I first saw this a few weeks ago. Then I got an email that it had "launched," and since then, the industry has literally exploded over "ThePhotoSystem," from David Jay. There are photographers I know and respect on both sides of this issue. There are established photographers that are raving about it, and some that are screaming "SNAKE OIL!" The reality is, ThePhotoSystem isn't for those photographers - it's for new photographers. It's for photographers trying to start out right. And that's exactly why I think its so dangerous.
Let me say this - I'm not a DJ-hater. DJ is one of the sharpest marketers in our industry. This isn't a post about DJ. It's a post about ThePhotoSystem (TPS). Regardless of what I - or anyone - thinks of the individual steps, the idea that there are 10 easy steps to starting a photography business is a dangerous proposition. Why? Because 95% of small business fail.
Small businesses don't fail because they don't have enough friends. They don't fail because they don't smile enough. They don't fail because they aren't "mother-Theresa" enough. They fail because they aren't profitable. And most photographers aren't profitable because they don't understand business. In fact, The vast majority of photographers really treat their "business" as a hobby.
The danger to our industry is that TPS creates a false expectation for new photographers. Now, before you think that I'm some old-timer that is afraid of newbies coming in and taking over, let me remind you that you're reading a free site with a ton of FREE resources designed just for those who are starting, and want to start out right.
Here's why I think TPS is bad for photographers.
1. The biggest problem is that new photographers equate popularity with success.
The cult-like, status driven state of our industry leads photographers to believe that they should be like the "popular kids," without any respect to the actual success of their business. ThePhotoSystem is beautifully designed, and full of slick marketing - but low on content. That's exactly the problem with 95% of the educational materials available to photographers. So many new photographers flock to listen to the "popular" photographers, without any regard for whether or not they are truly "successful." Many have successfully built a platform with photographers, but if you really want to learn how to run your business - learn about business.
2. It disregards the product.
If all you do is sell your personality, and fail to deliver a quality product (your photography), you're basically a prostitute. The idea that the work you produce is less important than the friends you make is a tragedy. The real challenge - and what separates the best from the rest, is that the best can take a GREAT product and wrap it in an even better client experience. The very best have spent YEARS building their craft, and years getting better at photography. All the marketing and friends in the world won't make up for terrible photography. Sure, it might for a while - but eventually your friends will get sick of bad photos.
3. It perpetuates the lie that there is a "fast-track" to success.
Everyone wants to be super-successful, NOW. The beautiful thing about our industry is that it's open to anyone. Anyone can become a photographer. Anyone can learn the craft and build a business if they're willing to work really, really hard. TPS gives the false impression that you can boil a lot of hard work into 10 easy steps. In reality, it takes years of hard work to build something that will add value to your clients - and your own life.
There are plenty of examples of over-night success stories. Except that there really aren't. There aren't any over-night success stories, we just think there are. Most of the people who built something successful were hard at work for years before anyone noticed - or before it really took off. We're attracted to instant success because that's what we want. The problem is that, most often, success isn't instant. In fact, many times what we think is success, really isn't.