I have done virtually zero portrait work in the past year, and I cannot imagine the stress level of being this photographer.
In an interview, Doug Mills, a Times photographer in the Washington bureau, reflects on a relentless four years.
I have had a pretty "low photography" few years with the closure of my last studio location, and then "Covid" lockdowns. While I was fortunate to have the day job to keep the bills paid, I was not in the mindset to "keep plugging away at photography". I no longer wished to buy gear, backgrounds or lighting. I no had the space to work on a variation of studio lighting/looks setup to test concepts, or bring aspiring actors and models to do portfolio work or "for art's sake".
I really wish I knew what would revive my photographic talents, to make me want to have that camera ready, to keep my love alive.
Has this happened to you? And where you successful with your revival?
Well my last post came at a time when I'd finally realized that my studio was failing financially. A year later I had closed my doors.
Here's a shot of the studio "grand opening a year later." I miss that space and the old charm. But I'm going to do artistic photography again I swear.
Having been a photographer hobbyist, freelancer, semi-professional and professional over the span of 40 years, I've come to confront a few realities. I began my business underfunded in terms of cash and productive time.
1. It is investment in marketing and sales that matter overwhelmingly in the business, and that must have a 3 year minimum to succeed; thus cash or credit reserve must be 3 years operating costs including outside sales and marketing. In the case of a small studio trying for the high end of the spectrum ($2000-$8000 sale) that means planning for a studio that costs $2500 per month to operate is $100k for 3 yrs, the staffing, sales/marketing, creatives, web marketing, PR, exhibition costs, etc. would be approximately $325k per year, so $975k for 3 years should have been my minimum investment.
2. While being completely solo has its advantages, solo whilst being full time employed elsewhere has huge disadvantages; you can't meet new prospects while you are presenting to a room full of IT people. Being engaged with a busy IT department doing big things keeps the living expenses paid at the expense of my most productive window of time on a daily basis (for me, 7-noon). Organizing and selling a portrait session after a 10 hour day of IT is tough. Really tough if you aren't a natural sales person. And then, there's the actual photography, the thing I love to do...also done after an often grueling day.
Despite the shortcomings of cash and time, I still took a stab at it again, and have lost it all.
What have I learned? People with money can make money, and the rest of us work for them. I just need one good lotto hit.
Ok, maybe more like a sales broadcast, but I am excited by the positive reactions from my friends who've seen my first art piece, the portrait of Kirstin Ann! I can't wait to see how Kirstin likes it:-) I have a few more sessions to do, and then I'm ready to preview her with the rest of the world. In the coming weeks I'll announce when we will have a mixer party and you can check out the portrait yourselves. I've heard wine is good for salesmanship...or something....
The thing to know about this art piece is that you need to see it firsthand to get the "depth" of the image. Digital photos don't cut it!