Taking the long view.

 

austrian mountains

Gratuitous pretty photo as metaphor for taking the long view.

 

It’s all a bit doom and gloom in light of the latest government spending review (aka GSR, or gun shot residue since someone will have to pull the trigger), so I thought I’d offer an opinion from my own perspective as well as show you a pretty photo that might help calm the raggedy nerves.

I know I’m “only” a commercial photographer, but the benefit of what I do is that I get to see inside a variety of businesses, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and difficulties to face as we all find ourselves caught between the axe man and the tax man. Of course, what is common amongst the businesses I get to visit is that they all want to update their marketing with fresh designs and imagery because not to do so is to risk becoming invisible amongst the welter of competing businesses on the web.

Now I don’t want this to be yet another article extolling the virtues of online marketing. There are enough web, e-marketing and search engine optimisation gurus out there to fill the Titanic many times over, and many are about as useful as a busted lifeboat as the economy lists hard to starboard and the icy waters of recession fill the steerage class quarters and… enough of that analogy, you get the picture.

The problem for businesses that need a decent website or brochure and don’t yet have them is that as we face massive public sector cuts AND the hike in VAT, the company budget will never be there to turn a poor or non-existent website or brochure into a useful marketing tool. Those businesses that have delayed too long may have to fare this storm with nothing but whatever they have right now, which might be no more than a poorly designed flyer which does nothing but demonstrate the startling array of text fonts and colours available on the MD’s nephew’s computer.

Alternatively, companies can start to spend not less, but more wisely. Taking the time and effort to find the real experts in whatever needs doing. Of course I mean finding the right commercial photographer (not a mate’s wedding photographer), as well as the professional web designer, graphic designer, copy writer and marketing expert so that the resulting website, brochure or leaflet, all work much harder and have a much longer shelf life.

I know this all sounds dull and isn’t producing belly laughs, but however ghastly this recession is or continues to be, one thing is certain; it will end one day, and businesses that have invested carefully in whatever areas of marketing work for them will find themselves stronger on the other side, and without Leonardo Dicaprio’s frozen, lifeless fingers still gripping whatever piece of driftwood has kept them afloat while they await rescue or the receivers.

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5 comments

  • pogomcl October 19, 2010   Reply →

    such skilled writing and not even a mixed metaphor, very nicely written conceit.

    “Now I don’t want this to be yet another article extolling the virtues of online marketing. There are enough web, e-marketing and search engine optimisation gurus out there to fill the Titanic many times over, and many are about as useful as a busted lifeboat as the economy lists hard to starboard and the icy waters of recession fill the steerage class quarters and… enough of that analogy, you get the picture.”

    • Glass Eye October 19, 2010   Reply →

      Gosh! Thank you, I don’t get many literary critiques.

  • Robert Day October 22, 2010   Reply →

    Tim,

    Another problem with nearly half a million public sector workers hitting the streets in the next year or so is that a proportion of them will blow £500 of their severance pay on a flashy DSLR and think they can set themselves up as photographers. I know I’m escaping the carnage just ahead of the tidal wave (and indeed, my organisation isn’t threatened directly just yet; but I trust this government as far as I can throw it), but I’ve been planning my entry to the market for two years or more, and it’s been at the back of my mind for nearly fifteen. So I’d venture to say that I’ve got rather more business planning experience than the average newly-liberated public servant. (The fact that I had to scrutinise business plans from major FTSE100 companies in the Day Job helped somewhat.)

    • Glass Eye October 23, 2010   Reply →

      Hi Robert

      It’s almost impossible to guess how many public sector workers are going to try making it as photographers after redundancy, but of course there will be some who try. Anyone who wants to try is welcome, but they’ll need to do a great deal of planning as you suggest, and I suspect many will soon realise it’s not so easy to turn having a decent camera and even a decent photographic eye into something people will spend money on.

      The areas of professional photography most likely to get a mini flood of new entrants (and I do believe it will be a fairly short-lived wave) will be weddings and micro-payment stock.

      Weddings are expensive and time-consuming to shoot, and there are many extremely good wedding photographers already finding their margins squeezed by cheap competition, so not an easy sector to enter.

      As for micro-payment stock, well any photographer that thinks they can make a living from selling images for pennies a pop is living in lala land. They’d be better off spending £500 on an electric guitar and seeing if they can make it as an international rock star.

      Personally I’m less concerned about a wave of public sector workers hitting the streets with cameras (though of course I’m concerned for their predicament) because I have 20 years experience and am a well- established commercial photographer, an area especially difficult to get a foothold in. I’m not saying it’s easy for me, but I feel my skills and experience are really keeping me going where others are having to pack up and leave photography altogether.

      I wish you well in your venture, though my advice would be that if you have a salaried job and it’s unlikely to get cut, stick with it. Keep photography as a very fun hobby, because once it’s your job you won’t have a hobby any more.

      All best wishes

      Tim

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