These are interesting times - my essay from the ASMP Seattle newsletter

These are interesting times.

The economy is still sputtering, copyright rules are under the congressional microscope, photographers’ revenues are falling while client expectations are rising, pricing wars are raging, and many photographers are justifiably stressed out. Based on conversations with ASMP members, everyone seems very well aware of the problems and challenges facing our industry. Perhaps a little positive news is in order.

What’s going right?

ASMP has gotten stronger. In tough times, success comes from banding together, from helping your peers instead of seeing them as yet another adversary to deal with. I’ve seen far more collaboration between photographers of late, everything from pricing questions being posted to the listserv, to shooters with different specialties assisting one another for free in order to help conserve resources. Basically, the successful photographers are working together.

Communication, sharing, and education also helps with the long-running issue of entry-level photographers undercutting market pricing, usually quite inadvertently. If new photographers are taught that they are running a business and need to calculate their overhead and the costs of doing a shoot, they quickly come to the realization that a day rate needs to be based on real numbers, and that they have more confidence when negotiating with clients, as their bid is now based on verifiable data.

Those who embrace a spirit of collaboration with one’s peers will also find that it benefits their relationships with their clients as well. A more collaborative, open approach to a job, starting from the first communication, through bidding and shooting to delivery, tends to make the process a lot smoother, and more pleasant for all parties. A client who gets the images they need and has an easy (and, ideally fun) time doing it will be a repeat client. Help the new folks. Help your peers. We’ll all be better for it.

There’s nothing like shared adversity to forge the bonds of friendship. We seem to have plenty of adversity to go around, so it’s definitely time to start building those friendships.