Saturday, January 1, 2011

On Being a Greensboro Photographer in 2010

(Photograph copyright 2011 by Dan Routh)

We are here in 2011 and I guess it’s time to make a few comments on this blog and what it was like to be a photographer in Greensboro in 2010. Photographically for me, 2010 was really a pretty good year. I shot a lot, especially for this blog, and I shot a lot of photographs that meant something to me on a personal level. I started this blog as a marketing tool for my business, but somehow it has begun to evolve into something else. Because the economy has kept me close to home, I have shot close to home and discovered that the community around Grays Chapel is full of opportunities to produce documentary images of the places, folks and things that are here. I’ve begun to look at my neighbors more seriously and I’ve discovered there are a lot of wonderful people doing wonderful things right here. I hope to continue documenting these people and things, and I appreciate all the very kind comments I have received on many of the images I have posted. If I can make someone feel something or remember something through my images, then I have succeeded as a photographer.

On the business front, 2010 was not nearly as wonderful. I have been producing commercial photography for some 34 years, and I can honestly say that this was the worst year business-wise I have ever had. Face it, the economy sucks, especially in the Greensboro area, and many clients that I used to do work for on a regular basis have either disappeared or pulled back seriously. At the same time, prospective clients have seen that they can shop around for the lowest price and many, many folks in my profession are more than willing to work for anything, regardless of their costs or what their work is really worth. And finally, I have seen some clients just settling for less quality in general. With the rise of mediocrity in our culture, sometimes all a client wants or needs is an image, and any image will do, hence the rise in the use of low cost or no cost microstock sales.

What will 2011 bring? I honestly don’t know. I do know that things can’t keep going the way they are now for professional photographers in general and me specifically. Hopefully the economy will improve and things will start to thaw out in the advertising and editorial markets. Perhaps I will finally learn how to adapt to this changing market; believe me, I’m trying. Perhaps I will reach a crossroads and have to make a turn. That is a possibility. I do know that no matter what happens, I will continue to shoot as much as I can, because besides being a professional photographer, I am just a photographer, first and foremost.


Steve Mullinix said...

Thanks for sharing you thoughts regarding 2010, yes mediocrity is now the norm and the quest for low price has cast many a long term relationship to the side. In your blog you can replace the word photographer or photography with many professions and your comments would be right on target with the reality of how business is getting done. On the other side I think you have done some of you best work this year. Your photographs speak volumes of your gift as an artist and who you are and what you care about.Everyday I look forward to seeing what you will post. I wish you the best in 2011 and whatever you do, don't stop photographing.

Dan Routh Photography, Inc said...

Steve, thanks for the words. We've talked about this before and photographers are certainly not alone as other professions are experiencing the vey same things. In my case, I feel troubled because the thing that I care about and enjoy doing most in life is the way I make my living.