The Year I Made $0

Hello & welcome to the all new Chantelle Dione Photography website! I am so excited to post our official “new” blog post on our revamped website. Late last year it was decided that we needed to create an online space that captured the essence of Chantelle Dione Photography and we new it had to be created by the amazing team over at Bloom & Brilliance.  After a deep thought breakfast date, Janelle came up with our gorgeously elegant theme and we couldn’t be happier. Since we don’t currently have a large, dedicated, headquarters for Chantelle Dione Photography, we wanted our future clients to have a total virtual experience. We hope you enjoy it and would love to hear any feedback you have!

2016 was an incredible year for Chantelle Dione Photography as a whole. We started this adventure in 2011 with our official launch in 2014 and we are so thankful to have continued to grow as we have. We grew so much that the government has recognized us and would like to enroll us in their programs called “Income Taxes” and “RST”. 😉  Yup! 2016 was the very first year that we have hit the targets for the government to take our hard earned money. But that’s all a part of being in business for yourself, right?  As our current client’s know, my husband and I (the “we” I always talk about) have other full time jobs. We juggle our daily lives as well as our photography clients and wouldn’t trade it for the world. As every previous year we have been able to photograph some spectacular couples who have trusted us enough to have us be a part of their lives. This has inspired me to write this increasingly, brutally honest, blog.  With more and more stories coming to light from couples who have chosen photographers that have left them disappointed, angry, and even without any wedding photography at all, I want to share with you my first year of business. Mainly what I made, what I spent, and what I now owe to the government, just to give you an idea of WHY professional photographers (you know the ones that start at $2500) charge what they do.

While I’m not going to get in to deep detail I will be giving close, approximate numbers of my 2016 photography income, my expenses (gear, client gifts, wedding shows, marketing, packaging, etc), and what I owe the government, and now what I have left to show for it all. As I mentioned above I have another full time job that aids in supporting my family currently. At the end of this blog you will see why I continue to have this job and why it is currently vital to my family and me. Also you will see WHY professional photography prices are what they are and hopefully gain a little understanding, or a lot, from what I am sharing. 🙂 Let’s dive in shall we?!

In 2016 I brought in approximately $31,000 in photography.  I know, we couldn’t believe it either!  It was actually a really great feeling to see that all of the late night emails, the expensive wood packaging, the first class customer service, was amounting to something!  Hold on to that celebration dance however, because I had to figure out our expenses next. Expenses include such things as website fees/costs, client packaging, marketing material, wedding shows, etc, etc. In 2016 we spent approximately $15,000.

Whoa. $15,000?  That’s a lot of zeroes. BUT that’s on the LOW end of what most professional photographers are spending just to run their business. (I would love to see a breakdown of a full time pro actually). So let’s do the math:


Ok, well I guess that’s not horrible. Definitely not a wage that would support my current lifestyle however. (since we’re being honest). But guess what, we’re not finished. NOPE! There are deductions like CPP, EI, etc etc to an amount of approximately $3000.  New total:


Ouch. Most kids working minimum wage jobs are making more than that.  Unlike most kids, I also have to submit my PST that I collected from my sales. And since I submitted a week late I received a 10% penalty fee on that amount. The math?


Keep in mind all of these numbers are rounded to even numbers for ease of story telling. I am giving myself more credit than reality but I think by now you’re seeing the big picture. $10,800 is roughly my yearly income at this point. And since this is getting quite long winded I’m going to get to the finale. After sending in my paperwork for my income tax I was told that I owe $7000 in income tax for 2016.  Can you do that calculation without my help this time? $3800 remains. The brutal honesty is I don’t even have that left once I pay my income tax. I think I maybe have $500 which actually needs to go to Bloom & Brilliance for the last payment on my website.  But the point of this is to hopefully educate people that the $500 wedding photographer you decided to hire for your wedding isn’t a professional who is trying to run a sustainable business. If they were they would have to complete 62 weddings in one season to even break $31,000. 62! What level of customer service do you think they could uphold at that amount?

But I digress. The reason for this long winded blog post was not to discuss those people who create an unrealistic industry, it is to be completely transparent about the industry in the hopes of creating awareness in couples who are currently planning their wedding and are becoming confused by the extreme lows and moderate highs of photography costs.  I didn’t make any money in 2016. That’s the truth of it. And yes I have some feelings of defeat BUT this is the path I’ve chosen. I LOVE weddings, I LOVE my couples, I LOVE creating images, I LOVE putting together little details like expensive wood boxes for USB packaging and client gifts to thank you for choosing me to be a part of your lives. I’m learning while I go, I’m doing a LOT of things wrong, but I’m trying to build a reputable and sustainable business in a sometimes confusing industry. And if you made it this far I hope you continue along this journey with me!  I promise it will not be boring. 😉



  1. Michelle April 25, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Great post!

  2. Linda April 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks so much for writing this. It’s hard to compete in this business when you’re also competing against equally talented photographers who are practically giving their services away. And it just makes other photographers look to clients like they only charge more because it’s for a wedding, so it’s a money grab or something. Nope. There’s a lot of hard work and effort that goes into shooting–not to mention all of the costs most people don’t think about. Thanks for being so honest and giving us how it really is.

  3. Stephanie de Montigny April 25, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Profit is not a dirty word. Heck, look at your numbers above–there wasn’t any accounted for! And I am certain you charged more for that canvas print that the print-lab charges. The key is to know ALL our costs, and account for them in our pricing. This includes income taxes, liability insurance, gear insurance, memberships, and everything else we need to successfully run our business. Thank you for sharing your numbers, for showing both sides of the ‘story’ photographers seem to keep telling without effect. I am happy to say that after all of my expenses & taxes paid, I profited 1/3 of my gross income this year. That means I have funds to reinvest in the business, spend more on marketing to reach more clients to fill my schedule, and pay someone to help when I don’t have time. I run a profitable business, and there is no shame in that!

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