I’m currently teaching a lighting class and a recent assignment focused on texture and the ability to minimize or exaggerate it as the situation required. Since sandpaper is all about that texture, it served as the perfect model.
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.
In case you didn’t know, I love animals. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll count out the approximate footsteps and speed of movement necessary to “accidentally” cross paths with a dog and owner walking vaguely toward me from a quarter mile away.
Yep – I’m “that guy.”
I’ve been talking with the regional talent agencies to be a referred vendor. Figured it was time for some new portrait promos.
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!
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.
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?
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!
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 official! 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.
There 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!!
Back in the day, when I first began my educational journey into photography, I met two people about a week apart. Ashley Lawler and I became “significant others” and have remained that way for the better part of half a decade. Carl Amyoni and I have remained very close friends and instigators of each others’ bad habits for a similar time frame.
Now – this is all nice and nostalgic, but personal relationships aside, we also make up a trio of photographic entertainment.
In the early stages of our acquaintance, we decided to start a series we initially called the “Canadian Olympics.” It would consist of ham-hocked trials, regular risk of personal injury, and a lot of plaid. In the end it will probably be a series of images of people doing incredibly stupid things.
As is the case with too may things these days, the concept fell through and all we were left with was a series of “promo shots” and one very elaborate and flame-filled take on the luge.
Recently, I have been wrapping up a series of time-sucking endeavors and can see a gleaming orb of free time rising on the eastern horizon.
Furthermore – I feel that if I stick this in the world-wide-web, it will prompt people to bother me about new pictures.
YES YOU! I AM RELYING ON YOU TO PESTER ME FOR WORK.
In the meantime – enjoy this blast from the past with a special guest appearance by my cousin, Mike Strong.
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!