FROM ROCKS AND TREES TO GUYS IN TIES
I’m thrilled and honored to be this week’s guest blogger. I’ve been a member of NAPP and a follower of Scott Kelby for many many years, and I can’t thank him enough for all the wonderful information he provides through his books and online videos.
I’ve been making my living as a photographer for more than 25 years, specializing in location work for annual reports and other types of business collateral material. Making a living as a professional photographer is hard work, no doubt about it! You need passion, persistence and an unbridled faith in yourself and your abilities. As hard as it is to build a successful business in photography, it is the most rewarding career you could ever imagine.
My love affair with photography started back during my high school days. I was a staff shooter on the school paper as well as the yearbook. I enjoyed shooting B/W film, developing the negatives and making prints. My interest in B/W photography grew and I became a big fan of Ansel Adams and his beautiful landscapes. I taught myself the zone system and began shooting “rocks and trees”. Like a lot of young people, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living, but I did know that photography would always play a part in my life. I had no idea that it would consume my life.
Back in the late 70’s I worked as a flight attendant for a major airline. We had a saying in the industry, “There is a smile in every window and an ass in every seat!” Fate was with me one day when I met a passenger that changed my life. He was a professional photographer named Joe Baraban, a Houston based shooter who shot corporate annual reports and advertising work. I can’t remember if he was one of those smiles in a window or just another ass? Long story short, I quit the airline, moved to Houston to assist Joe and learn the business. I stayed for about 15 months before moving to Denver to start my own photography business.
When I moved to Denver, the economy really sucked, much like it does today. Being young at the time, I didn’t know any better and I really didn’t care. All I knew was that I was determined to strike out on my own and succeed at becoming a working professional photographer.
Over the years I’ve photographed for all sorts of industry, however it was the engineering, oil & gas and mining work that captured my interest. I love shooting large-scale projects and the challenge to make those industries look glamorous. It is this sort of work which allows me a tremendous amount of creative freedom, travel and the opportunity to learn about how things work and how they are built. I often compare my assignments with that of the Discovery program “Dirty Jobs”.
Aside from my assignment work, I also teach a lighting workshop called “Small Strobes, Big Results. I’ve been teaching for three years now. I really enjoy sharing my many years of experience with those interested in sharpening their lighting skills.
I also I teach workshops for Nikonians, The Santa Fe Workshops, Maine Media Workshops, GPP (Gulf Photo Plus), PhotoPress Productions and Popular Photography’s Mentor Series Treks.
I’ve been very fortunate to earn a living doing something I love, and I realize that not many of us are able to say that. When I have the opportunity to speak to young people, I encourage pursuing a career that brings them joy. I encourage them to follow their dreams, seek out those who are succeeding in their field of interest. Life is to short too spend your days doing something that you’re not interested in. Reach for that golden ring!