Scott's Column
2017 Photography Wrap Up

January 1, 2018
By Scott Lewis

It has been a while since I wrote anything here. Life has been busy. The last thing I wrote about was using my (then new) Canon 6D Mark II. That camera took 3 years of working part time as an Automotive Enthusiast Photographer to purchase. I love the work. I also love hanging out with car guys and gals.

Being this is a January column, I will tell you below what the final tally was from my photography business in 2017. Then I will tell you what I expect from 2018.

Obviously I purchased the Canon 6D2 from profits from my business. I would love to say it went in that order, but it did not. I charged the camera and then made the money back. My total revenue for 2017 was $4,413.91. My total expenses (including the camera for $1,999) was $4,152.68. That left me with a whopping profit of $261.23. Not exactly a lot of money, but I did get a full frame digital camera that I would never otherwise have been able to justify.

As it is now in January I am already in profit. Mainly because I have had no expenses as of yet and one invoice out there. Having bought enough gear over the last 3 years doing this, I don't have any high priority equipment to buy. In fact, let's take a quick look at my gear wish list and see what I might consider purchasing this year:

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 - $599
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS - $999
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS - $899
Rogue Photographic Design Color Correction Gels - $29,95
Rogue Photographic Design Universal Lighting Gels - $29,95
C-Stands - $200 (each, approximately)
Strip Soft-Boxes - $80-200 (each)

Both of my existing C-Stands are broken (they each have a stripped thread and only one section extends). I want to replace them with better quality pieces. My current strip soft box has one rod poking through a corner. Is it the same corner I have repaired many times already? I don't know (yet). I have repaired this soft box many times (by sewing the hole closed). I want to get something of better quality but don't know what brand to get. I tried going to a large camera store in Austin, but they did not have a decent enough selection of soft boxes on display for me to get an idea of build quality. Maybe I need to go there again. Or I have to take my chances buying another brand online. Regardless of how I get there I will get at least one new soft box this year (figure anywhere from $80-200). I might get two, if and when I get the new C-Stands... with wheels. This way I can put two strip boxes on the C-Stands and roll them around to position them for a photo shoot.

I have gels, but they are not ideal. So I want to get better gels. That is inexpensive so that will happen as soon as I have a project for them.

Lenses. This is the big expense that will be very hard to justify. I "need" a wide angle lens. Right now the widest lens I have for my full frame camera is 28 mm (in a prime and in a zoom). I want something that goes at least to 16 mm. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS is expensive and I do not have an immediate need for it. I would also like a better all-in-one zoom lens, such as the Tamrom 28-300 listed above. This would be as wide as my current 28-135, but with much more reach. It would be my travel lens, so I would pack only one lens with my camera when going on photo walks and vacation.

I would love to get a better work horse lens. My current 28-135 lens is fairly basic and pasticy. I might consider the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS, but at $900 do I really need it? Of course, notice that both Canon lenses I mentioned are f/4 lenses. The F/2.8 versions of those lenses are just too pricey for me to consider at $1,299 (16-35mm f/2.8L II) and $1,699 (24-70mm f/2.8L II).

That's it. Ultimately I will be searching for a really good soft box replacement. I expect that will be my only serious purchase. I don't know that I will be able to justify any lenses in 2018. This will increase my chances to make a profit. However, I started this photography business to get better gear. I have a decent selection of lenses now, and a camera body that will likely last me forever. Yes, I do not plan on getting any other camera body. I can't imaging something coming out anytime soon, and eventually I will be too old to care about buying more gear. So what is the incentive to do the business and what gear do I really need?

It is also getting harder and harder to convince people they need bad ass photos of their cars for their man caves. It is likely I will stop doing the photography as a business after 2018 unless something drastic changes.

That's a wrap from 2017 on my photography. I am planning a trip to NY and to Amsterdam in April (that will be a crazy month for me in 2018). When I return from those trips I will be seriously looking to get a car (or two). I will write about the car searching in my Car Corner and Classic Car Watch columns. I expect that I will have little to write about here. Baring some unexpected infusion of free time, this column may go away by the end of 2018.

Though it may not seem it from this column, my 2018 is looking very bright.

I have all the camera gear I need. I have been dating someone since April that I can consider a real, long term relationship with. I have a couple of big trips coming up. I paid off the debt consolidation loan I took out from the expense of leaving my ex-wife (now all my debt is truly my own). I will spend the next couple of months establishing a budget to live on without being broke all the time. I will be getting a car or two. And I would like to add a few things to my house.

I will also start planning out how to possibly retire as early as 2024. That's right, that is the year I can withdrawal from my 401K. I would like the option to retire then even if I won't (or can't). Ideally, working past 2024 will be for the sole purpose of making my retirement more comfortable from a financial standpoint.

I hope your 2018 is looking as bright as mine.