“I got here as soon as I could.” the fat and dirty man says as he fills out the paperwork. “I gotta work for a living.”
I hear this from time to time from people who are big fans of Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers. People who use their backs to earn a living and consider everyone else too lazy to do the same. These are Real Men that wish the cotton gin and the assembly line had never been invented. And people who make fools of themselves to get babies to smile-well, as Dire Straits put it-that ain’t working.
Being an Assembly Line Portrait photographer is not always a hard job, but it is not a job for everyone. People come and go, some can’t do the job, some won’t do the job, and some just decide that they are too good to do the job. It looks easy enough, and given the right Shoot, it is not a bad way to make a living. It’s just that Given part that can be a bit of a bother.
A few years ago one of the now dead Companies paid a good commission and paid a bonus to anyone who could get someone else to come and work for them. This a pretty common practice and a lot of Passers made some good money by getting referrals. Once that company went under, they then went on to another Company-where many of the Passers had originally worked-and got referral commissions for getting them rehired. Ah there’s nothing like working the system.
The Company doesn’t like change. Who does? But over the past year or so they have been trying to pull themselves out of the rut they have been in for the past twenty years or so. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it has pretty much been the Party Line. So the Powers That Be have been reading Photo Mags and asking people to fill out surveys and trying to figure out how to get back to the Good Old Days. While most of the time I think the End of Times is near for the Assembly Line Portrait world, I have to wonder about the business when one of the Newbies get s a $600 sale and the Old Timer Passer got one for over $800. There is still money to be made, but those big sales are getting rarer all the time-at least for me.
Still, there is some hope that The Company has been listening to people like myself-the latest rumor is that they are going to change The Freebie. Whether or not this will help has yet to be seen. I have been surprised by the success of some of the new products and poses. Not all have worked out, but then nothing is ever a hundred percent successful. Part of the problem has been a lack of willingness on the part of Photographers and Passers to actually offer all of the new products and poses to the Subjects. The fact that you do a lot of extra work and they still end up being Nonbuyers doesn’t help any.
So I now have a bit of time on my hands. I can catch up on the Tv Shows I have missed. Read a few of those books I’ve been meaning to get to. Think about new ways to modify light and flatter my Subjects. Think about having a go at my own Company again. Look at the job listings and become really depressed. Think about going back to an old Company, then think better of it. Go to the Movies and write my movie reviews that rarely get read. Work on my many money making blogs, none of which are making any money. Study another program on making money blogging and become briefly excited by the idea that maybe, just maybe, this system will work. Collect unemployment, if there is still any unemployment to collect.
One of the great problems with not working is that I tend to do rather a lot of drifting. Without that big To Do of work filling up the week, I tend do a little of this and little of that and a lot on nothing. Not that I have any plans to write the Great American Novel over the next few weeks-though I could at least bang out a new outline with Dramtica. It might be a good idea to get a couple of grammar books and work on my syntax a little.
I’v never been one of those people that could use a Day Planner or a computer Calendar or any of that scheduling stuff. I had the nasty habit of making everything a number 1 priority and then not doing any of them. I tried using some goal setting program one time and it helped me to pay my bills on time-when I actually used it. And I had the money on had to pay the bills when they were due. I am planning on a going on a diet for about six weeks at the beginning of the year. I’ll see how that goes. Complex business as it involves buying food and preparing it and like that.
Before I know it things will be back to normal, I’ll have more dumb Subject stories to tell, more Passers to insult, more digs at the Company and the Boss and so on and so forth. In the mean time I’ll read Portrait Photography books, watch some Portrait Photography DVDs and see if any of the sage advice I am given can be applied to the fine world of Assembly Line Portraits.
That is until The Company gives a call and I have to work for a living again.