UPPA: Unsolicited Professional Photographer Advice

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What’s that??? You didn’t ask for advice?! Well, here you are. You’ll read this and you’ll like. Whether you like it or not. ;)

I am frequently consulted by young, eager individuals wondering what they can do to secure a career as a professional photographer. My advice varies depending on the day, but today, it is this:

Success doesn’t pay the bills. MONEY pays the bills. Learn to monetize your successes.

One might naturally think that success begets riches, but that is far from true, especially in a world where “success” or that warm fuzzy feeling inside is just a couple of “likes” away…

Remember this: monetization is not selling out. Charging a premium for your hard-earned and well-developed skill set does not make you less of an artist or a creator. Feel-goods are all good and well, but you can’t pay the mortgage with social media likes, you won’t feed your kids with life experience, and the bank doesn’t recognize a 1st place ribbon as a form of currency.

Arguably, all of these things (and so much more) can make you a rather successful photographer, but unless you learn how to turn that success into dollar signs, you’re going to be researching applications on the interwebz for that next day job.

Being a “professional photographer” certainly is about much more than cold hard cash in the bank. But making a living as a photographer, at its very root, relies upon zeroes and decimal points, just like any other business.

On a positive parting note: this is all entirely possible. I know it. I believe it. I live it. And you can too. Just don’t forget the important schtuff.

Behind the Shot: Mountain Khakis Early Spring Catalog Cover

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Can it really already be considered “early Spring”??? I guess the good folks at Mountain Khakis think so, as has been made known by the arrival of their early Spring catalog, featuring a cover and a load of other images from our catalog shoot last summer in Oregon and along the Salmon River.

I was fired up to see they chose an especially fun shot for the cover, one that took some quick thinking on both the technical and creative end of things. The short of it is that this image nearly never happened. We had about 30 min before we were supposed to head out and prep for a sunset shoot along Lake Wallowa and we decided to make use of an old Willy’s Jeep (in immaculate condition) that had been loaned to us by a kind local.

Much of the imagery we focus on with these catalog shoots is capturing the spontaneous and fun nature of the MK lifestyle. I’m always looking for an emotive image–one that makes people want to be a part of this brand/lifestyle. With that in mind, I wanted to get up close and personal as the talent was epitomizing random summer fun with an old jeep and a longboard.

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I quickly set up a Manfrotto Magic Arm on the front side panel of the jeep. Shooting a Canon 5D MKII with an 8-15mm fisheye lens meant I could capture all of the action from an angle very near the driver. I attached an intervalometer to the camera and set it to take a picture every second until I stopped the sequence. Everything was set…and then the Jeep got a little cranky. We couldn’t get it started and finally resorted to pushing the jeep and compression starting this hearty hunk of metal.

What ensued was several trips up and down the highway, experimenting with different shutter speeds and camera positions, running alongside hooting and hollering and generally having a blast in mid-day light. It also took an exceptionally gifted clutch/gas operator to keep the Jeep running. Nice work Nate Morgan! It seems like the best ideas always face the most hurdles! Don’t give up on that vision!

Check out the vid below for a little BTS vid action from the entire shoot, and a better view of our setup for this image.

 

 

Recap w BTS Video: Mountain Khakis SS14 Catalog Shoot

It’s cold and snowy outside at the moment here in UT (finally!), but I’m just now getting around to posting a recap of a ridiculously fun and productive shoot with the Mountain Khakis crew. Per the norm, we were able to combine the “work hard/play hard” mentality, and the entire shoot was a blur of catching my breath, yelling at talent (or not) and constantly remarking at how much I love my job.

The two primary locations for this shoot were Joseph, OR and the Main Salmon River. Both offered unique opportunities to capture “life untucked” in all it’s authentic glory. Check the gallery above for images as well as the BTS video below (shot by NS Innovative). We’re already planning our Fall/Winter 14 shoot–should be another epic!

 

 

Take Me Fishing Ad Campaign

I’m a blogging slacker, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy!

I was recently approached by local ad agency Fluid about a project they were working on for TakeMeFishing.org. Below is the resulting campaign–I think they did a wonderful job with the creative!

Surround Yourself with Greatness…

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The advent of digital imaging has opened up the world of professional-grade imaging to an audience far greater than most photographers could have ever imagined. Yes–it’s true–it has never been easier to shoot a “pretty good” image, and people are catching on. It is super cool to see so many people fired up about photography, but with that new, sexy appeal comes its own challenges for those that make their living as full-time professional photographers. I’ll stop there…this is not another rant about my cousin’s uncle’s pony’s dog that just stole a great job from under my nose because he charges way less than me or (insert commonplace pro photog rant here). In fact, this post is quite the opposite.

It has always been apparent to me that we will never truly reach our greatest potential if not pushed by some outward influence. Whether that be encouragement from friends/family, discouragement from naysayers, or something somewhere in between, we will never really know what we’re capable of until pushed beyond that which we thought was our previous best.

My answer to this moderately crowded profession??? Embrace the competition. Surround yourself with greatness. Be confident in your own ability to produce something that has your own unique style/brand/stamp/calling card. Most importantly, BE BETTER. Don’t waste your time wondering why you weren’t published here or hired there–figure out who just got whatever you wanted, and what you can do to get it next time.

I was browsing the latest issue of Powder magazine and was blown away at both the number and quality of images put out by photographers that make their home right here in Salt Lake City. I’m proud to call many of them friends, and I’m even more proud to have my work included amidst theirs. If you want to be better than the best, you must surround yourself with the best. Then watch, listen and learn–don’t gripe, covet or make excuses.

These days, with the interwebz in every nook, cranny and nether region of planet Earth, we have the entire world at our finger tips. See your competition for the motivating force that it can be–and then be better.

 

ABP MVP: Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody

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What: Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody

 

Why: Ooookeydokey–let’s be honest: there are more outwear brands on this planet than there are kitten pics on the interwebz. At very least, deciding on where to buy a new coat for this season’s colder exploits might involve a quizzical post on FB, and some prayerful consideration over a cup of whatever the hipsters happen to be drinking at the local coffee house.

Here. I’ll save you the time. Arc’teryx crushes it. They make the most bomber outwear known to human existence, and they continue to innovate each and every year. Arc’teryx released their new line of down jackets this year and, as expected, they do not disappoint.

They’ve managed to make a down jacket that includes everything you need, and excludes everything you don’t. Remember the last down coat you owned that left you feeling like a giant fluorescent marshmallow??? Mmmm…yeah–say adios to the billowy body brace…

My fave??? The Thorium AR Hoody. This jacket actually has a more fitted feel, and the wizards at Arc’teryx have actually placed synthetic insulation in areas prone to moisture (think along the hem, collar, sleeves and underarms). This means that the jacket still maintains its insulating properties, despite a bit of wetness here and there.

If you’ve never owned a down jacket, it’s time you did yer bad self a favor and picked this up. If you already have a million fluorescent marshmallows hanging in the closet, it’s time to get your Craig’s List on and step into the new millenium of downy goodness.

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Manfrotto BeFree Ad Campaign

Great to see the ads rolling out from our work earlier this year for Manfrotto and the BeFree tripod. This was such a stellar shoot, with an incredible crew of people involved. Check out the full BeFree site for more imagery and videos from this shoot.

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ABP MVP: Howler Bros. Harkers Flannel

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We all have our MVP’s (most valuable products). Some are big, some small. Most bring simple pleasures at home, or bring the comforts of home to the road. All of them simply make life better. This is the first installment of my own MVP’s. Saddle up for many, many more…

What: Howler Bros. Harkers Flannel

Why: Psshhh…really??? Have you never worn a flannel shirt? It’s like wearing a bubble bath–it’s that comfy when done right. Only it’s not fru-fru, and you don’t have to wear it late at night when nobody will ever know. Think of it this way: fall without flannels would be like breakfast without bacon. Need I say more??? Howler Bros. nailed it with this one, and they are a smaller, grass roots brand founded by real people that care about their customers. We all need more bacon, and yes, every man could use more flannels. These are two truths that are extremely tough to argue…

Where: http://howlerbros.com/products/harkers-flannel-f2013

BTS Video: Mountain Khakis Winter Catalog Shoot


I do love my job! This video gives a great behind-the-scenes look at how much fun we have when out on the Mountain Khakis Catalog shoots. Enjoy!

 

Interview with Shoot to Earn

From tearful frustration to triumphant success, I get up close and personal in the video interview above…it offers unique insight into my career journey thus far…

Background: I had the great fortune of working with talented wedding and lifestyle photographer Aaron Dieppa during a week-long ad shoot for Manfrotto earlier this year. In addition to his great taste in hair-style ;), he has a very enterprising mind and has recently launched an awesome website that will serve as an inspirational resource to budding photographers and experienced pros for years to come.He discusses about his career and offers tips plus he is part of family photographers adelaide

Check out www.shoottoearn.com for interviews with established photographers from portrait to landscape to advertising to…you name it.

I’m honored to be one of Aaron’s first interviews. It’s definitely lengthy, but I’d like to think it’s worth a lunch break or long car ride. Enjoy!