Unexpected Career Change

I started this blog last week and have done two post so far. I wanted to document the technical and creative problems I’ve faced on a weekly basis as Senior Photographer for Travel for Southern Living Magazine for the last 24 years. Sadly, those first two post last week were from my last two shoots for the magazine as a staffer. Further cuts across parent company Time Inc came down to my level and our photo department was hit hard. It’s a shame but buying photos or even getting free images is a lot cheaper than staff and we were easy to cut. It’s the time’s we live in.

This morning I woke up unemployed for the first time since three weeks in the summer of 1974. I’ve made my living photographing. I’ve made a career out of something I love, something that satisfies me as no other activity can.

So the direction of this blog obviously has to change. Now I hope to keep it going as a document of my search for new directions, new outlets for my creative work. I’m without any clue how to bid a job, bill a job, what day-rates are, who’s buying or even what I want to pursue with my camera. I don’t even own my cameras.

What I do have is talent, energy, curiosity and creativity. Fortunately all that is portable. I also do have a good reputation with the many people I’ve been fortunate to work with and a lot of good and talented friends. I’ve developed a quality look and style of work shooting food, drinks, people, lifestyle activities, shopping and architecture…all the elements of good travel stories. Because what is Travel but where to stay, where to play, where to eat and where to shop. Within that arena you’ll find my work.Image, Ann Savoy-Louisiana Musician at home.

I’m frightened by the unknowables and anxious to move forward. But another part of my brain is telling me to take a short break, try not to panic and jump too fast.

I need a website, I need to organize my contacts. I need most of all to rest a little after spending half of every year for 24 years on the road in hotels, airports and rental cars. I need to spend time walking the dogs.

I have a chance to offer a fairly unique blog with this sudden life change and I hope I can keep it going. I hope you’ll follow me and check back occasionally. And if you have any photographic needs I hope you’ll let me know too.

Please share your thoughts with me.


25 thoughts on “Unexpected Career Change

  1. Photography skills like you have, as with art in general, isn’t owned by anyone anyway Art. I predict, once you step back and look down the road, your future will be brighter than your past. I for one am looking forward to seeing your work unrestrained and from your eye. Thanks for what you do, and hope to see you back in the Fayetteville hills when we all “reconvene”. Hal

  2. Art, I’m terribly sad that you’ll no longer be at Southern Living. However, I can’t even count how many times I’ve wanted to buy one of your prints (especially of our fair city!), and you’ve told me that the magazine owns them. Your eye, perspective, talent, and vision can now be shared beyond the pages of the magazine and can enter into our homes (or my main hallway, where I plan to frame an Art Original when they become available). You’ve always been a great person to work with, and that will come back to you 100 times over now.

  3. First, get yourself a good accountant and ask her/him whether you should incorporate as Subchapter S, LLC or some other method. Don’t rush out and lease some expensive office space. I’ve operated out of a home office for 14 years and have done fine with that. You have an incredibly vast network of people you’ve worked with/for for 20 years. Start working that network. Find what colleagues in your circle charge for various tasks. Don’t price yourself out of the market right off the bat. You can always increase your fees later. Get up EVERY day and look for work just as though you were reporting to your old job. This layoff stuff happened to a whole building full of us in October of 1991, and most of us are doing fine 21 years later. You will too.

    • Paul is right. Don’t panic – your talent and contacts will carry you through. So sad to hear of the layoffs, several of my friends lost their positions within the company. We’ll have to get together and talk soon about work. Breathe. 🙂

  4. So many beautiful images to capture in Louisiana! I am a Southern Living reader and always enjoyed the photography. I look forward to keeping up with your blog!

  5. Ditto what Hal said. Annie and Henry need the extra loving and they will keep you sane. Nothing better for healing than a good dog, and you’ve got two. Love you, Dude!;

  6. Art-Been through this myself and while it’s not easy, it does get better and really opens the door to something new. Love the idea of the blog and look forward to reading it on a regular basis.

  7. Art, Paul Johnson’s given you some good advice – accounting info is critical – and keeping track of every cent you spend on a job; a lot of freelancers aren’t making any money but they don’t realize it because they are doing the accounting. I’ve run my own business twice in the past and cannot think of anything more important than knowing what you MUST charge to make the job worthwhile when you’re bidding.
    Walk Henry and Annie and let them renew your spirit for a few weeks before you do anything. I will support you in any way I can.

  8. Hi Art, Give yourself some time to process all that has happened. Know that all the good work and good will you have generated during the course of your stellar career will serve you well in the weeks and months ahead.

  9. Take a deep breath. Life has sent you in this direction for a reason. Your life is going to take you in directions you never expected, take you to places you have never explored and fulfill you in ways never ever imagined. For instance, head West and find a beauty that rivals our beloved South. And have NO REGRETS!

  10. First, time to breathe a bit. Even a restless spirit like yours needs a break every once in a while! Then, when its time to get organized, I’d love to be a resource. Getting to see your slideshow of images for the upcoming speaking engagement was the high point of my week.

    • Chris, I will probably lean on your skills, and soon. I’ll try not to be a pest but if I get the best I’m going to.
      Making decisions on web design coming up. Fonts ? Colors? Logo? Hmmmm?

  11. Hey Art, sorry to hear the cuts caught up with you. The saddest part is where you say the photo dept. was easy to cut.

    Everyone is a photographer, yet very few actually know how to use their cameras to create a photograph.

    That opens new opportunities for those that know how to use a camera to teach others. Give some thought to leading workshops and/or teaching photo classes through a university adult-ed department. If you enjoy teaching the experience is rewarding, and there’s demand from people who spent a bundle on new cameras that they have no idea how to use.

    Tim Farmer
    (the PR guy at the State Arboretum of Virginia)

  12. Art, I feel your pain brother.

    I found myself unexpectedly a full-time freelancer about 3 years ago after 25 years as Senior Art Director / Designer and Photographer for Little Rock ad agencies. In the morning, I was working on the personal photo library of the agency owner — helping him organize and get set up for his mission trip (I was “family”), and that afternoon I was being escorted out with my boxes (13 years of awards and junk). The agency had bought another agency and apparently old fart art directors are easy to cut too.

    I have been through all the steps you are going through, reorganized my contacts several times, and have regular payment parties with the sales tax division set up.

    So I say all that to say it will get easier and your fun will increase after about a year — and that you can always bounce questions in my direction! Thank you for helping me settle on equipment as I was buying mine.

    • Thanks Mark, And thanks for sharing your story. Everyone says it’s better out there but it’s a bit unnerving too. I look forward to however it works out making a living on my own. Next time in the area I’ll give you a shout.

    • Hey Mark, How’s tricks in lovely Arkansas? I keep up with your posts.
      Been getting some work here and there, two bigger jobs and a fair number of smaller ones. Could always wish for more but glad to have something.
      Just got a request for a job for a book cover shot for Rodale Press. I have no clue how to bid a job like that. Ever done anything like that?

      I’d like to get the job but haven’t a clue about how they operate or budget. Personally I’d like to have an assistant to help in addition to hotel, miles etc and whatever rate they have.
      any thoughts?

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