Saturday, May 02, 2009

Invasion of the shutterbugs | Crain's Chicago Business

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Invasion of the shutterbugs | Crain's Chicago Business


Lisa Vaughn, 41, took steps to avoid being just another "mom with a camera," as she calls some part-time photographers, before setting up Lisa Vaughn Photography two years ago.

Ms. Vaughn, a former media supervisor who now stays home with her two children, took several classes and worked in the camera department of a store near her home in Naperville before seeking clients. "I don't want to be, 'I got a new digital camera and now I'm a photographer and will charge people money for this,' " she says.

She's spent about $10,000 on equipment so far; in 2008, she broke even only after deciding against upgrading some equipment and software. "I get some frustration from 'moms with cameras' who have disposable income, who buy and buy," she says.

Indeed, buying can become addictive in a field where technology changes so rapidly.

George Aye, of Chicago, lead designer at a local transportation company, photographed weddings and even had two photography books published. But at the beginning of this year, Mr. Aye, 33, realized he was caught up in an "arms race" of collecting the newest, best equipment — and decided to take a step back.

Mr. Aye sold most of his equipment, keeping only one camera and one lens, and enrolled in a class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to explore the thought processes involved in taking a picture.

"Any jerk that has a camera thinks he can be a photographer," Mr. Aye says. "It's like saying if I have a Ferrari, I can be a race car driver."

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