Camera Focus By Scott Proposki
Foreword By Graham McFarland
Scott Proposki and I are cut from the same cloth. Not only do we share a passion for photography, we also share a little corner of the business: event photography. Currently, my passion has led me to Cherry Hill Programs, which is the world’s largest provider of seasonal photography. If you’ve taken your children to get a photo with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny anywhere in North America in the past decade or so, you’ve probably seen our work.
I met Scott nearly twenty years ago when he was a customer of my software company, Express Digital. My company developed some of the earliest software for digital cameras, then an emerging technology. Specifically, we created a program that facilitated communication between digital cameras and digital printers. Our software allowed photographers to have a printed photo minutes after it was taken. As Scott would say, it was “photos in a minute.”
Scott was one of our early success stories. Our software was especially valuable for people who were photographing live events, from sporting matches to senior proms. A large part of Scott’s business at the time was just that kind of photography. Not only was he a customer, he quickly became a friend as well. He even went on to mentor several other new clients, showing them how they could also use our software to enhance their businesses.
Growth is a struggle for any entrepreneur, but especially for photographers. Expanding beyond one’s immediate market is a major branding and promotional challenge. At the particular time when Scott and I met, it was even more difficult. Photography as a discipline was undergoing a major shift from film to digital. A lot of people failed to anticipate the speed of that change and found themselves scrambling to keep up. Scott was one of the few who were able to see where photography was headed, and changed his business model accordingly. What he’s done with Photos in a Minute wasn’t really possible in the age of film, and because he recognized that, he was among the few who were actually able to take their businesses from local to the national stage. I’ve been in the photography industry for twenty-five years, and in that time, I can count on one hand the number of people who’ve matched Scott’s success.
The switch to digital was just the first of several seismic technical shifts in professional photography. In the decades since, there have been unprecedented changes, not just in terms of camera work, but also in how businesses are launched and run, and how the consumers themselves engage with photography. When everyone has a digital camera and photo-editing capabilities in their pocket on a smartphone, how does professional photography stay relevant as a business?
Scott has been able to continually reinvent himself and his business, adapting to new realities and staying one step ahead of the crowd. A lot of photographers get lucky once or twice: they happen to be really interested in or good at some aspect of the discipline that suddenly becomes popular, and they are able to capitalize on that. Scott has been better than lucky; he has been proactive. He has been able to foresee upcoming shifts in the industry, and more importantly, he has been willing to innovate. His vision and adaptability have made him a mainstay in an industry that all too often turns on a dime.
Scott cites me as a mentor, but I think our mentoring relationship goes both ways. I can’t count the number of productive, energizing conversations we’ve had over the years. Most of them have had one central theme, one vital to anyone looking to be more than they are at this moment: What will the future look like, and how do we solve problems that are worth solving? With this book, Scott has distilled those ideas into a useful, easily readable guide to anyone in any industry.
The lessons Scott has learned and the skills he has perfected are about much more than just taking pictures. His thoughts on growth, change, risk, and perspective are the result of years of hard work and firsthand experience. Though his journey has been unique, the conclusions he has reached are broadly applicable. Whether you are a photographer or a personal trainer, a veterinarian or a restaurateur, we all struggle with growing our careers, envisioning the future, and developing the focus and skill necessary to make that future our reality.