I love the above quote from Me”shell Ndegeocello’s GOD.FEAR.MONEY, as it strikes upon the fact that money drives more than we want it to.
This blog is about the adventure of starting my own business as a photographer; writing about both the positive successes and the challenges faced when endeavouring to become a successful artist. Therefore, I wanted to write about the biggest step to consider in any business: the money. In the past six months I have been running like a mad man trying to keep up with the unexpected expansion and opportunities, trying to get my website running, to purchase the best equipment for my studio and to learn all that I could about the art of photography. It has been hard work, but the kind of work that leaves you feeling good about working late into the night after already working a full day.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have a rare two week window where things are quiet – no travel, no work – when I can reflect on my goals and what I need to address with the business. Frankly, it has been a little nerve-wracking, as I have had to make the decision about committing to my business plan or rationalizing this as a fun experiment. It has taught me a lot about money and just how much a person can accomplish by sheer willpower, but that at some point willpower is not enough and planning becomes essential.
Why nerve-wracking? It is the time to consider talking to the bank about financing my start-up costs with a personal loan. For the past six months I have been able to just balance cash flow against the costs of my start-up by using a line of credit and credit cards, but now that no longer makes any sense because of long-term interest rates and the need to be able leverage cash for when I might need to finance a series of big jobs. My decision has been about whether I believed in myself enough to commit to this business for the next two years and structure a loan around that or to call it quits; it has been about whether to make this more real and permanent.
It has been frightening. There are so many what ifs? and feelings of doubt that are attached to speaking to a bank. As your financial reality is laid out “like a patient etherized upon a table”, a person cannot help but feel like he has to justify every little glass of wine or pair of socks. Did you really need to see Cirque du Soleil last week, Mr. Chandler? I see that you took your mother to Paris? Hmmmm, what are these Profoto lights for and how do they fit into your business plan? It is so hard to remember that those doubtful voices from one’s past, that the naysayers, might be wrong about the futility of chasing your dream. It is hard to believe in the dream, when there are so many people who want to call it a nightmare. At the same time, I have done very to make money at this, and I have done equally well to accept that it would also cost me money to start the momentum.
Anyway, after two sleepless nights I have decided to be brave, to go forward and finish what I started; the loan was secured at a very favourable interest rate and I will sign on the dotted line tomorrow. I have decided that I believe in dreams enough to risk for them to become nightmares. Wish me luck!
How does this all fit into the art of photography? I hate to talk money, but without it to finance the cameras, the lights, the backgrounds, the support stands and the travel there is no photography. Maybe the greatest struggle for an artist is to be able to turn their imagination into a secure source of income – Rembrandt, VanGogh ended much differently than Titian or Raphael. In my case, I now have the tools to make a real start with Anthony N. Chandler Photography, and now it will be up to me to make it fly straight. I can do it, I know I can.
As for the art…the new Chasing Light prints of Paris are hot off the press and look spectacular. I have printed one set on Hahnemuhle Sugar Cane paper, put them in 11×14 mattes with an 8×10 window. While the final production costs need to be tallied, it is looking like I can provide these for between $30-40 per matted image. The photos from Japan will also be printed on Hahnemuhle paper, but this time it will be on their Bamboo paper and in colour. The plan is to release these at a cocktail party/exhibition in September after my return from Japan. However, if you want to secure a specific number in the series (these will be limited editions of 50 per image), then feel free to email in the next few weeks.