6.09.2015

A new occupation for long term, freelance photographers. Hear me out...

Photo taken in NYC for Samsung. ©2013

I love having lunch with clients who are friends. The conversations can be as wide ranging as we'd like. Today my art director friend, Greg, and I headed over to a favorite west campus area restaurant just to have one of those quiet lunches where we talk about our kids, our careers and what we're going to do next. Greg is a freelance art director who offices inside a big, traditional public relations agency. Some of his work comes from the agency and a lot of it comes from his list of clients who are external. 

We've both been in our respective, freelance market niches for a long time. Decades. We've learned the hard way how to spend money, how to budget, where to buy our insurance and which insurance to buy. We've learned how to do marketing to move our businesses into the future. We've rolled with the economic punches and celebrated the upswings. In short, we pretty much have the self-employed thing figured out. 

So we were munching on mushroom and white truffle oil pizzas at Asti Trattoria and I mentioned an article I recently read that predicted something like 45% of working Americans would be self-employed, out sourced, or otherwise self-directed by 2020. The new corporate paradigm is to outsource absolutely everything you can. It's why Apple no longer has factories. Why Dell stopped manufacturing in Austin. Why Uber owns no cars. And why more and more people are calling Starbucks their offices.

As we mulled this over we came to the conclusion that there is a real need across America (and perhaps around the world) for people to act as guides leading people from their routine (but vanishing) jobs with companies into the glorious life of self employee freelance-ism. 

After all, what did many established photographers do when their occupation of taking photographs collapsed? Right! They started teaching workshops at a furious rate. They still knew how to take pictures, they just couldn't get anyone to pay them for it. By the same token the photographers who've actually made it through the downturn, the collapse of the assignment market and the siege laid on by stock agencies must have some really valuable and unique business skills. How else could they still be out shooting for money and making a decent living?

Now we can finally ditch the race to buy new cameras, and the need to attract new clients for our photography skills, because the next market will take advantage of our newly acquired workshop teaching skills instead. We will now set up classes, workshops and seminars to teach people how to freelance. And how to survive as freelancers.

Imagine it. We can lead them through the dark forest of self-employment and help them figure out how to pay for that next cup of coffee down at the "office." Just like photography students they might not all be successful but the ones who get it will be there to teach the next generation. We'll be paying it forward as the job market goes backwards. 

Oh it all sounded pretty good over lunch ---- still trying to figure out how to expense that. (Article T.I.C.).

8 comments:

Dog Photographer said...

I love your blog Kirk Tuck. Who else writes this stuff?? No One.

Frank Grygier said...

Sign me up.

Mark Davidson said...

Having been self employed for ~30 years I am happy for my good fortune. I would hope that the trend to self-employment would result in the free-lancers getting paid better as a consequence of the greater awareness of their income needs.
Today we have a lot of newbies testing the waters with cheap to free work to see if there is a demand for their work. The problem is there is always the demand for free. That means that their "market research" is flawed from the get go.

My greatest concern is the desire for industry to eliminate labor via robotics to such an extent that they erase the purchasing class.

cfw said...

Whatever keeps the lights burning.

Robert Roaldi said...

The forestry companies outsourced their lumberjacks, and now hand-chopping accidents in that industry are increasing. Only now, all those small independents can't afford individual insurance or workman's comp. The forestry companies, which now consist of people sitting in front of computers, have an exemplary workplace injury record.

In the eastern USA coal industry, black lung disease is making a comeback after all those pesky profit-crippling regulations were removed.

Isn't creative destruction great?

amolitor said...

I'm going to get out ahead of the curve and start offering workshops in how to teach people to teach freelancing.

You should sign up, Kirk, just to polish your skills.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting, if not amusing, how there seems to be an increasing number of professional photographers having difficulty making ends meet as a picture taker and ending up getting substantial portions of their income teaching aspiring photographers with disposable income how to make money as a photographer. I suppose that will work - for a while anyway.

Kirk Tuck said...

^^^ Once again a tone deaf anonymous commenter fails to understand the sarcasm in Kirk's post and goes to great pains to state the obvious. See above. The article, of course, was about all occupations. Photographers who are still prospering in this market must know about "how to freelance" and they would teach all other newcomers, regardless of occupation, to do the things that are generally necessary for all self employed people. Geez. How flat can one be? ^^^