Real Success

The growth in the photography industry seems to me to reside with those who sell services to photographers, i.e. list services, sourcebooks, consultants, equipment dealers, etc. Don't get me wrong, they're important and I use them all, but the only real success I have had in this business has come from a handful (yes, handful) of extraordinary business relationships. I have always wanted to give those on this short list a trophy or a puppy, or some other token of appreciation because it out of these relationships that most of my other work has been made possible. For example, if you want an electrician what do you do? While some of us will Google "electrician" and our zip code, likely more of us will go and ask a friend "who do you use?" I am nothing but an overeducated, specialized electrician.  

Google Plus, for what it's worth, set it up correctly. We all have various circles from which a 2nd tier of relationships form.  I have circles of clients, vendors, friends and colleagues. Interesting things happen in the intersections, through referrals and recommendations.

I'll give you an example: I live in a funky little town outside of NYC that is home to a lot of creative people (I have always called it Brooklyn West). It consistently amazes me that so many of the people I meet here are in artistic fields. A few years ago I was introduced to an illustrator who often worked with a photographer friend of mine, Jim Bastardo. We ran into each other here and there and one day our friend couldn't help him with a shoot due to a scheduling conflict so he asked me instead. I can only hope Felix Sockwell is as happy with the photo I took of him for his promotional material as I am of the new logo he designed for me. I love it. I have since had occasion to work with him on other jobs, and we've gone out to sit and chat over coffee, discussing all sorts of things from the business to all of the daughters we have (he has 3, I have 2). The main point is this: Felix and I have gone from being colleagues and neighbors to good friends who sometimes work together. And that to me is success.

Mr Felix Sockwell, check him out!

Vertical logo for my splash page

Horizontal version for my site and other parts of my identity
Felix is constantly drawing in his sketch book, he emailed me this the other day...

I'll Stop the World

 "I'll Melt with You" by Modern English. Performed by Nouvelle Vague.
Edited and shot by James Worrell.
A very spoooooky Halloween to you! (or ‘Character Day” as it’s called in my daughters middle school.)
Here is aspecial 15 second stop motion we are calling March of the Pumpkins!

How to add Value? Don't be a Jerk.

I love a good saying, a short, clever expression that usually contains advice or expresses some obvious truth. And in this day and age of short attention spans, if you can't fit it on a bumper sticker... I saw a good one this morning on the site of NYC advertising agency Wasabi Rabbit. "Our policy on assholes, we don't hire them." Makes sense to me.

Another saying you hear a lot is regarding value, " Price, Quality, Service... pick any Two."  Think about Costco vs Whole Foods.  It is safe to say you will physically get more for your money at Costco but you will not experience great customer service.  Low prices are great of course, but according to Gallop it is good customer service that creates value and loyalty.  

Price, Quality, Service.  Cheap, Good, Fast.

Increasingly businesses are being told they have to deliver all three and it has become a giant race to the bottom. I find the best way to not work with assholes is to pay people what they are worth. Sure, jerks will be jerks and you don't have to hire them.  But service and quality make value that is worth paying for.

The Seven Year Itch

So what did You do this summer?  I thought way too hard about Blogs and Photography.  Where is photography going?  And does anyone still need a blog? I have had this blog for exactly seven years, the first post being October 1, 2008.  And true to the psychological term that shows divorce spikes after Seven years of marriage, the blog and I entered into a trial separation earlier this year. My most recent post prior to this one was in January but I had been feeling the blog fatigue for some time.

Billy Wilder's 1955 Comedy

After much thought and too much coffee at my local coffee shop, the Able Baker, I have decided to relaunch the blog in more of an idea/macro view format. There will be a lot less of me going on about my personal work and more about ideas and tips. Photography has fundamentally changed and I am once again attempting to change with it.  I was really struck by this recent Time Lightbox article by Stephen Mayes,

The Next Revolution in Photography Is Coming

A multiple exposure by Stephen Wilkes
"It’s time to stop talking about photography. It’s not that photography is dead as many have claimed, but it’s gone." - Stephen Mayes

In his article, Stephen compares photography's shift from film to digital with puberty. I am not sure I agree completely with this analogy but Stephen is a smart guy and has clearly thought about this a lot.  ALL I KNOW is that I fell in love with photography in the black and white darkroom of my High School in Iowa.  I have watched my idea of photography change multiple times as well as been in the middle of one of it's biggest changes, the pubescent shift from film to digital.  I wonder what that makes all people in the "I still shoot film" subgenre?  Read the article, it's very thoughtful and well written.

So, are blogs relevant for photographers?  Is photography relevant?  We are literally standing on the edge of the unknown and we can either choose to go with the excitement of change or hang back with the familiarity of fear.  For me, it's a little of both.

I will see you soon for the new Less Is More, Volume 8, with a look at the Service Triangle of Price, Quality, Service.  It has long been the understanding that a customer can only pick two...

Iowa -vs- Martha's Vineyard

We typically take a trip to visit the family farm in Iowa every summer as well as a trip to Martha's Vineyard in late August.  It has been incredible to watch my kids and their cousins grow up  in these two places.  Although I met my wife in NYC 18 years ago, we both have deep roots in Iowa, and the kids love it. 

This year, my daughter wanted to enter some artwork in the Martha's Vineyard Ag Fair, something we go to every year on our vacation to the island.  I am overjoyed to report that she won first place in "still-life" for her age group while I got 2nd place in the professional category.  She is thrilled of course and loves to say she beat me at my own game.  

I personally feel I could retire now, I have never been happier for a 2nd place finish.

Edie with her photo and blue ribbon on Martha's Vineyard.
I entered one of my cow photos from the farm.
My 2nd place ribbon.  
June "driving" a John Deere tractor with my Uncle Jim.
The kids jumping off the dock in Martha's Vineyard.
The cousins watch the cows.
Oblatory sunset photo from MV.

Me being the last one told that the family photo was not to be shot at that time.