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Successful photographers understand the need to “recession-proof” their businesses so they don’t crash hard when then economy dips.

Of course, there’s no stock way to do to this, and it’s always interesting to see how different people build and adapt their specific business models and find success. Today, I present a case study with a profile of Kubota Photography and Kubota Image Tools. I sat down with them at PhotoPlus Expo to find out how they’ve found success in a vey dynamic industry.

20 years ago, Kevin And Clare Kubota started their wedding photography business in Bend, Oregon. When the industry began moving towards digital, Kevin embraced the new format, became highly proficient with Photoshop and began selling custom retouching action sets to other photographers.

A few years later, Kevin expanded the teaching side by launching his Digital Photography Bootcamp workshops and other software preset packages. Today, he’s recognized as a leading Photoshop expert.

About six years ago, a Japanese company approached the couple about distributing a line of photo books in the US. This deal turned into their AsukaBook line, which offers gorgeous, high-end photo presentation solutions to other wedding and portrait photographers.

In order to further serve their book customers, Clare and Kevin formed Red Boot Design. This sector of their business offers graphic design that helps photographers create presentation albums, books, and cards. Although Red Boot offers templates and custom options that are geared around their AsukaBooks, they’ll do design for other projects as well.

By building a line of separate companies that all relate to each other and revolve around Kevin’s mastery of image making and processing, Kevin and Clare have developed a solid business model. While many photography-based businesses suffered greatly during the recent downturn, the Kubotas rode through the crisis with relatively smooth sailing.

Their business keeps expanding into the new decade with photo workshop tours in Italy and a recent book, Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook, published by Wiley Press. His Dashboard photo action series and software tool sets continue to rate highly with other photographers.


Senior contributor Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.