August 2009 Archives

     As we approach September and another school year, I have a thought for those in programs for creatives; photographers, writers, graphic designers, artists. Please do follow your passion. If you're adamant and resolved to spend your life doing what you feel compelled to do, do it.  I would just ask that along with that resolve you also take a peek over the fence at reality.  It's OK.  It's not such a bad place, really. Sure there's some cutthroat folks, but you'll find people like that at the other end of a paintbrush too.

     If your college has a business course, take it.  Find the time and energy.  If you have to hold your nose, fine. But take it.  I'm teaching a portrait class at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor this fall, and look forward to the challenge and creative kick.  But I taught an equally important class there on the business of photography.  It could have worked for creatives of any type.  Learn basic accounting.  Negotiation.  Contract law.  Study the ins and outs of our copyright laws, currently being hacked at by myriad business interests.  That issue affects you directly.

     You need to know your craft.  That's a given.  But take the time to study marketing, law, business planning, corporate structures and advertising.  Yuck you say.  Well, just know that the country is strewn with the innovative carcasses of artists who dreamed of taking the world by storm.  Look around at the financially successful mediocre work that passes for creativity, and then think how you could marry your authentic vision with the business acumen to make a good living from your work.

     For those planning on being photographers, start by going to  Even if you don't want to join this association there's a ton of good information to get you started.
     I often joke that I've been going on job interviews weekly for over 30 years.  Runnning a corporate photo business means constantly meeting with potential clients and selling yourself and your services.

     Having recently put together an actual, job-seeking resume and looking for guidance, I've noticed an amusing trend...the thesaurus-assisted, attribute lister.  Here's a few of the first sentences from a 'situations wanted' email from a media-related website:

"I am a driven, creative, strategic, astute and business savvy media research professional"

"Superior, tactical, tenacious, doggedly-determined, consultative, effective (self-effacing and humble, too...with a required sense of humor... Really!)"

"Driven, creative, strategic, innovative, astute and business savvy new media professional..."

     Wow.  I wonder how employers react to this steady stream of wordsmith one-upmanship.  "Look at that.  Tactical, tenacious AND consultative.  All in one person.  How can I go wrong hiring them?!"


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