Syv Ritch's rants about the business of photography and the state of the industry
Last year, in November 2009, I upgraded my equipment and got a Canon 7D. Before buying the Canon 7D, I did some inquiries around. I was looking at the new Nikon D300s. I know this guy, Jon. He's been a Nikon guy since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. His first camera was a Nikon Nikkormat. That's an “amateur” Nikon SLR build in the mid-60s. Jon only uses Nikon/Nikkor lenses. Always had Nikon, will also be a Nikon guy. A true Nikon guy, the camera strap is big and say Nikon, his camera bag has a huge Nikon logo…
So I was asking him about Nikon.
Vancouver, BC, has hundreds, thousands of coffee shops. Some of them are even very good. A couple of days ago, I met a John A, a photographer friend. He was with a friend of his, David P. We went to JJ Beans for coffee and to keep on talking.
I don't know how we got to talk about Obama and his health care reform, but it wasn't me who mentioned it, and we are in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, not in the US. We have “universal” health care. Everybody's covered. Is our health care perfect? Definitely not, but… David P. became very agitated and loud.
I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the home of the next Winter Olympics in February 2010. I was downtown in the business district, trying to take some street photos. I was waiting for the right arrangement. I had the background and the foreground. I was just waiting for the right person to walk by. I was standing on the sidewalk. I use the BlackRapid Strap, so the camera was down, dangling around my hip. The camera was mostly hidden by my right arm. I just needed to raised the camera at the right time.
I saw this guy walking.
Everyday, I hear on the news that a whole bunch of workers are being laid-off. GM will lay-off another 24,000 layoffs as part of its bankruptcy. Many photographers are feeling the pinch of the recession, but very few hare being laid-off. Why? Because photographers as employees have been an endangered species since the late 90s. In the eighties, 25 years ago, I knew of at least a couple dozen of full-time photographers in the lower mainland, The Vancouver area with it's suburbs, receiving a monthly salary.
Outsourcing is a word used as a threat in the computer industry. We will outsource your whole department to India, China, and Shri-Lanka... In the photographic world, outsourcing has existed "forever" or more commonly known as freelance.
Most photographers outsource large section of their businesses:
- Web servers and hosting
- Templates for websites...
- Photoshop/Lab work
Adobe claims that Photoshop is the single most pirated software. Microsoft claims that it's Windows and Office, mostly from reseller preloading it on the computers. Software piracy is big business. Software piracy is the equivalent the photographer's copyright infringement.
Companies have lot to do the piracy of their software! Even now with the stronger dollar against the UK Sterling Pound, it still cheaper to fly to New York and stay a couple of nights in New York, weekend packages through http://lastminute.com and the like, than buying Photoshop in London, UK.
Many photographers, including me, run their photo businesses from home. It's a lot cheaper than running the business of photographer from an office. What about a studio? That will depend on your needs and your photo business volume. It's not always easy. I have doing it for decades, centuries and millenniums. The main problem is where will you meet your clients?
- In your house?
- At a rented office/photo studio
- A the customer's location/place/house
Once you've answered that question and have decided on using an home office:
- Separate the office from the home.
In Trust Me, I wrote about the friend of a friend who wanted me to participate/invest in his new Internet venture, mostly the technical end. The first thing he did, was to ask me to sign a non-compete agreement. I agreed and signed, no question asked. I did read the non-compete agreement before signing, and still I didn't ask any question about it. Why?
This non-compete agreement was worthless and not worth the attorney fees he paid. I'm supposed not to compete with his idea for a full year. The problem is that you can't patent or copyright ideas.
My daughter just bought her first apartment. I went through the attic in search of moving boxes. Among all the junk and the boxes, I found an old camera bag, so I took it down. There was an old bunch of junk in the front pocket, the manual for a Canon EOS Elan 1991. It's an SLR, film, autofocus, auto exposure, the semi-pro camera of its time, nice camera.
The manual is postcard size, 3.5" by 5", the small standard postcard size with the grand total of 79 pages. It was a time, when photographers took pride in not reading the manual.
Conde Nast is closing some of their magazines, Time Inc. is closing publications and laying off people by the thousands. Everybody's blaming the Internet. The Internet is killing all the newspapers and the magazines. There are plenty of websites that keep track of which publications are dying. The 2 big ones are:
The Magazine Publishers of America is an association that keeps track of 249 magazines and their ad revenues.