It’s been several years since I was tossed out the door, just like a stack of week-old newspapers, by the ones who ran the world of print journalism. And I felt the kick in the shins financially when the presses ceased to run and freelance budgets were cut in half, but I also recognized an opportunity. New trends were on the horizon, but none had appeared. All I had to do was be willing to shift my perspective to match the New Way of Doing Things rather than force the old ways onto a business model that wasn’t even a toddler. What’s the expression these days – Grow or Die?
Ok, maybe it’s not that harsh, but before the armadas of newspapers sunk into the depths of economic oblivion, I was unwittingly preparing myself for the future by learning the thinking & design behind the web and also how to edit video. This was during the years of hand-coding HTML and importing video clips from tape via a capture card. At the time, I thought it was fun. I was also developing my vision as a still photographer hoping to reach a point of visual maturity (or something like that). Plus, there was the responsibility to my business, my profession, and myself to at least keep even with the bar and to rise above it when possible.
I have heard many times, from many photographers, that we are all Storytellers. I agree and I surely consider myself one. But I hate labels. I believe they are one of the greatest threats to creativity which is the sole driver of our profession.
It’s been about 5 years since The Upheaval and I still ask myself What Am I? But I don’t expect an answer. Sometimes I may be producing, other times, directing. I can be found consulting and even teaching. Of course, I am still shooting as much as I can and immersing myself in a cinema-type of mindset. When I finish my stories, I guess I’m an editor too, though I’ll stop right there, remember, I hate labels.
I have been transformed from a freelance/news photographer (and in hindsight one with a very limited future) into a hybrid producer, director, and well, to use a label storyteller. And I guess you can say that’s where the trends that both still and video professionals are headed whether you work for corporations or non-profits. My solo photography business is recovering, but I know that’s not enough. I’ll continue to learn and keep myself relevant as the curve that’s driving our profession seems to have no end. So, where are you gonna go?
Previously published on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog.
John Welsh is a professional photographer from Philadelphia. He’s traded his obsession for Icelandic travel (before it was hip) for a chance to film a documentary about the last remaining coal breaker in Ashley, PA. John is currently serving as President of the ASMP Philadelphia Chapter.