Chris got in touch with me a few weeks ago letting me know that he was really enjoying RAW, anyway his flickr link was attached so like always I thought I better check it out. I was immediately presented with some cool work. Turns out his website had more of the same style which Chris had shot for clients. Really good stuff so check it out.
What made you get into photography
I always took pictures as a child and teen on random disposable and 35mm cameras and when I would go on trips my family always thought I took decent photos. I was not until 2008 when a few of my friends started Tumblr blogs, that i really realized how much I loved it. I started up a tumblr blog just for fun photos that I took and got a little Canon point and shoot camera to wander around town with. I remember one of my best friends, Ryan Miller, took me to a Billy Joel concert and I got some amazing shots (by luck i think) and that was the moment I knew I wanted to start shooting for real. I sold my Orange guitar head and Marshall Cab and picked up a Nikon D40 with some decent lenses to start learning on. A few months later people started asking me what I charged for photo shoots and then shortly after that, I quit my day job to peruse Photography full time. The rest is history! The odd thing was (as I found out recently) that my Dad was a photographer and I never had any idea! (he passed away when I was 8 so I never got to know that side of him), but I have some amazing photos of me as a child and I never knew where they came from or who took them. Now I know!
How did you get started?
I think I covered it in that last question! See Above.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I shoot a wide variety of images, because I find beauty in a lot of different things. I also have to keep my options open since this is my only source of income. I feel that if I pigeon holed myself into one style, it may be more difficult to pay the bills. I do a lot of work in the music industry shooting promotional images for bands and magazines such as Alternative Press Magazine. I also now shoot a lot of Weddings and Engagements, as well as standard portraiture. I really enjoy shooting more set up shots, and am trying to gear myself more towards the commercial world. I recently shot a number of images for Sobieski Vodka, and have some really cool stuff coming up that I am super excited about.
What gear are you using?
I currently shoot with a Nikon D90 and have a variety of pro lenses. The glass is what really matters to me as far as getting quality images, and the D90 suits my needs for the moment although I am looking to upgrade to full frame very soon. I use alien bee’s for my lighting but for certain shoots I will rent out better lighting gear (profoto, elinchrom, etc.) just to get better recycle times and more consistency. When it comes to equipment, everything is just a tool to make the photographers job easier. You can do wonders with inexpensive equipment (if you know how to use it) , but when it comes down to the nitty gritty better gear just makes life much better to deal with in a pinch.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
As I said above, equipment is just a tool so it really depends on what I am shooting when I decide what lens I want to use. I recently have been doing a lot of weddings and I love my 24-70mm 2.8 for an walk around lens but I usually like to use fast primes as much as possible. Investing in a good lens belt is a great thing when you need to switch lenses quickly on the fly. It may look super silly, but it works!
How are you marketing yourself?
I utilize the internet A LOT with posting on sites like flickr, tumblr, 500px, facebook, etc and most of my marketing is really word of mouth. I end up going to a lot of different events, so I try to meet people that would be able to utilize my services and I never leave the house without at least 50 business cards on hand. I plan on doing some different campaigns in the future to market my work, but at the moment everything is very grass-roots.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
My favorite photo I have taken so far is an image of Dancer/Choreographer Kriyss Grant that I shot for promotional material for his album. He was the first dancer selected to go on the Michael Jackson “this is it tour” and then sadly, MJ passed away and the tour was cancelled. He has since worked on choreography for people like Beyonce Knowles and is releasing an album soon! This was taken right at sunrise on a sound stage in Palm Beach County where we had access to an old plane and I just love his pose and the atmosphere of the photo. The only editing I did was some color correction, dodge and burn and a bit of sharpening.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
A lot of people argue about the true meaning of “professional photographer” I (and many of my peers) view the definition as ” someone who makes their SOLE income from their photography”. This does not mean you live at home with your parents and they support you but you love photography and make $50 here and there a few times a month for photo shoots. This means you rent or own your own your house or apartment, make your own car and insurance payments, pay your own phone bill, pay your own utilities, pay for your own food and other expenses, and have extra spending money for yourself all from your photography.
On that note, It takes a lot of time, dedication, and hard work to become a professional photographer. You must constantly network, and always understand how your business is running. If you want to “go pro” be prepared to do 85% business and 15% photography. Also, you are the face of your business, so always be kind to potential clients and make sure to go the extra mile when you provide your final product. If something goes wrong and a client is not happy, be sure to fix it for them and make sure they end up happy (even if the expense comes out of your pocket) because if you don’t EVERYONE will hear about it and people will be weary of working with you.
It is super hard to balance the business and the passion of photography, but if you can do it then you will be in a position like I am where you have fun every day doing your job, and you are happy with the life you are living. We all have moments of questioning our inner artist, and being a photographer is NOT a glamourous job like many people make it out to be. It is the lessons of living though the bumps in the road and learning from them that really shape us as people and make us who we are.
With that said, I adore what I do every day of my life, and wouldn’t change it for the world!