How I got my PhD in “How-To-Business” of Photography

***New series every Monday for the next 5 weeks*** Part 1 of 5

(without getting into debt or going to school and how you can do it to)

In fall of 1991 I became a professional photographer…sort off. This all came about because of the frustration and annoyance with my current position, which was working for a small company writing ads. I created ads & brochures for a small company that quickly placed me in the sales department after I re-wrote all three of their brochures and two newspaper ads. I was not their best employee, nor their eighth best employee. You get the point…I was bad at my job. On an afternoon that I was supposed to be making a sales call at a local mall, instead of walking into my appointment, I just kept walking.

Here I am 21 or 22, soon to lose my job and thinking how amazing it is that I haven’t been fire yet.

Earning a living doing something that I love wasn’t even an option to me. I loved (& still do) writing, playing guitar and taking pictures. These skills are not profitable in a small middle class town. This is the same small town where I was raised to believe if you’re not the child of the rich and famous then don’t bother dreaming, at all. I was the child of an electrician and a baker. Good parents, bad dreamers.

After accepting my loss of the job I so loathed (and almost getting giddy over that acceptance), I kept walking through the mall. With a soft pretzel in one hand and an Icy in the other I scribbled through an application placed outside a photography studio on a small folding table for all to apply.

I like photography. I even have taken a couple of classes in photography in college. My friends consider me the artistic one. Why not apply; life can’t get worse. They hired me. I start in two weeks. I am photographer…sort of.

This was a retail franchise photography chain. Yes, the type of photography that true-purist photographers hate, detest and bastardize all things they hold scared. No control over your lighting, no control over you camera, zooming in and out and placing the subject on the “X” were your only options. Customers came in herds and management only cared about the sales average and bottom line.
Guess what? I loved it! I was good at it!

I took photographs that people bought. What made me good at my job? I enjoyed the experience of photographing people…that’s it. People enjoyed the experience of me photographing them…that’s it. People bought photographs from me to remember their experience of being photographed. They my have come to get senior photos or that gift for their boyfriend or husband but they bought the experience.

Insanely useful photography tip #1: Photography is an experience. Make it a good one for people.

To be continued…

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Part 2 of 5 next Monday…