I always find it interesting to read peoples answers. Some photographers get right into it and realise that they can really utilise the moment to talk about their work, storey and even impart some of their knowledge to the up and coming generation of photographers. Adam has taken the opportunity to the fullest and provided a fascinating read into his life and work as a landscape photographer. He has also provided one of the largest answers to the “advice” question.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve lived the majority of my life in Salt Lake City, UT. Located in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains, I couldn’t ask for a better photographic playground. I travel quite a bit, and I always love coming home. I tell people I’ve traveled enough to know I never want to leave SLC.
I’m married to a wonderfully supportive woman and have two sons, ages 4 1/2 and 2. As far as I’m concerned, I am absolutely living the dream. Nothing better than doing what you love, and being able to spend time with those you hold dear. Life. Is. Good.
What made you get into photography?
I took a standard black & white photography class in high school and really enjoyed it. It was all film back then and I learned the typical darkroom stuff and what not. Definitely piqued my interest. For the next several years, I spent a decent amount of time just messing around with photography but it didn’t really take hold until a trip to Italy in 2000. I had a Canon EOS Elan IIE, Quantaray 28-200 lens (terrible), took 30 rolls of old Kodak slide film, bought a crappy 2-stop soft step Grad ND filter, and I was hooked for life.
How did you get started?
I graduated from college in public relations and worked in that field in the ski industry here in Utah for nearly five years thereafter. During that time, I continued to shoot as much as possible. I was committed to building a solid portfolio, all the while learning the ins and outs of the business of photography (which was key). I opened my photography business in 2005 and started getting my feet wet as a part-time professional. In 2008, I decided to quit my job in PR and pursue photography full time. Haven’t looked back since…
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I try and focus mainly on active lifestyle, travel/tourism and scenic landscape imagery. I also do a good deal of commercial architectural work. It’s a fine line between diversifying your work and income outlets without trying to be everything to everyone.
What gear are you using?
I shoot all Canon bodies and lenses. Currently shooting a 5D MkII and 1D MkIV with a modest quiver of lenses. I would be helpless and hopeless without my Singh Ray filters. Love my Clikelite backpacks and Gitzo tripods. Lastly—Arc’teryx outerwear (bomber!) and Mountain Khakis pants (even more bomber!).
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I really don’t think I can narrow it down to just one. I don’t just use my 70-200 for fast action and I don’t just use my 16-35 for the five-star landscape vistas. They’re all excellent in their own way. I’ve always been a huge proponent, however, of making magic with the equipment you have on hand. I didn’t build my collection of gear overnight, and some of my best imagery has been captured with meager equipment by today’s standards.
How are you marketing yourself?
I rely heavily on grass roots and social media marketing. I’m a huge believer in putting out fresh info and imagery on a regular basis. I do this through the usual channels of Facebook, Twitter and my own photography blog/monthly e-letters as well as various online photography forums and photo sharing communities. Additionally, I work closely with several of my sponsors in putting out tutorials, blog posts, seminars and workshops to their followers and fans as well.
On the commercial side, it’s largely just the good old-fashioned “nose to the grindstone” approach of email, phone calls and face-to-face appointments. I am looking into database memberships and am in the process of putting together a comprehensive outreach plan to a broader audience of higher end commercial clients outside of my local and regional clientele.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
As any photographer can attest, choosing just ONE favorite image is all but impossible, but this image of a winter sunset up Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT was perhaps the first true five-star landscape image I ever captured. I had driven by this spot many, many times and always had this vision in my head of the perfect winter sunset, reflected in a glassy foreground with fresh snow and brilliant sky to boot. It was one of those rare moments when all the stars aligned and everything came together, and it cemented in my mind the importance of always being prepared, in the right place at the right time, if you want to produce exceptional imagery beyond the norm.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
- Spend time building a solid portfolio of impressive, quality work before trying to court clients and make it as a professional. Especially in this digital age, it is vital to be able to demonstrate to potential clients your ability to produce exceptional imagery on a consistent basis. Confidence in your work is key, and without the portfolio to walk the walk, talk is cheap. Even with a meager client list (as all of ours are when we start out), unforgettable, unique imagery speaks for itself.
- Learn the business of photography. Take a business course in college. Read blogs, books and anything else that will help you understand what running a viable business entails. The easiest part of running a photography business is clicking the shutter, and that’s why so many fall short when bottom lines start to rear their ugly head. Put yourself in a position that allows you to say “no” to bad business. Align yourself with clients who are looking for more than a capable shutter finger. Sell yourself!
- Network. Like crazy! A great deal of getting jobs, getting published, getting workshop students and getting print sales has to do with relationships. You can never have too many friends in this business, and it’s important not to take things personally and risk burning a bridge that might yield an opportunity in the future.
- Lastly, and most importantly—work for it. We’ve all heard the cliché, overly-used sayings about how nothing worthwhile in life comes without challenges, trials and a heaping helping of hard work. Well—they’re all cheesy, and all true. There are too many talented photographers out there to sit on your laurels. You have to work harder, work smarter, be more reliable, be more accountable, be more persistent, be more creative and everything and anything else in between. Good luck!