From a 1964 product brochure: “Petite Princess Fantasy Furniture is hand crafted of satins, brocades, porcelain, brass, glass mirrors, and other fine materials. You will find soft, plush chairs and sofas, gilt-edged mirrors, dressers and cabinets with drawers and doors that really open and close. Everything you can dream of. Perfectly made, so you can play with it, collect it, and be the perfect Petite Princess.“
Why the nearest nursery is your best bet in the apocalypse
Every goddamn zombie movie released since 2003 really wants to be 28 Days Later and they make the same mistakes the leads of the OG Danny Boyle film. The survivors in 28DL were doomed from the start. They stocked up on sugar and painkillers for food which is a reasonable strategy for about two weeks. What about protein? Vitamins? Where the hell are they getting theirs chugging Sprite and Sunkist?
They should have been raiding nurseries and agri shops instead of vending machines and pharmacies. Here’s why:
1. Your standard plant nursery is a Mecca of food production information. There are brochures and info packets and almanacs by the hundred in a plant nursery. Everything you need to know about creating your own food supply within weeks is all there. In 28 days, if the survivors had gotten the hell out of the metropoles and into the suburbs with lawns, they could have grown their own supply of green beans, lettuce and other short crops with some basic shit from the store.
2. Every seed that can be propagated in your locale is in most local nurseries. Whatever the local soil is friendly to, a nursery has. One could realistically leave an agri store with less than a pound of seedstock and turn it into over a hundred pounds of food within a couple of months with the info available in the same store.
3. Do you have any idea how many weapons you can get in an agri shop? Every kind of blade you could want is there. Plus shovels, mallets, axes, picks, crowbars and, if you’re lucky, hunting rifles with ammo. Not to mention that you can build a bomb with NPK and detergent.
4. A lot of those seeds are edible. Now, the seeds that come in non-food packets, NEVER EAT THOSE. They’re coated with protectants. However, most agri shops have edible seeds around if they buy from local farmers. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds are a great bet.
5. Fuel. You’ll need it, they have it. Agri shops carry fuel for power tools and heavy machinery as well. Get a diesel vehicle, hit up the local agri shop and outlive the dumbass who took an SUV.
6. You can make a fucking suit of lightweight armor in an agri shop that carries PPE. Head protection? Check. Thick gloves that pass your elbow? Definitely. Heavy boots? Sure. A lightweight, full body piece of clothing that can be modified to protect from bites anywhere? Bet your ass it’s there.
7. All the chemicals. You’d be surprised at the array of flammables, detergents, poisons and purifiers that are kept in stock at a nursery. If you need to build a bomb or clean your drinking water, they can help.
8. There’s a good chance you’ll find a heavy duty vehicle on the compound. Pickup trucks, Jeeps and trailers are some of the useful vehicles one may run into at a nursery. The hundreds of pounds of supplies they stock have to be carried in something.
9. There’s at least three different kinds of map in an agri shop. Plant nursery owners know every back road and dirt trail that leads to a farm near you. You could use that info. It will probably save your life.
10. A big enough nursery has a house attached and it’s probably very, very secure. That house probably can’t even be seen from the road and has a excellent water supply and infrastructure. Backup generators (yes, multiple) are present in any large nursery dealing in ornamentals. An ornamental plant nursery is a profitable business but it hangs on having an extremely reliable micro-infrastructure. No hiccups in supply allowed.
As I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what it means to be a “professional photographer” today. I have done my best to distil some of those thoughts (for what they are worth) below.
1. Freelancing is hard. It doesn’t matter how many blogs you read or how many systems you have in place, the bottom line is “winning new clients who pay a fair fee is difficult.” How do you go about winning those new clients in the first place? Is the best route to assist first? How many clients do you need to have to survive? These are only a sample of the concerns that you will be rubbing against on a daily basis if you are committed to commercial photography full time. You just have to get used to the constant evaluation and re-evaluation process that you will be putting yourself through as you try and stay on top of whether you are going about running your business as well as you can. And you do need to do it — this is a fast-paced market so standing still is not an option.
2. Personal work drives (some) commercial success. If you take a look around the vastness of the internet and have a modicum of interest in what your peers are doing, the good ones or shall I say, the successful ones, usually have a good body of personal work (not always but usually).
3. What is commercial photography anyhow ? Ah, the question that many great philosophers have pondered over for centuries is a tricky one. Google tells me: “in a nutshell, commercial photography means taking photos forcommercial use. And by commercial we mean for business, for sales, for money. Commercial photography is often associated with advertisements, sales pitches, brochures, product placements as well as merchandising.” So if you’re getting paid for it, it’s commercial.
4. What you don’t show is sometimes more important than what you do show. You’ll get lots of jobs (hopefully) — from photographing untrained cats and people throwing cakes at themselves all the way through to some decent advertising work. The thing is though, it doesn’t matter how happy the cake picture makes you, if it doesn’t fit into your portfolio then it doesn’t fit. Getting a clean, cohesive set of pictures together is a difficult but important thing to do. And “no” you can’t have pictures of weddings, cars, parrots, portraits of grandma, water droplet shots and slow exposure of your dog running around the garden all mixed together and call it a “Clean Portfolio”.
5. Social Media is a full time job. So you are really good at putting 3 photos a year on instragram and you’ve mastered MSN messenger. However, social media takes a lot of hard work. You have to be responsive and get excited when you get 11 likes on a post. I’m not sure how much any of it matters in the grand scheme of things but if you do have a nasty argument with the wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/pet of your choice then getting a few extra likes is a sure fire way to make you feel better about yourself.
6. Admin, Admin, Admin. I’m sure you’ve read or heard some wise photo owl tell you that only 20% of your time will you be taking pictures, the other 80% is spent on admin. Well, let me dispel that rumour for you right here, right now. I’d say (and I appreciate this will this vary from person to person) it’s more like:
18% — Sorting images
10% — Social Media (chasing the “like” train).
20% — Sales
20% — Heavy procrastination
10% — Project ideas that will never happen
10% — Chasing people for money
10% — Tidy desk, tidy mind!
1% — Taking pictures
1% — Editing pictures
That being said, never underestimate the power of good admin. It is all too easy to turn the post-job warm and fuzzy client glow to dissatisfied rage with bad admin. If you are asked for some kind of follow up — deliver it. On time.
7. Working for free is sometimes ok. We’ve all had a call from a friend of a friend who just wants 3 pictures of himself in front of something unimportant. It turns out he has a staff of 20,and he wants portraits of each of them, a group portrait and for me to be to be as “creative” as possible. Sometimes working for free is a business decision and a lot of internet clever people will tell you it’s a bad idea. I don’t believe it’s as simple as that. IF (and that’s a big IF) you do work for free, there has to be some benefit for you. I mean, either through exposure or due to new connections. I’ve done lots of things for free and sometimes wished I hadn’t but now we’re a lot better at weeding out the good people from the ones wanting a permanently free ride. To summarise: there is no right or wrong answer to whether you should work for free but, if you do, make sure it works for you too.
8. Surround yourself with the most talented people you can find. Going it alone is really macho and can be wonderful for the ego but working as part of team (at times) can be better for the soul. As you grow, you’ll realise you need all sorts of people you didn’t even know existed when you started your career. Pick the ones who are really good at what they do and learn from them.
9. Learn as many skills along the way as you can. I’m one of those people who learns by doing, it is just the way I am. If I could speak to my school-age self now, I’d say “pick up a camera son” — avoid the 10+ years in IT. But, speaking frankly, when I was in school I never really got the learning thing. I found it incredibly hard to focus for too long. Photography is one of the areas that suits my brain perfectly in that it allows me to go off and investigate lots of random stuff. Since we started 10 years ago, we have had to master all sorts of ancillary things including video, editing, after effects, processing and photoshop. Be as curious as a 4 year old child.
10. Be nice. Ah the easy one — I used to have a primary school teacher called Mr Davies. He told me never to use the word “nice” as it doesn’t mean anything. I am afraid I have to take issue with him as I think “nice” means a lot. People like people, they like working with people who are either like them or ones that can get on with them, take the time to understand them and can have a laugh with them. There is no great science to this. It’s simply about making connections and then putting in some effort to keep them up. A little empathy goes a long way.
11. Chose your competitions wisely. There are lots of them who either want to take your money or steal your pictures. Choose wisely.
12. Insurance is your friend. I lose stuff, you lose stuff, we all lose stuff occasionally and everything in photography is expensive. Don’t be silly and not get any. End of.
13. Networking — old school style. If you want to get your business to grow then the simple truth is you have to go out and meet people, talk to people on the phone and engage in all sorts of weird human interaction that you thought only happened in the 80’s. Yes, email is wonderful but nothing beats a warm smile and a packet of salt & vinegar crisps… Get out there and meet as many people as possible.
14. Jack of all trades, master of none. Photography is huge, I mean like so big it’s hard to comprehend. All those people, taking all those pictures of all those different people and things. Focus on one area that you love and work as hard as you can to know it inside out. Make sure your portfolio is focused and don’t dilute your work by putting out images that aren’t relevant to what you do. I know I have made this point already but it is so fundamental I think it bears repetition.
15. Uncertainty is all part of the process. Sometimes, things aren’t going to go the way you expected them to go. You’ll go through some pretty long periods of doing nothing when you start out. Being able to handle that “quiet” time is really important and that’s when you have to dig deep, stay positive and get resourceful.
16. Word of mouth is important. Having other people tell other people about the really great job you did for them can be a really important part of your business. People do get lazy though so gently nudging them occasionally is OK too. However, remember that this phenomenon works both ways so if you do a poor job, you can be sure that it’ll get out there twice as fast than if you had done a stellar one. And, finally, remember to return the favour. If someone does a great job for you, tell people. That good turn will come back to you.
Oh and enjoy it. Everyone always ends these things with an exhortation to enjoy it. So here you go.
To help pay his college tuition, Joel Bomgar began working as a field network engineer for a Jackson, Mississippi-based systems integrator in 2002. When not in class, he could be found driving around the Jackson area in his 1979 Buick LeSabre providing IT support to local businesses. Often, the non-billable drive time took longer than the actual service calls. It didn’t take long for Joel to realize “there had to be a way” to spend less time driving in the Mississippi heat and more time solving his clients’ problems.
Unable to find an existing solution that would allow him to access and manage his customers’ computers over the internet, Joel decided to take matters into his own hands and develop his own technology. Although he was still working his way through college, Joel spent many late nights coding and eating pizza to develop a functional remote support solution. Leveraging the solution he quickly doubled the number of customers he could support and cut his rather uncomfortable drive time in half. The instant success led him to believe there might be a market for his creation, so he made up a product brochure, launched a static web site and waited.
Much to his surprise, his wait was short as he quickly began receiving calls and orders for the product. After making $24,000 in less than two months, Joel was convinced he had uncovered a significant market opportunity, but knew he could not capitalize on the opportunity alone. He soon enlisted the assistance of two friends and fellow Resident Assistants from school: Nathan McNeill and Patrick Norman - both of whom he knew were smart, hardworking, dedicated problem solvers.
During the next decade, Bomgar’s founding trio successfully led the company from a college campus project to an industry leader. They credit the success to a discipline of focus and a set of core values based in Biblical principles.
In May of 2014, TA Associates, one of the largest and most experienced global growth private equity firms, announced a majority investment in Bomgar. Today, Bomgar serves more than 9,500 leading companies from diverse industries around the world. Bomgar is recognized by industry analysts, professional associations and industry publications for its award-winning Enterprise Remote Support Solutions, which have fundamentally changed how companies around the world deliver remote technical support. Bomgar customers have dramatically reduced costs and improved remote support efficiency while driving customer satisfaction to new levels.
The brochure for the broadway production is finally updated featuring Hugh, Mary, Jeremy and the rest of the broadway cast (along with Sam and Kyle for the masquerade photo).
The fact that the brochure featuring Sierra is no longer in circulation is surprising to me because the broadway production once used a brochure for the better part of 4 years with photos of the London cast…