pricing throughout the estimate will minimize decisions based on price comparisons.
Use simple, descriptive language
Try to avoid industry jargon or long sections of text that will confuse people. Yes, more and more people consider themselves experts, but simple, descriptive language in the item’s title will attract more sales.
A photographer wrote me and asked for advice on quoting to a nonprofit. Here is my advice for them. Now there was a list of specifics, but I wanted to get to the pricing strategy rather than giving them a quote I would do. You see each person has different costs. This is due to where they live, what lifestyle they want to maintain and the cost of their gear are just a few things that influence one’s price.
I believe first you need to have your pricing for “Normal Jobs” and then for those you consider a “Charity Job”. Charity is something that you deem that you want to donate your time. You may want to give everything for free to an organization. That is up to you. I do think once you embrace discounting your price for an organization, you will have to also be sure you have enough “Normal Jobs” or this will not be sustainable.
What I am communicating here is not what you communicate to the client. This is for you to understand while you price something for them.
Once you have figured out your pricing thought process you then create packages. The price and what they are getting and not how you arrived at that price.
Normal Job Price = 100% for
Charity Job Price = 60 –
70% for time
Hard costs to you I would
pass along at 100% to a “Charity Job”. Charity meaning that organization you
consider a charity that you want to give your time to. As far as IRS you cannot
write off your time to a charity.
My suggestion is to create
your “Normal Estimate” and then give a discount. This way you are communicating
your normal rates and also letting this organization know you are giving them a
Personally I think a rate of about $600 to $800 a day for your time for a nonprofit is where many I know are charging these days [This is what many of my circle of friends have told me and my personal experience]. Most of those photographers are charging $1600 to $4000 a day for their time for regular jobs.
Most in the industry will charge 50% of their rate for a travel day. That is a day that you do no work at all. If you show up and shoot for an hour after traveling most of the day–That is a shooting day and not a travel day.
Don’t forget to charge for the post production. Many organizations will abuse you with having multiple revisions. Making them pay for this will make them be responsible.
By the way be sure in all your correspondence that you communicate you are charging for revisions. You can have priced in the package 1 or 2 revisions, but let them know when the additional revisions are happening.
Quote your shooting fee, your post production fee and expenses in your estimate. Be sure you spell out what it includes. Just like McDonald’s does for what is included in a sandwich. If a video is expected then describe how long it is and how many revisions that includes.
For your photography I would give some range of number of finished and edited photos.
START WITH PHONE CALL
Always start with a
conversation. In person or by phone is the best way to start. Ask them what
their expectations are for the project and if they have a budget figure for the
project. Sometimes they not only tell you clearly their expectations, but give
you a price you are thrilled to work with. This almost never happens, but
ALWAYS start with the idea they may know what they want and have a realistic
budget for the project.
Your goal is to manage
expectations. First by being sure they articulate what they want and then you
in the end telling them what you can provide to them. Do your best to under
promise and then over deliver.
When you finish this conversation where you agree on what you can do for them, you will put it in writing to them. However, just get some ballpark figures during that conversation to see if it is worth your time to go further. No need to spend all this time to put together a formal agreement in writing if they have no way of paying what you need to agree to going forward.
Give them 3 versions of an estimate. This is how you show them you are flexible and also help talk them into spending more on something that they will truly enjoy and use.
Don’t line item things you used to come to your price. You don’t see McDonald’s selling their Big Mac with how much time it took to make it and each piece listed. Imagine 2 – Beef patties, 10 minutes cooking, shipping costs to get the products and so on. No you don’t see that. They give information the public wants and a price. Price changes on where in the world you are buying it.
Bottom Price: This will just give them what they barely need
Middle Price: Add more deliverable to the package. More Photos, Another video, Blog posts, etc
Luxury Price: Coffee table book of photos, Videos, More Photos Etc
The Sky Is the Limit: Sometimes you can add a 4th price for the client who could spend a lot if they wanted.
They most likely will go
with the middle price every time.
The Stanley Works was founded by Frederick T. Stanley in 1843, originally a bolt and door hardware manufacturing company located in New Britain, Connecticut.
One of the most innovative things they did with their door hinges that helped them to outgrow their competition was to include screws in their packaging.
Clerks were taking time to find screws to fit competitors hinges.
Friction Free Economy
To succeed in the friction-free economy, long-established companies must form entirely new and more fluid relationships with customers, workers, and owners. Those that don’t will either struggle to maintain market share, or fail entirely.
It is the intangible assets that businesses need to understand, measure and exploit in order to succeed. These include intellectual property, brand value, human capital and customer loyalty.
Friction Free Resource
You want to be a Friction Free Resource for your clients. You want to not just solve their problems but do so in a way that the experience is not a bumpy road, but smooth.
Just like Stanley did in the 1850’s by just packaging screws with their hinges making it easier to go to the hardware store and leave in little time, you must think of ways to help your clients make things smooth.
What do you offer your clients that is like Stanley who packaged screws for his clients?
I am often contacted by my former students from workshops and college classes about pricing and negotiating with clients.
This blog post is more about how to respond to a client or potential client when they make you feel like you were just insulted by them.
While you should figure your Cost of Doing Business and know what your bottom line is to do a job, often people will come back saying they only have a budget for less than you can accept.
My friend just called and was quoting on covering a business event for a day. She had figured this was probably a good place to network as well, so she went ahead and basically cut her price in half and quoted that figure.
Always Quote Full Price
I let her know she should always quote her normal full price and then show a discount and why they are getting the discount. The problem if you don’t do this then they think her price is half of what she needs to charge. They tell their friends this is her rate.
Negotiation theorists generally agree that there are two primary forms of negotiation:
Distributive Negotiation: this is also referred to as positional or hard-bargaining negotiating. …
Integrative Negotiation: this is the softer side of the two forms of negotiation, often referred to as win-win.
You need to figure out quickly which type of person you are dealing with when they are negotiating.
After my friend gave them her half-price quote they came back with a low ball response. “We only have $200 budgeted for the event.”
Often in the negotiating one of the parties can feel insulted at the low or high dollar amount.
I recommend trying your best to just stay with your pricing so that you are not going below your bottom line. Also, think of other things that you can negotiate for that are of value. Maybe they can give you their contact list that you can use. Maybe you can trade for free advertising.
Try and stay with something that sounds like, “I would love to cover your event for you.” Then you can go on and outline the pricing and what value you bring to them.
Basically you say I can do the work for you at this price. They are saying no, NOT YOU, if they cannot afford you.
Know Your Numbers
I cannot stress enough that if you do not know your “Cost of doing business” you will not be in business very long. You need to know the real amount you have to have from a job to pay your bills and also have money to invest in the growth of your business.
Great Video to Make My Point
This has been around for a while and I have shared it in the past, but for those new to negotiating this helps you see how often silly people can look for what they are asking. These are examples of Distributive Negotiation where they are trying to get something for below cost or even free.
The top photo is one of the laminated lists I was using in 2002.
When I mentioned in a recent post creating a Digital Workflow that you laminate, one person asked for that list.
To be honest I have been doing this so long I no longer need the list, but did come across one of my laminated lists in my van to help me be sure I had everything before I left the house for a photo shoot.
This list had 4 sides of two laminated cards held together with a clip.
“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”
I was shooting a lot of college basketball games at the time and had to arrive early to put up remotes and turn on my strobes.
I also was doing a good number of headshots and couple shots for a missionary agency.
Each assignment I did was often so different that I would bring some gear I wouldn’t use for another assignment.
Today I still take the time to pack before I leave for a trip or photo shoot the day before.
Here are some of the things I am doing that impacts my Digital Workflow.
I love the updated Adobe Lightroom. I am using three of the controls that if used properly can really help out some photos that in the past without these controls would have been so-so photos.
I love the Texture, Clarity and Dehaze sliders. I cannot recommend them enough.
For sharpening I hold the Option key on the Mac while sliding the Masking control. The masking is around 70 for my older cameras that were 12 megapixels or less. 80 for my Nikon D5 and closer to 90 for the higher resolution cameras. Once I can see that just the edges are white then I slide the amount of sharpening to 150.
When your quality isn’t up to standards it is often because you skipped a step in your Digital Workflow.
“The biggest cost of poor quality is when your customer buys it from someone else because they didn’t like yours.”
Pam Goldsmith is an emeritus winner of the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Her viola playing has been heard on countless records, films and television shows. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/125, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 28)]
“If you just focus on getting better, and not being the best, you have such a good time.”
The other day I was reminded I am working with many people at the top of the field and when I work with those starting out I have to be patient. This post is about how to become a better you by reflecting on how I got to where I am today.
I have been so blessed to have gotten to know some of the world’s best in a few fields. One of those is my sister-in-law Pam Goldsmith. I have written about her before.
She plays in the studio musicians group that plays for many of the movies, TV, records and other places you would be surprised about. She sits in the first chair most of the time. When the studio musicians show up to play the music for a movie that has never been played, they don’t practice it–they play it for the first time and 95% of the time that was the last time they played it for the final recorded version you see in the movie. The 5% of the time they do it again, it wasn’t due to their execution, but the composer realizing during the recording that they made a mistake and after a rewrite they record it again.
It takes a long time to get to that point of expertise from just learning to play the instrument.
In 1984 during my Spring Break I was hired by Robert Reed at the Hickory Daily Record and would start working just after I graduated that May. While driving from Delaware to Hickory, North Carolina I stopped by the International Mission Board to meet Don Rutledge.
My uncle, Knolan Benfield, had worked with Don for more than nine years when they were on staff for the North American Mission Board in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the 1950s Don was shooting stories for all the top magazines. He would go on to work with and basically help lift the quality of photography done by the mission magazines to compete with LIFE, Look, and National Geographic Magazine.
Pam Goldsmith grew up in California near all the great musicians and due to being surrounded by the great viola players became one. In some ways I too was growing up in the environment of great photographers and storytellers.
I remember my uncle Knolan Benfield talking to me about how you get to the top. You go and talk to the people at the top. He let me know of many of the experiences where he noticed famous photographers at conferences standing by themselves because people were afraid of them. He just walked up and talked to them and got to know them.
Today I know that there are very few at the very top of the profession that can help others. These are the ones that can teach and not just do. Don Rutledge happened to be one of those few.
While Don taught me a lot about composition, body language and learning to see light, Knolan taught me how create using lights.
In 1993 I started to work at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech named one of the most prestigious schools in the world. My role there was storytelling on research, education, athletics and alumni for distribution through campus publications and outside media. I worked there until 2002 and during this time I perfected lighting.
In 2008 Greg Thompson, Director of Corporate Communications for Chick-fil-A, asked me to come and help him build his team. Chick-fil-A is the third largest American fast food restaurant chain and the largest whose specialty is chicken sandwiches.
Greg was building an incredible team. He recruited Ken Willis who had run the largest PR agencies in Atlanta. He had just sold one of them and then started a new agency KWI.
Greg was scooping up talent from Coke, Porter Novelli and recruiting some of the best students to start their career with Chick-fil-A.
Again I was being surrounded by some of the best in the profession of storytelling.
In 2018 Mark Johnson, Senior Lecturer, Journalism at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication for the University of Georgia, asked me to come and teach for the year Intro to Photojournalism to four different classes while they looked for a full-time professor with a Phd.
What I learned quickly was I had worked my entire career with people at the top of their game. Everyone I worked with was always doing whatever it took to tell the story in the most effective way possible.
Many of these students were not desiring to being visual storytellers. Many were taking journalism as undergrad degree before going on to another profession like law.
In 2006 I got a call from Dennis Fahringer asking me to come to Kona, Hawaii to teach his students lighting. He originally asked Joanna Pinneo, photographer for National Geographic Magazine, who told him to contact me. Joanna and I both worked with Don Rutledge.
Dennis’ students in YWAM had a passion for God. Most taking the class were exploring if photography was one of the ways they could serve the church or learn how to work their faith into running a photography business.
Again I was asked to dial back from shooting at the highest level in my profession to talking to newbies about literally “Step One” in photography.
I am often hiring photographers to help me with projects at Chick-fil-A. Two that I love to hire over and over are Michael Schwarz and Robin Rayne.
I have hired so many through the years, but only a few are consistent in meeting the demands of the customer. When I hire either one of them to do work, I know that I am sending to the customer storytellers that are not just as good as me, but better than me. This is how I see them.
Be the best version of yourself!
Show Up! – It is amazing how many people just don’t show up
Start With Baby Steps – you can’t skip the line. You have to start at the beginning
Stop Looking For Shortcut – “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity” While it may look like a shortcut it is often years of working hard and then you get a lucky break. If you are not prepared then you may have just lost your one chance.
Accept Help From Others – Most of those at the top didn’t get their alone. Don’t be prideful, take the help.
Celebrate Small Accomplishments – Realize that learning at the level you are at in the moment is just as important as the finish line. Break down the “Big Goals” into bite size pieces.
Help Others – Pay it forward. Don’t be about taking. Be known for giving.
“Become the BEST VERSION of Yourself!” | Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) | Top 10 Rules
Harpist plays for the VIP Reception at Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/200, ƒ/3.2, (35mm = 14)]
On October 12th I was covering the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” that was held at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
If you ever have to cover an event like this I recommend a few things.
Two or More Cameras
Anytime you shoot professionally you need a backup camera. This is in case one stops working for any reason at all. I tend to put the Nikon 28-300mm on one camera and the Nikon 14-24mm on the other camera.
I can get every thing I need with this range of glass.
For this event I had a third camera on a tripod with the Sigma 120-300mm & 2X converter so that I can shoot more straight into people’s faces from across the room rather than everything shooting up at them when I am closer.
I had to be down front sometimes and had to shoot up at the speakers on the podium as you see here.
After a speaker was introducing an award winner I snapped a photo of them together with some of the board members.
As I mentioned in my last blog post I went on stage before the event started and did a custom white balance with my Nikon Cameras. On the Nikon Z6 & Nikon D5 you can store up to 6 different presets. This way you can do a custom white balance for the stage and then go to another room with different setting and set it on a different Preset.
Have a Flash
Now with the stage having two sets of lights at 45º to the stage it was really even lighting. However, walking around in the Atrium of the Marriott Marquis the light was needing help with flash.
Laura Espeut, the second shooter, got this photo of me with the Nikon Z6 with a 28-300mm as well as the Godox V860ii on the camera and the MagMod Magshpere on the hotshoe.
Save your Back
To carry two cameras I use the HoldFast Gear Money Maker Two-Camera Harness with Silver Hardware (English Bridle, Chestnut)
Quality Photography Demands A Digital Workflow
The bottom line is you need a workflow. You prepare days ahead from talking with the client to manage expectations to getting a shot list. You then must prepare before the event by charging batteries and checking the sensor of each camera for dust.
I recommend you creating a workflow list of things you need to do for every photo shoot. Be sure that the order you do things is in the correct order. Print it out and even laminate that list and keep it with you in your camera bag.
In my last blog post I showed you some of the white balance when done without a custom white balance and then doing one.
What I hope you are hearing from me today is that if the quality isn’t up to the standards you want to represent what you can do for clients, the answer is most likely in your workflow. It is something you skipped or modified from what is the ideal way to shoot the assignment.
While I try to be consistent and do a custom white balance all the time, I confess I sometimes get sloppy and choose to try and fix it in Lightroom.
Here is a photo I shot with my Nikon Z6 shooting with Auto White Balance.
When the camera is seeing this scene it is factoring in the projection screen behind the speaker which was a different color temperature than the speaker.
I realized all the photos on the stage were off, so I selected all of them and did a color balance based on my calibrated monitor. Here is the result.
I had used the eye dropper on a microphone. Well it is close but not perfect.
Then the next day I got there early and asked the lighting guy to turn the lights on so I could go on the stage and get a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc. Here is another blog post on using the ExpoDisc.
This is shot with the custom white balance. Big difference in nailing the skin tone.
Moral of the Story: Get A Custom White Balance
I recommend using the ExpoDisc. You can use it to help you 1) White Balance, 2) Set Exposure & 3) Dust Mapping. Here are the instructions for doing all this if you didn’t already know how.
[Cristina Baccay Holdsworth, Eleanor Baccay Reece, & Blair D. Sullivan]
Back when I was on staff at Georgia Tech [1993 – 2001] Facebook had not been created and the iPhone didn’t exist. I was still shooting film.
While Match.com was founded in 1995 students were still doing silly things at Georgia Tech to get dates in 2001.
I was shooting with ISO 100 most of the time. This meant I was lighting almost everything inside.
The cool thing is we did have PhotoShop. It was released February 19, 1990. This let me scan all the images we were making and put Metadata with each photo. So most of the photos we would put some caption information on each photo.
So often when we go back to photos the biggest problem is having some context around the photo.
This week I stumbled over a folder of images that I created when I left Georgia Tech to start freelancing in April 2002.
Seeing the family photos during this time of starting my new season as a full-time freelancer has put into perspective how long I have now been freelancing full-time.
Today it is easier than ever to just take a moment when you are in Lightroom, PhotoShop or Bridge to add just a few words about the photo that will help give context.
Without some captions generations in the future will not know any of the significance or who people are in the photos that you have been taking.
Don’t Rely on Social Media to Store Your Photos
My Samsung Galaxy S10 takes the wide shots at 3456 x 4608 pixels. When I upload this to Facebook it will cut that size to 1500 x 2000 pixels. This is basically cutting the quality in half.
For social media that is fine, but if later you want a large wall print now you are limited greatly to the size you can print.
There are many online services that you can use with your phone to store all your images at high resolution. Google Photos, Amazon Photos and many others can do a great job of storing images for you.
Adding Text with Google Photos
The process of adding a custom description to a single photo is the same whether you’re on the Google Photos app or website:
Tap or click in to view a single photo, then select the information button (a small “i” icon) to view more details on the photo.
You’ll see things like the capture date, file name, camera model and location — select “Add a description” to add more to it.
There doesn’t seem to be a character limit (or if there is one it’s quite large), so go ahead and add in any extra information you think is relevant to the photo. Maybe a little back story, what’s going on in the picture or perhaps some other bit of information that can’t be picked up from the plain EXIF data of the photo.
The extra details should help if you’re searching for pictures in the future on Google Photos, but at least right now you’ll have those details synced up to that photo for your own benefit when you view it manually. Go forth and add all of the extra info your pictures deserve!