Every boom sooner or later becomes a bust, every business or professional, no matter how successful will reach a stage of maturity that makes continued success much more challenging than the achieving initial success.  When you first start into business or a profession, you have excitement and if you are or hope to be successful, you have a determination.  It the classic sinking the ships and then telling your soldiers, “you fight or you die”.  Without opportunity for retreat in both war and business you can get pretty motivated to achieve your goals.

As every business or profession matures, there always comes a point where you must “re-invent yourself or your company” to keep it from going under to say nothing of keeping it thriving.  This is a difficult time for a business and\or professional because they lack the energy and hunger that all of us had when we first started our businesses.  You see this today more than ever.  Photographers that got fat and lazy when clients were spending themselves silly and thought the good times would never end.  They started spending themselves silly building custom studios and planning for the “hay-day” to last the next 30 years to pay off the mortgage.

In my career I have had to quickly size up to a 7000 square foot studio, only to size down a few years after that (back to 5000 square feet).  I have gone from one large, mostly employee run studio, then to two studios, than back to one studio that I became the primary photographer and working with assistants to do everything for me except take the photos.  In my career as I have looked at change as expected and always evolving.  The first thing they should teach us about the business of photography are the immortal words, “this too shall pass!”  Whether you are making more money than you can count or barely holding on, this too shall pass!

So many photographers right now are shocked by the recent wave of button pushers trying to sell their snapshots to paying clients.  Really, this is shocking?  You have cameras that are so easy to use, editing software that makes it possible to gloss over crappy pictures to make them look “somewhat professional” and an economy which has record high un-employment.  It is shocking to you what is happening?  Adobe and the camera companies are the only ones making out on this deal, because this profession can not support so many photographers all wrestling for the same few clients that have money to spend.  The good, educated photographers are going to get tired of doing with less, while the young and the clueless are agoing to realize they can`t make any money creating crap and fixing it in Photoshop!  Sounds bleak doesn’t it?  But like all things this too shall pass!

Now is a time when mature business need to down size and run lean.  Mature studios need to re-invent themselves on a small-scale and go back to the basics that got them where they are in the first place.  Quality portraits still sell and there is still a huge market of clients that don’t want crap and are willing to pay handsomely for something outstanding.  Learn and grow, get hungry to be the best again.  Our goals have to change with the times we are working in.  Every photographer`s dream in my day was to build a custom studio where everything had a place and a purpose.  For many photographers that custom-built studio has become a nightmare.  With everything customized to the profession of photography downsizing isn`t possible and with rents being at an all time lows, most owners are wishing they could be renters!

And if this downturn has taught us anything, it is that nothing lasts forever and no one ever promised anyone in business that next year would better that this one!   Instead of trading in equipment that still does the job, just because the new model has new features, keep the old and put the money aside for the next rainy day, because I can assure you this, there will always be another rainy day!


~ by jeffsmithbooks on February 24, 2011.


  1. […] Staying Successful Is hard!:… […]

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