Thank you, Scott and Brad for providing this opportunity to share my work and some thoughts. It’s amazing to have a chance to share with this audience. I hope my words are strong, for I chose a camera, not a typewriter as my medium of communication. So please bare with me, poor grammar and all.
Words have never been my friend, they tire me with the duration it takes to visualize a story. Think about how long a writer must spend describing the visual for his audience. There is a reason people read to fall asleep. Images on the other hand are immediate. They can take your breath away in an instant and shatter stereotypes in a heartbeat.
As I sit here staring at a blank white screen hoping something inspiring dribbles out, I am wishing I could just show you my images and they would tell my story. I enjoy the guest blogs where photographers share insight or philosophy into the craft. So, I really would like to share a few things that I hold onto at the core of my process.
The concept that my images are my voice guides me. Images are the way people know me, therefore they must speak about what I love, how I am, see, and feel. Just as the audible words flow from ones mouth and give insight into the person behind them, so too should my images. Create images that are true to your own voice, who you are, what you stand for and what you love.
I love sports, I am intense, focused, driven, saturated with passion, outspoken and not afraid to share my opinions. If you look at my portfolio, I think you’ll see exactly that. If your images align with your voice, they will be full of soul and very powerful to an audience.
With that said, one of my favorite sayings is, “If my images are my voice, then I never want to be an echo.” I owe most of that to my Father, who always pushed me to be different, think differently and most importantly see uniquely. Today, our industry is overloaded with excellent, technically perfect image makers. One can learn how to do anything photographically online from numerous venues. The competition for work is fierce, so the easiest way to stand out is to do something so different that it demands attention.
Spend time thinking about ways to create images no ones ever seen before. These images stand out, everything else is just an echo. Echoes are always a more hollow empty sounding version of the original voice. What I see most in image making these days are echoes, sad but true. When I do see someone’s work that is unique, I get so stoked. It’s those people that have careers heading in the right direction.
If your images are unique and true to your voice, then you must truly value them. One of the most frustrating experiences for every photographer is when a client wants to trade images for photo credit. My bills have never been paid with photo credits. Your unique vision has value, otherwise people would not want to pay money for ink and paper to print them. Doing assignments for less than market value creates great industry erosion. If we love what we do, we must protect the industry and each do our part to keep value in our product. Otherwise we will all suffer.
I live in southern California, and some of the best photographers in the world are surf photographers. Unfortunately the surf industry which is built mainly on “image” pays incredibly small amounts for incredible photography. Photographers themselves are to blame for year in and year out, new photographers are willing to trade their images for credit. Once the value is gone it never comes back.
Always make better images. It is impossible to be perfect, and I often call our craft the “illusive search for perfection.” So with each and every assignment, I approach it as a chance to snatch perfection. I never catch it, but I always believe that I will. This keeps me learning, searching, pushing and innovating. When I settle for good enough, it’s time to hang it up.
A fellow photographer once said that his clients did not know the difference between good enough and perfect. I never worry about whether the client knows the difference. I do, and that’s all that matters.You are only as good as your last shoot, and make every assignment an opportunity to make a portfolio piece.
Finally, the only thing about this industry you control is your images. If you spend your time making incredible images, you won’t have to spend very much time doing all the things we hate doing like marketing. Strong images speak for themselves and the internet tends to find them and spread them around to all the right people. You can craft the most killer promo piece in the world and send out a million, but if your images are not unique, strong and filled with your soul, it’s going right in the trash.
To learn more about me please take some time looking at my work. Like Richard Avedon once said “My portraits are more about me than my subjects”, hopefully you’ll come away knowing me.