” We Love Photography “

That is the business slogan of the shop that I used to work for – and for whom I still write weblog columns. While I was tempted at first to think of it as merely a ploy to get customers, I have changed my mind – I think that the people who work there really DO love photography.

It is instantly evident in the sales staff on the shop floors. They would not be there if they did not have a great deal of experience taking pictures. Enough experience to think that it is photography that it is all about. They are disabused of this in short order by contact with the buying public, and some younger ones in the past have become so discouraged as to quit in short order. But once they have enough sea-time under their belts, they toughen down into real salespeople and the initial love of the art can start to rea-appear.

The middle management may, or may not love the subject. They have been caught by the exigencies of the service and have turned their attention to accountancy, IT work, stores and stocking, and all the other mundanities of retail trade. They have it worst of all in some cases as they are squeezed from below and above to make things work…things that might otherwise fall in a heap. They are tasked with operating computer networks and stock control systems that sometimes neither work nor control. That they manage to make them do so is a tribute to their professionalism

The repairistas and technicians are certainly in love with the subject, but they have the distress that they always see their mistresses – the cameras and lenses – naked and flayed in front of them. They must make Frankenstein’s monsters out of corpses. And then deal with the angry villagers at the repair desk. It cannot be easy. They probably have strange dreams.

As for the upper management – the owners – they have the most imaginative job of all – to love a subject that continually runs them close to ruin. Like Parisian playboys of the 19th century, they are under the lash and sway of an expensive mistress – the retail camera trade. At any time it can be seduced away from them and be made to sit in the lap of another. And all the time the staff must be paid and the taxes must be calculated…Every good decision is a shared one and every bad decision is theirs alone…

And then there are the contract staff – those people just far enough away from the organisation that we present accounts to them rather than appear on the pay roll. Me, for instance. We must love the business – we must love the art – or we would be confined in a canvas waistcoat under a thin diet. To be honest – some days that thin diet sounds good.




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