#154 Guilty Pleasures

I have often mentioned the challenges of running a small business. It has its tough moments!

There are benefits…

This morning I awoke to 15 cm of snow AND no power in the house or office. The temperature was 9C in the office and no chance of warming till QuebecHydro’s power was restored – scheduled for early afternoon.

The last 8 weeks have been very busy at ‘Harry, Inc.’ I gave strict orders for time off. Skis were waxed and I had the earliest start to the ski season – ever! The skiing was great.

Power was restored by 2:30pm. I managed to start my work day later than expected with a smile on my face and a tired dog at my side.

Ski Gatineau Park

XCOttawa.ca skiing in Gatineau Park


#153 Stock photography a tough(er) market

When I started work as a photographer (~1994) I had one goal in mind – shoot stock, period. And that hurt my young business.

The Golden Years

At the time, established and successful stock photographers were making a very good living shooting exciting (and less exciting) imagery. The mantra was “shoot, shoot, shoot.” It was a numbers game – the more photos you could get in front of buying customers the better the odds of sales.

Stock Photo Stock photography

The Bubble Bursting

But everyone else noticed the gold. The market started filling with imagery and sales agencies started undercutting each other in the feeding frenzy. The bubble slowly started bursting to the point that you can now sell imagery for $1 on iStockPhoto and actually earn 20 cents in royalty fees for that sale. Wow. That’s rough.

Current News

I just saw a Photo District News article about Bill Gates’ large Corbis stock agency – they are predicting lower stock sales and reduced royalties for Rights Managed stock shooters – making a tough market tougher.

Stock is still a fun and viable industry but you need to be very savvy on the business front. There are no longer stock streets paved with gold – you have to work much harder to find your jackpots.


At Harry, Inc. we still shoot stock, love it, and earn profits. But we are more careful about our business choices and have started seeking out under-saturated stock and photo niches related to stock and photography. I shoot directly for clients and consult on projects. My expertise has diversified. The business has grown well since I took the blinkers off.

This weekend I will be collaborating with the Entrepreneurship Centre to facilitate the Creative Business Seminar where we explore viable creative business practices, evaluate stock agencies and test ideas.

Take photos, work smart!


#152 Taking a well deserved break

Fall is one of my busiest seasons – and by the end of last week I was looking forward to a break. By Saturday evening I realized my batteries were low. It hit me all of  a sudden.

This often happens – once a busy spell eases I crave some rest. Saturday was the end of a long streak and my body told me it was time for a break. I cannot afford to get low or call in sick!

I caught myself talking nonsensically to a friend Friday night – “… I am taking Sunday off and will be doing some editing and prep work.” That just didn’t make sense.

So Sunday came and my wife and I slept in, went to Wakefield for bruch, took a leisurely hike and watched a movie. This week still involves deliverables but also time to charge the batteries.

HarryNowell.comRest and Relaxation!



#151 Canadian Geographic feature published

Last February Canadian Geographic Magazine sent me to the North Bay area to photograph some ice fishing with the accomplished writer Bruce Gillespie. We lived on the ice for three days thanks to our wonderful hosts at Glen Echo Cottages.

The article hit the news stands recently with the feature on our rookie attempts at ice fishing – get a taste of our adventures on the Canadian Geographic Travel preview. See the whole story at the newsstands.

Fun for Harry!

#150 Night Light

Last night we finished the Night Light photo workshop. The critique session went well – I am always amazed how a group of people can see the same world so differently – course critique sessions are good for broadening your shooting style!

One of my students, Chris, sent this photograph of the shooting session – checking one of the student’s night time photo adventures:

Night Liht Photo Workshop

Thanks Chris!

If you missed Night Light you may enjoy November’s Sessions Photo Challenge.


#149 Spammed-A-Lot

A victim of spam overload, PhotographyVoter.com shut down for a couple of days last week to clear up the problem. They are back online!

PhotographyVoter.com is a fabulous photo resource directing you to news and articles about different facets of photography posted by the public. Some recent postings:

  •  In Words and Pictures: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • 10 Steps to Perfect Waterfall Shots
  • High Speed Photography by Chase Jarvis
  • Zen Photography – Being At One With Your Camera

I was asked this year to be a moderator – all very exciting!

Welcome back, Photography Voter!


#148 See the Rwandan Photo exhibit – Photosensitive.com

I received this press release from a client – sounds quite amazing:

“On behalf of the Rwanda Initiative and Carleton University I am pleased to invite you to the Ottawa opening of “Living With,” a major exhibit of stunning photos captured in Rwanda by photographers with the Toronto-based social photography group PhotoSensitive. The reception to launch the exhibit will take place in the Galleria at Carleton University on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.

Through a project organized by the Rwanda Initiative and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, seven PhotoSensitive photographers spent nearly two weeks in Rwanda to photograph the individual stories behind Rwanda’s larger struggle with HIV/Aids.  The visiting photographers were partnered with local photojournalists and journalism students as they headed out on their assignments.

The result was a remarkable collection of photographs, 50 of which have been selected for his exhibit. Please join us for the opening of the exhibit. For those coming from off campus, the most convenient location for parking is lot P2. Enter the Unicentre building beside the book store, then make your way up the steps to the Galleria space.

Allan Thompson
Carleton University”

Have fun,


#147 “But seriously…”

It’s getting cool in the Ottawa area – dropping below 0C some nights.

My wife was driving her 125cc scooter to town and asked “What should I wear?” Considering the wind chill and cool temperature I made my suggestions that involved ‘significant insulation’. She responded “But seriously, what should I wear?”


What has scooting got to do with photography? My wife’s response was similar to student’s reaction when I am teaching outside at this time of year. Creating photos while standing still takes extra insulation to stay warm – usually more than people expect!

I sent Saturday’s Night Light photo course students my “Warm Photos from Winter’s Cold” article from ‘Exposed!

The students (and my wife) are learning the fine art of staying warm in the cold.

Winter warmth!

Winter is coming!