Another fantastic find on 500px is Kevin, a nature and landscape photographer out of Cambridge, Canada. For those interested Kevin also runs workshops and a mentor program, definitely worth a look. I would love to know your thoughts and I’m sure Kevin would too so please leave a comment below.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 44 year old husband and father to a wonderful and supportive family. My wife, Karen and children Dylan and Bailey, along with the cat, Oliver currently reside an hour west of Toronto, Canada in a small town called Cambridge.
Without their support I could never have dedicated the time it takes to hold down a full time job and a growing photography business at the same time.
What made you get into photography?
I first got interested in photography at the age of 13. My Dad had bought an Olympus SLR and I became fascinated by the black and white photographs he was taking. During the same period my brother was born and I picked up the camera and started taking photos of him. I was hooked. I registered for my first photography course the following year and was hooked on capturing “special moments” in my family’s life.
The passion somewhat waivered in my teenage years until my Uncle Kevin, a great photographer and an inspiration to me, showed me an image of a Common Loon on the lake at their cottage. The detail of the beads of water and the fly’s on the loon captured my attention and I became hooked yet again.
Since then I have not looked back, being the guy that took the family photos, taking photos on vacations and always stopping to appreciate a moment in time that I can capture.
How did you get started?
I went through a gradual change from amateur to professional photographer. It wasn’t a conscious decision I made. I just love taking photographs. If I had to pin point one event that started the evolution it was in 2009 when I joined a camera club. That season I was given a “Photographer of the Year Award” for the clubs “Themed” competition. That award finally made me realize that I did have a talent that others would appreciate.
I developed my first crude website and offered my images for sale. Slowly, as my confidence grew through the sale of some of my images and having other people ask me how to take images; I made the leap to offer my teaching and mentoring services.
The rest has a blur… images were being sold to people into places I have never heard of, people were contacting me to do workshops from other countries, my tutorials on my blog have started to go viral and even corporate clients started to contact me about their photographic needs.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
My real passion is nature and landscape photography. I have travelled extensively in my life and now truly appreciate how beautiful our world is. From as small as a drop of dew on a flower petal in the Moroccan Sahara Desert to the towering mountains of North America’s west coast, I have photographed some truly amazing sights.
But I do not just take nature photographs. I like to take architecture photographs and enjoy the voyeuristic experience of autonomously capturing city life.
What gear are you using?
My camera bodies are Olympus. I own an E-520 and an E-30
I use the following lenses:
Zuiko Digital 14-54mm F2.8 – 3.5 II
Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8 – 3.5
Zuiko Digital 70-300mm F4.0 – 5.6
Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8 – 3.5 SWD
Teleconverter EC-20 2x
Carl Zeiss 50mm F1.8
Carl Zeiss 28mm F2.8
I use a Manfrotto tripod, model # 190CX Carbon Filter 3 section tripod and a magnesium ball head with a quick release
I carry my gear in a LowePro knapsack or an Olympus camera bag, depending on where I am going.
For filters I have an assortment of Tiffen Haze filters to protect my lenses and I use the Cokin P Series ND and polarizer filters ranging from an ND2 to ND8, both graduated and not.
My editing software of choice are the latest versions of Photoshop Creative Suite, the Topaz suite of products and Photomatix
What’s your favorite lens and why?
My favorite lens to use is my Zuiko Digital 14-54mm F2.8 -3.5 telephoto lens. It is an extremely well built, splash proof lens offering a fast aperture and minimal vignetting. It is my walk around lens and I find it quickly adapts from a semi wide angle landscape lens to being able to produce great portraits and macro images. The other thing I really like is the minimum focusing distance of 20cm’s
How are you marketing yourself?
I market myself by remembering a few “rules”.
#1 – Be visual… I focus my marketing efforts online and try to be visual with both photographers and potential buyers of my images. I am on twitter, Google+ and 500px.com as there seems to be a certain level of photographers in these online destinations that I am pulling from to do workshops and mentorships. I also make a concerted effort with search engine optimization on my website. I make sure I have business cards and I make a concerted effort to get my images hung in local galleries and businesses.
#2 – Thank your clients… I always make sure that I thank my clients and under promise and over deliver on any product or service. Every client of mine also gets a personalized message thanking them for their business.
#3 – Remember the power of “word of mouth”… I donate as many photographs as I can to not for profit initiatives, I became the President of my local photography club and I make sure everyone knows I am a photographer and how they can see my work.
#4 – Price your products and services properly… I always know what my competition is charging and I make sure I am either less expensive or I can justify the value that I offer versus my competition.
Last, always remember, marketing is about being in a marathon, not a sprint. Rather than just one big marketing campaign, provide steady, consistent and quality photographs and service.
What’s your favorite photo you have taken?
I have a few favorite photos that I have taken. They may not be the most technically sound images, but they have a meaning to me personally. They represent different points of evolution in my photography career.
This photo, taken one Sunday morning with my buddy Dave, 15 minutes from my house was the very first image that I showed at a photo gallery. It was the first time that I truly had confidence in my abilities as a photographer.
This photo is from my favorite city in the world to photograph, Paris. The Eiffel Tower has been shot from every possible angle and I was determined to capture something different on one of my last visits. So, I decided to combine my love of reflections with the iconic tower and go out for a walk at night to see if I could find something unique. The following is a photo that is now one of my all time favorites.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
The opportunities are out there, they are just not easy to acquire. If it was easy, everyone would be a successful professional photographer.
My first piece of advice, believe in yourself and your abilities, dig hard and talk to everyone. You will find the opportunities if you are passionate enough and believe in your abilities.
My second piece of advice is to focus on “branding you, the person” properly. Of course there is the creation of the marketing plans, price sheets, a portfolio, website, joining associations and also networking. Those are the must have’s… you can learn about how to do those on any number of sites. What I suggest is that you separate your “BRAND” from the hoards of competition out there.
There have been a lot of very talented photographers that have failed in this business; conversely, there are some successful photographers that succeeded even though they were not top notch photographers. The difference between success and failure is that the successful photography business was run by a much more efficient marketer and business person. They focused on “branding themselves as the brand” and did not solely rely on their abilities.