With photographers starting out, I don’t think a professional website tells me much. I can often get a better sense of how a photographer thinks by scrolling through their mass of Instagram posts...currently it's the only way I spot new photographers...and a great way to stay up to date on...projects and new work.
Regardless of how you choose to use your Instagram feed, as a photographer one thing remains the same. Your work. In my opinion it should reflect and define who you are a creative because the reality is that it's usually the first point of entry anyone tends to have when it comes to stumbling upon your work. I personally pay a lot of attention to what I publish to a point where I keep a private account in which I publish photos with the intention to get a visual sense of what my Instagram looks like prior to publishing on my main account.
My specialty revolves around lifestyle, active and travel work and so it's with great deliberation that I blend all of them together while still always keeping a creative mind open as to where a random interest may take me because in the end you never know who may be looking, especially photo editors.
A few years ago The Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center Mall was the most talked about development in New York. If you had not seen it in person yet, you had certainly at least seen a multitude of photos of it on Instagram and regardless of whether you were interested in architecture or not, it was worth the commute to experience in person.
This year is all about The Vessel at Hudson Yards. It's "a sculpture you can walk around in. Conceived by British designer, Thomas Heatherwick, Vessel is the standout attraction of the epic development that has taken over the Midtown westside of Manhattan." There's been a lot of talk on how it's practically impossible to even experience The Vessel all the way to the top because tickets, while free, have been sold out for weeks and the turnaround to even be considered is around 3 weeks.
With that in mind my wife and I headed out to at least see it in person. To our surprise, we saw a line, we stood on it, and 5 minutes later we were immediately granted 2 tickets. Not sure if it was luck or the fact that it was just the 2 of us but either way we were fortunate to have been there early morning and enjoy a beautiful Spring stroll as we explored the impressive architecture of this hexagonal structure that you couldn't resist marvel at.
The majority of commissioned work I've done has stemmed from clients who have reached out via Instagram. Without sounding boastful the usual inquiry has been “I love your work! How much do you charge to shoot?”
With time, I quickly learned that the speed in which you answer this question can determine how people will view you as a photographer and how successful you can potentially be regardless of how good your work is.
To the “how much do you charge?” question, I could instantly reply with a number that sounds about right but without considering the variables, I wouldn’t necessarily be setting myself up for success from a monetary perspective. There’s the potential of being too focused on answering the question as oppose to you asking the salient ones first before committing to anything.
For example, do I have to rent a studio? Does the shoot require for it to be a full or half day job? Will I need to rent any equipment? How many people are involved? Does it require for me to do some legwork on my end to scout for hair and makeup artist or will the client provide their own? Overall, there’s variables to consider.
Without the attention to detail the most unwanted scenario could result in you spending more money out of pocket covering unanticipated expenses for the shoot as oppose to having done the proper research upfront.
Anyone who reaches out to you or me for photo work has done so because they’ve already seen it our work. They’re hopefully enamored by it and so there’s already an expectation as to what their shoot with you could look like. But of course they won’t know for sure unless you paint a picture first. That’s where mood-boards come into play.
The moment you take the time construct a visual with your creativity and mock up ideas based on feedback you’ve gathered from your potential client they will instantly stop viewing you as a expense and more as an investment by virtue of the value you’ll be providing them with your work.
Get your client’s excited about working with you by painting a picture of what you can do for them so there’s complete trust from point A to point B.
Rarely have I had a potential client turn me down when I’ve created a vision via mood-boards with what we can do together. Once you’ve presented them with a visual and a breakdown cost for a shoot, I assure you they’ll be much more understanding of what it takes to do what you do and the artistic value you bring to the table.
If what you prefer to do is to simply answer their “how much do you charge?” question right off they bat, you’re left with very little control as to what their decision can be and ultimately it’s not the best way to sustain a business and develop confidence towards your own work.
Being more creative is not something you wish for. It’s something you do. You don’t hear athletes saying, “Gosh, I sure wish I were stronger, or faster.” What you hear them saying is, “I’m going to the gym,” or “I have to train harder.”
Wishing for creativity is a lot like proclaiming you're going to start eating healthier next week. The idea of it sounds fascinating but it holds little value unless you do it enough for it to become a regimented routine. The people who are able to make the most out of anything or the ones who aware of how they spend their time and make time for the things that matter. For me, being active, spending time with my family and pursuing my photography while maintaining my focus with a company I've been with for the past 8 years.
It doesn't matter if a video disappears in 24 hours. What matters is the experience someone had. That doesn't go away. People will remember the experience you gave them. They will remember the journey.
The idea of using Instagram Stories is a lot easier than it is to act upon the urge to create anything. I often build up an entire sequence of events in my head but when it comes to the process of capturing, I fail miserably because I doubt as to whether any of it is worthy of being shared.
Will anyone care? Will anyone derive value from it? All valid questions but very often we forget how things that may seem inconsequential for us have the potential to be of value for other people. Like Sean McCabe says, what you share matters, but equally impactful is how you made someone feel with what you took the time to create. Friendly reminder for myself in how I should just take more initial using Instagram Stories as oppose to viewing it as a feature that's optional.
For as long as I could remember, my wife and I have never vacationed on our own. It’s something we’ve thought about but never acted upon. The more you ruminate on it, the closer one gets to the possibility until that parental guilty begins to surface.
It’s almost as if thinking about embarking on a little escape with your spouse is not something you’re suppose to even consider as a parent and yet according to research, a lot of the recommendations seem to advise otherwise. You shouldn’t feel guilty about being selfish. You’re more than just parents. Amongst all the parental responsibilities, you’re also a husband, a wife, a partner and a friend, all of which require us to take the time to remind ourselves of our other roles because it’s too easy to forget.
This past November I surprised my wife with 4-day getaway to Tulum, Mexico. I’ve seen more than enough photos of Tulum via Instagram to realize it was a must visit on my list and to my surprise the trip was a lot more affordable than I expected.
Four days may not seem like a lot but it was enough for us to take a breather together as a couple. My goal is to make it an ongoing tradition where we go away every year for her birthday as along as we meet the following requirements:
Fight time should not be more than 5hrs
No checking-in of any luggage pieces. All carry-on
The dollar needs to go a long way (like in Mexico)
Airfare and hotel combined for both should not exceed $1,200
Pricing your photography work is a lot like calorie counting. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily imply it will work for you until you take the time to crunch out the numbers for yourself so that you have a deeper understand why everything you take or don’t take into account is vital. I hate it becomes it takes time and it’s not fun but it’s one of those necessary things to remain sustainable.
I want to make it clear that my sole income doesn’t come from photography. I do have a day job but like Bryan says, “most of us get into photography because we love the art and creativity of it, but we quickly realize that unless we can get people to pay us for our work, it'll be nothing more than a hobby.”
So how much do I charge for my work? Back then I use to just blurt out a price but now, I can’t give you an answer on the spot until I step back and consider what exactly the client is envisioning and what it’s going to cost on my end in the even I have to rent anything out. The great thing about the web is that you can find every possible answer. The downside is that the amount of answers you come across could be overwhelming.
While photographing at the 2018 Strong New York event at Solace in December, I unquestionably walked away not simply with an appreciation for the large amount of trainers here in New York who I had the opportunity to meet but equally with those who I was able to keep in contact afterwards. Jacob Thomas was one of them. He really enjoyed the portrait I captured of him at the event that he commissioned me to shoot a few looks for him for his brand with his being one of them. To view the rest of the photos, please visit the gallery.
Recently I was commissioned to be the photographer on site as Theragun held a seminar at True North Training in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with some of the best trainers here in New York City to introduce not just they're newest product (G3PRO) but educate trainers more on the value of percussive therapy that involves growth and rapid of tissues by providing a rapid and short-duration pulses into the tissues of the body.
Dr. Jason S. Wersland, D.C., a chiropractor and the founder/inventor of Theragun created the device a few years ago, after a motorcycle accident left him with a herniated a disc, and it has ballooned into a whole thing ever since.
The seminar was accompanied with an intense 45 minute workout in which all the trainers pushed their bodies while being treated with the G3PRO during and after the program. Several of the trainers present I've know of them via Instagram and some I've had the pleasure off shooting with in the past.
At least from my perspective, it wasn't long ago that shooting tethered seemed like it was an approach reserved only for those photographers who had big budgets, assistances and super expensive gear but the more I've educated myself with the technical aspects and creative advantages of shooting tethered, I've come to realize it's nothing to be scared of until you try it.
I've shot numerous times in a studio setting and when you're just starting off, you're perfect find with just glancing at your LCD screen to ensure your vision is being translated to your camera. That's all you know what to do in the beginning. I've yet to shoot tethered but I anticipate to experiment with it on my next shoot and in preparation for that, I found this article by photographer Caleb Kerr extremely helpful on how to get started, especially with the needed and recommend gear.