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Thread: Career Question...Management?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2001

    Career Question...Management?

    i have been doing this a long time now (over 25 years), and have been lucky enou gh to have had several successes, with one-man exhibitions, authored 3 books, wo rked for the library of congress doing LF recordation work, etc., and now face a major life change. i have always loved what i do, especially the LF architectu ral work that i have been doing for the past 15 years, and have a team of seven people who work for me. the upper level managers are encouraging me to become t he new manager for my group, rather than being the principal photographer. mana ging would essentailly mean no more photography for me on the job, which i hate, but the team needs a manager, and i am the only one who can really do the job - they all want me to take it (of course it frees up the team-leader position for one of them to promote into, and we'd get to hire another new person). i am 50 years old, and the money doesnt mean anything to me at this point. i am torn b etween wanting to keep shooting, and wanting to help the team succeed and helpin g younger people have some of the opportunities i've had. i dont know how to ma ke this decision. i would appreciate some thoughts from you folks on this.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Career Question...Management?

    You're in a tough spot. I'm also 50. Run a shop at a Gov't Test Range and esentially keep all the stuff running that a whole group of people used to do in better (Reagan) days. I put up with all the jobs I juggle around here, but it's the field work I love. If that was taken out of the mix I'd probably start looking for someone that had field work to get done. Motivating people to do badly and listening to them gripe about what I considered easy is not my idea of a promotion. All I can do is offer a heart felt "best of luck" to you.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2000

    Career Question...Management?

    Life is too short, do what you truly enjoy doing. I can say this with authority as I`ve beaten a life threatening illness that one could not have predicted. About three years ago I broke a blood vessel in my spinal cord that left me completely paralyzed from the belly- button down. To shorten a long story, there was lots of hospital time, lots of re-hab time, and yes, I`ve lost at least three years of my life to this, plus the fifteen years that were invested in what I thought was a reasonable career. So, what am I doing now? All of the photography that I should have been doing all along, and trying not to waste a single moment that can be spent enjoying life. By the way, I`ve been walking for about a year and a half, astonishing many, many doctors and therapists. So, if it is shooting that makes you happy, that`s the thing you need to be doing. You just never know... Steve

  4. #4

    Career Question...Management?

    Do what you like to do. If you like managing, go for it, and managing can be fulfilling, but it is much different from doing. But if you don't like managing, don't do it.

    If you don't know, see if they would let you try it as a temporary assignment, with the option to return to photo work if it isn't your cup of tea.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Career Question...Management?

    In these times of constant budget cuts, exhortations to "do more with less", endless droning about working smarter not harder (and then being directed to invent worthless "metrics" to manage things you can not do or control because of the staff and budget cuts), never- ending policy reversals with no real instructions or direction until the auditors hit town, etc etc etc - yeah I am a Gov worker too - I would think very carefully about whether I really wanted the aggravation of being a manager. Even if the money did matter to you, I doubt it would make much real difference. Let's just say if I had the years I would be gone like a bat out of Hell. Remember Petronius Arbiter's immortal words about reorganization.

  6. #6

    Career Question...Management?

    jnorman: Boy did your question hit a nerve with me. I'm a little older than you, but your dilemma really touched a chord with me. After years as a Navy photo recon specialist for intelligence, I left the service and finished my college and did a year of grad school at the best photography school in the world. I cover the Olympics, Academy Awards, been in LIFE, NEWSWEEK, etc., and have a whole room full of awards from ad design groups and gold medals from advertising federations for photography and film. I owned and operated the second largest studio in my major city, and went on to become the chair of a major photography department of a large art institute.

    My offering of my experience is only to establish my credentials, which also include the award of being named national photographer of the year, many years ago.

    Having my ego totally satisfied, I learned in my later years, that the "give back" scenario was a good one for me.

    I found great satisfaction in helping young, aspiring photographers with their development, and assisting them in not making the mistakes I did in my earlier years...and in helping the learn to "See"!

    After leaving photography for fifteen years and estrablishing a distingushed career in another field, I opted for early retirement and have now returned to the world of photography....just for the fun of it and an occasional commercial job, which I have just signed a contract for...for the next three months.

    Right now, I take great pleasure and satisfaction, in extending a hand up, some new friends...passionate about photography, and helping them climb the lader.'s kind of like extending my own career. Yeah, I have been in "Who's Who" for the last 11 years, but that is nothing, compared to the good feelings I have in my heart, for helping others climb the lader....and at the same time, passing on my own personal legacy. I and my life experience, live on, through others. I have always felt, passionately, that those of us who were lucky in our careers, have an obligation to..."Pass It On". I have re-entered the field of photography again, older, wiser, better, but now I can have the joy of doing it for fun...for me...and helping others climb the lader just like I did.

    The decision is yours, but I hope will feel the joy I have realized in my pass it on. Just because you're a manager, dosen't mean you can't shoot. Relax, and good luck.

  7. #7
    Yes, but why? David R Munson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Saitama, Japan

    Career Question...Management?

    I have similar though chronologically opposite concerns. I'm 20, a junior in college, and as I get closer to graduating and the reality of actually having to manage my career gets more perplexing every day, there are things pulling me in fundamentally opposite directions. What I love to do and am best at is architecture and landscape, whereas what a lot of people other than myself seem to think that I should go right into still life/commercial to begin with. Granted, there seem to be greater employment opportunities, but if I already know I wouldn't be as happy doing that even if I could be earning more in the early stages, does that really make it a good choice? So maybe there isn't a huge parallel between my examples and the decision you're facing, but I'm hoping you can see what I'm trying to say.

    I think what it all boils down to is this: in the long run, what option will give you the greatest overall satisfaction, all things considered? If what you gain from shooting will give you greater satisfaction in the long run than moving to a management position will, then continue doing what you do now. If not, then switch. Of course, it's never near as simple as that, not by a long shot, but at least in my personal philosophy, it's the long term that matters most. More and more I get the feeling that I should just go for what I really want to do right off the bat when I graduate in '04, even if it means working out of my parents' basement for the first year or two. In 20 years when you look back on this decision, will you wish you would have taken the other path? Sorry I can't give more actual, tangiable thoughts/ suggestion on this, but I guess my age means limited experience upon which to reflect and build. Good luck with your decision and let us know what you eventually decide.
    So apparently my signature was full of dead links after a few years away...

  8. #8
    Old School Wayne
    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Career Question...Management?

    I'm in a different field, but have spent most of my career figuring out how to AVOID getting mired in management. Once I was promoted to management and I demoted myself the next day. No thank you. I dont think you've convinced me that management is something you really want.

    I know people who have really made themselves really truly miserable by taking management jobs that werent really for them. Are you happy doing what you do? Dont let anyone above you pressure (I'm sorry...*encourage*) you to do anything you're not ready for.

  9. #9

    Career Question...Management?

    I have always worked in a team environment and have this ability to take whatever position I'm put in and turn it into something I enjoy. It is rarely in line with what the managers think I should be doing, but it ends up bettering the team as a whole b/c I end up distributing the tasks I don't want to do amongst those that would rather -- in effect elevating an entire team.

    What I am saying is that perhaps there is a compromise. What if 2 or more of you co-manage? This elevates all that are involved and in theory also allows all of you time in the field. I don't know if the way government positions are set up if this sort of flexibility is possible, but thought I would throw it out there.

  10. #10
    Beverly Hills, California
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Beverly Hills, CA

    Career Question...Management?

    I agree with the tenet that life should get easier as you get older. Interpret that however it may apply to you.

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