10 years ago, with a passion for photography, a strong work ethic and just the right amount of naiveté, I struck out as a professional photographer with the support of my wife. I haven’t had a real job since. There have been some major highs and major lows during the past decade, but as my 11th year in business begins I feel as if I’m finally on solid ground.Read More
"With some exceptions, photography is not a highly remunerative profession. We have chosen this path in large part due to the passion we have for visual communication, visual art, and the subject matters in which we specialize.
The substantial increase in photographs available via the internet in recent years, coupled with reduced budgets of many photo buyers, means that our already meager incomes have come under additional strain.
Moreover, being a professional photographer involves significant monetary investment . . . So the bottom line is that although we certainly understand and can sympathise with budget constraints, from a practical point of view, we simply cannot afford to subsidize everyone who asks."
Continue reading HERE.
The above quote is by Tony Wu and is from an article posted on Photo Professionals Blog. I have reposted it on Playing Work under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Read the entire article HERE. It's well written and I couldn't agree with it more.
Holy bankruptcy repellent Batman! Has it really been 5 years? Well . . . as of this Thursday, September 1st, we have reached the 5 year anniversary of our official business start date. For one, it's hard to believe that we've been in business for 5 years and, two, that means Larissa and I have been married for over 5 years. Where does the time go? I could go on a long philosophical rant about about the seemingly swift passage of time, but I'll spare you my musings. Instead, I would like to recap what we've done in those 5 years.
The 6 months preceding official start date
Larissa and I worked our butts off to finish planning a DIY wedding, got married and wrote a pretty impressive business plan. After tying the knot and celebrating with our friends and family we hunkered down and finished the business plan and began to shop it around. After a great honeymoon in Maine and numerous meetings with bank officials we secured a loan (with the help of some amazing family members), and officially began to produce Royalty Free stock for the Somos Collection, now owned by Corbis.
Producing royalty free stock for Somos. "Okay, we don't know what the hell we're doing, but we've been given this opportunity to contribute to this new, all hispanic stock collection so let's give it hell." And we did. We produced a total of 31 shoots from September of 2006 through July of 2007 and contributed 1,220 images to Somos. Certainly not the production capacity of full time studio, but not bad for 2 newly weds.
Tired of producing stock with an ever dwindling profit margin, we decided to pack all of our belongings into a Uhaul and bid farewell to Austin, TX. In less than a month we made the decision and moved ourselves back to our roots in rural, Mercersburg, PA. Suddenly, we found ourselves needing to rework our entire business plan. "What the hell do we do now? I don't want to get a job. Do you want to get a job? NO! Okay, let's start marketing me as a commercial photographer." The first opportunity came by shooting institutional photography for Mercersburg Academy. We also ramped up our wedding and portrait brand with the goal of becoming the best in the area.
Continued shooting institutional work by picking up additional education clients. I had the realization of, "Hey, I'm pretty damn good at this! I should start marketing to more schools." And so it went. Year three also brought the addition of some resort clients and all the while I continued to shoot portraits and weddings.
"Wow, this recession really sucks. What happened to all our savings? I don't know. Let's hit the road for a month and live out of our car." Year Four brought us one of the greatest trips of our lives. We hit the road in search of Americana and drove 7,414 miles in 28 days. We revisited parts of the country we had lived in during our early 20's and explored some new areas too. We returned to Mercersburg with a renewed sense of spirit and motivation. I started shooting and experimenting with video.
"But . . . why isn't anyone hiring me right now? Oh yeah, we're still in a recession. Have faith, the next job is coming." And it did, always at just the right time.
Work suddenly picks up, big time. We have the busiest fall of our lives and do more business than I ever anticipated. We're feeling pretty damn good about ourselves and our ability to adapt to a changing economy. I have solidified myself as an institutional photographer and am beginning to extend myself toward other markets. I shoot work for education, hospitals and an assortment of resorts, along with continuously picking up new clients. I finally get the opportunity to work with some ad agencies and design firms and feel that my style of photography is coming into its own.
During this same time, we invest in and successfully help launch another company called GlowArtworks. This new company is another way to diversify by providing curated fine art prints to interior designers working in the healthcare design industry. I am psyched about what we are doing with this company!
Along with all of this, we also made the decision to halt our wedding and portrait brand of photography. We realized that this facet of our business was becoming a bit of a distraction to the direction we really wanted to be heading in. As hard as it was to put this brand to rest, it has been a good decision for us.
Year Six . . . ?
I am hoping for year six to bring continued prosperity and new, creative and interesting projects. I am starting this year with a trip to Boston for some portfolio showings in an attempt to break into yet another photography market. I have high hopes for GlowArtworks and am excited to continue working on this project to make it better and better.
Photography is an adventure and you better have a strong stomach. It's never easy, but always rewarding. Surround yourself with loving, talented and hard working people. Larissa and I work hard and we trust each other to take care of what needs to be done each day. I can't imagine doing anything else and hope that I will be writing another short history of our business when we reach the 10 year mark.
Here's to 5 Years!
Given some of the comments from my last post, I thought it would be interesting to show a little more work from the abandoned restaurant that started this new project. Maybe some of these images can give you more information to create your own story about this place. Why does this restaurant sit empty? Who were the people running this business. Where are they now? What kind of food did they serve?
Clearly, this door has not been opened in some time yet the screen door hangs open as if waiting for the next person to enter. I wish I would have tried to open that door.
A child's bike was left behind. Why? Does someone still play with it?
An advertisement for the Eagles Mere Chamber Music Concert sits in the window. Someone took the time to organize the pine cones and position the flower on this shelf. Was it the owner of the bike?
Pennants still hang and the welcome sign is still out. What happened here? Is this an indicator of our current economy or was it something else? What do you think?