The end of August until the beginning of December is usually the busy time for Assembly Line Portraits. It’s a little cooler, so people aren’t sweating and uncomfortable as they are in the summer. But it’s not so cold that everyone has to bundle up and crush their clothes as if they are going on an arctic expedition. It is also that magical time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to Christmas Pictures.
This is the time of year that New Parents head to the Big Box Store to stand in line with a hundred other screaming babies so they can buy 101 portraits for $7.99, complain that the Photographer was rude to them, and storm off in a huff.
School is in full swing now and so the Assembly Line School Photographer is busy lining up the entire Class on the High Schools front steps. The Band Photographer is busy getting oboes, clarinets, and drum sticks in the correct position. The Sports photographer stands on the sidelines and tries not to get crushed by a three hundred pound lineman shoving a two hundred pound running back out of bounds. The fraternity and sorority photographer sells composites with Greek Letters in the corner to commemorate this historic achievement. And the Big Bucks are made by the High School Senior Photographer shooting proms and pocketing $150 while The Company pockets four or five thousand.
This is the feast part of the year. This is the time when Assembly Line Portrait companies hire a dozen new people and finally start to keep the Regulars working full time again. After half a year, The Photographer can let his Unemployment lapse and actually earn some money for a change.
This also means less time for blogging, less time for working on your own business, and less time at home. It also means more money and more time on the road-which I like.
Work takes up a good deal of my time, but I still have a few hours here and there to do what I want to do. This usually involves food of one sort or another. Maybe a good pizza or an over sized hamburger. Maybe some ice cream or a Mexican restaurant with really good chips and salsa. Maybe just a quick run down to the beach to walk on the sand and listen to the surf for a few minutes. Every place has some claim to fame, even if the local tourist office is the only one that knows about it.
Then there are places like Houston, where I shared a Deluxe Continental Breakfast with a group of tourists from France. A trip to Space Center Houston found us surrounded by people from other countries, where the dream of Space has not been all but abandoned as it has been at NASA itself.
But trips to places like Houston are pretty rare for me. There are Assembly Line Portrait Photographers that live in Houston, so I end up in places with no claim to fame which I tend to wonder why they still exist. But these small towns can be good places to shoot and I had my last really good day in a little town I had never heard of in the Texas Panhandle.
So I have to take all I can get now. The blogs, the novels, the short stories, the information products, my own business, all have to take a back burner again. I have to drive several hours, find a motel, find the Shoot, setup and work for nine or ten hours, and then head back to the motel. In the morning I have a few hours to either blog or surf the web or go out and do whatever there is to do wherever it is I am in the few hours I have before I have to head back to work.
I have never been one of those people that uses an organizer or a day planner or even so much as a calendar. I tried once or twice. I bought a planner and a set of pages for the First Things First organizer. But I couldn’t make it work. I couldn’t set out to do something and then do it. Everything was an A and nothing was a B and I ended up feeling guilty for not doing anything.
Work takes that problem away for a few months. Everything is planned for me somewhere else. I have to be Here, Here, and There on this Date, this Date, and that Date. I don’t have time to feel guilty as I do when I end up doing nothing on my own. Now I can just say, well, I can’t do anything about it NOW.
And the money, while not enough to retire to the South of France, is enough for me to get back on top for a while. Enough to do a few tourist things. Enough to buy a new tire when an old one blows out on the freeway. Enough to eat in a nice restaurant once in a while. Who knows, I might even buy a couple of Photography books and learn a new pose or a new lighting pattern.