Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Can't Get by Solely on Designer Jeans and Expensive Shoes.

There's been a firestorm brewing on Twitter, Facebook and private blogs the past few days over something called "The System - A 10 Step Guide to Starting Your Photography Business". A number of heavy hitters have weighed in on this already and while I don't really want to start anything over this one, because David Jay isn't the only one preaching it . . . I do feel compelled to make a couple of comments (oh, c'mon, you knew I would!) ;-)

I have a difficult time getting on board with the "Stuart Smalley" logic of "Go ahead, you can do it." There is something to be said for experience (be it one wedding or one hundred) that cannot be replaced by "blind faith" or "passion". You have to be good at what you do, no matter how likeable you are as a person. Photographers at all levels still need training and experience; "spray and pray" is a HORRIBLE philosophy under which to send anyone out to do a job professionally.

Yes, even a blind squirrel still finds a nut now and then, but you're more apt to get more than a "lucky shot" if you know what to do, where to be positioned and how to set your camera (and I don't mean on AUTO-everything!)

I love baseball. Those of you who know me understand this . . . I have played, coached, broadcast it on radio and cable tv . . . BUT . . . no matter how much I want to be a professional baseball player, the fact remains that my skill set is nowhere near what is required to play in the Major Leagues. Just because I want to be a pro baseball player doesn't make it so; I'm now too old and too slow, and even if I did train all year long and get into "playing condition", I'm still not going to even get a look by a club. "Buy a ticket and watch from the stands."

Photography, however, is not determined by age, as Mr. Jay claims. Those of us he's calling "old guys" (I'm not old, but since I've been in this business longer than many of you have been alive, I'll put myself there) still look for new ideas, new ways of doing things and what's current in the industry. We attend seminars with new, young speakers and make those changes in our business to remain competitive. Unlike a pro ball player, I don't have to "hang it up" just because someone younger and faster has come along.

While I understand that there are people who just want a DVD of images, the bulk of the consumers out there still want quality photography to hang on their walls and display in their home. This business has always been about service, but not in the "shoot and burn" way he preaches. There is a great deal of service in satisfying the needs of my client by providing a top-quality product.

He's giving people a taste of the product to entice them to purchase. Why does the grocery store or Sam's Club set up little demo booths all around the space? If they give you a sample of what you can buy and convince you that you want more, you'll pay them for the entire product. David Jay details this in his "shoot for free" philosophy (although he calls it "sharing"). It's showing them they want what you have.

He's doing the same thing in this entire ad piece which he has very cleverly disguised as a helpful article. It it a bad thing? Not at all. It's his marketing. He can market however he chooses.

Caveat emptor.

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