Tragic words if you are an over-the-road trucker. Fortunately I am not. The “semi” I refer to is followed by a hyphen and precedes the word “retired”.
It took a long time to reach this point, a lifetime of varied and sundry career choices but the last was absolutely the best. Despite a lack of experience in the field, I was hired by one of the nation’s premier child care photography companies and remained in their employ for just a few months short of twenty years.
Two decades spent in a career that was both emotionally and financially satisfying.
The only downside was that our company, a closely held family enterprise, was utterly devoid of any retirement program. However, being far more grasshopper than ant, that aspect never really bothered me.
As if often said, the only true constant in the universe is change. And if you are at the top of your game, change is seldom for the better.
My Willie Loman moment (ref: “Death of a Salesman”. Arthur Miller, 1949) came when the torch of upper management was passed to a new generation.
The meeting was short. “We are no longer going to use people in the capacity you occupy. We have something else in mind for you, an impossible to service area in West Podunk where you can earn enough to barely scrape by. The choice, of course, is yours to make.” Somewhere in the background you could hear echoes of John Lovitz saying “yeah, that’s the ticket.”
But within every negative there lurks positive striving to get out. I published a book, a how-to manual titled “Making Money in Child Care Photography”, sold a few copies and did some online consulting. When my wife retired we opened our own photography business and in the first year, with the help of a couple of world-class photographers, serviced over 200 accounts.
The following year we pared that down to a more manageable 125 and maintained that level for several years. But when we moved from the city to a remote area in the woods it was no longer convenient to service our accounts.
Rather than close “cold turkey”, we decided to simply stop making sales calls and photograph only those schools that called us. The predictable result was that the business would atrophy without having to refuse service to anyone.
It took three years but for the past couple of years that client list has stabilized at 2 accounts, one Spring and one in the Fall, hardly enough to support the continued use of the “semi”.
And now that the pesky “semi” is out of the way, I write.
I have absolutely no regrets for the time spent helping a large company grow even larger and no hard feelings for the way it ended. I even got a book, “Baby Pictures” (available at Amazon.com) out of the deal.
And, as I set about the task of updating social media to remove the “semi”, I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to all who were a part of one of the most interesting careers a person could hope for.
Buy a book and review it, if you feel so inclined. If not, that’s okay too. See ya down the road.