You’re set up on the pier. The sun is dropping into the ocean at a speed only the experienced sunset-watcher appreciates. On a piling at the end of the dock, a pelican sits, rears back slightly, spreads his wings, and poses against the last magenta stabs of the day’s light. The perfect shot … almost: three seconds … two seconds … one sec—
Aaaaand … your cell phone goes off.
Maybe pelicans don’t like Pharrell Williams songs, or maybe this one was insulted by the chintzy electronic faux version of “I’m Happy.” Or MAYBE the bird was just startled by a loud sound that simply didn’t belong in the intimate world shared by photographer and subject.
A lot of photographers have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. “Should’ve turned the ringer off,” you say? Ever dropped a lens because you were focused on a delicate task when you phone out of nowhere started doing its own little happy dance in your pocket? I have.
And of course, you can turn off notifications altogether … but what’s the point of even taking the phone with you if you can’t tell when someone calls?
But that circles us right back to that love/hate thing. I mean, face it, most of us aren’t business people: we’re artists running a business. Not the same thing at all. We don’t like being connected all the time, but we really don’t have a choice: evil it may be, but the cell phone is still a necessity.
Despite any personal feelings we may have, cell phones are a crucial component of both our own businesses and of the modern worldwide communications structure. Online statistics state that by the end of 2019, the number of global cell phone users is forecast to exceed five billion.
Mobile commerce is a serious thing: in fact, mobile is the fastest-growing payment platform in retail, with mCommerce sales expected to top $204.6 billion in 2018, once all figures are in. Cell phone communication is a big deal.
All of which brings up the question: if cell phones are all that, does your business even need a landline? Advances in technology have brought ease and flexibility to alternate forms of small business communication, including cell phones but also Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and virtual phone lines. Dropping your hard-wired landline means one less hassle, the ability to work anywhere, lowered costs: what’s not to love?
Well, for starters, there’s that “always connected” thing we mentioned earlier. But there are other factors to consider before you take scissors to your landline, as well:
It May Look Unprofessional
It’s less of a problem than it used to be, but operating with only a cell number can come across as a bit shady. A landline suggests a certain permanence and stability: there’s a commitment involved. You have a physical space with a searchable address. Of course, you can have that with just a cell phone, as well … but for new customers, there’s something to be said for appearing professional.
It May Not Be as Reliable
This is a biggie. We all know that even the best cell service can be sketchy at times. No matter where you’re located, you’re likely going to encounter “dead zones” where you can’t get reception. (Remember that wedding that the bride insisted on having by the lake shore? Bad mojo, that one.) But with a landline, people can reach your business even if you’re out on an assignment, hell-and-gone from anything even resembling a cell tower. They may only get your answering machine, but that’s something.
It’s Harder to Shut Down
Everything keeps coming back to this, it seems: with a cell phone, you’re always available. That means it takes discipline to shut down at the end of the day. With a landline, when you leave your studio, you’re also disconnecting from your business: calls go to voicemail, to be dealt with when you’re back. When your only phone is in your back pocket, it’s far too easy to be “on the clock” all the time.
So: landline, or cell only? Everyone is different. But I’ve never had a shot ruined by my landline ringing. Just saying.