New Digs

dan routh studio

(Photograph copyright 2017 by Dan Routh)

We have been working in a space in 620 South Elm St (the Old Blue Bell factory) in Old Greensboro for the past several years. The building was recently sold to developer Andy Zimmerman and a planned renovation has begun. Our section of the building was scheduled to be gutted and renovated first, so we were offered a new space in the other side of the facility. From Suite 254 we are now situated on third floor in Suite 332. As of today, we are now up and running. Besides our location services, we can handle studio portraiture, model, actor and executive head shots and small product and tabletop photography. If you have the work, we need your business.

Firefighters and the Flood

Some days are better than others and of course, some are more trying. Today was one of those trying ones, for sure. Late this morning while I was beginning to edit a job, the fire alarm in our building went off, which is never a good sign. After checking things out, I found out a cable worker had knocked a sprinkler head off in the hallway above my studio, directly above. A deluge of water soon began to pour through my ceiling and I started the rush to move my computer and camera equipment before it was ruined. With the help of my wonderful building neighbors, I was able to move everything that could be horribly damaged (I hope) including my film archive. Still, a lot of water came in and a lot of damage was done. A flood. Bright sunny day, my studio is on the second floor, fifteen feet above the ground, and I have a flood.

However, even in adversity comes opportunity, I guess. I’ve been thinking of doing portraits of firefighters, and have been thinking about who to approach. This morning, they approached me. The firemen of the Greensboro Fire Department showed up at my door and I grabbed a couple of images of them as I was documenting the damage to my studio.

(Photographs copyright 2011 by Dan Routh)

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.

Five Hundred Posts

(Photograph copyright 2010)

Last week I passed a milestone (sort of) on this blog in that I passed 500 posts. That’s about 2 years worth of posting five times a week. Guess it’s time to take a look at my blogging efforts and see where I am. I started my blog as a marketing effort for the most part and it continues in that vein. I post mostly images with the occasional prose, because that’s what I do. I take photographs, professionally. I have for some 34 years.

As a marketing effort, my blog has had mixed success. I wish I could say that perspective clients are running all over each other trying to book me, but they aren’t. I have booked jobs as a direct result of someone who found me online, but with the recession hitting the Greensboro area hard, work has become harder and harder to find, especially new work. I’ve also found that in order to make a blog work, you have to market the blog itself through social networking, forums, etc. So, in order to use a marketing device, you have to market it, and so on; something that quickly becomes very time consuming.

All of this marketing is on top of the time and effort it takes to produce content. After all the main reason for posting my work is to show folks something that I think is worthwhile seeing. Producing a “good” image every day, every week takes a lot of work, and I try not to post anything that I don’t consider good. Granted, some images are a lot better than others, but I do attempt to show something every day that will stand on it’s own. Some of my images come from actual jobs, but many are produced just for the blog.

So, where does all of this lead me? I will continue to post as much as I can. Any marketing success is dependent on how long you can continue it. I will also try to continue working on my craft, because when all is said and done, that has been the biggest benefit I have gotten from this whole experiment. I have made myself go out and shoot content just to be shooting. Even after 34 years, it’s amazing what you can get from practice. I think I’ve learned some things visually, and I sure have enjoyed doing it.

Back to Bad Contracts

In an earlier post I talked about a bad contract I received for a stock photograph a publisher wished to use as a book cover. The original contract had all kinds of language allowing reuse and copyright options that were unnecessary for such a transaction. I told the publisher that I would not sign any such contract, but I would sell one time usage for the stock image for a fee and nothing else. After negotiating and sending proposals back and forth, we settled on a contract that spelled out exactly what I offered originally. They bought one time usage for a cover for a specific book and nothing else. I don’t know why they sent me their original contract, maybe they hoped I wouldn’t read it, but the whole exercise was not needed for a one time simple use. Moral of the story; read any contract you receive and be willing to say no until you can negotiate the sale to what you want to sell and to what the client actually needs.