Friday, August 14, 2009

Enter... With Cameras

By Greg Tarr
BLB Guest Blogger

I'm approaching a month and a half of glorious unemployment and all I can tell you is that there's nothing glorious about it. I hate it. I hate the fact that every time I spend a dollar I get a sick, nervous feeling in my stomach. It has to end soon, but I'm not sure it will. So I'm taking that bull by the horns and deciding my own future. No one to depend on but myself.

A few days after realizing that the medical field wasn't for me, I had an idea pop into my head. "Why not make money taking pictures?" I thought to myself on a Sunday afternoon while driving back home from Subway. Gotta eat fresh, right? And more importantly, gotta eat often.

Photography is what I know. It's all I know. I've stopped wracking my brain trying to figure out what new path I could take. Let's just say I'm hiking in the same forest that I've been in the past 10 years, but trekking down a new trail. I have officially retired from the newspaper industry. The future isn't all that bright there.

Now, my new concentration of photography is going to be weddings. It's something I had feared shooting for years, but it's time to drop that fear. I was afraid of the pressure to capture moments that happen once in a lifetime. You only get one shot. But then I told myself that I've shot under pressure situations as a photojournalist and I've produced quality work when called upon.

I'm so excited to get started documenting weddings for a career. I will be shooting in a photojournalistic style, which has become very popular with brides the past few years. I'm looking forward to documenting the ceremonies without having to worry about posing photographs. It's what I love about photography.

That's my future and I think it's pretty darn sexy. Unfortunately the present is about as sexy as a bikini clad Rosie O'Donnell. I'm researching the field, trying to learn all about business plans before I write my own checks and decide what equipment I'll need. Although it's not a lot of fun right now, I know that it will all pay off at some point later. And it's what I love to do.

I just wish I had the gear now so I could start shooting immediately! I'm trying to be patient. But a man can show only so much patience when he's depending on Uncle Sam to pay the bills.

Greg Tarr previously worked as a staff photographer at the Observer-Reporter in Washington, Pa. The photo above - entitled Last Minute Prep - was shot by Tarr in May 2005. He can be reached by e-mail at


  1. Hey, patience isn't one of my virtues, either. But once a photog always a photog, right? I am still a little nervous about breaking news, but I tell myself the same things that you wrote about: If I can write everything else, I can write this.

    Good luck and God speed, my friend!

  2. Greg, I read your post a couple of weeks ago, but hesitated in responding. But, your post kept running back through my mind. Why? I don't know you at all, know very little about your situation, and don't know your worldview. But, I do know that you want to be a small business owner. It is in that regard that your posting kept rolling back through my mind.

    I have a real interest in entrepreneurship, and small business startups. I understand your desire to use your skills in a career, and understand your need to earn a living. After reading your post, I'm not sure I understand your interest in being a small business owner. This is the FIRST block that must be put into place for any business venture to succeed. I've seen so many business startups come and go. The reason is the initial plans were laid on a wrong foundation. Being a small business startup, you are the one, the only one, responsible for executing the plan. That includes not only the technical skills of doing a task (e.g. taking pictures at weddings, in this case), but also sales and marketing, accounting, collecting, managing time, customer relations, etc. Your intended business is unique in that you don't have repeat customers, but may have a great referral network for further business. I don't know enough about your situation to understand if you are ready for all the elements that comprise a startup. I'm not passing judgment, only making an observation.

    You've mentioned something about equipment, but have said nothing about a business plan. This very critical, and one so often overlooked. The interest can be diverted to "doing the work," that is, focusing on the task of the service (pun intended there). Far too many get derailed quickly into the task, and forget about the big picture of running a business.

    Your post again crossed my mind on Saturday. I often listen to WMNY on Saturday mornings, The American Entrepreneur. Ron Morris is the host of the 9:00 to 12:30 radio program, focused on business topics, especially entrepreneurship. His program is always available as a podcast at Talkshoe. He also has a web site with articles.

    One of his segments this past Saturday was an interview with a man from Carnegie Business Library. One of their topics to discuss was resources at the library, including business plans. These kinds of resources can be very valuable for many who have not traveled this route before. A plan is not necessarily needed for going to a bank for a loan, but provides a road map for how a business might proceed. It provides a checkpoint for milestones a few months, many months, a year or two, downstream.

    Here is a link for the audio. I think it is about 40-45 minutes long, and it does start slow (e.g. unrelated material).

    [Sorry, the link does not C&P]
    Use program ID (upper right corner): 139

    This will take you to the podcasts of The American Entrepreneur. The first podcast is the one of interest, 0:44 in length, interview with Jeff Fortescue (8/29). It is an mp3 audio file that can be downloaded, or listened directly from the site. The information may be of interest to you, maybe not. I'm not trying to impose, or stick my nose where it doesn't belong. But, I think there is some valuable information here regarding resources.

    I commend you for wanting to take this route. But so many take the business startup route for the wrong reason, or without sufficient understanding of what the route holds, and how to navigate. I wish you well.