Lets start the week off with another RAW interview with a new friend of mine from twitter John Stebbins. As always there is something to learn from everyone so have a read as his way of doing things and his advice might just help you out.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I am currently just over two months away from a Master’s in Homeland Security. I have a Bachelor’s in Information Security along with an Associate’s in Computer Networks. I spent the last 6 years in the IT industry. However, I am so very tired of an industry that uses you to accomplish its own goals. I took the last year and a half of building my name in photography and coalesced it into my own photography company. It is something that I have wanted for many years, to be my own boss, and to not have to worry about answering to some guy with very little education making three times my salary and getting bonuses from my work. 😀 Now, I love waking up every day to the new challenge I have, to better my own company, to build the name for myself in an industry that has numerous photographers in it, and to teach others what I learn in my walk through life.
What made you get into photography?
In two words, Ansel Adams. Ansel Adams was, and always will be to me, the iconic landscape photographer. He would stand for hours in front the Half Dome and take photo’s. The man was and still as a legend to me. I may take all kinds of photography, but the ability to capture a beautiful sunset, a flower in bloom, those things got me into photography. Photography makes me happy, I am happiest when I have my camera with me and I capture a moment in time that is my view of our world. It brings me joy. 😀
How did you get started?
About two years ago I picked up an old Minolta Maxxum Qtsi 35mm camera and I fell in love with the idea of photography in all forms. I then used one of my refunds from my college classes to buy a packaged deal of a Nikon D90 and lenses. From there it is all uphill. Learning something that has always fascinated me, something that I have always loved and was never able to do, gave me the drive to be able to pursue an art form that is very prevalent in society today, yet often misused.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I mainly do weddings, engagements, and lifestyle photography. However, I have other types of photography that I love to do as well, from photo’s of horses, to downtown Austin city life, I love it all. The weddings and the engagements, though, that the biggest, I love being able to capture the moments of every little girls most dreamed about day. To be able to show the bride the photo’s I captured for her makes me very happy.
What gear are you using?
My current equipment consists of the following:
Nissen Flash Unit
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF
Nikkor 18-55mm AF-S DX
Nikkor 70-300mm AF
Manfrotto 190XPROB Tripod with Giottos MH 5001 Head
Whats your favourite lens and why?
My current favorite lens is my Nikon 50mm f/1.8. I would absolutely love to own a Sigma 10-22mm f/3.5 lens along with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and a true Macro lens. It would allow me a much larger range of photographic work that I currently have to rent a lens to accomplish.
How are you marketing yourself?
A few ways actually. Ads on Facebook is on of my main ways, I have a fan page on there that is the same name as my company. I run the ads for a bit and then I network on there through new fans and friends. I have my own website. And the biggest marketing tool I have? Me. Every where I go, I don’t care if it is a restaurant, WalMart, or wherever, I am handing out business cards and talking about my business. Networking and word of mouth advertising is one of the biggest tools anyone can use now a days. Advertisers want a great deal of money to place your service on a billboard or in the paper, that is money that can go back into my business and allow me to get the equipment I mentioned above, which allows me to take better photo’s, and get a larger word of mouth group advertising for me because of the work that I am able to do for them. I also visit galleries and local coffee shops and have my work displayed there.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Oh wow. That is a very hard one. I have a lot of photo’s that I love from my recent work. I would have to say that this photo of the little pony hiding behind the larger stud horse is one of my favorites. It was a cold, wet, very foggy morning and I was driving to Abilene. I saw the large brown standing by the fence and I knew they would be perfect to photograph. The brown kept grabbing my shirt while I was trying to take his photo. The pony on the other hand kept hiding from me. He did finally let me get his picture though… 😀
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Advice I have: Persevere, in everything that you do, don’t quit. It is a lifelong journey to be a photographer, on that you will never stop learning to become better at unless you just quit. I have quotes from some of the most famous photographers all over my website that I see every time I go to it.
This one by Ernst Haas is on my homepage:
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” Ernst Haas
Don’t limit yourself to anyone thing in this business, you will stagnate. It’s fine to focus on one part of the business for your work, but don’t forget the other beautiful things out there that are waiting to be photographed.
This one is one of many on my Bio page:
“Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.” Alfred Eisenstaedt
It goes back to what I said above, persevere, never, ever stop learning. The moment you do you might as well hang up your camera and go home. Cause you will not progress in your art or your chosen field.
Last piece of advice? I have two. Never be without your camera, always carry it with you, the moments will present themselves that beg to be photographed and without your camera, you can’t take em. And two, challenge yourself every single day to be better than the day before. I started a 365 project to do just that, to make me take a photo a day that will be better than the ones before it. To learn my camera, my art, light, focus, DoF, all of it. Learn, then teach.