Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Success and Disappointment in 2015 | Calgary Adventure Photographer

Not too many entries for this year but that is to be expected. There was a lot going on this year and even with a new and smaller client-base, still much to do to make the business run right.

I know the title of this blog sounds strange and maybe a little negative but I want to stress the difference between failure and disappointment. I don't consider failure the opposite of success as it really is just a learning tool on the way to success. And there were one or two events that really were disappointing and changed the direction in my business. Learning tool....indeed.

I am not going to go into great detail here but I would like to share some images and events that were a high point during the year. The first would be some of my clients and people who have trusted me and essentially kept us busy throughout the year.

The Silver Willow Sporting Club in Carstairs have been amazing to work with. Not only do they desire a high level of excellence in everything they do but they also understand the value of a job done well. I was so fortunate to work with them regularly and continually inspired by the way they run their business and focus on their clients.

Marketing assets for the Willow

LPI Group in Calgary is the agency I work with most often, and although it was a little slower this year, it was really cool to see my work from last year show up in a number of places. It takes some time for images to get out there in major campaigns and this spring I started to see assets from the Riviera and Southfork jobs showing up on bill-boards, wraps and other mass-media. My account manager and some of the creatives have been great to work with and I am looking forward to more cool projects this year.

A large wrap seen at Eighth Ave Place in Calgary

The Gull Lake Center is a Christian leadership camp on the shores of Gull Lake and for the last 3-4 years I have been covering their annual adventure race and in the summer generating marketing assets for the camp. Steve Roadhouse and the crew have been so fun to work for and they are great to just let me be creative and run with their projects. The center is a world-class facility and I am honored to be working with them from year to year.

Assets for GLC

Steve Roadhouse at the start of this years Race

Genesis Air is a relatively new client and the work was challenging but this is another company that inspires me with the way they run their business and care for their employees. Relationships are important to me and clearly the Genesis family put a lot of energy into relationships. 

Assets for Genesis Air

AirdrieLIFE Magazine is just one of the dozen publications I work for but they need a special mention. For the last 5 years Sherry and Anne have put a lot of faith in my writing and photography and generally give me creative carte-blanche on local assignments. It is awesome to be identified with this beautiful magazine and those who produce it.

Heroes Series for Winter Issue

I mentioned there are other magazines I work for but part of the reason for that is a great relationship with the well known and brilliant story teller from Calgary, Greg Williams. Working with Greg allows me to continue to be creative with editorial work and through this process I continue to meet the most interesting people. This year I was able to produce a two-part series of images on a motorcycle shop and family in Southern Alberta and see it published in a national publication.

Motorrad photographed for Cycle Canada

Another great success for this year was finding out I had been nominated for the Alberta Magazine Awards by Westworld Magazine and eventually won gold in my category. It has been a pleasure working for David Claydon (my editor) for the last 2 years and I hope that continues in the future.

Winning image at the AMPA awards 2015

These are a few of the highlights of success from my year in the business of photography but certainly not the only ones. I could never have made it through the year without those who considered my work, partnered with me or just support what I do in general. People like:

Derek Pauletto, Teria Penner, Olivier DuTre, Paul & Meg Zizka, Stefan Dalberg, Blaze Energy, Crowfoot Media, Alanah Jensen, Ride Stop N Go, Spirit West, Raf Andronowski, Matt Ford, Marty Lawrence, Cobi Kristianson, R&A Jones, Clayton Doucette, Tillemans, Deb Verbonac (AdFarm), Richie Klassen, Corrie Brewster, Darryl Jensen, Kevin Brown, Dean Owen....and the list goes on.

And now the disappointments. I'm not going to put too much energy into this one but there are a few things I should mention. First of all I found this year that I just can't take any work. Just like a client looking for the right photographer, sometimes as a business owner you need to take the right clients. Being in a business that is based on creativity you find out quickly that not every client is right for you. The worst part is when you find this out after a job has been started. With the economic downturn and O&G companies scattering this fall, it became easy to see where loyalties and values sit with this once great market. 

I actually found myself trying to educate million dollar companies on the value of photography when they were asking for a reduction in fees in the area of 95%. Yes, companies that have revenues in the millions wanting services as low as $20/ headshot for professional corporate photography. I am not in the business of failing at business so I turned down a lot of this kind of work. It may just not be what I am passionate about anyway and if I am going to do this as a business it should be work that doesn't reduce the value of what I love to do.

Another great disappointment for the year was a relationship I had tried to build with a luxury sports car sales company. I spent months proving to them that I was a professional and could put their business in high priority for service work. Unfortunately after months of working for them it was clear that they place no value in quality photography, relationships or trust.

It's no secret that there are bad clients and business that just does not go the way you expected. It's just the nature of a creative business and dealing with people and personalities. I don't take anything personal and very ok with learning from these situations. I am excited about the direction the business is headed this year and the cool stuff I'll be working on with my great client-base. Thank you for continuing to support what I do, for the critiques, for the great relationships and work. See you all in 2016.