2010 And 4 Lessons About Plans

This is kinda my concluding post for 2010. It is not a DIY tutorial in the usual sense, so if you’re here for the lighting/carpentry lessons feel free to wait to the next post which will pick the best 5 tuts and projects from this last year. This post is going to be about my biggest lesson from 2010 – a lesson about plans. (And a bit of foresight into 2011).

Lesson 1: Why you need a plan!

If you are going to take on something big, a plan is a very good idea. Things may look very threatening when you want to make a big move and not knowing what to do next can be paralyzing.

At the end of last year, I decided to leave my job as project manager at Texas Instruments and become a free lance commercial photographer. Talk about big moves, with two kids, a wife and a recently built house, it was not an easy decision. In fact it seemed nearly impossible to feed us all while quitting the “golden cuffs” of the hi-tech industry.

To make sure none of us starved (though a mild diet would certainly do good to the writer of this post), I needed to come up with a plan.

Basically, each of my plans has three parts: A goal (or a target), a time frame, and an action. Sometimes a budget. Most plans would look kinda like this: I want to become a freelance commercial photographer, by taking on 2 assignments a week until mid-end 2010. That was the plan in the wide strokes. I had a smaller plan on how to get to the 2 assignments a week which included marketing, a list of potential customers and a few commitments from other customers.

I also had plans on how to improve DIYP during this time, and keep working on the bokeh masters kit.

Lesson 2: Life does not always follow your plan

OK, so you have a plan, it is broken to sub plans and now you want to execute. If your plans are solid this should be a breeze, right? wrong.

  • Unexpected things may happen that will shift your focus.
  • Certain things that you assumed will happen may not happen.
  • People that you were sure were in on something may back away if things changed for them
  • Certain tasks may take longer than you thought
  • and all the other things that the universe may throw on you

Very few customers from my potential list were actually willing to meet and discuss. I worked with some of the committed clients, some backed off.

I learned how competitive the market was, and did get more than one customer telling me: “yea I know we agreed on pricing for this magazine shoot, but that guy would do it for 150$ a day which is soooo much cheaper, so we are going to go with him”. I did not re-bid.

So I took on a few assignments, way – way less than two a week. Now, I know that marketing is a big part of being a commercial photographer, and that things may take time to pick up, but it started to dawn on me that I am not sure I enjoy this as a bundle.

Lesson 3: Sometimes it is best to embrace change

OK, so the plan failed. There are two options to go from here: re-iterate your plans, find out what was good, what went wrong, and come up with a new plan to achieve the same targets that were on the initial plan. The other option – which worked better for me – is to take a pause, examine the current situation and then make a decision.

I did not become a commercial photographer by Dec 28th 2010. My plan failed.

As my career as a freelance commercial photographer slowly went away, a few other things started to happen.

My friends who knew I am a “Photographer” now, started providing me with family shooting jobs, maternity shooting jobs, kids shooting jobs and so on. I actually find that the close interaction with people and especially with kids was a great fun and produced satisfying results that I was re-hired and recommended. Bye-bye commercial photographer, welcome family photographer (and I don’t mean my family :).

The bokeh kit really started to sell well, and I felt a huge pressure for providing more kits. More about that soon.

A book to match the site, which I always wanted to write got in works and shipped.

So yea, my plan failed, but lots of other wonderful and amazing things happened.

Lesson 4: Need new plans

As I said in the previous part, if a plan fails, it is a good time to take a decision: rework a plan for the same goal, or make a new plan with new goals.

I took the latter path.

So here are the goal for 2011 (and a plan, of course, in on the way)

  • Photographing people still remains a goal for 2011. I enjoy those little moments with family and kids. Meeting lots of new friends and expressing myself with photography. Will have a post about that later next year. 
  • DIYP has (and still is) a place where great fun is to be had. The community behind it is great and meeting new friends, discussing the geeky side of photography and coming up with garage projects is definitely on the target list for next year. Expect more awesomeness.
  • I bought a new domain: DIY-LIGHTING-KITS.COM
    which would be populated soon. Working on those kits is taking a huge
    portion of my time and I am having a ton of fun in the process. The challenge of meeting a kit pricepoint with superb quality is fun both engineering wise and photography-wise
  • The Bokeh Masters Kit really took off his year, and a new kit is in the plans for 2011 (dates will follow soon).

Thank you for a great 2010, looking forward for an even bigger 2011