by Ron Pybus Published 01/06/2009
Part 16 on the business aspects of being a successful photographer by Ron Pybus ma aswpp.
It was many months ago when the first rumours of a 'Credit Crunch' and a recession first appeared in the news. In September, at the time of writing this article, we were all receiving a constant barrage of doom and gloom from the press. The media currently have a bandwagon to ride and many financial journalists are seeing an opportunity to make a name for themselves as leader of the pack.
The problem is that the more the public are exposed to messages of doom and gloom, the more we all retreat into our shells and expect it to happen. We all have the feeling that somewhere along the line it will affect us either directly or indirectly.
There is no doubt that it is happening and I do not want to get into the debate as to whether it would be as bad if we had not had all the press predictions. On the day that I write this article Britain's third biggest holiday company, XL, have just gone into receivership with thousands of people having had their holidays wrecked. Events like this make ordinary people realise that there is a problem out there and it does affect them.
We are all aware that oil prices have risen dramatically, electricity and gas prices have gone through the roof, mortgages are almost impossible to obtain and thus houses are not selling, houses prices have dropped by 10% in the last 12 months and there have been many more repossessions of houses than in previous years.
Additionally share prices have fallen and continue to fluctuate rapidly and the pound is almost at an all-time low. In short it is not a pretty picture.
Even in photography there are indications of a recession, with a continued reduction in the number of weddings taking place. Faced with higher costs there are also many people out there who have turned to photography for a part-time income - putting even greater pressure on the potential income of full-time professional photographers.
Collectively, if photographers have one failure, they see themselves as artists rather than businessmen. They concern themselves totally with the image, rather than the whole business. They are blinkered by this view. Just review the magazines and journals and analyse where photographers are looking - images, new equipment, digital manipulation, etc. Photographers in the main, fail to monitor what is happening in the outside world. They are more concerned with counting pixels than pounds. We all need to be looking into the future if we are to stay ahead of the game. A good driver will look well into the distance, a poor driver will only look just beyond the bonnet of the car and will make fairly dramatic avoidance moves (or crash) as a result. The longer view gives you time to react and to make smooth, planned transitions from one situation to another
I look back to the early 1990s when I was Director of Libraries, Museums and Arts for Wiltshire County Council. Local government elections are held every four years and, knowing that there was a change of power about to happen, I spent most of the night reviewing the political change that was sweeping the country. Labour or the Liberal Democrats took control of almost every county in England and the Conservatives had lost power in 90% of the local authorities overnight, yet they were still the party in government.
It was about 3am that my wife and I made the calculations of the effect this political swing would have on my career in local government. In my job I had to look at the wider aspects of life, not just at my specific authority and the internal implications. It was clear that the Conservatives would wish to redress the balance of political power to regain control of the counties once again. They would want to do this before the next sequence of elections and the only tool they had was to once again reorganise the structure of local government within England.
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