At various times in my photography career I have had up to five people working for me. A small number of employees compared to the number of staff members of many other photographers, but certainly a handful for me! I remain firmly convinced that having the right employees can make your business way more efficient and profitable, and having the wrong employees can really drag you down. One question you need to answer before you grow your business staff is whether it will suit the life you want to lead.
Large Staffs, Part Time Employees, and Pressure
I know of several photographers who have large staffs, produce wonderful work in vast quantities, haul in huge dollars and feel like they are slaves to their operations. One such stock shooter, who has over a dozen staff members, remarked to me how much he envied my trips abroad to shoot stock. I suggested he embark on such a trip. He said he couldn’t, his huge studio expenses would continue whether he was there or not, so he had to be there to keep producing. I'm sure not everyone feels that way, but it is a feeling I certainly understand. Whenever I have had full-time, or heck, even part time employees, I have felt pressure to keep them busy and productive.
Routine Tasks And Freedom
Right now I have no one working for me. It feels great! The downside is that I have to do things I don't necessarily want to, like entering metadata, running to the store to buy printer ink (I just got back), and taking care of all the routine tasks that I consider myself too important to do. Oh well…. It also means that I won't make quite as much money. Sure, there is no salary to pay, but I have always found that employees have earned me more than they have cost me…at least in terms of dollars. But at this point in my life I value my freedom more than I do those extra dollars.
A One Man Band And A Network Of Thousands
The trade-off? I have to be that proverbial One Man Band. Of course, I do avail myself of independent contractors. I have a bookkeeper that comes in every couple of months to untangle my latest Quickbooks mess, my web master (actually my twin brother) who handles the heaviest SEO load, and the occasional assistant as needed. But more importantly, I have a network of thousands (OK, maybe hundreds…but whose counting?) I can turn to when I need help, pretty much anywhere in the world. I have this network of friends and from photographer forums, from helping others and sharing information whenever I can. One of the most amazing things about this new fangled Internet is all of the help that is out their waiting for all of us. I guess none of us really has to be a one man band anymore.