Another year hits the history books in a few short days. My oh my, it does go by fast now doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just a sign of my age. Seems to go faster every year!
So, what was the biggest event for me this year? One event has changed a lot……
Last Spring, after 5 years of torturous medical issues I had to remove a tooth that had been crowned and then root canaled back in New England. Actually, after my root canal at the start of 2005 my health went into the toilet. That began more than a year of regular doctor visits, mystery white counts, and a dismissive medical community that basically ignored me. The whole experience was no fun at all. As a guy who avoids doctors like the plague, being called a hypochondriac within the first month of seeking help was a downer! Finally, a year of seeking help yielded a weird diagnosis of an Eosinophillic disorder. I went on steroids to control inflammation in my gut, and I found out I was allergic to foods that I liked. Ugh!
Through the entire ordeal each physician I met was told (by me), “This all started with a root canal.” Nobody really paid attention to that until October of 09′ when my jaw inflamed like you wouldn’t believe and I found a competent oral surgeon here in Prescott (thanks Dr. Brimhall, you changed my life). The root canal in 05′ wasn’t done right. And I’d walked around with an infection in my head for 5 years. White counts and over reacting immune system explained. We tried a re-root canal which failed, but we’d finally identified the source of my strange blood work. Hey, it only took 5 years to get it addressed! 😉
Last Spring, 4 days after the extraction I finally really slept for the first time in 5 years. I didn’t know how exhausted I was until the issue was addressed. White count went normal within one week. Eosinophills dropped to normal within one week. Everything got very normal! And I ate chocolate for the first time in what seemed like forever.
There’s the biggest event of the year. Getting my health back. I have to say, I’m proud that I actually endured and survived an issue that left so long could have killed me.
What have I learned this year?
Plenty. There hasn’t been a year in my life where I haven’t learned something new. I hope that’s the same for you. We should always be learning! So, what have I added to my arsenal of knowledge?
- Last year’s resolution to learn more photographic techniques worked out well: My number one goal was to learn more about flash, photographing people, and adding a new service to my business. And after a year of cramming in way too much information I’ve gotten to the point where I am offering portrait work. How did I learn about this branch of photography? Well, I had a lot of help. Classes, tutorials, and DVDs played a huge role. And then going out and trying what I learned helped as well. But if you need to know what resources I’ve used, here’s the short list: KelbyTraining, Joe McNally, David Ziser, Zack Arias, Strobist, & Speedlighting. Both Zack Arias and Joe McNally’s training videos really took me a long way, so big thanks to both of them for being so willing to teach others!
- Equipment failures can sink a small business: This year I suffered two major equipment failures. The major failure occurred in the early summer when my HP Z3100 stopped printing on gloss. Let me tell you, nearly two months with a 50% crippled piece of equipment can sink a business. A second issue arose in November which left me wondering if I’d make it another month. Fortunately the Christmas rush and portrait sessions (good thing I spent the year learning) has put me back in the black.
- Composites are fun: The whole debate about editing and not editing images has been dead for me for quite a while. A compelling image is a compelling image. And clients want them. That’s all there is too it! Thanks to the guys with Sweet Nasty and Filabusta for letting me experiment with them! Next year will see more fun work!
- More time needs to be spent on the Northern Border: I’ve got to find more time to be up in the Vermillion Cliffs, the North Rim, the Grand Staircase, and any place else in the region that holds amazing sights! If I could spend a few months around Lake Powell and the surrounding area I would.
- Running a gallery and print shop doesn’t work so well: That’s the conclusion I’ve drawn this year. Working with painters on color matches is tough when you have to stop every 10 minutes to meet and greet folks walking through the gallery. And looking at my books I can safely say, the print business, workshops, and photography pays my bills. Being split is a disservice to the print clients as well as the gallery clients. So, early in 2011 some changes are going to occur. I’ll write more about that in the very near future. You know, in a post on what 2011 should bring!
- I don’t totally suck photographically: You know, it’s nice when you realize that you have in fact come along over the years. It’s been a long learning curve, but I think things improve with every shoot I do. And I find myself muttering “hack” under my breath a lot less lately! 🙂 Of course, I keep comparing myself to some amazing photographers I know, so the bar has been set pretty high!
- Retail space is not necessary in my line of work: This is a major conclusion I drew this year. A warehouse would do nicely. Paying a premium for a location isn’t necessary if you’re a print / photo shop. Especially if you’re a highly specialized print shop bent on making accurate color matches! Once again, more about this in the New Year post.
- Running a small business is harder than you might think: I knew this going in, but it’s been reinforced over and over again over the past two years. As I’ve seen businesses come and go downtown I’m still here. As I hear about other friends who’ve sunk small fortunes into their businesses only to lose everything, I know it’s tough. And in a down economy it’s even tougher. That’s not to discourage any entrepreneurs out there. Just keep in mind, starting up something from scratch is a labor of love. And if you don’t like what you’re doing you will have an even harder time!
- Without my friends I don’t know where I’d be: Let’s end the list on a big positive. The friendships and relationships I’ve forged since I relocated to Prescott have been invaluable. From Josh Gosell always pushing me to be a better photographer, to Chris Marzonie showing me landscapes that make me feel oh so inferior, to Bert Gildart and his constant encouragement, I have the fuel to keep working harder. Thanks guys! And then there are the non-photogs in my life. My friends over at the Art Store and Frame and I have been sending me a new set of clients. Those clients have helped keep my business chugging along. And they didn’t have to send me a single client. Thanks for sharing guys! Let’s not forget some of the new friends I’ve made this year. Through the workshops and classes I’ve met some great people, and we still chat regularly. I’ve found myself looking at clients as new friends and that’s a plus as well. Oh, and I can’t forget all the great painters who I get to do reproduction work for. Allison Kantor has sometimes kept my business going single handidly for two years now. Then there are the new additions like George & Marcia Molnar, Delores Chippone, Mike Whalen, Casey Fritz, Barbara K……..the list goes on and on. Oh, and I print for that guy Ian Russell too. 😉 I appreciate your confidence in the work I do for you! Thanks to all of you! You’ve helped to keep both me and my business going this year! I’m sure you will again next year too.
Well, there’s the short list. There’s more of course. There’s always more.
So, what will next year hold? Well, I’ll write about that soon. A number of changes are on the horizon, and hopefully they’ll all be for the best!