Archive for January 2012
The beauty of shooting children’s and family portraits is the relationships.
A couple weeks ago I shot Kora’s fourth birthday party. The great thing is that I have been photographing Kora and her family since she was three months old.
Kora wanted a puppy themed party. There was bone-shaped cookies, dog-shaped cupcakes and of course a bunch of puppies. Yes, in LA, you can rent puppies for your party. Kora and her friend’s had a blast.
It was an interesting year…for everyone. Many parts of the world changed and so did my business.
When I was in college it took me three years to stumble into a finance class and enjoy it enough to declare it as my major. In order to weed people out, the school of business required eight pre-requisities before applying. Once in the school of business I gravitated to finance and made a decision I wanted to be a sell-side analyst. At the time, circa 1995, the market was on a tear straight up. The faces and voices of the market were the sell-side analysts on CNBC. I decided I wanted to be an analyst. I didn’t know what their day-to-day activities were nor what was really involved with being an analyst (a two word description would be Sell Stock) but that was my goal. Once I got there I realized I made an uneducated decision and grew to hate it.
When I started my photography business around 2003 so many professional photographers and consultants said the same thing: In order to be successful a photographer must focus on ONE type of photography. Being a jack of all trades meant a life of mediocrity and that in order to be noticed, a photographer had to have a singleness of purpose so people would recognize you for that one type of photography. I didn’t buy it. And with the economic collapse and the resulting shrinking of advertising that logic proved to be fatally wrong for many photographers.
I vowed I wouldn’t make the same mistake I made in college. I figured I’d shoot, work, and let the cards fall where they may. My work and what I gravitated towards would determine what type of photography I would pursue. The cards fell into place and for me it meant photographing people and architecture. With the economy and the state of the real estate markets I can count the number of architecture jobs I shot in 2011 on one hand. I can also reflect on all the calls I got for architecture-related jobs but lost based on price. If there’s a ton of unemployed architecture photographers, they will under-bid each other in order to get the job. I on the other hand focused on people.
This is the third year I’ve gone through and made this slide-show. It’s a great way to look over the year to see what I did right and what I could have done better. In 2011 I also felt the pinch that most wedding and family photographers have been feeling for years. The loss of business because of the growing ease and access of great digital cameras. Why pay a professional photographer when we have our own camera? Why hire someone when Judy’s son offered to shoot the (insert photography job here______) for free? The answer comes down to quality. Sometimes the price of a good deal isn’t paid until after the client sees the results and isn’t happy. In order to combat this type of thinking I have to focus on providing value. My clients have to know and expect a quality that they know they can’t get by shooting their family portraits themselves or giving the job to the least expensive photographer. In 2012 my goal is to improve my client’s experience and continue to focus on value.
2011 got off to a slow start because Charlie was born at the end of 2010. And despite fewer jobs, business was better than 2010.
I my last post I mentioned how important music is to me and how much thought goes into selecting a song to use for these slide shows. This year I went with a song by James Vincent McMorrow.