The little ones…

As a photographer I tend to look online for inspiration to some of those “Rockstar” Photographers out there, or to just photographers that I just like the work of.  The thing is though that I fall into the same misconceptions that a lot of other people fall into regarding these photographers which s a bad deal since I know these misconceptions exist.  The people that I check into from time to time for my photogrpahic inspirations and instructions (even indirect instruction by reading) would be:  Joe McNally, Zack Arias, Chase Jarvis, Dave Black, David Hobby, Matt Detrich, Bob Scheer, Brooke Shaden, Polina Osherov, Nick Schrunk, Andy Hancock, Jeremy Cowart, and Michelle Pemberton.  That list is by all means not inclusive as I stumble apon all sorts of other inspirations too like Fstoppers,  I find that looking at how other photographers see the world helps me to become a better photographer.  Seeing things through their eyes, as I want people to see things through mine.  What about the misconceptions I mentioned earlier?  OH yes, that’s right.  Everybody and their mother thinks that all the people up top there have it great.  Some are sponsored by photography companies, they get to travel to exotic locations, people look up to them (some are just that tall), they appear to be living the life.  Problem is that there’s two sides to that story.

(Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 400ISO, Canon EF16-35F2.8L@20mm, 1/160th@F10.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight zoomed to 105mm on a stand directly opposite the camera set to 1/8th power shot through a 32″ translucent umbrella.  Speedlight fired by Pocket Wizard Plus transceiver)

No, those aren’t little fish.  Surprisingly enough they are significantly smaller than the fish that I shot after these though but that’s not the point.  The point is that I spent 6 hours in a grocery store shooting fish, meats, canned goods, and other various nick nack paddy whacks.  It definitely wasn’t a glamorous thing to be doing, and by all means not a fun one.  Turns out the language barrier makes some shoots incredibly silent.  Most of the things said in this shoot were with hand gestures like the “Thumbs up”, or the “ok” as you’d do in scuba diving.  It was a rough 6 hours of shooting to say the least.  I quickly darkened the blacks on this frame for post on here, this isn’t even the final shot.  The final shot will get clipped out to go into a 4 page insert into the newspaper and this image will be 1″ wide.  Not the greatest assignment; but it is an assignment.

The things that photographers talk about on their blogs are the cool projects that they work on, and that’s what people tend to see and people tend to look for.  That’s what I look for.  It’s all about dreaming, or make believe as to what someone else is doing in their lives instead of your own.  I love to see where Joe McNally or Chase Jarvis are at in the world.  Shannon turned me on to Brooke Shaden and I love how she creates her own environments inside her images; something I could never become as good as her at.  Polina and Michelle are absolutely epic when it comes to lighting.  All fantastic reasons to watch any of them.  Thing is though that they do get these rough assignments too.  You’ve got to shoot the rough assignments to get big assignments.  I’ve been shooting Roller Derby now for 5 years.  For Free.  Originally it was to make some friends, and get out of the house but now it’s turned into a marketing machine.  If it weren’t for the Derby I wouldn’t have shot Knits for Nerds last March, among many other projects that I still think highly of.  Not that I’m saying shooting something for free will get you work, but it does reiterate my point that sometimes you have to do the random little projects in order to get the awesome ones.

Yup.  Shot these photos right in the middle of the store.  Walked in with my gear, they had it all planned out and after a while you just don’t argue anymore.  You know that it’s what they want to do, and they pay the bills.  No you shouldn’t take every project that comes your way, but know what’s worth your time and what isn’t.  Would I have taken this job outside the newspaper?  Who knows.  Christopher Walken will take any roll that is offered to him on the condition you pay his rate (whatever that may be).  As a photographer you get the choice.  Do it or don’t.  If you do it though, do it well, because before you know it your jobs won’t be tough ones.  They will be still be a lot of work.  Ask any of those photogrpahers I listed up above if their job is stressful or if they do a TON of work, and they’ll tell you yes to both.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even the “Rockstar” Photographers have it tough like us little guys in the business.  Some of them are never home with their families, while others may be putting out books that’s still a hefty deadline that must be met in order to pay the bills.  Not all photographers make as much money as you’d like to think. I’ve got all sorts of projects coming up that may make me some money, or may not.  Lots of very neat things to talk about.  Am giving a workshop for the Indianapolis Photographic Society this Wednesday at Garfield Park.  Speaking at the Art Institute of Indianapolis on Thursday.  Am working on laying out a book of my own, for some uncertain future to be determined later.  And a few others that I can’t even mention yet.  Will they be profitable ventures?  Who knows.  You have to have them though because it’s all about making the pictures.  Without jobs like the one above, I’d have never landed the Job I just got done shooting over at Interactive Intelligence here in Indianapolis.  I got that job because I met someone doing a job a couple years ago that ended up costing me more money than I made.  She liked my work, and remembered me when it came time to hire for her company.  Even the tough jobs aren’t so tough sometimes aye?  So really, who knows?  Maybe you’ll meet someone just out on the street some afternoon while shooting thet’ll bring you your next gig.  With any luck, maybe you’ll inspire someone like any of those photographers I listed at the beginning of this blog have inspired me.  More Soon…