1/11 NYC Biz Trip, Pt. 2: The Luceo Kids.
But as it turned out, I really needed was to hang out with photo friends, like Kendrick Brinson
, seen above. — and maybe make some new ones.
As some of you know, I recently made the transition from staff photographer to independent photographer.
Learning about business and marketing just isn’t enough. This profession is a lifestyle. and I wanted to know how the “nonstaffed” live.
y’know… what kind of world am I entering?
Now, this goal wasn’t something I was cognizant of when I made the trip. I was more excited that I actually had the time and money to do it.
I get a little giddy when I get to hang out with other photographers.
No. not in a weird, needy way.
I understand photographers and they typically understand me. (unless I’m telling a story and I’ve forgotten all the nouns! that happens way too much.)
Professional photography is a lifestyle. And from what I can tell, there’s a different bend living as a staffer than in this new world I’ve become a part of.
For one, getting work means selling your skills AND selling your self.
…How’s that for motivation to not be an asshole?
That’s one of the many things I gleaned from the Photoshelter
sponsored panel on “The Future of Photojournalism” which kicked off the Luceo show. Click here
for the video.
Walter Banks, right, moderated the panel.
Here’s the current reality: Work is scarce. – well, I should say well paying and/or meaningful assignment work is scarce. So editors tend to give work to people they like and the photographers who are doing cool non-assignment work which they know needs funding. The most immediate example I can think of is Matt Eich’s current long term project on Baptist Town
So, what does that mean?
If you’re a photographer, follow your interests, your heart, your gut, your whims. Shoot what you want. Make the work you need to be seen. Don’t just be a photo grunt.
Don’t get me wrong, It’s good to be reliable for your clients,
…but isn’t it better to also be inspirational to them?
And, of course, being a pleasant person to deal with doesn’t hurt, either.
I can tell you first hand, being nice is a two-way-street.
During the Luceo show, thanks to Ilene Belovin, from AARP Bulletin — one of my beloved clients who, until my NYC trip, I’ve also only gotten to know from phone calls & the interenets — Kendrick and David from Luceo, I was introduced to…
Deb Dragon (seen holding either David Holloway
‘s or Ben Lowy
‘s baby. UPDATE: I’m told it’s Oliver Holloway.) and her co-worker Sacha with Rolling Stone.
How cool is that?
Even cooler is that I was able to set up a meeting with them that Friday! — which really worked out because my original Friday appointment fell through. (which reminds me… I need to e-mail him).
The good news is: The meeting went well. I got the impression Deb and Sacha liked me and my work.
…but the experience was pretty sobering, too.
The truth is, there isn’t a lot of money out there for assignment work.
Not just with Roling Stone, but across the board. For starters, travel budgets have been slashed — which kinda works out for us non-NYCers. Work is doled out to people who live close to the assignment locations.
But slashed travel budgets are joined by all sorts other financial shortcomings. Lets just say wire images are used a lot!
Good or bad. it’s a reality.
So how do you get noticed? You do good work. You do good NON-ASSIGNMENT work.
That’s the main lesson I learned from this weekend — the power of personal projects. When you get to a certain level in photography — especially if you have a photojournalism background — you get to the point where your portfolio is solid — like Diamond sold. I’ve been a pro for 8 years. Anyone who’s been at it for this long should’ve made enough great frames to really showcase excellent ASSIGNMENT work.
Here’s the rub… Your competition also has excellent ASSIGNMENT work, too. But what they don’t have is your personality, your professionalism (be it good, bad, or somewhere in between) AND most importantly, your perspective!
Some people call it “vision,” “style,” …”thang.”
It’s the way we see and use a camera to interact with the world.
It’s the way we think about what we’re interested in, not just visually, but the subjects that captivate us and the people who not only impress us, but are important to us.
It’s the most authentic thing about us that will set us apart from our competition peers.
Here are some more photos from the Luceo opening.
David Banks Doing grunt work.