Personal – Back to College, Full Circle

Sunday already?  It’s weird for me putting my personal stuff out here this publicly.  I do on my personal Facebook page, but here, here it makes me feel vulnerable.

I’ve been involved in the photography industry for nearly 17 years.  The first year, I worked for another photographer.  The following years, I played with my own photography on and off, and  it became more a part of my life until close to 10 years ago, after my kids were in school, I decided to make it my full-time business.

The photography industry is kind of a scary place.  If you are not a part of it, you probably have not seen what many of us have seen.  I’ll be honest, there is a lot of absolutely crazy things going on in this industry, from many not operating legitimate tax-paying businesses, holding no liability insurance at all, and completely undercutting and undermining those who are out to support our families to the bizarre national touring circuits sometimes even with photographers who have never run a successful business, but are teaching how to run a successful business.  Seems everyone is out to make a quick buck, which has done a lot of damage to the photography industry, and to those who have established businesses or studios for years, but I digress, that *IS* the American way, right?  Unfortunately, photographers are devouring each other, leaving nothing in their wake.

I will continue to believe, whether that is naive of me or not, that the cream will always rise to the top 🙂   It just has to.

That said, I am very happy with my business.  I’m thankful for my amazing clients, and am glad that this business has helped to support my family all these years…. but something that I firmly believe is you should never have all your eggs in one basket.  Right now, all my “eggs” are in the photography/art basket.  Photography is a luxury service.  It is not a necessary service.  Taxes are being raised, jobs are being cut all over the U.S., which means disposable income is getting less and less.   I can say I have not felt it hit my business that hard, but who is to say it can’t?   But wait, is it really the economy?  Consumers are still buying luxury cars and $800 I-phones, I-pads, you name it, all continue to be purchased and are in high demand.  These items will be obsolete and need to be re-purchased as technology changes, but yet there are pockets of consumers that feel beautiful timeless memories as artwork is not worth even as much as an I-phone because my own kind, photographers, are leading that devaluing campaign….. and as photographers continue on their feeding frenzy, who is to say this industry will not eventually crumble?    I’m a mixture of artistic brain and practical brain, and it doesn’t sit well with me to only have an art basket and not a practical basket to put my “eggs” in.

I made a decision this year to go back to college to get my Bachelor’s Degree in business/finance/accounting.   I felt like that will give me some options to maintain a practical basket in case anything should upset the art basket.   I want to back up in time for a moment —- this is exactly what I was going for in college 18 years ago, but as I sat in my Accounting 101 class looking down at the newly-acquired engagement ring shining so beautifully on my finger, when the class ended, I got up, walked out, and never returned.  On one hand, I wish I would have finished my degree back then, but on the other, I don’t regret my marriage, my kids, and everything I have accomplished over the past 18 years.

How on earth am I going to get my degree while running my business full time?  Well, I’m putting in what I can, when I can.  It probably will take me more than four years to complete, but that’s okay.  I’m not in any rush, as I have a business to continue to run! 🙂

I know many are wondering – Do I plan to quit the photography business?  Not on your life!  I plan to continue with my business as long as I can, and hopefully will retire with my portrait studio.  One reason I want to do this is for self-fulfillment, but also, most of these classes being weighted in finance, business, and accounting, are all skills that will continue to help my photography business, so why not?  Continued education?  I could go and attend these oversaturated workshops of photographers touring the US that are not always legit…. or I could go to an actual accredited educational facility and earn a real degree….. that was a no-brainer for me.

So here we go, 18 years later, full circle….


About Jodie Otte

Maryland Newborn Photographer and Child Portrait Artist, Jodie Holstein-Otte, specializes in unique photography of newborn babies, kids, and families. She works on location in Harford, Howard, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other areas throughout Maryland. She uses both both natural lighting and soft studio lighting techniques.

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