Speaking to Photography Students. Necessary. And self-revealing.

I am on the board of advisors for the Austin Community College.  We don't have anything to do with making policy, we suggest future direction.  It's hard to predict where our industry will be in a year or two years but we can take a good stab at some basics.  Lighting will always be important and even though styles might change the underlying fundamentals don't.  Business will always be about supply and demand.  About setting the right prices and policies for profitability and doing smart marketing.
We can also look into our crystal balls and see that video will have a big impact, in the future.

Once a semester my friend Bill Woodhull, who is the department chair for commercial photography, invites me out to scare the hell out of his students.  These are the students in the last year of their curriculum and they are in the required course about business.  Bill brings in lawyers to talk about rights and contracts, accountants to talk about accounting,  and several different photographers to give the students a reality check about what to expect when they leave the nest.

I started my talk a six thirty yesterday evening after fighting rush hour traffic for way too long.  We talked about these things:  The parabola of earning power in the creative industry.  The need to save up money so that you have a year of living expenses in the bank. The need to stay in good physical shape since lots of photography is full contact, extreme work (or at least constant rearrangement of furniture...).
The need to continuously market.  The need to build a consistent brand.  The need to accept credit cards.  The need to minimize expenses and maximize income.

But then we talked about something dear to my heart and the whole tone shifted.  We talked about how a real, collaborative portrait session actually works.  What happens after you've done the lighting, set up the camera, and posed the model?  What happens AFTER all that.  And it dawned on me that in all the workshops and classes and books and magazine articles I've never seen someone really explain how to go beyond the "smile for the camera" ten minute commercial portrait and work with a subject to create a connection and to create real art.  I shared the secrets I knew with them and in the process rediscovered what it is I love some much about doing portraits..........

And that would make a great workshop....

Thanks very much to Bill's students for helping guide me.  I think we all had a good experience.