Introduction by Skip Cohen
One of the fun things about SCU and previously Skip's Summer School is the strength of the community. As sappy as it sounds, everybody becomes part of the family. On the Skip's Summer School Facebook page everybody watches each others backs. They simply help each other. It's reminiscent of the way the bigger forums first started, but without the trolls. Or, as Levi Sim, one of the founders of the page along with Brent Watkins, "No meanies allowed!" (There's the difference between me and Levi - I'd just drop a few four letter words - but you have to love somebody who still calls them "meanies".)
Well, meet Cindy Harter Sims who's a member of the SCU family. Last week she put up a shot of her store front on the Summer School page and announced it was the second anniversary of her Main St. studio. Within thirty seconds of seeing the image I was begging Cindy to do a guest post about opening her own studio.
Having your own studio is a dream of so many photographers. Well, Cindy made the jump two years ago and in this post she's done a terrific job of taking us on her journey. Reading her post reminded me of a quote of Eleanor Rosevelt's:
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
If you were to walk down main street in my hometown, the first thing you would see after the railroad tracks and before the next red light, is Cindy Harter Photography Studio. That quaint little shop is the result of two years of effort. I spent a lot of late nights pouring over thousands of photo edits and early mornings consoling brides over hairdos and last minute wedding changes. I'm a successful small town photographer, and I'm proud of what I've built, but the key word here is "built". It sure didn't happen overnight.
Like most small towns, I know someone at every stop light, when I go grocery shopping or stop in at my local sandwich shop for lunch. My accountant's office is next door to my studio and when I work in my beautiful studio, anything can come in my front door: maybe a walk-in client, or maybe someone from the local bakery down the street bringing in some delicious ginger bread for me to try.
Well, with the help of all this quaint charm, I've made it to the two year mark of an open thriving business with NO debt. I was able to go from a full-time teaching job as the primary school music teacher to full-time professional photographer in less than five years. I knew the dream was to have my own little shop, but I had to make sure it was possible to live from my earnings as a photographer, before I made the leap.
The only way to overcome fear is to have sufficient planning in place. Here are some guidelines that helped me in my first couple of years, as I transitioned into a full-time career of photography.
When I felt my skill set was on the level that I could begin the journey of making photography a full-time career, I put a plan in place. I saved my teacher salary for a certain period of time and lived off of my photographer income. When I was finally living on what I was making as a photographer, I put in my resignation and quit my day job with the savings from planning ahead for this day.
I had paid for all my equipment as I went along, and had my eye on my adorable main street studio. The economy in my little town had taken a turn for the worse and it had been empty for a little while, so I called the owner to check on the monthly price. My sweet owner gave me her price-per-month and it was more than I was willing to risk paying out every month. I told her "When and if you think you could come down to my number, please call me." One day, she took me up on the offer and I knew my stars had aligned. I was going to be living the dream soon. My savings paid for all renovations for my space, and I was able to open Cindy Harter Photography Studio with no debt and move forward with my dream.
I have always been interested in relationships. I have always valued and believed the best gifts we receive are the people we call family. My main goal with all aspects of my business is that families see what a gift that they have in each other. I want my photography to help their relationships become stronger because of their experience with me in the session and their enjoyment in the images we create together.
I photograph people every day. Relationships happen from birth until death, and I don't want to miss any of it! I have worked very hard to improve my skills, so that I can stay in business and bless others. You know you are doing the right job when you can hardly sleep, because you're excited and thinking about the next day's work.
Every day I walk down Main st. with my little green key to my studio in my hand, about to open my very own shop for the morning, and I can hardly believe it! Sometimes it still feels like I am playing store, but it's real! I've put a ton of planning and pleasure into living my dream, and now that it's a reality, I can't imagine doing anything else!
Vincent ran this post just a few days ago, but there are so many of you who aren't completely familiar with his work. He's constantly pushing the edge of the envelope, in this post with an inexpensive camera a LensBaby lens and oh yeah, two rolls of film! Skip Cohen
In a fast moving world… We could all do with a roll of 36 exposures March 7th, 2013 in Articles / New Technology / Photography Skip to comments (32) ↓ I’ve been thinking a lot lately. About everything. The business. Our "craft" and the economics and sustainability of what we do as creatives in this ever changing world. But that’s for a later post perhaps, and I always tend to think too much anyway…
Sometimes the best things in life are simple. Trying to keep things simple or "basic" in our technology-driven times seems to be getting more difficult every year, if not by the minute.
In this case it was a "Cheap Camera" challenge that lead me to shoot with a Canon A2E, a Lens Baby lens, and two rolls of film – the subject of the video below.
A chance meeting with Kai and the folks at DigitalRev was made possible by a tweet, during what was originally meant to be a short connection between flights in Hong Kong that I decided to turn into a 3 day visit on my way back home from a job in Bali.
I can tell you it was terribly refreshing to shoot film. We had no plan. No script, no storyboards or teams of folks working on a crew. We didn’t even know where to go, nor have anything set up to shoot. This was my last day in Hong Kong and the only deadline was a flight at 11:45 p.m. that very evening. That gave us a healthy 4 hours to shoot 72 exposures on good old celluloid. No LCDs to "chimp" with (a term we use to describe the act of looking at a rear LCD and jumping up and down and showing your friends as you see a nice photo…)
I was somewhat nervous because I didn’t have the cushion of being able to track my progress on a rear LCD, to delete and hide the "bad" and potentially embarrassing pictures and to gain false comfort in confirming that I had "good" ones and that I could move on to the next one. Having a camera crew follow your every move never tends to help you relax either.
Yet I have to say this was one of the most relaxing shoots I’ve had in a long, long time. I frankly didn’t care how the pictures turned out. Well my ego did a bit – I didn’t want to embarrass myself too much. But stopping amidst the chaos of the city, and waiting for the shot, was therapeutic in a way digital photography generally isn’t. For one of the shots, I actually stood in place for more than 10 minutes. I slowed my breathing, braced myself, and relaxed. And waited. For a picture that might never come. And it felt good.
It was just so refreshing to stop. To pause. To Wait. To not know the outcome of a shutter press. To NOT get that instant gratification. As scary as "not knowing" can be – there’s something terribly peaceful about it, if you come to accept it. For me photography has always been that one discipline that I could take part in to escape for a few hours and somehow come to calmly embrace the uncertain. If only I could be more adept at doing that in life.
Somehow, for the first time in awhile, the end result – the resulting "still photograph" was beautifully overshadowed by the pleasure I felt with the simple act of "taking my time." Being that I was halfway across the world, there were no phone calls, e-mails, tweets, or texts coming in to distract me either.
The immediacy of the LCD has changed the craft of photography. It’s made it so much easier to learn quickly, to grow and to take much greater chances and push the envelope much further. Digital has in many ways replaced the word "craft" with "accessible" or perhaps the better word is "democratization." And that’s both good and bad depending on what side of the coin you find yourself on (professional vs. enthusiast.)
Yet so many of us have lost something too. A little bit of the "magic" of photography – has left us. There’s nothing quite like seeing a print come to life in the developer tray in the darkroom. Also, a certain type of discipline is instilled in you when you are faced with a 36 exposure roll and the cost associated with it, not to mention the cost of getting it processed and printed. These days I more often that not read 999 on the still camera’s LCD when a large CF Card is in place. Where’s the challenge in that?
There’s no "delete" button in film… no way to erase your mistakes… no "do over" button. Your masterpieces and more often than not their very opposites are a matter of record for all to see the moment you press that shutter. And that makes you take things a bit more seriously. If forces you to study the craft, as repeating mistakes is literally: expensive. Digital technology has somehow slightly cheapened the value of an image… hasn’t it? The marvel of technology has a bad tendency to lead to a bit of laziness, impatience, and a reticence to do "work for" something… generally speaking. And let’s not get started on what it’s done to our attention spans! I think rats on crack have greater attention spans than many of us do today, and that’s scary to say the least. It affects the length of what we write (how many of you made it this far?) how we converse with one another (texting vs calling,) and how we shoot and edit our film/tv shows etc. And generally (I’m sorry to say) not for the better.
As the world continues to move faster and faster, as processors, resolutions, dynamic ranges, and terabytes keep increasing at an exponential rate, sometimes I think we could all do with a roll of 36 exposures.
If you’re wondering where this diatribe started… the video below is to blame. I must say that like how they choose to make you wait until the end to see the final frames… just as I did. And if you’ve made it this far: thanks for indulging me!