by Malcolm Mathieson Published 01/11/2005
The Photographers' Motto! When I started out in business I remember a very successful Australian Photographer telling me "work out what you do not like to do and are not good at and pay someone else to do it." It was most likely the best piece of business advice I ever received.
I see everywhere photographers putting off the necessary things in business to do the things they enjoy, and the advent of digital has given us even more excuses, playing with software eats time like never before.
Yes I know educating yourself in the finer points of workflow and colour management is important but there is not much point being an expert in the intricacies of photo editing software if you have no clients. In the animal kingdom similar things go on and there it is known as "displacement activity". The expression was originally coined to describe the behaviour of animals to diffuse a confrontation - so when a gull is confronted by another gull, which he may not want to fight, he pecks at the grass surrounding him, pretending to ignore the invading male. The apes pick up branches and thrash the ground about them.
Now photographers do not have to worry too much about confrontation but they do have a lot to worry about when it comes to making a quid and doing the things that need to be done, including the VAT return or calling those prospects you have had sitting on your desk for ages.
Business is competitive these days and the photographers who either can do the things they do not like doing or have organized someone else to do them for them are the ones that do well in life and business. In our case here we have for many years used professional bookkeeping services to do the thing I hate most...you guessed it, the VAT return and we get on with doing what we do best - taking photographs.
It may not be rocket science but photographers only make money taking or selling pictures - almost every moment we spend doing anything but is costing money. So when you are thinking about your pet hate and putting it off, perhaps you need someone else to do it, and pay them - but the good side of this is that now you have more time to take more photographs to make more money.
The more hours you spend behind the camera, selling what you create and getting more work to do, will mean more success. One other thing we have done for many years is to use teenagers, who would normally work for someone like McDonald's, to do some of the repetitive things that require a small amount of time each week. It costs little and yet, by looking at what we do, and breaking it down into small unskilled tasks, then employing a junior, after school, to do whatever it is, makes good business sense. At the same time it gives someone work experience, responsibility and perhaps leads them onto a career.
There are many ways to put off what needs to be done till tomorrow but things need to be done, including, in my case, getting ready for my talk at your annual convention. I have heaps of new things to share and instead of writing this should be working on my business, our figures are up 400%. Mind you, whilst in the UK anyone can displace me to the nearest bar!
PS I am yet to work out how to get someone to exercise for me and lose weight, any ideas????
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