Sunday, January 23, 2011


       My lovely wife and I made a decision a couple of years ago to make a living taking and selling photographs.  It sounded so easy!  I would (as the talent) take the pictures at various events, when not out in the woods stalking wildlife and nature shots.  My wife (being the business minded type) would handle the administrative end of things, like the books, the taxes, the inventories, the appointments, the scheduling, the sales, the paperwork, complaints, and headaches I don't want to trifle with.  She's a lot better at her end of our business model than I am at mine.
        Here's the thing... If I have a camera or two in my hands, I'm a happy camper.  I can take a walk through the woods alongside a creek or river, and in the space of half an hour can find and capture a dozen interesting shots of birds, animals, or landscapes.  Or I can take my gear to a youth athletic event and spend hours running up and down the sidelines, capturing the action as it happens.  And in the process, a transformation happens that makes me realize how lucky I am to be in this line of work:  I can leave home tense and irritated and come back feeling exhilarated by the experience.  It's become my therapy, like Valium and a shot of Crown for the soul.
          But the operational side of being a photographer is surviving the sales events.  Getting the gear together for a shoot is a piece of cake compared to getting the sales booth set up for the monetary payoff.  And if handling tents, tables, baskets of prints, order forms, debit/credit card processing equipment, posters, enlargements, and a dozen other things wasn't enough, many of our sales are outdoor events, subject to the whims of the weather Hooey Gods.
           And that's where we're jinxed.  If the Hooey Gods have any control over our potential sales revenue, we suffer mightily.  Two years ago we reserved booth space at a local Greenway Festival, gathered up images and matted massive quantities of prints, posters, magnets, mugs, and other items to sell at the Festival, only to have the event flooded out by a monsoon-like deluge the night before it was scheduled to take place.  The Greenway itself was submerged for days.  The event was cancelled, and what we had spent two months and hundreds of dollars preparing for went into storage for future sales events.
           For our youth sports sales, we have to schedule our sale dates well in advance in order to get them on the leagues' calendar so that parents know when to come to the park with cash and checkbooks in hand to buy prints of their little superstars in action.  We'll spend hundreds of dollars on printing, load the vehicle with the booth tents, tables, and all of the easels and gear necessary to successfully promote the event on site, only to see three straight weeks of drought turn into the worst storms of the spring, summer, or fall on the day of our sales event.  It never fails.  If this had only happened once or twice or maybe even three time, I wouldn't even mention it... but it's happened almost EVERY FUCKING TIME we have a sale.
           You don't know the frustration involved in trying to set up a sales booth in a driving rain, hoping upon hope that the gods will relent and let there be customers!  But they don't, and no one shows up, and the day's games are usually rained out.  We get to break down all of the gear, load it back into the vehicle, haul it all back home where it has to be removed from the vehicle (in the rain) brought back into the house, dried off, and put into storage for the next monsoon sales event.
           After one such rain-out, we found ourselves standing in our kitchen in sopping wet clothes, hair matted and dripping down our faces, and the absurdity of our misfortune hit us both like a sack of rocks... we broke down laughing so hard we could hardly stand.  Even though it was only 8AM, we broke out a bottle and poured shots for the better part of an hour.  Why the hell not?  What else could go wrong?
           We are the poster children for Murphy's Law.  If anything can go wrong, it by god will.
           My friends and family check with us to see when we have sales events scheduled so they can know when to avoid planning outdoor activities.  It's like having a meteorologist from the future on your speed dial.  If we are planning a sale, weather events of Biblical proportions are destined to occur on that date.  Book it.
            We are supposed to take several hundred prints and enlargements to a high school football banquet this evening.  My wife's mom just stopped by to tell us that a winter advisory has been issued for tonight, with yet another freak snow and ice storm rolling into the area.
             I'm putting a bottle of Crown into the freezer, along with a couple of shot glasses.
             Film at eleven...




I think you have done something to piss off the Goddess...

squatlo said...

Me and the Goddess are fine... it's all the other deities that are pissed.

We went to the banquet tonight, no snow or sleet, perfect weather. Big crowd showed up, no one bought anything. We made enough to cover our printing, barely. One never knows.
Time for adult beverages. sigh...