He’s an ebook author, landscape and travel photographer who I came across while surfing the web. Once you’ve finished reading his very full interview, thats packed with lots of advice, check out his amazing work.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a stock image shooter and a photo tour host based in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. I’m self taught as a photographer and its been an incredible journey over the last six years. I have never taken a formal lesson in photography. But I’ve read and read and read. And I’ve looked at thousands of photos taken by terrific shooters.
What made you get into photography?
I think I saw photography as another form of communication. For the majority of my adult life, I’ve been a public speaker and I also wrote a magazine column for 17 years. My son pointed out to me that the only difference now is that my communication is visual instead of verbal or written. And being able to capture a moment that happens only once and then to to share it with others really appealed to me.
How did you get started?
My photographic journey is perhaps a bit unusual. For most of my adult life, I took photos of my family with a point and shoot camera. Then I read an article almost six years ago about this new site called Flickr – where you could back up your photos in case of a hard drive failure. That made sense and thus I started uploading my stuff there. Little did I know that it had a “comment” feature and people started commenting on some of my stuff. That surprised me, and I decided if people were going to view my work – I better get better at photography. Thus I started reading all I could – in print and online. I bought a DSLR. I practiced and made every mistake in the book. But I started growing at my craft and the photos started getting better.
About a year later another kind soul on Flickr mentioned that he thought one of my shots would make a good stock shot. I didn’t have a clue as to what stock was, but I started investigating it. I uploaded a few shots for consideration and was promptly rejected. That really fueled my competitive desire. Sure enough, I got better and now I have a fairly large portfolio with Getty Images.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I do primarily landscape and travel photography although I also have a passion for wildlife and macro. Because I started leading photo tours a couple of years ago, I get to go to some of the nicest landscape and wildlife locations in North America. It is great to be able to travel to places like Banff and the Tetons and help other photographers improve their craft.
What gear are you using?
I shoot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon D7000. The D700 is my go to body for landscapes and the D7000 gives me the distance I need for wildlife when I’m out in the mountains. Like so many others, I’ve got a ton of lenses but I’ve gravitated to using a couple of them most of the time.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
My Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 is my personal favorite, although the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 is a close second. I like their low light capability and the fact that both produce good crisp images even when handheld. Good glass makes a huge difference and I’m glad a good friend of mine recommending investing in it a couple of years ago.
How are you marketing yourself?
My Flickr photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffclow/ ) has been my most effective marketing device – it has garnered over 4.5 million views in the last five years. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t get a request for an image or more information about one of my tours. And yes, I’m aware that a lot of my stuff gets ripped off when I post online – but I’ve gotten some well paying jobs because an editor found me via a search engine that led him to my Flickr stream. I also am on twitter (@jeffclow) and have a website for my tour business ( http://www.dirtcheapphototours.com ) and I have been just recently crafting a new website for myself ( http://www.jeffclow.com ) since my new eBook came out.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Hard to pick one favorite since I’ve been fortunate to be at the right place at the right time a lot of times. But this shot taken along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park is my current favorite.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Passion. Selling yourself or your images to others requires a transfer of enthusiasm – and passion – from you to your clients. You can take great photos, but if you don’t have passion and enthusiasm, I don’t think you can make it in today’s incredibly challenging environment.
I’ve also got a few tidbits of photo advice in my new eBook – the Dirt Cheap Photo Guide to Grand Teton National Park ( https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/68490 ) that I believe bear repeating. The first, and the most important is the most easy to remember. If you want to take better travel and landscape photos, you’ve got to stand in front of better things. That’s it. Pure and simple.
Then when those better things become part of your portfolio, you’ve got to let the world see them. The internet is the only reason I am a pro today. Not one of the reasons. The only reason. None of my success would have become a reality without an audience that found, then appreciated – and ultimately started buying my work.