I’ve always tried to add humor to my projects. Recently I came up with an idea for an ad campaign and approached one of my long-term clients about putting it together.
There have been studies suggesting that people with symmetrical faces are generally perceived to be more attractive than those without. It’s also commonly accepted that most people have some form or another of asymmetry. Either an ear or an eye is lower on one side, or perhaps you’re prone to the “crooked smile” and have a few extra wrinkles on that side.
As a professional photographer, I regularly engage in discussions about my career choice. Sometimes it’s mentioned how lucky I am to be in a business where I get to take pictures all day and don’t really have to “work” like normal people do. Other times I get to hear inspirational stories from industry up and comers – how they took senior portraits of their neighbor’s nephew and realized they should open a photo studio.
The adventure through the career of a professional photographer is exhilarating to say the least. From photographing squirrels with an iPhone to shooting for National Geographic in a matter of months and from a fixed income to a 6 figure salary in less than a year, a professional photographer is truly blessed.
For career photographers the world over, there are a number of perks that make it a dream job. I’ve compiled 20 of the top benefits:
1. Anyone can do it.
The phone on your camera produces images 12 megapixels and up. With Instagram filters, it’s easier than ever to express your own unique view of the world with any of the built-in presets.
2. It’s a great career for shy people and loners.
The beauty of a camera is it creates a barrier between you and your subject. Just bring the camera up to your eye and all you have to do is watch and push a button. No more worries about actually having to interact with a person!
3. It’s all about the gear.
Photography is the great equalizer. It all comes down to the camera. As long as you have a better camera than the next guy, your pictures will come out better. It’s simple science.
4. One decent portfolio will get you any client.
People looking for a photographer tend to be incredibly open-minded. It’s natural and easy for people to look at beautiful pictures of wildflowers and instantly know you’re the perfect photographer for their upcoming fashion shoot.
5. All professional cameras are incredibly user-friendly.
Hi-end professional cameras (commonly called DSLRs) come with different “modes” that make shooting in any situation a breeze. Taking little Billy to his soccer game? Just turn the dial the icon for the person running. Showing off that stunning new azalea bush? Switch it over to the flower icon. So easy a child could do it!
6. Almost every photographer finds their true passion in a matter of weeks.
Portrait photography, advertising, and commercial product shoots make up for a surprisingly small amount of business in the photographic industry. The images that usually sell the fastest and for the largest profit are macro pictures of flowers and insects (which can be commonly found in your backyard), sunsets, any landscape shot from a moving vehicle, and cat pictures.
7. Social media pretty much handles your marketing needs for you.
Facebook, Instagram, Flickr… these are only a few of the hundreds of outlets at your disposal. With today’s rigid internet security measures in place, it’s never been easier to safely and securely show off your work. But even with today’s regulations on pirated imagery, you can never be too safe. Be sure to always add a large watermark of your company’s logo to the center of every picture.
8. If you can shoot one thing, you can shoot anything.
After all, it’s the same camera for each picture – there’s really not much difference. Weddings, fashion, and photojournalism all come down to the people. They’re nearly identical.
9. Customers are more than happy to let you express your individuality.
When it comes to photographing people, you’ll find very few customers have pre-existing ideas of how they want their pictures to look. Asking a photographer to replicate a picture they saw one time or to make their images look like a Vanity Fair ad is a terrible faux pas. Nearly everyone understands this breach of etiquette and it’s unlikely to ever hear such a request.
10. Copyright and licensing laws are surprisingly easy to understand.
Unlike the United States tax or legal code, the laws governing ownership of artwork is very straight forward. “The person who takes the picture owns the picture.” It’s so clear and to the point, hardly anyone will ever be confused about their rights to reproduce the images.
11. The money’s great!
It’s a standard of business that a quality product demands a respectable price. When it comes to cherished images of loved ones, advertisements for the season’s hot new product, or coverage of a once-in-a-lifetime event, you’ll find customers are more than happy to spend that little extra.
12. It’s all about the art.
Paperwork isn’t for everyone. One of the best reasons to become a professional photographer is knowing all you have to think about is crafting award-winning images. As a professional, I spend the majority of my days in “the field” capturing fleeting glimpses of the beauty in the world around me. In fact, writing this list is probably the most I’ll even look at my computer this week.
13. It’s one of the easiest jobs to talk about.
Imagine an efficiency expert meeting a new group of people. By the time they explain the intricacies of their job, people might be more confused than when they started. But, as a crafter of unique imagery, all you have to do is tell someone you’re a photographer and they’ll instantly understand that you take pictures at weddings.
14. Getting constructive feedback of your images is an almost effortless process.
Everyone has an inherent ability to determine what makes a picture aesthetically pleasing. All you have to do is send an email of a few dozen full-size, uncompressed pictures to a friend and they’ll be able to tell you what works about the images and what doesn’t. A few sources of good advice might include your grandmother, your neighbor, open-content online forums, Jim in the cubicle around the corner, and 4chan.
15. General education doesn’t really matter when your business is art.
Remember, a successful photography business is about the pictures. There isn’t really a reason to know mathematics or finances. That’s what an accountant is for. If you were never great in English class, don’t worry yourself too much. As we already discussed, photography is a business for “the lone wolf.” There aren’t many instances where presentations or one-on-one meetings come into play.
16. Contracts are a thing of the past.
Gone are the days when simple things like a stay at a hotel or joining a gym require pages and pages of paperwork. Integrity, honesty, and a sense of moral right and wrong are all people need to uphold a deal. The only legalese and business savvy you need to know is how flash those pearly whites and deliver a firm handshake.
17. Once they start, jobs don’t really change.
The professional art industry is one built on mutual respect. You’re offering a service that your customers are paying for and they understand the boundaries of what that means. One of the most delicate situations in a customer-photographer relationship is asking for more than the initial agreement. If at any point your customer asks you to shoot longer or include extra files, happily accept the request. Once the project is done, they will be eager to compensate you fairly for your extra effort.
18. Photoshop will fix any mistake.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a burger flipper, a federal judge, or a heart surgeon – people make mistakes. The beauty of photography is those mistakes don’t have to be permanent. Let’s say you’re photographing a bride after the big dance and her hair is stuck to her forehead sweat. There’s no need to interrupt everyone’s fun to brush the hair aside, just open the file in Photoshop and click the “Fix Hair” icon in the tools pallet.
19. Career advancement is virtually guaranteed.
Just like professional athletes, many of the highly successful photographers are “discovered” by talent agents. By utilizing photo-sharing websites like Instagram and Flickr, It’s easier than ever for agencies to find your work. Just upload a few photos a week and you’ll be solicited for projects in no time!
20. It requires almost no specific training or education.
In the end, your career is all about creating show-stopping images, conveying your unique view of the world around you. If you have an expensive camera, you’re guaranteed to craft masterpieces. Just throw it on “auto,” click away, then sit back and wait for the money to come rolling in!
A big thank you to Ben C. and Elayne G. for their inspiration and help with this list!
Hooray! I’ve been waiting quite a while to share this one with you guys, but I had to iron out the finer details first.
Way back in the spring, I began doing video work for The Michigan Animal Rescue League. The promo spot caught the attention of one of their sponsors, The Urban Dog, an all-natural dog food and supply store out of Rochester Michigan.
After a fairly lengthy amount of planning and conceptualizing, we settled on an advertising project that would include a promo video, a series of ad posters, and a collection of interviews about the store.
Then the fun started.
Probably a good 80% of the dog owners I know graciously allowed me access to their furry family members. After a couple months of video, photography, editing, audio selecting, and post processing – the project is locked, loaded, and ready for you, the loving audience.
Also, be sure to swing by TheUrbanDogStore.com to see what they’re all about. I learned a lot on this project I wish I had known years ago about maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle for your dog.
And I’d also like to mention how massively thankful I am to everyone who helped my out and let me borrow your dogs for the afternoon.
Yesterday, I got a chance to revisit my childhood. It was an… altered experience.
Went up to Crossroad Village, in Flint, Michigan. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s kind of like Greenfield Village (a city of historical reenactments) set in the mid to late 1800’s. This time of year is specifically interesting there because they break period-character a bit and deck the entire place up in quite a lot of Christmas lights.
When I was a wee lad, it was just crazy to go to a village in the middle of nowhere and see people who still live just like they had 100 years prior. I would take the train ride out into the country and wave to Santa, who would have, of course, been kind enough to grace us, and only us, with his presence as we rode the tracks, listening to the most traditional, old-timey of Christmas carols (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).
Now the illusion is a bit lost on me, but that’s not to say the experience is not enjoyable – far from it. In my current mentality of “if there’s something I can learn, you best be sure I’m gonna learn it,” the magic of the holiday spirit has been replaced by super-fascinating historical facts. As an example: The train you can ride (on the Huckleberry Railroad) is actually a real-life coal-burning engine from the late 1800s, pulling a dozen cars from the same period. This, of course, is quite an accomplishment, since people have had to maintain the machines in working and aesthetic order for over a century.
A little side fact: Reindeer are ticklish… let me explain. In the spirit of all things festive, a reindeer had been brought in from a local farm for photo opportunities. As you enter the barn, there is a sign near the entrance instructing you not to touch the reindeer as it is “too ticklish” to them. Being a reasonable adult, I deduced that the comment was a friendly, whimsical way of keeping children from taking an antler to the face. Of course, if I were to wait for the impressionable youth to leave I could have an adult conversation with the reindeer’s handler and explain that I would very much like to pet the reindeer and that I would not do something stupid like hang my coat on it. She informed me the sign wasn’t actually a joke and demonstrated by VERY VERY LIGHTLY petting the reindeer. If the reindeer could have spoken it would have said something akin to, “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?! Get away from me.” In conclusion, reindeer do not like to be petted.
While the antique train and the reindeer with personal space issues were fascinating, the clear winners of my trip were the historical actors. It wasn’t so much the convincing illusion (they didn’t wear Wolverine work boots back then) but the nerdy factoids these folks had in their heads. I got to see a 100-year old typesetting machine printing a news article, found out that frontier towns sprang up based explicitly on the vicinity to the blacksmith, and learned how to use a straight razor (which I was just recently gifted).
And, OF COURSE, there were some pretty nifty photo opportunities. Here are a few of my favorites.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned a project in the works that may or may not have involved assorted non-makeup like materials in place of actual cosmetics.
Well here’s the project. But first – let me dig through a few minutes of back-story.
I was given an assignment to “create a project.” … … OK – for all of you non-art people out there, let me lay this out. When someone essentially says “Do something,” it’s a problem. See, no many project ideas you have tucked away for a rainy day, that level of challenge instantly negates any of your previous concepts. What they’re really saying is, “So, you think you’re creative, huh? Think you got a head on them shoulders? Fine. Bring it. Show me what you got. It better be MIND-BLOWING.”
This invariably leads to panic attacks and a violent barrage of second guessing yourself.
But that is all leading up to the real point…. This dude –> Caleb Charland. He takes (what I like to refer to as) “pictures of science.” Whether it’s actually science or just looks “sciencey”is irrelevant. The point is that he inspired me to make things. Things like catapults and dead-falls.
Then I thought, “What could I use such harmful devices for that would be photographically interesting?” AH HA! —- Splattering my friends and acquaintances with assorted food and art mediums.
So it began.
But after a few days of though i realized that things I could fling really only came in lumpy, liquidy, flakey, or powdery consistencies and that I would quickly run out of delivery methods. So, I racked my brain further.
That’s when I went to Rite Aid to get something (probably razors or soap or something). BUT! While I was there, I couldn’t help but notice the 5-foot tall posters of seductive looking ladies flashing their mascara-ridden lashes at me.
Then it just clicked in my head like a bad-idea shotgun chambering a round of inappropriate.
People flip through “Cosmo” and see models making ridiculous faces then say to themselves “if I use that makeup, I could look equally as stupid.” OK, they probably don’t say that, but it’s sort of the unconscious process that goes on.
I got to thinking, what would happen if I got people to slather their visages with Alphabet Soup, corn starch, or pizza toppings? Would marinara be the new black in next summer’s line up?
No. Probably not… But I still got people to do it.
That’s gotta count for something.
Here you go.
My buddy, Carl Amyoni, has a particular set of skills… skills that make him a nightmare for people like IKEA.
Carl is one of those unique individuals that grew up not with The Rugrats or Inspector Gadget, but with the likes of Norm Abrams and Tolstoy – essentially the makings for a modern-day Renaissance Man. However, instead of a hoity-toity Palisade, Carl found enlightenment in things like raw steel, hand carved mallets, and sandpaper of varied grits.
He was well on the way to a life of hand-crafted stuff.
One day, Carl became interested in photography. (He still won’t tell me exactly what happened – it has something to do with Public Access Channels and a substantial quantity of artichoke and onion guacamole).
Anyway – after meeting him through a photography class, it became clear that Carl was more interested in building, himself, what could otherwise be purchased at any department store.
About 3 and a half years have passed and, as such, other friends and I discuss how it’s likely Carl, in the search of imagery-perfection, designed and forged his own camera.
I think it probably went something like this….
As you may have noticed (or maybe not) I’ve been lacking a bit on getting up “the content.”
Well, sure, I’ve been busy with some jobs – BUT – more importantly…
Jon’s learning video.
Yes indeedy, folks – while I will always rock out the single shots, I’m starting to love me some 24FPS. So with no more rambling, please take a gander at my very own promo video!
Oh – be sure to watch it in HD – it’s just that much better.
It’s rare that I get this geeked about a project, but this one really came together – and we aren’t done yet.
You may recall this post and this post from the last couple months. I have been part of assorted groups focusing on art direction and team-oriented projects. For this round – the assignment was “dessert.” We may have gone a bit off the reservation…
Our focus was on taste – specifically, a taste that you would go through horrible experiences just to enjoy.
– Be sure to swing by in the next week or so – we’ve got some video with your name on it.
**No dogs, street-fighting girls, or business men were seriously injured in the making of these images.**
We’re back for round 2 of the collaborative projects. You may have seen the first post a little while ago. For those just joining in, allow me to recap: I began participation in a series of group endevors. Each round involves an art director, a photographer, and a variety of other individuals (positions as needed). We trade roles for each new project.
Basically, it’s a set of group building exercises.
The time around, our team tackled some tough technology (see what I did there?) Anyway, one of the more important concerns in today’s world of digitally-creative individuals is security. Our ads are a look at ioSafe’s nearly invincible hard drives. Dave Rodriguez, Nancy Garcia and myself decided to go “stereotypical” on the security.
As always – opinions and comments always appreciated.