A change in focus

For years I have worked to help fellow photographers grow in their profession. It has been a true passion with many gifts of success. To understand this, we need to go back to the beginning, or at least my beginning, in the profession. When I was getting started, I had several great local professional photographers help and guide me. They were paying it forward. People like Ted Lane, who taught me the basic lighting patterns on a face, and Les Peterson who told me "it's always better to apologize for price than to apologize for quality". I own a good portion of my success to those and many more.

For many years I have been paying it forward, helping others grow, whether new to our industry trying to get a good start, or experienced pros trying to better themselves. This process and my travels has brought me many friends and much personal growth as well. As a teacher, the greatest rewards that I have received are positive reports from those whom I have worked with. When they send me a photo of the Harley or sailboat that they were able to buy with their own growth. Or when they stop me in the hall at a conference and thank me for doubling their sales average.

Teaching and speaking is hardly a highly profitable venture. What I charge for a full day program is less than 1/2 of my average senior order, which I do two of a day during main season. And speaking is often a 3 day investment. A day getting there, a day teaching and a day returning is typical. It is an easy claim to say that I make more staying home shooting than teaching. This does not even consider the incredible amount of time that I spend in Facebook sharing and answering countless questions. I am often asked how I get it all done. I was recently referred to by another teacher as "the shoot and burner of photography education" because I do so much for free that others charge for.

It's no secret that I am not getting any younger. I have had to slow my own business down, I can not work the pace that I used to. As I slow, I have found that the percentage of time I invest in others is now out of balance with my own businesses needs. So I have had to put myself on a "teaching diet", especially for unpaid time, and focus more time on my own business than that of others.

So for a while at least, I will work on educating and mentoring a smaller number of people and perhaps start running the education part more like a business.