this topic has covered a lot of ground so let me comment about some of the things you and James have discussed. I don't shoot stock at all. Never have. We've run an ad agency and we purchased a lot of stock images for our clients and still do. When the cost of those images came down to practically zero, it seemed to me that the stock business what not where I needed to invest time or energy.
Now, some folks have done well in stock and continue to make it an integral part of their business plans -- Preston, Helmi, Jim Poor and others. It's just not something I have ever really pursued and I'm not inclined to start now.
Studio vs. outdoor portraits? Yes. Do both; like to do both; will often to both for the same client. It all depends on how the portrait is going to be used. If it's for a magazine or for advertising purposes, either will work just fine. I find that my studio work is technically better for large framed prints to be hung in the home. I think it's the control of the lighting. But I love environmental portraits and I love using props both indoors and outside. I show folks my work online mostly. Or in a book of my work. And we discuss what is in their mind's eye. Plus, some dogs don't really like the studio so outside portraits are the default.
As for show photography, we have exclusive contracts because we're taking all the risk and investing all the cost to be there and shoot all the dogs. We're not just sitting ringside and cherry-picking. I'll be happy to engage in a creative shootout with anybody at any time as long as it's on an even playing field. If I'm taking all the risk -- financial as well as creative -- I'll protect myself with a contract. Now, the folks in California have made show formals a competitive environment at some shows but those folks have been smoking lotus leaves for a lot of years and do a lot of things -- well, differently
As for ring candids, I'll take my chances there. If I can't outshoot somebody else, that's my problem. The bottom line is that the exhibitor deserves to get the best candid they can and if that's not mine, that's OK. But I don't make my living shooting candids. It is purely incremental to my show formals.
Hope that covers some of the ground in your original post. Be happy to discuss further.