“We had some Passers in a meeting that said flatly they would never become Photographers.” The sort of, but not really anymore, Boss says. “They said they knew it might limit their work potential. Well, duh.”
“Yeah, I figure they have about a month left.” I say and shrug.
Still hanging in there with The New Company, that deadline when everything becomes impossible to deal with keeps getting pushed back a few weeks and I keep dragging my feet about doing anything else. So I’ll try working a few of the new Shoots and see what the pay looks like. I’m still not at all optimistic about any of it.
Since we are all Old Pros, we are not being given the normal two weeks of Training that a New Hire would get. We had to watch an hour or two worth of videos online and we’re having a two day workshop where we are learning to setup and tear-down the new Studio. It’s a pretty simple affair with a severely limited set of lighting and posing options compared to the Studio I’ve been using with the Old Company. It is hot off the assembly line though and the cameras and lights are brand new. Yes, I have two cameras, a bit of a change from most of the Studios I have used over the years where if your camera broke you were SOL.
Of course, the shiny new Studio is irrelevant. They still want the Photographers to sell pictures and the Passers to take Portraits. And if we don’t want to do that, the door is right over there. Like everyone else, I’ve known the door was there for several months, but I have been pointedly trying not to look at it.
Working for the New Company is like stepping back in time twenty years. The Studio, the Sales Table, and endless newsletters filled with self congratulations so reminds me of all those other Companies that thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread-right before they went out of business. The fact of the matter is that Assembly Line Portraits is a dying industry. Free images from cell phones and ever cheaper Pro level digital cameras are going to continue to make our customer base less and less impressed with what we have to offer.
About 15 years or so ago, I did my first Shoot-N-Show. I didn’t do well. I shot a lot of Nonbuyers, I wasn’t good at making sells. But I was impressed with the software the tiny Permanent Studio used. I had been working in the Traveling Studio division, so I didn’t use any software. The Sales Software was classic Graphic User Interface. You clicked on a image of an 8×10 or a 5×7 and dragged it to one side of the display. The computer automatically-and instantaneously-calculated the price for the package with that added or removed photo. The Subject saw the price and could make an informed buying decision at that time.
I’m not a salesperson, but I am a pretty damned good software user. My own favorite Portrait Sales software is ProSelect, an amazing bit of business that allows you to choose images, create composites, play slideshows, set prices, and crunch the numbers once you have the package put together-among other things. My only gripe is that it doesn’t have a spreadsheet function where you can see the totals for a day’s or a week’s sales. Still, ProSelect is by far the best photo selling software I have ever used.
The New Company has different ideas about Selling. They want the Passer, and the Photographers forced to take up the role of Passer, to crunch all the numbers by hand. And you have to calculate several sets of numbers to compare the prices for Basic, Canvas, Retouching, etc. This is an even more drastic step back in time than the minimalist Portrait Studio that is one step up from a Photo-booth at an amusement park. I can’t even remember the last time I used a real world calculator or wrote anything more than my signature in longhand. I’m sure all The Old Company Passers are in the same boat.
For the most part, we’re a pretty curmudgeonly lot. One of my best weeks ever I was working with a couple of the best Passers in the Area. We were running high averages and the sales total for the week for over $25,000-where a normal week was closer $15,000 and often a lot less. So what did we do? W bitched and moaned about the five people who didn’t spend two hundred dollars on pictures.
I don’t think there are going to be any $25.000 weeks with the New Company. I don’t think there will be many $10,000 weeks with the New Company. I have my doubts about $5,000 weeks. And I think that is where the New Company will finally winnow out the last of the Old Company holdouts. It won’t take too many $85 paychecks to push the rest of us out the door.
Sigh. Everything is going to be alright.