“Artist” is So Last Decade.

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work with up and comers in various creative industries; specifically, people who are looking to turn their passions and hobbies into a career.  There have been events like lectures, presentations, and portfolio reviews; and I’ve taught a number of visual media classes.  Throughout these experiences, I’ve caught myself using a term repeatedly.

Professional Creatives.

Now, you might say to yourself – isn’t that the same thing as a creative professional? It’s a common phrase and it sounds very similar. And I’ll give it to you that each title shares similar traits. But there’s one big fundamental difference.  You can consider it grammar or sentence structure, but it all comes down to which trait is most valuable.

So, what’s the difference between a creative professional and a professional creative?

In each title, there’s a noun and there’s an adjective.  One of these individuals identifies them self as a professional while the other labels them self as a creative. They both share similar qualities, but depending on the title, there’s a different emphasis.  It’s the noun that deserves priority as it defines what the person is, and not a characteristic they possess.

EXAMPLE: Gray elephant.  By looking at the elephant, you know it’s gray, but that’s not what jumps out at you.  The first thing you see is “Elephant.”

So, that begs the question: which is more important, being professional or being creative?

Dick Weisgrau – he’s the former Executive Director of ASMP.  (for those of you who don’t know, the ASMP is the American Society of Media Photographers.  It’s basically THE association of professional photographers.) Dick once said “It’s almost more important to be a good business person than it is to be a good photographer”

There are 2 things to walk away from that with: to maintain a career in the industry, you need to be both creative and professional.  They’re the 2 most important aspects.  However, to sacrifice any aspect of your creativity for the sake of appearing more professional is the first step in removing yourself from your passion.

If you’re a baker, or a sculptor, or an illustrator, or a photographer, or a graphic designer and you have your own company – when you meet someone and they ask what you do, do you say “I’m a business owner?”

No – You introduce yourself by your passion.

Hi.  I’m Jon , I’m a photographer, and I’m a professional creative.

Who are you?

Back With the Best of Both Worlds!

Well hey there, folks!

Nope – I didn’t drop off the planet and I didn’t take a crew position on the H.M.S Galactica. In reality the answer’s a bit more boring.   Life’s been busy, projects have been in flux, and work’s been less visual and more consultation-based.

Over the last 6 months I’ve acquired some new clients, started fresh projects with previous clients, and been on a number of adventures.  Why, I even started teaching at an accredited institution and have been presenting a growing series of motivational presentations directed at upcoming professional creatives.  (So, I can safely say you should be expecting some content that’s excited to jab at your cerebral cortex.)

To kick things off, I’d like to showcase a recent project.  It took about a month to put together and ended up producing one of the best outtake reels I’ve ever shot. (That’s coming a bit later).

Going on a year and a half ago, I put out this post for a recently finished project.  Canine Resolution contracted me for a branding package, photo series, and promo packets.  It’s now 18 months later and video’s the name of the game.

I’ll give you a quick rundown.

Canine Resolution is the Metro Area’s best dog training institution.  No – really.  They just won 1st place in the 2014 Detroit A-list Competition for “Best Dog Trainer.” They work in all programs from puppy and the A.K.C Canine Good Citizen Program, to agility, scent training, and schutzhund (attack training). Their program shuns shock collars or negative reinforcement and promotes simultaneous training of owner and dog.  All things considered, it’s pretty awesome.

So, let your eyeballs be entertained and soak in the official Canine Resolution Commercial.

– Jon

Crowd-Sourced Creation Fodder.

There’s only so much non-photo work I can do before I either have a boredom-related breakdown or start obsessively photographing whatever’s within reach. The problem with the latter option is that everything you look at daily just seems boring. It might not be, but it’s just so ordinary you don’t even thing about its value as the subject of a image.

That’s why I implemented a tactic from a few years back: Crowd sourcing anti-boredom assignments.

The first run of this was just after I graduated with my Associate’s Degree. I was still fresh enough that I didn’t have constant work, and I was also so used to assignments that it was a bit tricky to think of one-off images that didn’t involve a full-blown project. After pondering the situation, I asked the folks of the internet to suggest everyday items of which I could create unique images. The resulting images from those suggestions yielded 6 pictures that are still in my permanent portfolio, and 3 of the most popular stock images I’ve ever shot.

Well,  I’ve had a ton of supplementary work lately and I’ve been gettin’ the ol’ photo itch. So, I put out the request and the feedback was just lovely.

There were a few that I’d certainly like to try out (lava lamp, pocket watch, tea kettle…) but those will have to wait for next time. One of the pleasant side effects of the project was that it got me pondering the visual value of other common items. As it is, I’ve been making home-made sausage lately and realized those should also be included in the lineup. PB&J was easily the most time-consuming.

If you’re ever in a pickle and need a bit of inspiration, be sure to turn to the internet.  The folks of the interwebs are full of interesting ideas.

Here are some of my favorites – enjoy the shots!

– Jon

This City’s on Fire

On the way to a friend’s house in Southfield, MI, I drove over an intersection with good visibility and saw a plume of smoke on the horizon.  Thinking it would be something close, small, and insignificant, I picked up my buddy and we went to check it out.  (We are photographers after all).

Well, as we were heading in the direction of the smoke, we realized it must be bigger than I thought because we didn’t seem to be getting closer.  Turns out it was actually 20 miles away.

From what I gather, it was an abandoned factory complex on Detroit’s West Side and the PD have no idea what happened.

To reiterate the scale, we met up with a volunteer firefighter from a northern suburb.  He was there because he saw the fire from Auburn hills – almost 40 miles away.

Here are some of the shots.

– Jon

The Golden Gang

A friend of mine has a golden retriever.  His name is Mondego (after the character in Alexander Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo).  He also happens to be the smallest fully-grown male golden I’ve ever met, tipping the scales at something like 40 pounds.

But that’s beside the point.

This dog is a member of an extended family that also loves goldens.  Parents and siblings included, there are 6 golden retrievers… and I got to photograph them.

Oh, and there’s a cockatoo as well.

Here are a few of my favorites.

– Jon