Of course you know the type. Chances are, you've encountered one at a wedding. Photographers often refer to him/her as Uncle Bob. He's the uncle (or relative, or friend of the family), that shows up with all his gear, at the wedding you've been hired to shoot. He usually has a really nice camera (sometimes even nicer than yours), and of course is eager to use it.
Photographers get so frustrated, not only when "Uncle Bob" shows up at a wedding, probably getting in the way, but even more when we hear about a dear friend who has decided to let "Uncle Bob" photograph their wedding instead of hiring a pro. Sure, it's understandable that people want to save money - and DIY is certainly all the rage, but is it worth it?
Yet, I hear about so many photographers that do basically the same thing in their business when it comes to things like bookkeeping and accounting, contracts and legal stuff, and design work. There's so much involved in starting a business, and so often photographers think they can save money by doing it on their own.
Don't Uncle Bob your business. You're a photographer, that's your area of expertise. While there are certainly exceptions, chances are good that you're not also an accountant, a lawyer, and a designer. And, even if you are - there's a reason for the saying "the laywer who represents himself, has a fool for a client."
You can pay now, or you can pay later. It will always cost you more later - especially when you have to fix something you could have done right in the first place. The amount of money you "save" by doing it yourself, is easily offset by what it will cost you in time, potential damage to your business, and fixing it later. The same reasons you would encourage someone to hire a professional photographer - instead of "doing it themself," or hiring a friend with a camera, are the reasons you should hire a design professional, and accoutant and an attorney.
As a photographer, you have a good eye. You're creative. You're an artist. None of those make you a good designer. In fact, most photographers are terrible designers. Not because they can't figure out Illustrator and Photoshop - but because they think that graphic design is about Illustrator and Photoshop. And, as I said before, even if you are a professional designer in your day job - you know better than to hire yourself. The process of branding, and developing your marketing style is far too important to not pay for the expertise, objectivity and experience of a pro.
The same thing is true for many of the thing that go in to building a succesful business. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of the expertise and experience of someone who knows what they're doing. Why wouldn't you want to be sure that you had an attorney in your corner, making sure your contract and business structure are solid. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of the financial and business advice you can gain by developing a relationship with an accountant that understands the needs of small businesses.
There's no doubt that you'd counsel anyone thinking about having their "uncle Bob" shoot their wedding, to hire a pro instead. Maybe it's time to take your own advice...
What do you think? Am I wrong? What other areas do photographers often "uncle Bob?" Leave your thoughts below as a comment!