Pro Photography and the Disruptive Business Model

Pro Photography will never be the same. Our industry, like hundreds of others has been turned on its head by technology and shifting consumer needs and wants.

So change is required and if there was a new mission for Photography Schoolhouse would anybody care?

So many people have left the profession simply because of their inability to make a living at it. The comment I typically hear is how business frustrations destroyed their love of the art.

So if PSH were to continue, it seems focussing only on the art of photography and not how to make a living from it may be the way to go.

Perhaps, as we study the art using the current trends and equipment of today, a new business model might eventually emerge.

I think this is the path forward. By focussing on education for the purpose of art, will no longer make the part time hobbyists that take the occasional gig our enemy, but our constituency.

Professional photography the way I've known and enjoyed it for most of my life has irrevocably changed. Those still trying to ride that horse will continue to face an uphill battle that I believe they'll ultimately lose.

Business schools today talk and teach about the "disruptive business model" as the way forward for almost every industry. Professional photography is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to professions turned upside down. Think Uber as an example.  You think maybe cab drivers feel as we do?

For those who think pro photography will come back around are maybe a bit delusional like the cab driver who thinks Uber will just go away.

I often here feedback saying certain photographers are doing just fine and all we need to do is work hard and we'll be OK.  Don't let them fool you. Yes certain photographers are doing ok. But for the most part they're riding a business that has been firmly established over a period of years. Or, they have an alternate source of income they don't talk about.

People are also held back by thinking processes that go something like:

"winners never quit, quitters never win".

That was a fine strategy decades ago, but not today. Today it has to be

"Winners never Quit, Quitters never Win.

But those who never win and never quit are just plain stupid."

I could go on and on with stories I've heard on both sides. But things have changed permanently. Get over it.

Decades ago when I decided to get into professional photography I didn't have a business plan. Well, I kinda did. I looked around at all the photographers making money and running big studios and said if they can do it so can I.

And it worked. For the most part I made a full time life from it and it was fine. Today, new photographers are also not doing a business plan. They look around as I did and decide they'll just do it and make it work somehow.

The difference is, for the most part, the only people making money today are the ones that are selling you information on photography. This was almost impossible to find when I started. Today it's almost as if that's the only way photographers can make any money.

The best advice I can give new photographers is - Keep your day job - Learn and Love the art of Photography - and if providence sees fit to bring you enough business to go full time - excellent.

Moving forward that is the new mission of Photography Schoolhouse. We're concentrating on learning the techniques of photography for the love of it as an art form. And as I said, if a new business model emerges for photographers in the future, we'll be right there to talk about it. But for today remember - keep your day job.

Kerry Allan

1 Response

  1. My dear friend, change IS hard. One must adapt, move forward and overcome. Lamenting about the way we used to do things isn't helpful. But running a business is still exactly the same as it always was - find a client with a need and fulfill it. When I moved to my new city, every day- all day, I heard your voice say, "You've got to get out and run for Mayor." I believe your passion is educating photographers using the latest technology but I have watched you in this struggle for nearly 2 years and frankly, gregarious posts like the one above are rather off-putting and certainly don't compel clients to seek out your knowledge. "I put out a model call - pushed hundreds of women into a no cost marketing funnel. 55 visited my web page and requested more information by joining my email list. Of those women, I used an automated email to get 30 of them to schedule a phone call. Of those women, 17 have scheduled sessions." What will happen next? I learned from You... You once posted an article of facts on how you got so many wedding bookings from a wedding expo. I challenge you to consider if what has really changed is your attitude. Wishing you success.

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