Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reflecting on my Photography Business

Happy Birthday To Me!

It's my birthday today (all say "ahhh") and It's almost exactly a year since I made my first blog post. So, I thought it was an opportune moment to reflect briefly on where I was going with the blog, my photography business - and indeed my life (but I won't bore you by dwelling too much on that aspect here).

There's a been a bit of a hiatus (of nearly 2 months) since my last blog post and there's a reason for that - well several really. I wasn't sure of what else to say here - too many blogs are nothing more than free advertising space for a photographer's latest wedding shots (I don't do weddings, or else I might have joined in) - or just a place to deposit pointless, badly-written ramblings and not-so-great images. I set out to write something of interest and useful, in a lively and informative style - but I think I lost my way in that endeavour, so I gave up for a while.

I lost the muse really. Or perhaps I started to wonder if anyone was even reading my recalcitrant rantings. I don't suppose I'm alone with those thoughts either - there must be hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there putting font to screen in the vain hope that at least one person will see it and perhaps leave a comment.

So, I suppose blogging is about laying it down without worrying too much about whether your audience is there or not. Just doing it because you want to do it. I might try that!

Which brings me to my business. I opened a brand new photography studio and teaching facility in the middle of May 2009 and in the middle of a world recession. This is a bit different from doing something for the sake of it, and not worrying if the general public like or care about what you're doing. There was a large capital outlay - on the refurbishment and the equipment for the studio; there is monthly rent to find; advertising bills to pay; and food to put on the table.

So this is not "if you build it - who cares if they come" - it's "When you build it you'd better make damn sure that they come!"

The teaching work is picking up - and have a very enthusiastic core band of students who take every opportunity they can to pass their kind thoughts about my teaching skills - word-of-mouth is by far the best marketing tool, and it works very here in Ireland (just be sure it's good things they are saying!) I've even been doing other kinds of marketing: like sending out posters and brochures to advertising agencies; businesses, magazines and PR companies, and also running some events without payment. I was heavily involved in Scott Kelby's World Wide PhotoWalk which took up at least 2 weeks of my time, with one thing and another, for no payment but the feedback from the participants and the interest in my own work and photography teaching was payment enough. Self promotion is one of the keys to success.

What I'm learning, though, is that I can't be a Jack-of-all-trades and there's not enough time in my day to be a photographer, a teacher, a marketing manager, an accountant, a chef (I have to eat) and a blogger. Something has to go!

But, I have to find the work before I can do it. Catch 22. (I think it's Catch 22 - I definitely have no time to READ BOOKS).

Yesterday, a young woman who was looking to do a photography course with me (she was highly recommended to me by word of mouth) came to the studio. She has a background in marketing. She is currently unemployed and doesn't have enough money to pay for the course. I need a marketing manager and don;t have enough money to pay for one. A business arrangement made in heaven - or sent by the Gods. Anyway it wasn't long before I found her a place on my next course - on Saturday - and she agreed to work one day a week for free for a while.

I'll keep you posted - the urge to blog again has suddenly resurfaced!

(Thanks to G. for the wonderful Birthday cake!)


  1. Hi Stephen, I too blog and try to read as many other blog as possible. Much of what you say resonates with me. Especially the part of needing to be a "jack of all trades".

    I like your approach on exchanging marketing prowess for course time.

    Keep blogging & Happy Birthday!

  2. Hi Stephen, First of all congratulations on your birthday and one year of blogging. I have returned to your blog on several occasions and have always enjoyed it.

    The feeling that you describe has also dwelled on me, and I have also been away from my own blog for a while, and I wonder, like you, if anyone even noticed?? I just hope that I'm not one of those blogs with pointless, badly-written ramblings and not-so-great images... :)

    But like you, I felt like blogging again, and don't care if anyone is reading (even though I hope that someone does), I just felt like it.

    I'll drop in a bit more often now, and looking forward to your next post :)

  3. Congratulations on the anniversary. Sometimes it can be tough to blog, especially, like you say, informative and relevant blog posts. I'm guilty of posting images more than anything, but do try and put some commentary when necessary. If it becomes a chore then its time to think again, but I for one, enjoy your posts no matter when they pop up in my reader. Good luck with Year 2.

  4. Are you a mentalist Stephen?

  5. Hi Mohammed

    No, I don't think so. Nor do I send abusive emails to blogs and websites. I'll let your photo agent know that you do though. They may not want such a person involved with them.

  6. Happy Birthday Stephen,glad to hear you're doing well!
    Tim Oram.


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