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Why Nostalgia is a dirty rotten liar.

This blog post is spurred by this article I read recently about letting your kids have a 70’s summer (which is brilliant).

(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)
(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)

The year was 1972  and I was riding in the front seat of my fathers pale lemon yellow 1970 Ford Galaxy Sportster hard top coupe. He had a Tareytons cigarette dangling from his lip and he probably had a Brandy& 7 “Roadie” between his legs.   And we we singing…at the top our our lungs, car windows open on the first fine spring day to grace McFarland Wisconsin of that year.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle, the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)
(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)

I remember my hair whipping around me, bouncing up and down on the seat untethered by a seat belt happy to be singing and on my way to Arby’s for lunch.  My baby sister was home with my mom, and this was a rare treat to get him all to myself and to go into Madison, the “big city” to have my usual: a hot dog and a Jamocha Shake.  I can’t tell you many more details than that, because like many random childhood snippets that embed in your memory this one ends there.

You may be thinking of my father as a badass 1970’s dude with a totally rocking Jim Croce mustache, aviator glasses and gold chains, and he was.

My father was also a failed traveling salesman who was hardly ever home while leaving my mother to parent and be the ever-lasting bad cop to his good cop. That car that he loved was about to be repossessed,  his marriage to my mother was failing  and he was taking me to Arby’s because kids ate free there during the work week and he couldn’t afford anything else.

I think of those days in the summer of my youth through it seems like a more simpler more beautiful time even though now as an adult and a business owner I understand it was nothing like that.

We do the same in our business. We wax nostalgic for the days when film was king, before everyone had a digital camera, when we were just the photographer and not the lab too.  The clients, oh the CLIENTS.  They’ve changed too, right?  They’re more demanding!  They want it all for nothing, they don’t understand our ART.  They’re unreasonable, cheap and just plain awful.  It’s not like it used to be, right?!

It really isn’t different though.  Technology has changed, photography has changed and our clients expectations have changed along with them.  With that, we have to change.  Hate being the lab?  Hire an editor, and do more shooting instead of sitting behind the computer. Feel like all you do is play bad cop with clients posting photos with the watermark cropped out?  Re-work your contracts and do more client education on the front end of your sessions.  Noticed a huge dip in your closing rate for getting clients in and booking them?  Take a hard look at what you need to change in your marketing and sales techniques. (Pssst…  Joy Vertz’s new  “Book More Earn More, Turning Calls into Clients” class is open and at a discounted price for a few more days)

It’s not the clients. Your clients from 2008 were not superior in any way to the clients of today. My father was not a better father in the 70’s than he was in his later years, despite the patina of my Tang-colored memories of him.

What’s changed is how you’ve handled the change.

So grab yourself a Tab, and make up a big bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese and go be the change.

Sane.  Happy.  Profitable.


P.S. Random factoid. My father called Kraft Mac and Cheese “Orange Death” and did not allow it in our household. He also did not allow American Cheese, White Bread or Pop Tarts in the house.   He was a Foodie before they were called Foodies and believed in local sustainable farm foods back in the 80’s…as he chain smoked and drank Korbel Brandy by the gallon. Is it any wonder our generation is confused  about what exactly we are supposed to believe in?

P.P.S Our little ole blog is coming up on it’s one year anniversary soon, and we’re close to hitting a personal milestone of 1000 subscribers. Know a friend that might enjoy our information, humor and general sarcastic posts?  We’d love you forever if you’d share our link with them.  Because sharing IS caring, you know.







  1. THANK YOU for speaking up about this ridiculousness, Kim. I spend very little time on online photographer communities, but it’s nigh-impossible to escape cynicism in the industry that blames “changing times/clients”. Yes, it’s fucking hard to build a profitable and rewarding business. I’ve only been at it two years, but I’d imagine it wasn’t much easier ten years ago. Suck it up and ditch the rose-colored glasses, folks.

    I’ve said this before, but I really appreciate you telling it how it is. I’m struggling away over in the commercial and photojournalism worlds, but a lot of what you have to say about weddings is relevant to what I’m doing. I just quoted a job fairly (as opposed to underbidding, as I often do) and got turned down…and the rejection feels great. I’m not sane, happy, or profitable yet, but I’m working towards it!

  2. OMG! My dad drove a red Galaxy Sport back in the 70’s. I remember swimming around in the back of that car as we drove to the Topper for Ice Cream. Talk about a boat with four tires. …and then there’s the Nylons singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight (the 80’s). Film? the 90’s. What, are you hitting each of the past 4 decades? Sheesh! Talk about waxing nostalgia. …and I LOVE IT!

    Much of what you speak of is pretty much rings true for every field in the creative industry. Design, Photography, Music, Writing…etc.

    But to that end, when a commercial client asks for 30 RAW files, and has a photography budget of $75… Well. Gimme that Korbel Brandy, dammit.

    PS. Love that your dad was a foodie before foodies were hip. :)

  3. You rock. That is all.

  4. What’s American cheese? Remember when clients all wanted the photo to be B&W but their flowers/jewelry/pet dog to be colour.. Or a suitcase album with gloves and enough “soft filter” to give Vaseline a run for its money.. And yes.. I’d freak out now at the thought of my kids sleeping in the back of the car whilst we drove home from our friends house after eating & drinking.. Thanks for the concern Ma & Pa :-).. But it still remains one of my fave fave things as a kid being carried to bed from the back of the car pretending to be asleep

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