Listen To This Before You Start An Associate Photography Team


the blog

by sarah elrod

Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Last year right around the time I found out I was pregnant, I announced that I was going to be hiring associate photographers. In other words, I would be expanding my team for the first time. This was something I had been thinking about for a while, but could never quite find the courage to pull the trigger on it. I think finding out I was going to have a baby gave me the confidence boost I needed to do this because I knew from that moment on my whole life as I knew it was going to change.

Something Needed To Change

I was 17 when I decided I wanted to be a photographer. But for a long time I never wanted to do weddings. Something I think all photographers say at one point or another. Eventually though, I realized they were not as stressful as I thought they would be and I became absolutely obsessed with them. Seventeen year old me though never really thought too much about the future and what becoming a full time wedding photographer was going to mean.

As a single person, it’s a great gig. You make a good amount of money for really not having to work that much. Since I was not really into the party scene in those younger years, I definitely did not mind spending all my Saturday’s at weddings instead of at bars.

I was in big time hustle mode.

But as I think we all have experienced from one time or another, that hustle culture can only sustain you for so long before it turns into burnout. And as I got older, my priorities shifted. I went from being all about work and making money, to wanting to settle down, get married and have babies.

As I started to enter into the family building years of my life, I started to notice how conflicting my job was becoming with my normal life.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED being at weddings too. But being pulled in two different directions is so hard.

The longer things like that went on, the more I started thinking, “wow.. I became an entrepreneur to have more time to myself, but this feels like less.”

Hiring Associate Photographers

In 2022 I had my trial run of hiring associates because my son was born and there was a wedding day I was absolutely going to have to miss.

There were also a couple of other shoots that I was able to hand off as well that helped me kinda get my toes wet without diving head first.

But this year for 2023 I plan on utilizing my associate photographers even more. And at the beginning of this year I announced that this was actually going to be my last year of doing weddings all together. And that any booked weddings for 2024 would go to my associates. Now, I have no idea how that is going to work out. There is a good chance that brides are not going to want to book me just to have me send someone else and I get that. It’s totally an experience and I am not banking on it working out. But I wanted to leave the option open for anyone who may be interested.

What I Have Learned Since Hiring A Team

My team is made of up sub contracted photographers. So they are not employees technically. Which in my opinion is better for everyone. They can set their own rate and I can decide what I am or am not willing to pay.

But that does bring me to one of the biggest obstacles I have learned since entering this season. The entitlement of other business owners kind of astonished me.

I fully believe in capitalism. Which means, you can offer a service for whatever price you want and the consumer can say yes or no bu purchasing it or not. In the case of associate shooters, I ask people what their rates are and I choose to hire them (or not) based on if I agree with their rates. Seems fair enough right?

Well, I have actually run into the situation before where contractors ask me how much I am making for the project in total, and expect half of it because in their mind, they are doing “half the work”. But think about that from literally any other company perspective.

If you work a 9-5 job that charges $5000 for a project but you are paid an hourly rate, you are not going to make $2500 on that project. You will make your hourly wage. The amount of workload honestly doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that I have a job for you, and you get to choose whether you want to take it or not for the price I am willing to pay. Simple as that.

I know that not everyone is gong to agree with me on this, so I would love to hear your thoughts! Message me on instagram and let me know where you stand with this!



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I'm Sarah Elrod

The Podcast

Rural Lifestyle



I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.

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