Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pot of Gold


Last week I went to see a consulant speak. They say a consultant is someone who takes your watch and tells you what time it is. She was fine but it got me thinking about all the people I have gone to see over the years and all the wrong turns I have made.
Once I paid one consultant 250/hour to provide me with some direction in the hopes of getting ad work. I would come to her apartment at the appointed hour. Invariably she would come to the door in her bathrobe. "I will just be a minute" Then I would here the shower running. A half hour later she would pop her head out, "I just need to change the cat box" and on it went. Two hours after my appointment was supposed to start we would sit down and talk about the photographs. I wish I could say that it only happened once. I wish I could say that I never went back to see her. Or that our meeting was an aberration: the next time she was on time and professional. The sad part is that I was so desperate for someone to tell me what to do that I went through this over and over.

It has been my experience that the only way I have learned anything is through making mistakes. In this business these mistakes tend to be expensive.

Years ago I sent out a bunch of promo cards, took space in Blackbook and Workbook and still had no ad career to speak of. I talked to a rep in LA and she said she liked the work and to stay in touch. A year later I sent her a portfolio full of new photographs. She said I was going in the wrong direction. She said I was wasting my time because my pictures did not look like advertising. It was a 10 minute conversation and it changed my career. I wasn't paying her anything and she had nothing to gain but for some reason she was willing to tell me the truth.

I created a bunch of new pictures that looked more like ads, they started getting some attention and I got a rep with a national reputation. The rest is history: cocking rocking and rainbows.

9 comments:

Bruce DeBoer said...

Thomas - I'm not sure I get the consultant thing either but I'm sure they are very nice people.

I've always felt our profession is filled with those who seek "the answer" as if once found it would automatically create fortunes.

Luck, unfathomable talent, incredible business savvy, harnessed to fanatical obsession are the only ingredients necessary for success. Simple ... right? No short cuts.

Robert Holmgren said...

Ah yes...Deanne Delbridge.

ED said...

Everyone is different that's for sure. I wouldn't be where I am today without the help of my consultant and a ton of hard work.

Bruce- Love your last paragraph-

Timothy Archibald said...

Glad to hear that Ed has felt that the consultant has helped him, and he sounded totally sincere.

I tend to view consultants ( after spending money on them for sure ) as one of the many predators lurking around the fringes of photography, preying on photographers hopes and insecurities. Source book salepeople are the others in this category.

But...photographers are independent, and where do you go for answers on these things? Having a good peer group is a start, for sure. Then there are the reps who hire themselves out for consultations, former photo editors who do consultations, lots of people looking to give you the shortcut to success. Never a good fit for me, but I've hired them all. Anyone else have a good, non exploitative experience?

Anonymous said...

Confirms my general impression of consultants: very nice people who probably will never be able to tell me what I'm doing wrong with my photography or my career...

Fortunately, I'm able to follow the success of some of you, who typically confirm what I'm doing wrong with my photography and my career...

Shawn

burnsautoparts said...

As a consultant, I want to say that I am appalled that one of my colleagues would act so unprofessionally.

As in all professions, there are those who act professionally and those who don't. I just had a situation with a doc who totally blew it and then another who was care personified. Same sort of thing.

I encourage anyone who is thinking of working with a consultant to ask for referrals from other photographers. That's the best way to weed out the less professional of us. Also, remember that we're only human (albeit with a lot of knowledge in the photographer marketing arena)--we can't guarantee results, but we should guarantee to act like professionals.

-Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua

Anonymous said...

Clearly you are talking about Deanne Delbridge... she makes it easy to see what's behind the curtain.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you are talking about Deanne Delbridge... inpirational letdown extraordinaire.

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