Thursday, April 2, 2009

The most dependable income

The most dependable income

I just read on the net that a study showed the most dependable way to earn money is to win a novelty half-time contest at a basketball game that requires sinking a basket from the half-court line. Apparently mathematical calculation also took into consideration that the consolation prize often includes a food item from the concession stand.

Yesterday, for just a few moments, I overhead a radio show in which the topic was recession-proof jobs. I heard the radio announcer say that the most recession-proof job was high school portrait photographer. He pointed out that no matter how bad things get parents will always want high school portraits of their children, especially high school graduation pictures.

My stock photo income

That got me to thinking. Right now my stock photography income is down about 18%. Now that is a lot, but I personally know four people who have lost their jobs in the last three months. Having my income dip by twenty percent isn’t nearly as devastating as losing my job. Even down by twenty percent stock photography is a cash cow for me!

Job security, a misconception

That brings up what I believe is an interesting misconception. Many people I have spoken to over the years cite security as the reason they wouldn’t want to be self-employed. Let me give you a couple of examples of “employment security”. My sister-in-law was working for Bank of America as a writer. Within a week of winning an award and being cited for her work by her supervisor, the entire department was let go. Surprise! A friend of mine was a senior art director for a greeting card company for many years. A venture capital firm bought the company and then proceeded to sell off the assets tell there was nothing left. So much for that job security! Self-employed people have far more security. We can measure what we earn from our efforts. Nobody else takes the blame; nobody else can claim the rewards. Our futures are in nobody’s hands except for our own.

As a stock photographer I feel exceptionally lucky in these difficult economic times. Sure, there are lots of those who are predicting the demise of the whole industry do to Micro stock, a glut of images and large agencies that don’t care about the interests of individual photographers. OK, so maybe I have to work a little smarter and a little harder. I can do that, and since I love what I do I don’t mind it.

The stock picture industry has become more interesting

In fact, the whole industry has become more interesting to me now that I have to really think about what I am doing. I am optimizing my site to increase sales both through traditional channels and directly to industry players and to the public. I am thinking more strategically in what I shoot and how I shoot it. I am paying attention to my sales and I am not forgetting that creativity is paramount. The changes in the industry and the economic climate have pushed me to collaborate more and I love it. I am growing more than I ever have.

The ultimate security

Further, as a stock photographer I can see my income rise or fall and take appropriate action. I don’t wake up one day and find that I am out of a job and have no income! Being self-employed as a photographer offers me far more security than any staff position. I am responsible for my self and my success or failure. I am under no (OK, few) illusions. That is the ultimate security!

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