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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Taxes: Codae

There are a couple of codas to my "Taxes" post below (in which I tried to affect a sort of rueful tongue-in-cheek humor and evidently, for most readers, failed. Oh, well, I tried). Anyway, consider:

• Photography isn't that expensive. No matter how much you spend on it, there are any number of other hobbies / passions / obsessions / pasttimes which constitute much more efficient ways to pee away specie. You could own a boat, for instance, or collect cars like Jay Leno, or have a passion for racehorses, or be into really high-end audio. Photography can be expensive, sure, but there are lots worse things. Even if you collect photography, and do things like pay $2.1 million for the odd Cindy Sherman, you could always be buying paintings instead and tossing away ten times that. Comparatively, photography always comes out looking pretty good.

• Photography is reasonably wholesome, all things considered. I always qualify this by noting that there are indeed a few ways one can break the law with photography, and there must be a few ways that one could turn it toward immoral ends. But for the most part, it doesn't hurt anybody. Including you. Whenever one of my friends mentions that a spouse or S.O. is complaining about his or her counterpart's immersion into the hobby, I point out that it's better than crank 'n' liquor, poker 'n' prostitutes, yatta yatta, things of that nature—real vices. You could be pouring your wealth one quarter at a time down the throat of a one-armed bandit. That's a far sight worse than overspending on ink, methinks. Wouldn't you say that, on balance, photography keeps more of us good folks out of trouble more often than it gets us into trouble? That would be my guess.

I've always paid the various taxes and been happy. I spend a certain amount of my money on photography, sure. Have for years. But it's my thing. And that's a good thing.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

11 Comments:

Blogger Martin Winter said...

Too true Mike. When I drank I could easily spend £30+ in a night if I was going at it hammer and tongs.

I still use film, my justification for the extra expense of processing being that at least I'm getting something back that might give me pleasure far into the future.

The pleasure from drink never lasted much past the next morning....

7:42 AM  
Blogger sean said...

30 quid a night? Were your mates buying the rest of it for you? Or was it just a long long time ago that you drank ;)

Unfortunately my excursion into photography just happens to coincide with the year I'm getting married - now how do you get to spend on anything else with an event of that magnitude (in expense and time) just around the corner??

7:55 AM  
Blogger Joerg Colberg said...

The problem with your "tax" post is not necessarily that photography is an expensive hobby (your comments in this post don't quite cut it - citing the hobbies rich people like Jay Leno has makes for meagre counter-examples). The problem is that calling, say, the need to upgrade Photoshop a "tax" doesn't quite fit. Unlike real taxes, which deliver something in return (like decent roads, your country's ability to defend itself - and by extension you - etc. etc.) you don't get anything back from Adobe for forking out hundreds of dollars to go from version n to n+1.

OK, they add on "new" "features", but then that's really just to milk the market. Most of these incremental features are either useless or not needed anyway, and the few interesting ones are rarely worth all that money. So in essence, you're giving Adobe a lot of money for nothing (because having the latest version of Photoshop while an older one would suit you quite as well isn't quite an improvement).

Needless to say, for companies like Adobe this whole scheme is ideal, because they just need to regularly "update" their software and then the money comes flowing in again.

It's the same behaviour that digital camera makers show when they constantly issue "new" versions of their cameras, each and every one with minute "improvements", like point-and-shoots with 7MP instead of 6MP, or with 16 presets instead of 14. That's really just milking the market and treated the consumer as cattle.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Sean,
Marriage isn't so bad. Just don't get divorced. ;-)

--Mike

8:02 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Joerj,
I'm not sure I can agree with your main premise here. Are you sure you'd just as soon be using, say, Photoshop 4 right now, today? Because that's what your argument amounts to. It's quite possible to argue that the upgrades from any one version to the next adjacent version aren't significant enough to warrant a compulsory upgrade, but cumulatively over time they DO amount to significant changes. For instance, I'm currently using CS. I didn't upgrade to CS2, but I also now use an intel iMac. So CS3, which runs natively on my new computer, would indeed constitute a major upgrade.

Usually, my policy has been to upgrade to every second or third revision (that goes for operating systems as well). And although I complain about the cost, the alternative is to have the software companies stop developing their products, and that would be worse. My all-time favorite WP program, for example, was orphaned, and development stopped, and now it's incompatible with most computer equipment. I would much rather have had the option of paying for incremental upgrades for it. I would still be using it.

--Mike

8:16 AM  
Blogger Richard Sintchak said...

"...OK, they add on "new" "features", but then that's really just to milk the market. Most of these incremental features are either useless or not needed anyway, and the few interesting ones are rarely worth all that money. So in essence, you're giving Adobe a lot of money for nothing..."

Each their own opinion of course but I've used PS since version 4 and presently have version CS2. I've found each upgrade to have very useful and sometimes vital new improvements and each to be worth the upgrade's "tax".

9:23 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Photography isn't that expensive."

Very true. It amazes me the amount people complain about the cost of photography. It's completely unfounded. Particularly as it relates to the business of photography (which oddly enough is where I hear complaints of cost the most).

Before I ventured into photography I was aiming to go into the automotive industry and build racing engines. The cost to do this and be self-suficiant is considerable with pieces of machinery costing anywhere from $40-80K each (most of them $60k). Each of these machines only performed one specialized task each. Just for the hardware alone startup costs would have been near $200K and that's before you consider the building they have to go into.

Nowadays a photographer can star up with as little as $3K in equipment. The level of entry is very low in our industry. Perhaps that is why so many complain. If the costs were higher, those who complain probably wouldn't bother.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

As a professional photographer for 35 years, one of my main sources of income was
from companies changing the look of their product line every year. Same product different box. It had to be photographed for the new catalogue. 100% of the time the product never evolved or improved. But and here is the important concept to keep in mind. If no one upgraded or bought new (if not better) products--The company and I would have gone out of business. Photoshop gets better because most of us buy that upgrade, If we didn't maybe Adobe wouldn't be there next week. That $1000+ a year is my contribution to companies being able to make their products just a little bit better and keep them in business. CS3 is a wonderful upgrade--the stitch program in it is worth $1000 or more along. I no longer need a large format camera or tripod(one less piece of junk to cart around) to do landscape photos of Hi Rez quality. I love B&W, so the B&W part of CS3 is also a dream come true.
Upgrade, it's a lot more fun then filling an SUV gas tank to the tune of $120.
Thanks, Leo

10:37 AM  
Blogger David Bennett said...

I notice I pay for photoshop and cameras and lenses with more grace and less reticence than I pay for back-up hard drives, sensor cleaners and other things I have to buy in order to solve the problems with the things I do want.

Which is where elegance of design comes in. For it can overcome this reticence. The clean lines of the little LaCie 100GB hard drive smoothes my brow whenever I think of the price.

And the new intel PS CS3 and Bridge are improved beyond CS2 to the point where I can almost get over the hump of thinking about buying it when the trial period runs out.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Here is a story about the "Windows" tax. Great minds think alike:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070525-windows-tax-is-50-according-to-dell-linux-pc-pricing.html

1:03 PM  
Blogger rob povey said...

Someone once said on a radio show I was listening to:-

"I don't mind my husband having a hobby. If he has a hobby he doesn't have time for a mistress...."

Very wise words!!

Regards,

Rob.

4:14 AM  

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