Clearly I’m not great at this blogging thing, and though I love to write, I’ve really been struggling with my career path. There’s been a lot of anxiety about working the same position forever with not much chance of progressing, which is what I’m discovering working in the wholesale fashion industry. There are so many small companies out there that don’t pay well or don’t give much opportunity for advancement, and really, that’s what I’m looking for. I love what I do, I love photography, planning and directing shoots, working with models and other creatives, but working a full time position doing it is really draining.
The majority of the work is e-commerce. The same thing over and over and over. And I get it, especially for a company that sells clothing, obviously this is what they need to make money. But really, as much as I don’t like being that pretentious, “god complex” photographer… that kind of work is below my skill level at this point. I’m all for campaigns, but that’s such a small part of the job. Especially these days, pretty much all companies want or need each employee to do a number of tasks that don’t even relate to their job title. It’s frustrating and makes it really hard to enjoy the work.
All this being said, going freelance has its own issues. Most of which involves an extremely competitive field and without steady clients, it’s really difficult to make a living. So here I am looking for something creative and steady that pays a liveable wage, (seemingly impossible these days), possibly a company that offers benefits, which I’ve never had, or at least a really great work environment. I’d even be willing to shoot some product as long as it’s not clothing….jewelry maybe? I’ll have to update my portfolio for that…
The goal in the end is somewhere along the lines of Art Director. But here’s the thing, most companies want experienced Art Directors, with like 10 years under their belt. I’ve done all the work an Art Director does, I’ve just never had that direct title. I’ve never even worked at a company that was big enough to HAVE an Art Director that I could learn from or be promoted to. So for the last 2 years, I’ve just been stuck in this rut, wanting to progress but not really having the opportunity to do so.
Anyway, enough of my venting… here’s some of my latest work. I’m sure most people who actually read my blog have already seen it, but oh well.
Again, it comes to my attention that self portraits are very important to being a photographer. It forces you to know what your model is going through, and understand that sometimes the most flattering position, is not the most comfortable, among other things.
Being on both sides of the camera gives you a sense of what you need to do as the photographer to improve everyone’s experience on set. Self portraits allow you to practice lighting, retouching, poses, camera angles and especially focus.
And of course, all technicality aside, self portraits are a perfect outlet for expression. Expressing oneself through a model doesn’t always end up with the result you’re seeking. Their face might not be just right because they don’t feel what you feel. Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself…or something like that.
There’s something I’ve always loved about weirdos. They’re unique. Not afraid to be themselves. I know I can be pretty weird myself, so naturally, I like to show it in my work.
I love the idea of beautiful people doing weird things. Completely opposite of what the general population would find attractive. I suppose it’s what I find attractive. I feel it adds something different to your average portrait of someone. A portraits purpose is to show the person how they are, so why not add a few of their personality traits?
My latest shoot. The idea was there. I know the images are interesting, but I’m still not satisfied with them. Not because of the model, Jacqueline Tatum, her 11 birds, or the makeup artist, Natalie Moreno. It’s the lighting.
Sometimes I make the mistake of being lazy. I’ll admit it. I love the way natural window light looks, so even though I’m in an environment that I know doesn’t have sufficient window light, and I have my strobes with me, I’m stubborn. It’s a flaw I think I’ve always had, and still proves to be something I need to overcome.
Setting up strobes can be a huge pain. On top of that, I was nervous to use them around live birds for fear of frightening them off. The result, poor lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the images, I just wish they were….more.
More impactful. More dramatic. More inspiring.
There’s always something to improve on as a photographer. I think laziness is my latest goal.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, I know. Work has been pretty hectic the last few months and I haven’t had the time, (or motivation, honestly), to shoot outside of work. But rest assured, I have more photo shoots planned in the next few months and will hopefully have something interesting to post soon. But for now, this will have to do.
A while back, I was asked to participate in sort of an “artist feature” blog post for ViewBug, and gladly obliged. It’s a bit of a filler blog, but I felt they asked some pretty interesting questions that my followers here might be interested in knowing. So enjoy!
What inspired you to be a photographer?
Definitely my Dad. I grew up developing photographs with him in our garage or bathroom. His passion eventually became my passion. On top of that, I have an uncle on my Mom’s side who is a very talented nature photographer.
What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?
Oh, I think I started with a Canon EOS650 and progressed to a 30D and eventually a 40D. That being said, the camera I use at work went from a 7D to a 5D Mark III, and for a previous job, I used a 1D X Mark II that I absolutely loved.
When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?
Honestly, if I can get them to feel anything, I’ve reached my goal. I don’t want them to feel what I feel, because they haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced, (or maybe they have, but in a different way). I want them to feel something that’s meaningful to them specifically. Relate it to their own memories and experiences. The work sets the mood, but what the individual experiences is on a more personal level.
What is it that you love about photography?
I love that I can manipulate the world around me. Yes, I do a lot of commercial work that shows the subject as it is, but my real passion is manipulating the images into something completely new. I’m one of those people who get disappointed when I’ve finished a book because for the time being, I can no longer live in this fantasy world that I’ve been sucked into. But with photography, I can create my own fantasy worlds, even if it’s just retouching a model to be the best version that they can be, to me, it’s still an altered reality.
What has photography done for you?
Photography has allowed me to be creative and express myself. Some people can draw, some paint, some make beautiful music. I manipulate what I see the way I want to see it.
Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?
Definitely feeling, unless I’m doing commercial work. I was once told by someone that successful art is supposed to make you feel something. Most of my personal work has my feelings put into it in a way that people can still relate. For example, I recently did a digital manipulation series called “Blue swept,” that specifically targets certain emotions for me. “Blue Swept #1” is my interpretation of social anxiety. But depending on the viewers experience, maybe it represents something else. Either way, It’s more of a feeling than a concept.
How do you describe your style?
For my personal work, I’d say quirky is a very fitting verb. The weirder the better. I love portraiture and fashion, but everyone has such different personalities, so I try to get my models to open up and really be themselves. It results in some really interesting photos.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
85mm f/1.2 because, (to quote a teacher of mine), “it makes the background like butter.”
What are your 3 tips for others who want to become betterphotographers?
1. Art is subjective. Don’t get discouraged if someone doesn’t like your work.
2. Creativity is amazing, but technical skill is also important. There’s no shame in watching instructional videos online to improve your work.
3. Keep yourself stimulated. The more photos you look at on a daily basis the better.
Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?
Absolutely. As I mentioned above, art is extremely subjective. Not everyone is going to feel the same about it as you do, and that’s totally fine. Just try not to take it personally.
Where did you learn to take photos?
I learned a lot from my Dad when I was young, then a high school photography class, then college. I was lucky enough to attend and graduate from Brooks Institute before it shut down and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always room for improvement, and without proper schooling, I know for a fact that I would not have made it as a professional photographer.
Raw vs jpg and why?
Always raw. I do a l lot of post editing, which degrades the image, so I’ve got to start with as many pixels as I can get!
What do you carry in your camera bag?
I have a decent collection of lenses that always travel with me along with spare cf cards and of course, business cards! You never know when you’re gonna need ’em.
If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?
I’d love to meet Jerry Uelsmann. Surrealistic photography is one of the things that I’m still trying to learn, and have always wanted to do and he is a huge inspiration for me.
What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?
One of my teachers used to tell us, “get close, then get closer.” I feel like a lot of photographers just take the photo and think they’re done withoutexamining all the angles.
What is your dream location to shoot?
Scotland! So much history, and everything is green!
How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?
Location scouting is very important. Unfortunately, It’s not always easy to picture the final result, so sometimes you have to just pick a spot and work with it.
What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?
At the moment, I’m trying to concentrate on moving up in the workplace so I’ve been doing a lot of more commercial shoots outside of work to build a portfolio. That being said, I’ve been trying to gather more stock images from previous shoots to practice more digital manipulation.
What is your goal with your photography?
I want to be able to work within the art world, but I also want to continue my own personal artwork. Someday I’d love to be featured in a gallery or museum.
I decided to do something different this year, and document all of the significant photoshoots I’ve done. (I say significant, because as a professional photographer for a wholesale clothing company, I frequently shoot throughout the year for our online catalog. I don’t include these as they are not creative or big productions whatsoever.)
I meant for it to be more like private research so that I can kind of keep track of my productivity, and use it as a way to keep myself motivated to shoot more. But somehow, it turned into a project by itself.
As I collected more images, either behind the scenes, or photos of the models, I noticed that when the photos were grouped together, they almost look like one piece. Each image has its own feel and mood, but because they’re shot the same way and have a cohesive look to them, they all fit together.
It’s like looking through the history of my work, in a more creative and interesting way. Not at all what I had expected. But beautiful on its own.
Someone is talking to you. They’re talking and talking and talking and you’re suffocating. You’re drowning in a sea of words and all you want to do is scream and run and fight and you can’t take it anymore, so you push back.
You push with words. You push with what you know will strike at the heart. You push with evil. You take the closest thing to them and transform it into a negative, breaking them down. Breaking them into tiny fragments, sharp like glass. You push harder and harder, the words falling out of your mouth like vomit and you can’t stop. You can’t see what you’re doing.
You’re destroying them with words to get them to shut up and you know you’re losing them forever….