There can be a fine line between “Seasoned Pro” and “Obsolete Button Pusher”

In my blogs post I have brought some attention to the fact that some new photographers to our profession have jumped from buying a camera to buying business cards for their photography business in a week in a half and to be fair, young photographers aren’t the only ones that have a dislike for learning.  Some of our older, more established colleagues can be just as guilty of not learning what they should to produce the best possible product for their clients.

Let’s be honest, it’s not hard to do.  You start out into photography and you are hungry to learn.  You struggle, you push, you grow and you now have a successful business, complete with all those business things that need to be taken care of.  You are, now a business person in the business of selling photography, rather than just a creative photographer who is only worried about taking beautiful portraits and there is a difference.  At this point is usually when it happens (at least it did for me and luckily and corrected it quickly) the fun of running a highly successful business and the money it create overwhelms the creative aspects of your work.  All of sudden what you think is edgy, many photographers were doing 5 years ago and most start to consider your work “old school”. This isn’t about style or personal taste, this about allowing yourself to become a dinosaur.

I was always fascinated with my father.  We was a very smart and insightful man, but he had a very ordinary job, which I always found strange.  He worked as a manager in supermarket chain and although he had done his same job for years, he was always looking to learn news ways of doing his job better.  Us boys (my two brother and myself) thought that after doing the same job for 25 years you should be finished training for what most considered an everyday job.  He used to tell us, “as long as a man thinks of himself as ‘green’, he is growing, it’s only when a man considers himself ‘grown’ does he begin to die”.  He worked at his job for 36 years and loved what he did and the only reason he retired was to take care of my mother because of her failing health.  After 36 years he still loved what he did because he never stopped learning and he never thought of himself as “Grown”.

Photographers face the same challenges as in every other profession/career and more.  We don’t just have a job, we work in a creative profession and when we consider ourselves “Grown” our businesses truly begin to die.  I have had older photographers come up to me and start complaining about all the young photographers taking their business away.  These photographers will then show me images they have taken of their clients, their studios, etc. and young photographers didn’t take anything from these photographers, these photographers handed over their clients on a silver platter to photographers that were going to create something better, something newer and something the client actually wanted to buy.

I travel a great deal and I see some beautiful studios, whether small or large, elegant or completely off the wall, these studios have a modern look that is inviting and makes anyone looking for photography want to visit.  I see other studios and they look like Barnaby Jones is going to be coming out the door.  This was the spot to be…when Nixon was President.  Now it hard to see the work in the window with all the hookers walking by!  You don’t have to be in the heart of the most expensive areas, but you do need to be in a safe area that is close to your target market.  You think the rent is high to be close to where the people with money are, see how much it costs you for low rent place that your target market won’t come to!

If you have been in photography a long time and maybe feel you best days are behind you, go back to school, learn something.  There are great seminars, conventions and week-long schools that can get you back on track.  There are books you can read (hint, hint!) blogs and other online resources.  Schedule some sample sessions, clip out ideas from fashion magazines and let photography become fun again.  While changing locations can be a major expense, in some studios it is the perfect way to infuse new life into a dieing business.  If moving isn’t an options, paint and re-decorate. Take your new images from your test sessions and put them up on the walls of your studio, remember what got you into the business in the first place and remember, “as long as a man thinks of himself as green, he is growing, Ait’s only when he considers himself grown he begins to die”.

BOOKS BY JEFF SMITH AT AMAZON.COM

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on June 21, 2010.

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