The end of year holiday season brings all manner of chores, and potential opportunities.
In a previous time it would mean a massive cleanup of the studio and darkroom. The cyclorama would need repairs for damage caused by models’ high heels and the scrambling footprints created by small children let loose from parental control.
Then the darkrooms would need to be emptied of chemicals, with trays and benches being cleaned of all manner of stains and spills. The ‘secret black magic’ would have to be cleared away awaiting fresh chemistry supplies in the new year.
But those days are long gone!
Traditionally, assignments for commercial photographers start to dry up late in November because anything shot after that is too late for general use in Christmas/New Year advertising. Unless you have a back-to-school client, there is little impetus for clients to start new campaigns until late January. Art directors have holidays – why shouldn’t photographers?
Portrait photographers who haven’t carefully managed client expectations will have a last minute rush through the weeks leading to Christmas providing gift giving portraits. These same clients will find a reluctance to drag themselves away from their holiday festivities for portrait bookings.
Unless your clients are school teachers, most wedding photographers find a paucity of clientele over this period also. In the Southern hemisphere this is largely driven by the natural clash of heat and formal wear.
Some photographers plan exotic photo taking opportunities at this time – trading down time for me time in a creative way. It is certainly recreation, albeit in the form of a busman’s holiday. But a charge to the creative battery is as important as a massive sale is to the bank account.
On a more mundane level, it could be a time to back up, duplicate and move a copy of all this year’s digital files off-site. You know it must be done; and there are no pesky clients around to interrupt your process.
Perhaps, whilst quietly sitting and sipping a quality dram, you could make a plan of attack for next year. A marketing plan, an equipment rationalisation plan, a creative development plan – any plan that requires careful thought is better made without the activity that happens whilst juggling clients.
There is another way altogether to utilise the holiday season. Try turning off the business phone, avoiding social media, and placing a gone fishing shingle up on the studio door. You could devote a few weeks to meaningful time with the family – morning to dusk stuff that requires your total dedication and full time input. At the end of the day these people are more valuable to the smooth running of your business than any of your other assets.
Whatever your plans are for the end of year holiday, may I wish you a calm, relaxed and, dare I say it, a focused time. May 2015 deliver much needed profit, and may you seek out and find new avenues for your creativity.
That, after all, is why we are photographers.
To my loyal and dedicated reader, may I offer you the compliments of the season
and wish you a great and productive 2015.
This essay first appeared in issue #39,
f11 :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS AND AFICIONADOS