by Skip Cohen
We're two thirds of the way through what's typically known as the slow season in professional photography. During this time a lot of you are trying to figure out what new gear you need. I know many of you have decided this isn't the year to make any major purchases. That's a serious and legitimate concern, but is it always logical?
As a professional photographer, and especially now, when so many people are pulling back, you have an opportunity to really stand out. I'm not trying to minimize how serious the economic challenges are today, but bad economies create new opportunities. So many of you are simply too close to your own business and talent to recognize this might be the ideal time to spend a little, rather than hold back. And, if new equipment is going to give your portfolio and your website galleries a distinctive stronger look, are you making the right decision?
First, you don't have to use your money! How about using a leasing company? There are so many benefits to leasing, of which the biggest one right now, is simply utilizing somebody else's assets instead of depleting yours! You're worried about your cash flow, but let's assume you need a few new lenses to upgrade the quality of your images. Leasing provides the perfect solution and the timing is right.
Before you head off to any of the first quarter shows and conventions, get your credit line for leasing approved in advance. This way, when walking the trade show, you'll know exactly how much you're already approved for and how it matches up with whatever new gear you need. Shopping sure is a lot more fun when there's something in your wallet!
Looking for a leasing company, just Google "leasing companies" and you'll find a bunch of them. However, the best direction is to talk to your local retailer. Some of the manufacturers offer their own leasing programs and nobody knows better than your local camera store. They'll also be the one to know the latest and greatest financing programs available.
Next on the list - are you taking the maximum depreciation allowable by law? In my previous life at Hasselblad, I used to be blown away by people who told me they were still using their original camera purchased 20-30 years earlier. It was great to hear how Hasselblads lasted but it was sad from a business standpoint. They could have rolled over their equipment every 3-5 years, taken the appropriate depreciation on their taxes and utilized the very best in new technology.
So the next stop involves talking to your accountant and finding out if you're maximizing all your deductions and taking the appropriate depreciation on your taxes. You might find the real price of that new camera, computer or printer you want just dropped 25% because of your tax situation.
Here's another perspective. If there's gear you need that's critical to your business and making your work stand out more, do you really need to buy it or is it offered at rental? Joe Buissink in Wedding Photography from the Heart talked about mistakes he made early in his career.
"I never rented anything, which would have been such a great opportunity. I could have rented a lens I wanted to try and built the cost into the package. Then , once I learned how to use it and knew what the return on my investment would be, the timing would have been right for a purchase. I bought a tilt-shift lens that I used only twice...had I just rented it, I could have saved money..."
Ever read Who Moved My Cheese? It's a short anecdotal business book about three mice. In short, the one that survives and lives the best life goes out looking for new cheese when the old supply disappears. I've mentioned this previously, but any photographer who's says he/she's having a relatively good year, also finishes with, "But I've never worked so hard in my life!"
None of you are afraid of hard work, but if your fear of the economy is holding you back from having the equipment you need to hunt down "new cheese", then, you need to find some other alternatives. If nothing else, it's at least worth looking at some of the alternatives out there to upgrade the quality of your work and the images you're presenting.
Photo Credit: © Al_ks | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos