For most of my career, I've been an artist first and foremost. I'll blow up the entire budget if I think I can create one lasting image.
This approach is not particularly sound for business, but I'd be happy if one of my images makes a lasting impression on someone and their family or something like that. Well, I once got a call about the senior print we made for a tight end on my college football team and how much they loved the image, so I guess I've done that already. Time to aim a little higher.
Of course, I have the advantage of youth and a lack of dependents; these have an annoying habit of disappearing very quickly.
Every time I deviate from this approach, while the financial roller coaster sometimes disappears, things usually quickly turn sour, despite however those I'm working with might insist otherwise.
My generation is very big on "Why is this happening to me?!" and "Why did YOU do this to me?!", pushing the responsibility onto others and not being accountable for their actions. We're also the "self-esteem" generation that grew up hearing that "everyone is a winner" and "everyone is special in their own way", which has led to a celebration of mediocrity.
I grew up in a nice neighborhood; smallish town. Everyone graduates from high school on time, even my "massive" class of 300+ students (we usually have about 100-150 students per year), and everyone goes to college. If you live here, your family can afford to send you to college, and even those with special education needs get the grades and education required to go to college if they choose to do so.
Each year, there is an awards ceremony to recognize all the honors earned by the individual students... National awards, state awards, and smaller ones, some at a county level and even the school district and school cooked a few up. Somehow, every single member of the graduating class won an award and was made to attend; I swear they cooked up some random categories to make sure everyone had at least one award.
I think I had to sit through the entire thing because I automatically qualified for some award. I think it was some kind of "Presidential" award for achieving a certain GPA, except that every graduating student receives one because you need that GPA to graduate in the first place and go to college, and only one student in the four years I was in high school didn't go to college immediately after high school. I know the guy, and it was because he had a somewhat tough childhood elsewhere, and graduated from our high school after only attending for his senior year. I think if he had all the advantages the rest of us had, he could have easily gotten the grades to go to college immediately.
But, I just digressed with all that background info.
Back to the celebration of mediocrity, I've literally been told that the client doesn't care if our images are any good, they just need to run them on the website for a few days, so if they don't care, why should we?
That's when I go and find different clients and coworkers, but I've literally come in a full circle back to where I started without finding any real long term success or the holy grail. Supposedly, there's some mythical clientele out there who appreciates fine art and quality images, but at this point I sometimes think I'll find where unicorns play amongst the cotton candy clouds and rainbows first.
Every year, I tell myself that this is the year I be a grown up and get my spending in line and grow the business, but I either can't get out of my own way or fail to adapt to a life change. Ultimately, it's always my fault, but at least it's been pretty fun overall (though less so the last time everything blew up), and I haven't begun to have the interesting experiences that guys like Steven and Bobby have gone through.
I've always manage to justify spending every photo dime that comes in with something along the lines of "I need something better" or, more often, "I don't have a back-up this or that in case this fails on the job".
Well, over the past two years, I've sold most of my massive Nikon system (I only mostly used the cameras and two of the lenses anyways, and at the time I owned three bodies for those two lenses
), un-retired my grandfather's old stuff (hey, the lenses work on digital cameras without adapters), and literally have two of almost everything, plus four medium format film cameras (amazingly, no Mamiyas though I own some Mamiya lenses) and a gazillion film backs for those that take interchangeable backs. No more excuses on the equipment front.
Of course, in the past, even when I felt like I was set on that aspect, real life has a funny way of finding ways to separate you and your money, whether it's tipping that pretty girl in Vegas, your insurance premium, or the fact that you ruined your last good tailored jacket or socks or something on yesterday's shoot.
For that last one, I then become my dad and order a gazillion spare everything. I won't have to buy socks until 2035, probably (I kid, but only a little). I have one or two last boxes coming, and then I should at least be set on that front unless I decide I want some paisley flower print rain jacket or something...
Enough about me, I want to hear more about everyone else. Haha