evolution of a photographer : November 2010

evolution of a photographer

Testing, testing…is this thing on? Can anyone hear me?

Hey there, I hope you’re all doing well. It’s been 18 months since my last post here on prophotolife, and a lot has happened in that time. Here’s the short version: the recession really rocked the photo business, so I happily accepted a full-time creative position with one of my favorite former clients. If you’re interested in the long version and this photographer’s view of this recession, well, read on…

When last we spoke, the recession was in full effect and I was looking for the way forward for my commercial photography studio, Daylight Photo. After twenty-plus years in the photo biz, I’d survived a whole bunch of ups and downs, but by February of 2009, it was obvious that the year ahead was shaping up to be an especially bumpy ride.

Clients began canceling projects left and right in the spring of 2009. I’d survived some pretty tough times in the photo biz – the recession of the early 80s, corporate downsizing in the late 80s, the downturn during the Gulf War, the dot com bubble bursting, and 9/11/2001 – but the difficulties in this recession were exacerbated by other dramatic changes happening within our own industry. After months of looking for answers, I seriously questioned my desire to continue running my own business. Yes, the work might eventually return, but would the budgets?

My personal good news is that now, over a year later, I’m still making my living as a photographer, in addition to being a videographer and a webmaster. Established photographers intent on survival understand that they must evolve and be willing to adapt to new technologies and methodologies. I’ve thankfully been able to do that…by adapting my way into a full-time position with one of my former clients, a professional arts organization.

About a year ago, I stopped by their office to pick up some products for a photo shoot. Our conversation turned to their internet needs and we discussed how prophotolife had been created and developed. About two weeks later, that initial conversation turned into the offer of a full-time position in their publications and web department. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I have prophotolife to thank for the skills that helped land this new opportunity. Originally created as a way to share ideas and information with photographers, prophotolife also allowed me to witness closeup the convergence of photography, video, the internet, and the revolution in digital publishing. Was it tough to leave Daylight Photo and much that I’d worked for? Sure, it was. But I’ve always believed in “living to fight another day,” so it seemed wise to jump out of the ring when this opportunity presented itself. It was definitely the right decision.

In recent months I’ve taken part in a number of publishing projects, including the launch of a large organizational website and a site for a regional university. Another large video/website project is also in the works, an arts-related public awareness campaign. We also just shot the cover and inside spread for one of the organization’s monthly publications. So, by climbing the project ladder a rung or two, I’m no longer simply awaiting assignments, I’m also helping to create new vehicles and additional needs for visual content.

A staff position also provides an interesting sideline view of the photo industry. After taking leave from prophotolife in February of 2009 to devote full attention to Daylight Photo, then experiencing the tumult of the current recession as a small business owner, it became hard to see the photo forest for the trees. Now I spend more time listening and learning, rather than teaching and talking, and I’m enjoying the perspective. It’s the right place for me, for these times.

So what does this mean for prophotolife? Well, prophotolife certainly isn’t going away, I’ll keep paying the hosting bills until the content becomes irrelevant. The videos still get frequent views and I’m often thanked for them, which is really nice. The comment feature on the site has officially been disabled, though, to battle heaps of spam and my lack of time to actively manage an online community. It just makes sense.

Will there be any new updates? I honestly don’t know. I recently picked up a Panasonic LX5 that I’d like to write something about. The same goes for Lightroom 3. And there was this thought-provoking ASMP Copyright Symposium in NYC this past spring. But I honestly don’t know if there will be more updates or not. Never say never.

As for Daylight Photo, it’s alive and well and being managed by my former business partner, Bob. He and his wife took over my portion of the business and they’re making a go of it, enjoying some success despite the difficult times. I still help out on special projects at the studio (it’s only a mile from my new office) and we talk often and at length about what’s happening in the industry.

Well, that’s the view from here. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the States and I thought it would be a good opportunity to touch base again, to let you know that I’m alive and well, and to thank you for supporting prophotolife. I hope all is well in your world and that you have much to be thankful for this holiday season, also. Till we meet again…

Happy shooting,
Jim T.