Welcome to the blog of Chace + Smith Photography, "Playing Work." Within these posts and pages, we hope to explore and delineate what it means to be an entrepreneur in the photo industry, and doing so in a town of 1200 people.
We live in a 1920s farmhouse, on the back side of a beautiful private high school campus. Our landlord keeps horses in the stable behind the house, and the fields beyond afford us many pleasant walks with our dog. We keep life simple, for the most part, and enjoy the view of our wide valley outside the kitchen window. Our office is upstairs, in one of the three bedrooms. It is the control center for everything our business does. Our personal life fills in the spaces around it, while the hum of our computers in the office remind us that we aren't actually playing work, even though we may often feel like we are.
What does playing work mean?
When we first started referring to our business as playing work, we really meant it. We had just signed promissory notes for around $100,000 worth of business loans. Perhaps we were young enough, or just dumb enough, to be able to look at the amount, shrug, and say "Well...here goes!" The enormity of this amount of money couldn't possibly be fully realized. For us, the money was allowing us to pursue something we believed in. This was, in the beginning, shooting all-Hispanic stock imagery for the Somos Collection and Veer Images. For months, we literally "played work." We set up the shoots, hired and payed the models, bought wardrobe, produced the shoots, edited the images, and sent them off to the great unknown - all out of our own pockets. Until our royalty checks started showing up, it felt like our "work" was just a game. We opened the door to our pretend office in the morning, typed some things on our pretend keyboards, picked up our pretend telephones and talked to make-believe clients. At least, that's how it felt.
Were we crazy? What were we thinking getting into this business? And would we make it out alive?
Fortunately for us, we were able to navigate out of a floundering stock industry, and relocate to the hub of all things modern and industrious, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania! Despite the sarcastic tone of the previous statement, this place, our hometown, has been a boon for our business thus far. Having gleaned much professional experience from our work with Somos, and from Ryan's (he's actually "the photographer") previous experiences as an assistant for various prestigious photographers is Austin, Texas, we were able to bring a collection of professional imagery to an area with few commercial photographers to speak of. Furthermore, we have several larger clients in the area that are just down the road from us, and have been pleasantly surprised to find a professional photographer able to be on demand just after a good snowfall, for instance.
And so, playing work has taken on a new meaning for us. It has become a term of endearment, for our work is, in many aspects, play. We have been rewarded for the risks we've taken, and though we are still working to gain more financial independence, our lives are quite complete. We've carved for ourselves the foundation of good, creative, whole lives before hitting 30!
Of course, imbued in all of this is the idea of fun. We believe in fun, and we believe in it being the core of our work life. This is the essence of Playing Work.
The many meanings of Playing Work will be presented in this blog. From the joys of being outside all day photographing skiers and snowboarders, to the trials of safeguarding our business in a volatile economy, we will share with you the stories along the way.
We encourage your comments and questions, and hope this blog provides an outlet for photographers, entrepreneurs, and friends alike. How do you see your work as play, or vice versa? What about your work life is unique? What makes you do what you do despite the risks involved?
Do tell...for now, we'd better get back to "work."