Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seeing Your Photo Business With Fresh Eyes

Sometimes, to see the way forward for your business, it helps to have a fresh perspective.

Peeling Bananas
For fifty some years I have been peeling bananas. It is often a struggle. I look for anything to get a starting cut into the skin near the stem so that I can start the peeling process without smushing (come on,  that has to be a legitimate word…), the fruit. I have tried everything from a fingernail to a key, but knives work best.

Start From The Other In
I recently watched a short video on the Internet. It was about how to peel a banana.  I watched for amusement, as I already know how to perform that particular task. Uh, I thought I knew how to peel a banana. The more efficient way to free the banana from its skin is mind-boggling simple. Start from the other end!  OMG, it works so much better!

Tools, Techniques And Pain Points
I remember once, giving a demonstration at Photo Plus in New York on Photoshop. At the end of my presentation one of the people approaching me at the podium was a man who identified himself as one of the engineers for Photoshop. He said he would love to have a talk with me about my “Pain Points”, areas where I was continuing to use tools and techniques I had learned in Photoshop years earlier, and was continuing to use despite the fact that there were new and better tools and techniques. Geez, and I was passing on these “pain points” to my audience. Embarrassment!

Preconceptions, Old Habits And Fresh Eyes
OK, where am I missing other solutions to problems hiding in plain site? Where in my business am I being a slave to preconceptions and old habits?  What are the pain points in my photography business? Perhaps more importantly, how do look at my business and at my photography through fresh eyes that I might see what these pain points are? How can I re-frame my business and and be sure I am on course for my future plans.

A Different Perspective
One way to look at one’s business through “fresh eyes” is to have someone else look at your business. A little over a year ago I had my brother do just that. The fact that he was totally un-involved in the photography world gave him the ability to look at my business from a totally different perspective…and it radically altered the thrust of my efforts.  It was his observations that pointed out to me the wisdom of embarking on an Internet-centric path of SEO (search engine optimization), creating an online image database, and adding content ranging from articles and interviews to this photo blog.

An Open Mind And Objective Evalutation
If you know someone in a different line of work, who you respect, it might be a good idea to have them review your business and be open to what they might come up with. Of course, you also need to utilize your own knowledge and determine what feedback is actually of use. The tricky part is having an open mind, being able to use objectively evaluate the feedback, and incorporating any new ideas into your business.

Suggestions From Within The Photo Industry
I also welcome suggestions from those within our photo industry. It was at the suggestion, maybe I should say urging, of two of my fellow photographers, Jack Hollingsworth and Shalom Ormsby, that I began my blog centered around stock photography. I routinely seek out the opinions and ideas of my fellow shooters, but always keeping in mind that it is up to me to determine when those suggestions and ideas are germane to my own business approach. Most of the feedback I get I have either already incorporated, or have decided for one reason or another that it doesn’t work for me. The hardest part for me, as I mentioned earlier, is keeping an open mind.  Those suggestions that I have taken to heart and incorporated into my work have made a huge difference in my approach over the last year. As to how successful this new course will be, only time will tell.

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