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I love that my work hours are flexible. I have a nine year old son I enjoy spending time with so I schedule my work during his school day, and schedule only one photo session a day on the weekends. I miss having newsroom colleagues, but have joined a photographers networking group for creative support. I also regularly get together with clients or potential clients for coffee…
My favorite thing really about having my own business is just that — that I can take the skills I’ve acquired over 20+ years and do something different with them. I can provide storytelling images of children that will be cherished by their families for years to come.
I love when we are done with a project and our clients express how happy they are with the final results. I am an affirmation junky and love when what I am doing makes others happy. It is really gratifying to do work that people respect and appreciate. It is amazing when a client gives you creative freedom to run with your vision.
I had a hard time at first with the identity shift out of newspapers. I considered journalism a calling. I had been a journalist for a long time, and transitioning towards running my own business had many unexpected challenges. I realize now that I will always be a story teller and journalist at heart and that I will continue to create images that speak to our social, economic, and cultural condition. The amazing thing has been how many people have wanted me to do this for their family, company, publication, etc. More »
Personally, I’ve had a few ideas for books, I’ve shot video, looked at starting a stock archive of my sports work, and explored every avenue of where my photography can take me. Currently some of the work I’m doing in my free time may be best suited for an art gallery, but as football season comes around I’ll be implementing my stock archive of sports images. I’ve toyed with starting video projects as part of a 501c(3) venture, which has a classification under which literary, artistic projects can be funded. Looking at grants that also go in hand with non-profit status, there are a lot out there. Bella Pictures is a great resource for people interested in going this route.
I was sponsored by Bella Pictures to speak at the National Press Photographers Association workshop in Las Vegas earlier this month. There are so many people within the media who are going to be in transition this year. It was very nice to help people navigate through some of the land mines. The wedding business will never be the business that our parents bought into. That has already changed. And the changes in future wedding photography could be lead by former photojournalists. As a collective we are just very good at what we do and it takes time to teach good storytelling.
I would certainly be happy to pass more information along, as I did in Vegas. In order to ensure that my wedding business is successful, I also realize much of the future success will be in multimedia. You can see various aspects of multimedia and video creeping into wedding photography. It is not unlike the changes happening with online newspaper content. Quick videos and audio slide shows will be a permanent part of the future wedding business models. I am working to get myself at a level that will not only be competitive but possibly groundbreaking.
David Walter Banks
I have been speaking with a few different conferences and workshops about speaking, and have plans to work with some colleagues on a few different ventures outside the already established workshops. I believe that in a time where print media as a whole is up in the air, it’s important to diversify. This goes beyond the speaking or conducting workshops and flows into the realm of art photography print sales, producing books, and even working to generate a model of online content that is actually profitable. More »
I talked with everyone I knew and then went and talked to everyone I didn’t know. I found out what each person’s greatest need was and tried to find a way to fill that need. I made it a point to go everywhere with advertising and marketing material. I worked with some great photographers here in Arizona who gave me a chance to cut my teeth while I built a portfolio. I also built my own flash website. I don’t recommend this unless you have a lot of time on your hands. I also put together a print portfolio and started to shop it around to as many people in my community as I could get an appointment with.
I instantly jumped on getting my website together and I happened to use liveBooks. I also started a blog. This allows me to routinely update a photo area with what I am immediately doing at the moment. I joined several associations and jumped into the business end of photography concerning branding, copyright law, marketing, etc. I also started networking and using the various social media sites to get the word out, build new relationships, and keep the ones I always had. More »
Free time is a terrifying thing to have, at first. When I was a staffer, I talked about everything I was going to do and kept a list. The first week I had off from work, though…I sat staring at my computer just crushed by the overwhelming weight of freedom. So I set up a comprehensive list of everything I wanted to do and organized my days to have a loose rotation. If I have a week off while the Braves are out of town I rotate my days between:
(1) PHOTO DAY – Spent working on personal projects, screwing around with studio ideas, editing photos, researching things I want to work on, planning future projects
(2) FILM DAY – Working on scripts with my roommate, who is a writer, watching shorts, reading FilmMaker, MovieMaker and Film Comment, watching movies, reading about other filmmakers, researching
(3) TRAINING DAY – Log on to Lynda.com and choose something from SEO, Flash, Final Cut, PhotoShop, or any other program and learn something new — it’s been phenomenal
And on the seventh day of the week? Errands and finances: getting bank accounts into order, budgeting for the rest of the month, paying bills, buying way too many Magic Arms at Showcase Inc., etc. The key to my new career is constant growth, continuous learning, and striking a balance between paying the bills and doing what I want to do.
Business took longer to learn, but I read a lot and talked with others who were in business and sales. I listened to other photographers at workshops and conferences and sought out people in industries outside photography. I was like a sponge, soaking up as much information as I could. I then tried to immediately implementing what I learned.
Establishing my professional identity in a new community — we moved to a different city and I created a new business. I was known and well-connected in the Baltimore Washington community because I had worked as a staff photographer for the Baltimore Sun for 11 years. In Charlotte, where we’ve been for two years, people are still getting to know me and my work. My biggest challenge is to grow my client base, while getting to know Charlotte. A friend counseled me, “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” which has helped tremendously. Being patient has been key.
If you combine my 2 years of internships with 4 years as a full-time staffer, then it’s a total of 6 years I was in newspapers. I don’t think I could ever see myself doing it forever. It was an amazing time in my life but it was so much of a roller-coaster ride I never really felt totally in control of what I chose to focus my energy on.
This summer I have been given several opportunities to teach that I would not have had if I were still at the newspaper. I taught a week-long workshop for North Carolina high school journalism students, and helped coach two documentary projects through the University of North Carolina. For one class I spent one month in the Galapagos Islands helping edit a multimedia project shot by students and it was an amazing experience and I would not have been able to get the time off work to do something like that at the newspaper.
I now shoot for a number of national and international magazines; I’m part of a successful wedding photography business; I helped found the photographic cooperative Luceo Images; and I’ve begun to move toward more commercial work. I would say that the biggest difference is that I now feel that I’m controlling my own destiny in relation to the path my career is taking, as well as the images I produce.
I had two internship and two jobs at newspapers from 2005 to 2009. Once I discovered my love for photojournalism toward the end of college, I thought I would work at a newspaper for life. My mother worked as a writer at The State newspaper for more than 20 years so it seemed like an exciting yet solid career. After about a year and a half working for newspapers, my attitude toward them slowly shifted as I watched friends lose their jobs and their enthusiasm.
I am very busy now. I work with some of my favorite photographers in Luceo Images, doing personal projects and editorial work for major newspapers and magazines. I also photograph weddings with my partner David Walter Banks under Our Labor of Love. Now I am spending more time working on marketing and researching stories that I want to tell, and less time looking for heat features to fill holes in an-ever thinning newspaper.
I’m an editorial and commercial photographer specializing in produced portraiture based in the Tampa Bay area. The biggest difference is that I used to be one part of an organization and now I AM the organization. I’m the photographer, the marketing dept, the accounting dept, the IT dept, the archivist — and I do it mostly by myself.
These days my work schedule is whenever the Braves play. I had a great working relationship with the team while I was at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and they’ve allowed me a lot of creative freedom thus far. The night’s they’re out of town, I’m firmly planted behind my MacPro, editing away.
I don’t think my photography has changed, but I am enjoying my photography a lot more since going freelance. I’m exploring every outlet that I’m interested in, while still applying the same vision I have to the work I did at newspapers. A lot of the ideas I have won’t work, maybe my idea falls apart in the studio, but I learn from the experience.
Not everyone affected by the newspaper decline is in their mid-40’s with a family to support. For those of us fortunate enough to be free from those more important responsibilities, this is a prime opportunity to do whatever we want. I’ve told a lot of students that I’ve spoken to that the next phase of photography is finding something you LOVE and applying photography to it. More »