Reasons Why Photography is the Easiest Career

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:

Jonkphoto Photography Easy Career

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!

The Older They Are, The Harder They Party

A number of years ago – maybe 3 or 4 – I did a class project, designed to make use of my major for someone’s benefit. My mother manages nursing education at Sanctuary at Faser Villa, a Metro Detroit senior care center, part of the Trinity Health System. This particular center hosts a number of yearly parties for their residents.

In other words, things lined up nicely.

Throughout the growth into my career, I got a boatload of experience shooting events and operating on-site photobooths. For a couple years my girlfriend and I brought a photobooth setup to the senior center; she ran the booth, I shot candids. Over time I began dabbling in video and eventually brought it into the mix. Now each time we attend an event, she shoots pictures, I shoot video.

It’s kind of interesting, working within a set group of people. When you shoot any given event, be it a wedding, or Mitzvah, or company picnic, you have to read the crowd and get a feel for the people.  Pinpoint the couple guests who are super outgoing and seem to exude happiness into whatever group of people they happen to be near. You’ve gotta learn the venue and figure out where the best light is. You also have to try to anticipate the event schedule and be in position before things happen. In the end, you’ve gotta do the best you can and work with what you’re given.

But shooting the same event each year gives a different edge. It’s especially pronounced in a setting like a senior center.  Activity schedules tend not to change much (it’s difficult for the residents if things change all the time). The setting is the same (it’s in the same building each time). Also, for the most part, the residents live there full time, meaning the attendees at the parties tend to remain fairly consistent.

So, instead of a reset each time, I get to work with the information about the event, guests, and venue I had from the previous party and build on it.  It’s unique in comparison to my experiences shooting parties and events.

The most recent party we attended was the Annual Harvest Ball, an Autumn-themed event they host every October. Check out the video below!

– Jon

Surprises In The Wild.

2014-9-8 Smoky Mountains_DSC4502

**UPDATE**  I finally got around to editing the video! Check it out at the bottom of the post, before the pictures (down there). **UPDATE**

At the beginning of September, my girlfriend and I took a trip down to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee to enjoy an invigorating and adventure-filled time camping and hiking in nature’s majesty.  Though we’d undertaken our adventures of years past with all the forethought of a labrador running at a barely opened door with an over-sized stick, we figured such a sizable endeavor warranted some grown-up planning.  To be precise, the Smokies are bear country.  Personally speaking, I was preternaturally excited at the prospect of crossing paths with a bear.  The girlfriend – not so much.

You see, in my mind black bears were the tiniest and least-threatening of all bear species.  Roughly the size of a large dog, with a demeanor more curious than anything else, they pose little threat to people – even less to those who aren’t afraid of them. Well, my proclamations of the friendliness of the species fell on deaf ears. In an effort to quell concerns, I purchased bear spray, a hunting knife, a riot baton, an alarm whistle, and a wildlife warning bell. This had the opposite effect than it probably should have. In my mind, I was now completely prepared to stand my own and come out victorious in the inevitable event of a bear attack. After all, we would certainly be strolling through bear-filled valleys and driving to the nearest Bestbuy to purchase more memory cards after we filled our existing 150gig of storage space with award-winning pictures of the majestic Ursus Americanus.

All told, we had line-of-sight to black bears for a grand total of 2.64 seconds.  In case you’re curious, that’s not enough time to reach down pick up your camera, focus, and press the shutter trigger.  Not. Even. Once.

This leads to the topic of the day:  A brief list of stuff we learn in our extensive research of the Smoky Mountains National Park.

1. Your eardrums are gonna get jacked up.  This should probably go without saying, but in our case, it was just something we didn’t even consider.  You see, in the past 16 years I had not ventured outside an elevation level which, for the sake of clarity, we’ll refer to as “The Midwest.”  That is to say, I’ve hanging around the flatest of the flat geography for the past half of my life. This situation became apparent once we reached southern Kentucky and began ascending rapidly. It’s something that’s easily accepted and quickly put out of mind.  That is until you’re in the mountains, proper.  When you spend a straight week and a half either hiking or driving in and around a mountain chain, you have 2 options: up or down.  Suffice it to say, we went through a ridiculous amount of gum and spent more time yawning than a fellow student in Ferris Bueller’s economics class.

2. There’s no air.  This is directly related to #1.  If you aren’t a mountain dweller, or rarely find yourself venturing more than a few hundred feet above sea level, you’ve probably grown blissfully ignorant of the abundant of oxygen available to you in your day-to-day activities. It’s cool. So did we. During our preparation for the trip, we knew the up and down of the trails was going to be a shock to our muscles, as that wasn’t a common movement in our daily lives.  What we didn’t consider, however, was how our activities would be impacted when something like 20% of our oxygen supply was suddenly not there. Factoring in a solid 30 pounds of camera gear, each, things like moving – at all – became rather more straining.

3. The road to the mountains is paved in hideousness. Have you heard of Pigeon Forge? It’s horrible. The mountains are incredible, but to get there you have to go through something equally incredibly but in the completely opposite meaning. I’ll set the scene: You’re driving through rural country towns in southern Tennessee.  There’s a home-cookin’ restaurant every so often, pickup as far as the eye can see, and good ol’ boys sittin’ on their rockers on the porch drinking whiskey and spittin’ chew. Say what you will about it, but when it comes to cultural expectancy of a region, it hit the nail on the head.  Then, in a span of no more than half a mile, the trees fade away, the neighborhoods disappear, the mom ‘n pop shops vanish, and you’re thrust into the middle of what can only be described as “Vegas meets gift shop meets Jed Clampett meets theme park.” It’s like someone tried to make Disney World in the middle of mountain country, theme it like an old Hatfield VS McCoy cartoon, funded by novelty shop owners, and develpoped by a board of directors whose motto is “Is it ostentatious, gawdy, and over-priced? Build it!”

4. There are no mosquitoes. Yes – you read that correctly.  In the 10ish days we were there I was bitten by maybe 5 mosquitoes. But, like all things in life, there’s a trade off. Instead of mosquitos, the Smoky Mountains have spiders. Lots of spiders. Everywhere. They look like this. I’m gonna assume they’re the reason why there aren’t any mosquitoes. Other things the Smokies have in quantities, I didn’t think possible: Butterflies, dragonflies, salamanders, and centipedes the size of a standard Sharpie.

5. The Smokies are one step short of a rain forest.  The “smoke” in the Smokey Mountains isn’t smoke. In retrospect this seems more than a little obvious.  Smoke means fire and, well, if an entire mountain chain was continually smoldering… I guess I don’t know what that would mean but I’m pretty sure it would be a bad thing. Had I actually considered it, the concept of smoke would have seemed odd, but it simply never crossed my mind. So, nope – that “smoke” is actually “mist” – as in “water vapor” – as in “wet.” All the time. In all fairness, we did go at the start of the rainy season, but still.  With the exception of back country camping, all campsites are in the valleys between the mountains. This means that each evening, the plentiful water in the air condenses and settles on things one may want to keep dry, such as clothing, bedding, firewood, and pretty much anything else that fairs poorly when it maintains a wetness level of “permanent.”

That said, The Smoky Mountains were one of the coolest places I’ve been.  They’re part of the Appalachian Mountain Range, the oldest mountains in North America. You can feel it when you hike the rivers. It’s history, geologically speaking.

Check out the video (3/22/16 update)

Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.  To see the whole gallery, stop by my fine art site.

– Jon

New Look for a New Year!

It’s the mid-winter reset!

OK so the New Year isn’t a clean-cut video game reset.  The past still happened and the ramifications still exist, but that’s not what the whole “resolution” thing is all about anyway.  The New Year isn’t for starting over, but for learning from last year and reinventing yourself.

Which is precisely how I’m getting down… now, where to start…

IT’S A WHOLE NEW CITY!

As of a week and a half ago, JonKPhoto is Royal Oak official2013-12-27_Royal Oak_DSC4760!  Royal Oak, Michigan is my new base of operations.  You may not think 15 miles would make much of a difference when it comes to clientele, but it it’s surprising how many companies you notice in an area when you’re always there as opposed to just driving through.

20131227_111525 WPThere are a few details that need sorting.  Paper work needs organizing. My desk still needs to be relocated – I’m currently coffee-tabling it up.  But all things considered, I’m stoked for the new market.  What with being a solid half-hour closer to downtown, I’m really looking forward to the new opportunities.

IT’S A WHOLE NEW COMPANY!

Well, yes and no.  For about 2 years, I’ve been offering media services beyond just photography, but they were almost entirely by request.  As of 3 weeks ago, this site and all my promotional whatnots are firmly rooted in multimedia.

To get a feel for what I’m talking about and to see why multimedia is so incredibly important for the success of a business, swing by my ABOUT page and take a gander at the breakdown.

IT’S A WHOLE NEW AUDIENCE!

In the last 3 months I’ve been regularly requested to critique portfolios, review projects, and speak to media students.  Developing into my career I always knew the ability to communicate clearly was essential, but it never crossed my mind that I may actually enjoy public speaking.

Each and every one of my clients and projects requires a unique and completely customized solution.  It’s the exact same with audiences.  Whether you’re talking with a 45-year old hobbyist about to turn pro, a room full of undergrad students, or an auditorium jam-packed with high schoolers ready to start their education, you’ve GOT to connect with your audience.  It’s just the kind of challenge I love.

So 2014 will see the next big evolution in JonKPhoto.  Motivational seminars for current, upcoming, and future creative professionals are about to hit Metro Detroit like so much inspiration!

In the meantime, the JonKPhotoClasses site has been totally overhauled and is fully loaded with an array of personalized photo and career development courses, ready to shock-&-awe you right into your new career.

IT’S A WHOLE NEW BODY OF WORK!

If you’ve been anywhere near my site in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard me mention the fully re-vamped fine art site.  If you haven’t, then let me elaborate…

I began my photographic education as a fine art photographer.  In the process, I got bits and pieces of experience with the skill sets and lighting techniques essential for commercial photography.  The rest is history.  But that’s not to say I ever stopped shooting the stuff I simply like to shoot.

Over the past years, my portfolio amassed a rather sizable selection of work.  While organizing and reconstructing the site, I realized that while I refined and adjusted my techniques and styles, the subject matter never really changed (at least on a broad scale).  It became apparent that nearly all of my imagery is of Michigan.

So the site was overhauled and is now the home to a body of work devoted to images of and inspired by Michigan – my home state and pretty much the most awesome place I’ve ever known.  To get an eyeful of Great Lakes goodness, check it out at JonKArtography.com

EVEN SOME NEW PICTURES!

You know me – a conclusion isn’t a conclusion without a bit of shiny new eye candy.

In the recent holiday season, my parents gifted a lovely set of forged-steel Wusthof blades for my culinary endeavors.  As with any sparkling new metal instrument, some pictures were in order.  Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

And have a glorious new year!!

– Jon

Gettin’ All Kinds Of Corporate

On an occasional basis, I do some work with Third Estate Design, a graphic media company out of Tecumseh, Michigan.

In October, they forwarded me to a client who needed some imagery of their keynote speaker.

Vital Skills Intl. Is a unique and interesting company based in Rochester, Michigan.  They essentially teach companies and employees how to achieve consistent results through an understanding of proper confrontation and conversation management.  As an added bonus to the job, I’m picking up quite a few tips and tricks.

The job is 3 stages long and I’ve just finished up the first part – Candid Event Coverage.

Stay tuned for updates featuring portraits and video spots.  And be sure to check out their site!

– Jon

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Home Grown Ads.

Hey y’all! Sorry it’s been a bit since the last post – Finals week sort of took up my time. But now I’m back and ready to rock out some new work!

Let’s start with a finish. Over the last few months there have been regular posts about a series of group adverting projects. We’ve seen hygene products, security systems, summer-y desserts… No we finish the series in the real estate industry.

Our task for this last project was to design a pair of single page ads, a 2-page spread, a billboard, and a commercial. The task was intended to focus on the service industry, so we chose the real estate sector (specifically residential real estate.

I’ll skip the long-drawn breakdown of why we did what we did – Enjoy!

Oh – and fair warning: the video is REALLY cheesy.

Big-Time Post Production

I’d like to follow up my post from a couple weeks ago regarding retouching and the general process of “Photoshopping.”  To be clear this is not really part 2 of that post series.  That will be on it’s way in a few days.  This is more so the other end of the argument.

While it’s the best possible choice to get things right in-camera, sometimes it’s just not an option.  By just not an option, I mean nowhere remotely close to an option.  A good example is advertisement photography.

You probably know that no product or service is ever the same as you see it in an ad.  EVER.  If you disagree, I’d like you to compare your Whopper you’ll be having for lunch with the one on the menu.  Sure – this is slightly different issue.  That burger never existed in the first place – it was made out of mashed potatoes and spackle before the picture was even taken.  Instead, let’s focus on something clearly different than the original picture.

You’ve probably seen this video:

That’s an issue that happens more than you’d think/more than you’d like to know/ALL THE TIME.

However, there is one reason to justify such an obscene level of post production – finances.  Sometimes it’s just impractical to fly a model to outer Mongolia.  If there’s a small budget, if time constraints are fundamentally impossible, or if the picture of the setting already exists – sometimes the picture can be stitched together later.  Now, I know what you (might) be saying: “Where’s the photographic skill?  isn’t that just going to breakdown to someone drawing on a computer until the final image looks ‘good enough’ ?”

Not really.

Sure -there’s a descent amount of isolating, some burning/dodging, and a handful of trial and error.  BUT…

The picture still HAS to be correct in camera.  In many ways, it has to be “more correct” than a normal picture.  It all comes down to my favorite part of photography:  LIGHT.

If the background was photographed outside at sunset and the person/object was shot in a black studio with on-board flash, the color, angle of light, depth of field, and separation will look completely wrong .  So many factors have to be considered, I feel this type of post production absolutely qualifies as “good photography.”

Of course, I’m always open to comments and varying opinions.

That said – here’s a small sampling of some “image combination” I started as a side project a number of months ago.  Let me know what you think!

– Jon

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The urban surfer

A bit ago I had the opportunity to shoot some subject matter I had been lacking: a full-on skateboarding promo campaign.

My cousin is a fairly skilled longboarder.  (For those of you who don’t know – long boarding is like a cross between skateboarding and surfing, all preformed on – you guessed it –  a long board.)

He actually won the board.  It was a literary competition illustrating why each entrant love long boarding and should win the board.  Mike Strong won.  This thing is worth hundreds of dollars.  It’s a big deal.

The problem is that we both live in Michigan… and Mike won his Loyal Dean board in December.

Basically he had to stare at it an wait for almost 5 months.  So, when spring rolled around, we hit the asphalt.  He busted some moves and gave the board a run for its money.

Check out some of the series!

– Jon

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It’s Summer and I’m Polish.

It’s just about summer and as far as I’m concerned, that means festivities.

Now, I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods (Metro Detroit) there are fairs, events, and festivals EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  However, there is one kick-off that draws people from a really really long way off.

The Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair.

This thing is straight up awesome.  Forget the corn-dogs and elephant ears for a second – most fairs take a few days to set up the rides and pavilions.  This one takes 2 WEEKS.  It started small and insignificant about 40 years ago… as of last year, it topped 110,000 attendees.

North American Midway Entertainment puts on the show (they’re the “world’s largest traveling outdoor amusement park”).

There are, of course, many a photo opportunity at this thing.  For your viewing pleasure – here’s a little gallery from my trip to the fair yesterday.  If you’d like to check out the rest, or pick up a print, be sure to swing over to the full event gallery!  <– (link).

-Jon