I am not wealthy, nor am I anywhere near poverty. Though I have not always done the wisest things with my expendable cash, I do have some long range plans for investing.
When I started my first company, at the peak of the 80’s recession, I did not take home a pay check for the first 10 months. It wasn’t because the cash flow was weak. In those days clients always paid within 30 day. Our billing at the time exceeded our projections. Every dollar of profit was re-invested in equipment.
In those pre-digital days we weren’t dealing with computers or software, and we opted for basic large format cameras, studio monopods built by a machinist friend and used strobe systems, but we did invest in some of the finest lenses on the market.
Glass is an amazing element. Glass has been manufactured for human use since 12,000 BC. It is not a solid, not a gas, and not quite a liquid either. Generally, it is classified as a rigid liquid, or is it an amorphous solid? At the heart of our investment choice was quality. The parallel is your view through any Plexiglas, compared with crystal. For film photographers the bottom line on quality has always been driven by the lens choice.
Today, as we deal with digital technology, life has become a bit more complicated. While lens quality is still on the front line, the constant need for investing in computers, memory, software and storage is key to forward investing. I still shoot with lenses purchased in 1982. But I doubt that I could even count the number of computers that I have recycled since my first Performa. My outside computer consultant has rightfully recommended purchasing a new iMac every 3 years. Today’s low end iMac model is 4 times faster and 1/6th the price of my 3 year old Mac Pro.
Modern photography is proof of Moore’s Law:
The prediction by Gordon Moore (co-founder of the Intel Corporation) that the number of transistors on a microprocessor would double periodically (approximately every 18 months).*
I’m not suggesting on jumping on the latest releases of hardware or software. We all know that many things need more beta testing then release dates allow. I am a firm believer in growing with proven technology.
I am only slightly insulted when people talk to me about photo “toys”. The tools that I invest in are mandatory for the quality of the end results that I require. I’ve been on photo shoots when equipment fails, it’s frustrating and embarrassing. I don’t pack for a shoot with one camera, or one lens, why would I pack only one computer. It has always been about preparation, in and out of the studio. I like problem solving, not failure.
Anyone in business today had better have a plan for re-investing. Good corporate governance is more than gathering the right team for production, and more than payroll, it about investing in people, their knowledge and skills, and the tools to keep them efficient and able to deliver the quality that exceed client expectations. When the worker bees labor over the details, the person in the corner office can afford to miss a pay check (or three). It’s about commitment to quality and investing forward.