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!
I remember when I saw David’s website first time. Lots of amazing photographs industrial machines, oil pipes, people on the 10 story ladder etc. and even the ugliest device showed with artistic touch. I learn a lot from your website. How to deal with problems on location (with people and gear), how to light in small room etc. You even like my beach ( Siesta Key) :)
Thank you for all your inspiration.
It’s so true that “you need passion, persistence and an unbridled faith in yourself and your abilities.” This would be with any design related career path, as it’s so so competitive.
I absolutely love your b/w photography. They give out a very peaceful message.
Short and sweet. Very nice as always.
Good guest column. I had fun time with you and Lucas during the Rhode Island Mentor Series Trek in July.
“I had no idea that it would consume my life.”
Great article. 25 years from now I hope (I will :) ) be able to say I’m still doing something I love.
Nassau, Bahamas | Miami, Florida
Great post, David! Thanks for sharing!
Appreciate that you share the trek to where you are today. Great shots here shown. I like especially the last 3. Could you share the lighting of those? Thanks.
Hi old man,
I hope you’re doing fine, Great post
Great information you shared with us when we had SSRB in Saudi Arabia.
Really cool story! Everyone needs to hear inspiring words from time to time, and I could really use that today. Right now retail is consuming my life, and in this economic turmoil it’s even harder to emerge as a successful full time photographer. Hearing real stories like yours is really impassioning. Thanks for the guest blog! Take care :)
How great to see you here on Scott’s blog! It was such a pleasure meeting you in Seattle and I really enjoyed your workshop. You have such a great flare for everything you do!
Awesome portfolio! Them ties pay better than them trees!! :)
Growing up in an oil and gas area, it’s tough to make that industry look glamorous, especially now with the disaster in the gulf. But I must say, those are some quality photos. Great job.
The first time I worked with David was about 20 years ago – in a gold mine in Nevada. Since then he’s shot everything from baseball bats to sand castles for me. I always knew I’d come home with great shots. And over the years, I’ve found a great friend.
Thanks for all the wonderful comments everyone. Kenny, your a true friend! DT
I love seeing David on this blog. He’s such an positive influence and an inspiring teacher. His Small Strobes, Big Results Workshop in Santa Fe has taken me to a level I never believed possible. Many thanks to David as well as to Kelby Training for spotlighting an amazing photographer.
I liked your comment about Joe Baraban. The first photo workshop I took was from Joe. The week I spent at the Maine Photoworkshop had a tremendous impact on my photography.
I’m really bummed now that I missed his workshop when he came by Buffalo, NY a year ago or so. Beautiful work and amazing photographer!
Great guest post!!
Love your stuff and your “Big Results” workshop in Denver was fantastic.