TRAVEL HERE: PHOTOGRAPHY AS LIVELIHOOD
I would apologize for failing to post last week, except that it is kind of part of the story. See, I’ve gotten to the part of our photography story where I tell you how Bill and I morphed into Spot On Images. These first two months of 2019 have been so busy for us professionally, that some of my personal pursuits fell to the wayside, including the Travel Talk blog. Today, I’m catching up.
How There Came to be a Spot On Images
Like a tree with deep roots, Spot On Images grew out of fertile ground. When someone asks how Spot On Images got started, I’m tempted to ask which version they want to hear! Actually there is only one version, but it has several chapters.
Spot On Images grew out of our real estate experiences in California. Back then, some brokerages still hadn’t embraced the online version of the MLS. They still had hard copy MLS books in their offices, but they were the dinosaurs. Some agents still didn’t know how to input their own listings, but I got it immediately. At first, we hired professional photographers to shoot our properties, but soon we figured out we had a secret weapon on our team. Bill could take better pictures than the pros. Combining his pictures with my prose was a winning ticket. While many agents settled for a single exterior shot and descriptions that read something like this: 3/2/2 in Grover Beach, partial ocean view, near elementary school; Bill and I were filling every empty slot in the photo carousel (About 11 pictures back then – It’s more like 35 now.) and writing mini-novels as descriptions – and it was working.
The only problem was, neither of us really liked selling real estate. I was making a killing at it before the bubble, but it didn’t feel as if I was doing what I was made to do. Long story short, Bill went to Iraq to be an interpreter for the Army and I moved back to Dallas to be near my parents, who were facing health challenges. In Dallas, I went back to school and the career thing was put on the back burner. Spot On Images wasn’t even a possibility we had entertained at that point, but whenever we inventoried our skill sets, to see what we might turn into a business, the same things kept coming up: real estate, marketing, photography, writing, business consulting and the internet. We just couldn’t figure out how that was a business.
Spot On Images also grew out of Bill’s love for photography and real estate. While somewhat related to the story above, this story begins when Bill was in his twenties and took an interest in photography. He took lessons, joined photography clubs, read magazines, bought equipment and all that other stuff photobuffs do. Though he pursued other things professionally, taking photos, learning about taking photos, taking video, learning about taking video and buying equipment was one of his primary preoccupations, along with real estate and making money.
Fast forward to a few years ago. A friend of ours in the real estate photography business decides to move closer to family for health reasons. Bill offers to buy the friend’s business, but instead the friend chooses to supplement Bill’s already impressive photography skills with some specific training in the real estate photography business, for free. Bill buys new photography equipment better suited to real estate and spends several months developing his particular style of real estate photography. He also buys a drone and gets his commercial drone pilot license. Along the way, he convinces Jane to quit doing marketing, social media and blogging for someone else and put it to work for the family business.
A Synthesis of Versions.
Of course, neither of those versions cancels out the possibility of the other and there is still another version, which might also have some truth to it. A neighbor claims Bill was in a conversation where her husband was trying to convince another guy to start a real estate photography business. Bill says he doesn’t remember being in that conversation, but who knows, maybe he just forgot and it influenced him to offer to buy our friend’s business.
Whatever the case, when Spot On Images started, it was mostly Bill’s thing. I helped with the website and did some cold-calling for him, but I had other fish to fry. Then suddenly he got so busy that he needed me to start processing the photos for him and I supplemented our cold calling by attending MLS meetings. I kept taking on Spot On Images responsibilities and one day I woke up and realized I was working full-time for Spot On Images. I put in more hours than our photographer does. How did that happen?
Now Spot On Images is an us thing. Bill does his things and I do my things. We’ve got great synergy and amazing clients which make work seem more like fun. And our skill sets, real estate, marketing, photography, writing, business consulting and the internet – well somehow all of those things play an important role in the work we do for our clients on both the photography side and the marketing side.
So that’s how I got from taking photos with an Instamatic camera and putting the snapshots into adhesive photo albums to being co-owner of a photography and marketing business. The roads I take never seem to be straight ones, but I seem to like where I end up. More and more of my work seems to be on social media and it’s a demanding medium, eating up posts almost as fast as I can create them. So, as has happened in other seasons, I may be a little unreliable over here on my personal travel blog. For at least for a little while, you can continue to enjoy my trip to Cancun and Chichen Itza, because I have Wednesday posts written through May for that adventure. And as usual, things will settle down and I’ll find a way to keep the blog going. so don’t you go anywhere. Travel talk will continue!