Thursday, September 20, 2007

Portraits and Workshops

If you start reading about the history of photography and who all the different players were, one thing that jumps out at you is just how many of the "old masters" made their living doing portrait work. Shouldn't be a big surprise - that was always the case for painters, and today it's more like a mix of portraits and workshops.

At some point I started getting people asking me if I did portrait work. And after some thought there wasn't any real reason not to - it's mostly a matter of pricing it correctly. The problem is that any time you're doing a portrait shoot, you're not doing a model shoot or making prints or any of the other things you could be doing.

The nice thing about portrait work is it pays up front, and a model shoot can take a while to make back whatever costs went into the shoot, let alone pay for your time. But it's never going to have the potential earnings one really great shot will have if you can sell lots of copies of it.

Anyway, I put up a really basic portrait website and I get about as much business as I really want - I'm not really set up for a constant stream of folks, but it's good to have some extra income and since it seems to pick up in months when print sales are slow part of the year it's very welcome indeed.

So what about workshops? I'm getting folks asking about workshops. Typically platinum printing and studio lighting. Platinum printing I can do on basically a one on one basis if somebody doesn't mind spending an awful lot of time hanging out in my bathroom. Anything involving a model gets complex - she'll need to be paid, and what if she flakes? So then you get two models just in case, and then it's expensive, so you need a couple of photographers, and then my space isn't big enough and I have to rent a studio, and before you know it, there's 12 photographers, 4 models, and a full studio. Which is really a more involved project than I want to get involved with frankly.

There's probably some special case - somebody brings their wife or girlfriend and wants to learn to shoot her and how studio gear works - but generally speaking I see it getting very complicated very fast. There doesn't seem to be a way to scale it up gently, and I have too much other stuff going on to do the "jump in the deep end" methods. It's a quandry.


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