Self-Employment: Lessons Learned the Hard Way ~ Chicago Wedding Photographer

As it turns out, as much as we want to believe that we have all our ducks in a row… sometimes, well, we just don’t. Inevitably throughout this crash course in learning to run my own business – I’ve learned lots of lessons…


I’ve learned The Power of ‘No’.

I’ve learned about budget, taxes, & what it takes to go full-time.

I’ve learned how to better balance my days & manage the freedom of being my own boss.

I’ve learned I would really rather not do this without James by my side.

I’ve learned to discount or not to discount.

I’ve learned about file management, back-up systems, and recovering files.


… and now – I’ve learned the hard way that you really should include clauses regarding wedding cancellations and what to do when couples want to change their wedding date.


These situations are tough enough on their own, that not having any information in your contract about how to handle this can make an already touchy situation all the more difficult. And surprisingly enough when I threw this question out to other photographers, many didn’t have anything in their contracts about this either! So at least I’m not alone here… haha. I mean, I do have that the initial 50% deposit is non-refundable, but what about the remainder of the payment? What about if they cancel within the month before the wedding? What if they cancel 6 months before the wedding? What if we are counting on that money to pay our bills and now we can’t re-book that date? These are all important things to consider – especially if you are full-time and this is your only income!

Obviously, I am so close to my clients and care so much about them – that it absolutely breaks my heart to ever get word from them that their wedding is off. But unfortunately, on top of feeling absolutely terrible for them that they are going through this – I also have to run a business. And not having information in my contract about how to handle it has made this situation more difficult than it ever needed to be for all parties involved.

That being said – it is also important to have information about changing dates in your contracts as well. I never even really considered this before because often times you never think this would happen… but trust me – anything you can’t imagine happening can and will happen at some point! 😉 Anyway – figure out how you want to handle this and note it in the contract. Because I consider my clients friends, it is seriously difficult (at least for me because I’m a softie) to be upfront about business issues like this… so an easy way to take care of that is to have it in writing in the contract! That way we’re all on the same page from the get-go and there are no awkward interactions along the way if anything were to come up.

I’m not telling you how or what to say about these situations in your contract – but just saying MAKE SURE YOU SAY SOMETHING – ANYTHING – about them in your contract! Consider this my public service announcement to you for the day! 🙂

(*Maybe you already have something in your contract and are shaking your head at me right now… but a lot of people I spoke to didn’t have anything in their contracts – so I wanted to throw this out there just in case. If you are already on top of this – then Woo Hoo Go You!) 🙂


And because no post is complete without a photo… here’s a little sneak peek at the styled shoot from my Advanced Workshop with the gorgeous real-life couple Erin & Evan! If you can believe it – they’re just as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside… just awesome, awesome people. 🙂 I’m still so thankful that they agreed to model for us… because seriously… (see below) – Right?!



(Much more to come soon after we *hopefully* get it published on a blog somewhere!)


check out OUR VERY



chicago & worldwide

Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!