Don Giannatti is one of my best friends and one of the few people who really understands what digital media has done/is doing/will do to photography. He left this as a Facebook comment on how digital media was re-shaping the photography market, but I thought it also might have some implications for firearms training.
One of the saddest trends I see in photography is that being ‘good’ or ‘ok’ is no longer enough. Everyone caught up to the middle grade photographer. Technology wiped out the ‘average joe’ product photographer and is taking its toll on the ‘so-so’ commercial photographer.
People expect to keep doing the same as they have been doing, and that is not working anymore. They become fearful and protectionist and lose perspective of what they have already gained, wasting that gain with despair and “why can’t it be like it was” laments.
Event photography, seniors, babies, maternity, horses, ice skating… that may no longer be a market for a professional photographer. Change doesn’t care, it just changes. (emphasis mine)
I don’t have the answers, that road is shrouded in mist… but the road to the edge of the cliff is easily navigated: blame change, blame circumstances, give up, never change… done.
There are additional social trends as well. 10 years ago, only photographers had cameras, now everyone does. 10 years ago, it was not easy to get big prints made, now anyone can get them at Costco. 10 years ago, ISO rendered anything in less than brilliant sunshine to be terrible, now even iPhones can shoot a decent ISO 800. 10 years ago, photographs were still somewhat special. Today, phones, P&S, websites, blogs, instagrams, flickrs and such are full of images.
Add to this the social aspect of ‘tribes’ and it becomes a very interesting social view. There are few men doing workshops who can bring in weekend fees of $2500 per person, but in the “moms with cameras” and the budding wedding photography world, women who have been in business for less than 3 years are charging that and more and FILLING workshops. I recently read about a workshop that was a one day event from 9am to 5pm, and focused on natural light children photography. The cost was $1800 and the photographer had filled the workshop (20 attendees).
To say that makes no sense to me is an understatement. I just read where David Jackson (a wonderful lighting guy) cancelled his one day workshop (8am to 8pm) for non enrolling and he was only charging $325.
Social trends are not easily understood when we are in them, and far more easily understood when we can look at them from a distance. Consumer photography is in deep trouble if it is not connected to a very, VERY high level of uniqueness and being seen as a premium.
If you are not a premium brand, and not unique and positioned as such, it will get far worse for you sooner than later.
What are the “premium brands” of firearms training out there? Are they preparing themselves to deal with the realities of Gun Culture 2.0, or are they stuck in a 1911/Weaver/.45 ACP world? When it comes to firearms training, I’d argue that “dads with Glocks” are equivalent to “moms who want to take cute baby photographs”, so do we concentrate on the low-hanging profitable fruit of “tactical” training and leave women out of the picture?
I sincerely hope not. One thing I have noticed is that very few trainers take advantage of social media and the ones that do so are flourishing.
Your students are talking about their experiences in your classes on social media: Are you a part of the conversation? Are you even listening to what they say? If you’re not, you should be, because change doesn’t care, it just changes.