Friday, December 17, 2010

Time, Money and Investing In Stock Photo Shoots

While I have made $40,000.00 from images shot of my Jaguar convertible, I still wouldn't call it a smart investment...but's fun!"

Cats and Laptops
I am sitting here with both my cat (eleven year-old “Plucky”) and my seven year old laptop (Apple Titanium) both on my lap. Makes typing a bit awkward, but heck waiting for the letters on screen to catch up with my typing is far more annoying. Maybe it is time for investing in a new laptop!

A Scanner and a Free Trip To Denmark
Many years ago I had an Aha! Moment when my computer vendor suggested I buy a drum scanner from him. When I asked him how much it cost he answered that it was “only” $54,000.00 (but hey, it included a free trip to Denmark to learn how to use it). Of course, I told him he was out of his mind. He then asked me what I was paying each month in scans. I was paying about $1,500 .00 a month back then (early 90’s). He pointed out that the scanner lease payments would only be $1,000.00 per month. I leased the scanner.

One of My Best Business Moves
As it turned out, spending that $54,000.00 was one of the best business moves I ever made in my photography career. I upped the price I charged my clients for scans, starting selling scans to other photographers, slashed the time it took to get my scans, and really opened up the door for increased stock production. In the first month that scanner became a new profit center!

Adding Web Content and Spiking Blood Pressure
So here I sit working at an ancient laptop that struggles to keep up with my typing, is too old to ever work with my current printers, has a battery life of about two minutes, and will probably suffer some sort of catastrophic death at some very inopportune moment. Methinks it might be time to pay attention to the criteria of what makes for a good business purchasing decision. In this case purchasing a new laptop will enable me add to my web content at a much faster and more efficient pace. I am not kidding here either. The older I get the more precious I realize my time is…and waiting long minutes for this laptop to open a new web page, or switch from Firefox to Word actually is detrimental to my health as my blood pressure begins to spike!

Intelligent Purchases...and That Jag
In these economically austere times I am trying to make intelligent purchases rather than just throw money around. Spending $8,000.00 on my Canon 1DS Mark III, upon reflection, probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do…since I prefer the much less expensive Canon 5D. Oh well….   That video camera I bought a few years ago (Panasonic H200 or something like that...that I almost never used) wasn’t the smartest choice either. About six years ago, when the stock industry was cruising along at a nice pace, I bought a Jaguar XKR convertible. Now one might think that was a silly purchase (OK…it was), but at least I have made about $40,000.00 off of stock images I made using the car as a prop! But I digress.

Investing in Well Thought Out Stock Shoots is Still Wise
Now days, when contemplating an equipment purchase, I tend to balance that against the benefits of investing that money in a shoot. One thing I sincerely believe is that investing in well-thought out stock shoot is still a wise move.  In my own case I just returned from two weeks in Thailand expressly for the purpose of collecting raw material (images) for my stock composite images.  It wasn’t a cheap trip, but I am certain I will make a substantial profit from that investment. I can’t remember the last trip I took in which the images I captured did not more than pay for the trip…though sometimes it does take several years.  But, like the world’s investment markets, one should look at the stock image business with an eye for the long term.

Time, Not Money, is Our Most Important Resource
In my immediate situation, however, the laptop wins. I am going for a refurbished Mac. At this point it is a simple choice because the older I get the more aware I am that time, not money, is my most important resource.


Marco Venturini-Autieri said...

I still have to recover from the purchase of a Coolscan 9000... please do not mention a drum scanner!

Interesting post, thanks!


John Lund said...


That is an interesting point...the timing for my drum scanner was perfect...I'd really be out of my mind to purchase one now. BTW, sold that scanner a few years ago for $2,000.00...and was relieved to get that much!



Reto said...

your posts are quite intersting and fun to read as well.
maybe some advanced photoshop online-courses would also be an interesting business opportunity for you!