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Business is Booming
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Rolls Royce Ghost

The Rolls-Royce Ghost at The Pearl, Doha, Qatar.

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July 2010     Nikon Reviews   Canon   Leica   Pentax

 

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Business is Booming

Things are so good that Rolls Royce can't make cars fast enough.

Rolls-Royce are completely sold out for the next few months, and these buyers are paying cash. As I write this in July 2010, Roll-Royce is sold out through at least September.

Last month (June 2010), sales were up four times from what they were in 2009.

Rich people are doing great. The billionaires I know (guys with their own jet planes and staffs of pilots to fly them, and who buy their multiple $20 million houses for cash) are doing just great. The businessmen I know are also doing just great.

Heck, one billionaire we know is busy planning a birthday party for next year, which will cost over a million dollars, and their biggest problem is trying to choose which of their favorite famous rock bands they will fly-in to perform for them.

What makes these people successful is their ability to adapt. It's never some outside cause, like "the economy." It's always because they take control of any situation and make it work for them.

It's sad that the most patriotic people I meet are people born in other countries. While some Americans sit around and whine, expecting others to take care of them, others I've met who come here from elsewhere and are astounded at the unlimited opportunities America offers to everyone. They are amazed that Americans will sit around and complain while opportunities surround them, instead of getting off their butts and doing something to better themselves. As I meet foreign-born American citizens, they all say the same thing: that there is no limit to what anyone can accomplish in America if people would only try.

 

Global Economic Collapse         top

If business and the economy are doing so great, then why does the consumer media (TV, Internet, government, newspapers, radio, etc.) keep spreading the rumor about some sort of global economic collapse?

Simple: consumer media always tries to whip up some sort of catastrophe to keep people scared so they watch more TV. As more people watch and read, ratings climb, and these media outlets make more money. As we say in TV news, "if it bleeds, it leads," meaning that in news, bad news is always good news.

Even ultra-liberals like Michael Moore has written that these "economic downturns" are all baloney. In his book "Stupid White Men," he goes on to explain that where he lives in Manhattan, there are more millionaires than wads of gum on the sidewalk, and that they are doing great. Even he goes on to explain that these "economic collapses" are merely creations of government and rich people to get the rest of us to put up with less pay, more work and crummier working conditions, so the Rolls-Royce clan can enjoy even better times.

Likewise, all the capitalists and entrepreneurs I know are doing just great, too.

The myth of an economic crisis is just a crutch so that people who aren't doing that great right now can blame their problems on someone else instead of themselves. It feels good, it's easy, and media and government do it to make us do what they want.

If you believe it, you'll fall back into blaming problems on others, and do worse and worse and worse.

 

How to Grow Your Photography Business         top

When you're an employee, you can blame slacking business on the other people in your company. Most people blame the sales department, and the sales department blames everyone else. Working for someone else (being an employee or having a job) is never the way to get ahead.

When you're a photographer, you're your own business, and the only person on whom you can blame your problems is yourself. Only you can make things better, and if you slack off, they only get worse.

So if business and the economy are doing so great, why might you be having problems with your photography business?

In business, things always change. If you're still thinking you can survive today doing what worked 10 years ago, nope. Everything has changed faster than ever before. As Darwin actually said, survival goes to those who can adapt.

Things never come back. They move elsewhere. If I was a merchant along Route 66, things grew and grew and grew from the 1920s through the 1950s. When things started to suck in the 1960s, I could sit around and complain, and make up stories about economic downturns and blame it on others. Route 66 has been falling apart ever since, and that's what makes it so much fun to photograph. While Route 66 has been falling apart, it's been falling apart because business moved to the new Interstates that came in in the 1960s. The business moved, and to remain successful, businesses packed up and moved, too, while those who stayed behind lost. Business is always booming somewhere. Be there.

I remember 10 years ago. I was the only one with a DSLR, and few people even believed me when I showed them a picture on the back of my Nikon D1H. Back in 2003, I could shoot a wedding on my DSLR, burn it to CD in the parking lot, hand it to the couple at the end of the reception, and they were astonished! Wow!

Guess what? In 2010, everyone has a digital camera. No one's impressed with a DVD of their pictures. If you want to pull in $30,000 for a wedding shoot, you can't be doing what worked 5 years ago anymore.

Today, as always, the way to get paid more, more often, is to differentiate yourself. What can you do better that the next guy can't? If you can't answer this, then you've just become another statistic, because the other guy is thinking of ways that he's going to outdo you and get the job you wanted.

If you're not a businessman (or woman), you won't survive as a photographer. Your photographic skill is irrelevant if you can't market and sell yourself. Unless you're a marketing and sales genius, I suggest everyone talk to someone at your local chapter of SCORE. SCORE is the best source of business information in the world — and they're free.

Photography is never about the gear any more than DaVinci's painting of the Mona Lisa is about paint. Making money in photography isn't even about the pictures: it's always about your ability to differentiate yourself and run a solid, competitive business.

Most non-photographers still think photography is about the gear. You can play this to your advantage. Dust off your Hasselblad, and shoot weddings on Tri-X and Portra. As you pitch yourself to the engaged, be sure to let them know you are a professional, and of course shoot on Hasselblad. Stir up some FUD, and be sure to warn them softly against the perils of trusting their special day to some amateur shooting an ordinary Canon or Nikon.

Never chase price. If you try to differentiate yourself on price, you lose. The price of a digital wedding shoot went down to $100 a couple of years ago.

Rich people are getting richer. They'll blow a million bucks on a wedding and pay way over $10,000 for photography, for the same amount of work you'd spend shooting a $100 wedding with much worse food.

Ever see "The Godfather?" Those people were doing OK. When they had a wedding, pay attention to the photographer shooting the group shots. He's not shooting Nikon or Canon. He's not even shooting Hasselblad: he's shooting a 4x5" camera. He's not just shooting a crummy 4x5" camera as I do: he's using a Swiss-made Sinar. The people who are doing OK spare no expense to do things right.

If you're doing photography, don't go chasing the crummy jobs. You'll do the same work for less pay, and maybe those people aren't doing that well and not pay at all.

If you differentiate yourself as being the best, you can bag the $80,000 wedding jobs, be well fed, and have a good time. You'll be on your way to Rolls-Royce's waiting list. I never see one of my pals here in San Diego because he started to do weddings, and got so good that he had to raise his prices to five-figures and above, and he still gets so much work that he never has a free day. How does he do so well? I forget, but I think it's because he hits all the bridal shows and knows both how to market himself and how to sell. (Marketing and sales are completely different things. If you need to learn these, contact your local SCORE chapter.)

But wait: the world isn't just weddings, and photography isn't just photography Successful businessmen (and women) adapt. If photography is overrun by everyone with their digital cameras, sell your old business, and move on to becoming an eBay drop-shop, develop websites, or do whatever is booming — or what you will cause to boom next.

 

Inspiration         top

I'm serious: in recent days, two college kids dropped out of school to play with an idea they had for mining data from extremely large data sets. Those kids are now the Google billionaires Brin and Page. Another 28-year-old kid with a computer degree came up with an idea for his wife to sell her collectible Pez candy dispensers. That idea made him another new billionaire, Pierre Omidya, the guy who invented eBay.

One of the reasons I quit my real job in 2004 is that I saw what these guys had done since 1995 when I started my last real job, and I realized anyone can be a billionaire, but you have to work at it yourself. No one gets rich working for someone else.

What did I say about foreign-born at the top of this article? Google's Brin, as in Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin, was born in Moscow, when it was still Communist. Page was born in Michgan, not exactly an economic hotbed since before he was born. Omidya was born in Paris.

Why do foreigners do so well? Maybe it's because they come from places where things are worse, and they come here to start anew without the baggage of doing things the same way they and their parents have in the past. When they look around, they remark "Holy Crap! Things are incredible here! I can do ANYTHING!," while native Americans like me are more likely to sit around and complain about how things are, and be set in trying to work the same now-crummy kinds of jobs that were good back when our parents worked them.

Today, there are more ways to become a billionaire than ever. You can do it with the same computer you're using to read this. Just think of something no one else has yet. What can you sell that Amazon and eBay don't?

You'll need business skills more than technical skills. If you need better business skills, talk to SCORE.

In America, what you can become is limited only by your imagination. Find a need and fill it. If your jobs sucks — leave it. Don't be unimaginative and think that you're stuck in whatever designation you had last year, like "photographer." If you can dream it, you can make it true. If you get stuck thinking that the world is in collapse, that's also exactly what will happen to you. Henry Ford said it best: "Those who think they can, and those who think they can't, are both right."

 

Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help to me. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!

Ken

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