Well I have not had the chance to offend anyone yet today so I may as well change that. Over the past several weeks I have been trying to figure out what has been bothering me about photography and I have not been able to nail it down. There are a few things that upset me like photographers that give away their services for next to nothing, or photographers that pass off bad photography (such as out of focus or underexposed) as art. But this was not it, I could not figure it out till late last week. On Thursday I was talking to a photographer that just came back from a trip and had a chance to listen to a amazing photographer give a lecture, in talking to her I came to realize part of what it is that has me so upset. Then this past Saturday I was listening to a radio show that I love and he mentioned that a company needs to have a clear vision of what they are about if they are going to succeed, so I sat down with pen in hand and tried to figure out what my vision is, was or will be. While doing that little exercise I finally put all the pieces together, the thing that has been bothering me about photography, and many other things in our modern world, is that we have sold our soul to technology and the brevity of things like photography, writing and communication.
So you plan on selling some gear, now what? I realized that I have written a lot about buying new and used gear but not a lot about selling gear, so what about selling your camera and photography gear?
First selling anything is an iffy idea as more people want stuff for free than are willing to buy it. “Sure I will take that $4,000 lens for $20, not a problem”. Second selling camera gear can seem impossible as there is so much out there for sale. so what should you do if you are selling camera and photography gear?
The next idea for a Christmas gift for the photographer on your list is money. Why money as a gift idea? Well many times people like to get a present for the photographer they are buying for, like a lens or a flash, etc, but many times they do not know what camera manufacturer or camera type they have. This can be a BIG problem so instead of buying something that you are not sure of, give money with a note that says something like “This is for that lens that you are looking at” or “I wanted to buy you a flash but was not sure which one so here is some money towards it”. If you think that they may spend the money on something else then do a card with a note in it that says “I would like to go shopping with you for that new lens and will pay for it”, or you will put so much towards it.
Last year I had a husband come in to ask me about buying his wife a lens. Fortunately I knew which lens she was looking at as I do printing for her and she was telling me how much she wanted to get this lens. The problem was that the husband was looking at the wrong one, she wanted the Canon 70-200L F2.8 IS, the store that he went to told him that he should buy the 70-200L F4 without IS – a big difference!! So he instead did the card idea and told her that he would like to put X amount towards the new lens, when she got the card she was ecstatic as she had saved enough already to be able to buy the lens with the extra money he put towards it, she got exactly what she wanted!
Sometimes I pick up more from our pastor’s message then what he intends, today was one of those times.
Twice this week this has come up and it applies to all people. But so much more to us as photographers and as business people that I just have to share.
What is it:
The definition of being an idiot…. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time”. This is so true and I see this in life and business all the time. As an example – If you keep hand holding your long lens and keep getting out of focus pictures maybe it is time to stop hand holding. Try using a tripod. If you keep getting speeding tickets maybe you should slow down. I know ROCKET SCIENCE!
I have a couple friends, I don’t think they read this page. They keep complaining about how this and that always is happening to them. But they go out and do the same thing over and over. I keep telling them to change what they are doing and the results will be different, but they don’t listen.
A science friend of mine keeps saying that if you want a different result then try a different combination of ingredients. Same in our lives, our business and photography – try different things so you are not an idiot. Using a tripod, monopod or even the window of a vehicle to steady your camera and lens may be the thing that you need to get better pictures. If your pictures are always poorly lit then maybe a flash or a studio light. If you are having issues with flat nature and wildlife pictures then try different times of the day.
You may not be making huge changes, but even a little change may be enough to get better results and change you from being an idiot.
So you heard about how someone else is shooting and you decided that you would change the way you shoot. But just wait a minute – is it going to make you a better photographer?
In my courses I always tell my students to work on the KISS principal, Keep It Simple Stupid! Many of these great new ideas that people are pushing are everything but helping to keep it simple. When I shoot I always start with the simple, most times you will find my camera set to Program, 400 ISO, single spot for focus and the focus set to one shot. It is as simple as I can make the settings. It keeps the camera from making a lot of changes on me and still allows me to get a picture as soon as possible from picking up the camera. So if I am driving down the road and see a bear I can pull over and push the shutter button and I know that I will get an image, it may not be the best image for lighting or depth of field but I will have something and most times it will be a good exposure and it will be sharp. From there I will adjust my settings to the shooting situation to get the best exposed image.
This bear picture was one such situation, I was driving down a road, and I had to stop for traffic and when I looked out the drivers window there was the bear. So without having to change any settings I took this photo and had myself a okay picture. Then I did some changes to the camera settings and took some more pictures. Fortunately for me I got the first picture as the bear moved and the other pictures were not as good for where teh bear was standing. Total time from seeing bear to getting the first picture 10 seconds, another 15 seconds to make some changes and the subject was not in as good a place as for the first picture.
So your sales are down? I hear a lot of companies complain about having to deal with the big box stores or mail order companies, and I agree 100% that both of these are impacting the sales of local small and medium size businesses. A number of photographers are complaining that they just cannot survive as they are trying to compete with other photographers.
BUT there is something that is doing more to effect a decrease in sales than any of the above factors. What is this mysterious thing that is effecting our sales? It is plain and simply the customer service / integrity that we are offering to our customers. In the past couple of months I have been forced to order on-line, or purchase from a box store, on a number of occasions as the service that I have gotten from local small businesses is SO BAD! I will not point out names but if you were one of the businesses that I had bad service from you will know it as I made sure to bring it up in a polite way to the manager or owner.