Making Sense

I have moved to Palm Springs, even though I am only 90 minutes away from LA, maybe 2 hours if there is traffic, it feels like a different world.  When I was in Ventura I was only an hour away from LA, but the further I go the more I realize that I have pretty much left that world.

For the longest time I was a part of the whole LA scene, competing for jobs, photographing the current “it” model of LA.  Now I’m not and I don’t miss it at all.  I still shoot editorials and I still have agencies contact me for test shoots.  But I’m in Palm Springs, and it is a world away.

The coolest part of this move is that I am so much happier where I am now.  I get to be an artist on my very own playground.  This is where I need to make the mental move now that I have made the physical move.  Sometimes my mind still tells me to shoot what the LA scene would like, but my heart is telling me to shoot what I think I want to show the world.

It is a slower pace out here in the desert, I like it.  I will be shooting more soon, but it has to be with the right people who are up for my ideas.  It is part of my Helmut Newton approach to photography.  I am the art director, I am the photographer I am the one who decides what images get shown.  I refuse to limit myself and I will continue to push myself even harder to create the images I have wanted to create for so long.

Some people may not get it, and that is fine, but when that one person does get it, that is when it all makes sense.

Willow by The Average Jim

I don’t want to be right.

And so here it goes again, apparently I am often wrong according to several people who come across my blog.  I’m wrong because I like grainy pictures, I love not being able to make out every single detail in every single image.  I’m wrong for my political beliefs.  I’m wrong because I don’t shoot RAW for everything I shoot.  I’m wrong because I believe in equal rights and am against sex crimes.  I’m wrong because I accept everyone for who they are and do my best to not judge them.

I have been told I am wrong because I don’t pay the models I shoot.  I have been told I am wrong because I don’t charge enough for anything I shoot.  I have been told I am wrong because I don’t use the newest camera available to me.  I have been told these things by veteran photographers, new photographers, and random know-it-all people on the web.  But guess what, I don’t think I’m wrong.

There is a song by Luther Ingram called “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right” and I think I am just going to take that philosophy for my business.  To all the people who just seem to know so much about everything.  Go ahead, be right.  I’m cool with that.  I love doing things the wrong way.  I love getting that perfect mixture of imperfection.  I love standing up for what I believe in.  I love not shooting generic crap.

There is one amazingly great thing about being wrong, okay maybe a few things.  I have no expectations to live up to.  I have no rules to follow.  I have no worries.  In fact, I don’t even have to take the criticism because it just doesn’t matter.

I am wondering if I should tell the magazines I shoot for and the clients who pay me lots of money that I am wrong and they are probably wrong too for liking my work so much?  Got I can’t believe so many people have the same bad taste I do.

Okay, enough sarcasm.  I look at my images in one way and only in this one way.  What is the final image going to look like?  I think this before I even pick up the camera.  Do I want it gritty, do I want it overly sharp, do I want it color or black and white.  I make these decisions before I shoot.  The only thing that matters to me is what the end result is.

So keep on telling me I’m wrong, and I will keep on smiling and creating the images I create.  Because if loving what I do is wrong, I don’t want to be right. ;)

Julia by The Average Jim

What’s On The Menu?

I get so many sales calls a day.  People wanting me to pay them for advertising, pay them for updating my website, pay them for… well sometimes I don’t even know what.  I had one guy call me today telling me for a certain fee he could track who is coming to my website and track them back and call them for me to see if they want to hire me.  That kind of seems like stalking to me.

If someone comes to my site and decides not to hire me that’s cool.  I’m okay with not getting hired by everyone.  I know I am that choice on the menu that not everyone is certain about, well at least not until they try it!

The best ones are the ones who find me on the internet and then tell me they can’t find me on the internet.  I’m sure this type of advertising works for some people but I just don’t think it will work for me.  I’ve got a pretty niche market.  Sure, boudoir is pretty much women in general, but clothing companies, lookbooks and stuff like that?  I have only been told that these clients found me through google once.  Otherwise it was always a referral or somewhere else on the web.

Everyone wants to be on the first page of google or have a ton of reviews on yelp.  Maybe I should be trying for these things too, or not.  Honestly I’m just trying to get my Etsy store off the ground and start shooting more art for it!  I like selling prints and books, my services can be on the cheap, it is honestly my art I care the most about.  So until these people can figure out how to get people to buy my art from me, I don’t think I’ll be needing their services.  But no worries, I’m sure they will keep calling.

Here’s one that will be on my Etsy store soon!

Olivia by The Average Jim

Belittle This

I have noticed that there are not too many photographers out there who admit that they shoot portraits and weddings.  I love the stigma that people put on wedding and portrait photographers.  Okay, not so much people but other photographers mainly.  I think they forget that people like Richard Avedon are portrait photographers who also happen to shoot fashion.

People like to label things, you have to either be a fashion photographer, or a lifestyle photographer, or a wedding photographer.  I am a people photographer.  I photograph people and if you go to my Instagram or Facebook you’ll see that I do post images from these other events I shoot.  There was a certain photographer who shall remain nameless, but he says he shoots fashion, I have no idea what magazines his work has been in, but he certainly sells out his workshops!  But he shot some natural light lifestyle fashion images and made a comment about now he should shoot weddings because it is so simple.

I’m not going to say one type of photography is easier than the other, but what is the deal with people being so condescending?  Why do some people feel the need to put others down to try and make themselves look better?  Let your work speak for you, especially if you’re one of these people who has the desire to belittle your peers.

I have had 14 or 15 fashion editorials published this year, less than some more than others maybe.  I have also had two major wedding magazines pick up recent weddings for publication.  Earlier this year I also had a bridal session picked up by a magazine.  So these worlds do cross over.  I’m not trying to brag but I do have a point to make.

My point?  Just focus on doing good work all the way around.  You can bash others all you want but at the end of the day that does not make your images stronger, it just shows your insecurity and it doesn’t do any good for anybody, including yourself.

Yes, I photograph a lot of models, but I shoot for clothing companies and editorials for magazines and sometimes to showcase the boudoir I shoot because my clients want total privacy!  But, on my other site, you can see all the weddings I shoot with my wife.  I don’t hide who I am to any of my clients.  If someone does not want to hire me because I shoot nudes or a clothing company doesn’t want me because I shoot weddings too then these people are not my clients.  Embrace who you are and do not compromise who you are for anyone.  I respect other photographers who do types of work that I don’t think I could ever do.  Sometimes I don’t even like the work they do but they’re happy and they are bringing in a paycheck and their clients are happy.  I’m not going to talk down to them because I don’t like what they do, I’m just happy that they are doing it so I don’t have to! ;)

Anoush by The Average Jim

Masters of Bullshit

Is it just me or is social media just turning some people into masters of bullshit?  Agencies and advertisers now want the models in the photos and the photographers who take the photos to have a huge social medial following so they can help promote their product.  I don’t get how this is possibly a good idea.  I know, on the surface it seems like there are numbers of untapped users out there and this is a great extra way to advertise, but let me tell you what it does.

I see people in the “fashion” industry with thousands of followers, but here is the problem.  The same 10,000 followers a model has are pretty close to the same 10,000 followers this photographer has.  Or, all of these fans are just a bunch of horny guys who want to see hot photos of naked girls on their phone.  Unless the naked girl is part of the deal they are not buying your product.

Relevant followers are what advertisers should be looking for.  But no, some guy in an office said, they need to have a certain number of followers and now that is the golden rule.  Whatever, it’s cool with me, I chose not to take on those jobs a while back so I’m not even in the running anymore anyway.  But the bullshit part is this.  I am seeing more and more photographers starting magazines, or should I say picture books.  No articles, just photo series of agency models stripping out of their clothes.  I shoot nudes, I’m no prude, but it’s glorified glam, it’s not fashion.  It is T&A.

Plus on social media they will post a photo of a famous model shot by a famous photographer and just say #inspriation… but you’re technically passing it off as yours.  Some people get it but a lot don’t see the difference from you posting Kate Moss on your timeline calling it inspiration but I hear people in the industry saying, “did you know so and so got Kate Moss to be in their magazine?”  It’s false advertising to some extent and it is bullshit.

It is not like this industry is the most moral and politically correct industry to begin with, but apparently we are all supposed to just take the bullshit as truth and keep on patting each other on the back.  After all, if we share all the same friends and we all call each other amazing the other billions of people in the world will have to notice right?

As usual I prefer to do things my own way and not care about people who don’t care about my work.  If you come here to just see the pretty girls in the photos that is fine, I know you’re there, its cool.  I’m just not going to show images I didn’t take and pass them off as possibly being mine.  I’ll just stick to what I do, I don’t need to fake being cool. ;)

Maddy by The Average Jim

Story Time

I have always loved stories.  In high school I excelled in my creative writing classes and I still love telling stories.  Now I get to tell them through pictures, which is way better than trying to proofread a story!  I think if you’re trying to tell a story with the photos it automatically brings some intellectual content to the images.  I don’t care if it is erotic, fashion, boudoir or portrait sessions, or even a wedding, tell a story!

I see so many photographers just taking pretty pictures.  It’s cool, I like pretty pictures, but I get bored with them really fast.  I have failed myself many times because I was wooed in by the pretty picture and forget to tell a story.  These are always learning experiences for me as I like to figure out where I lost the intent.  This is one reason I push myself to be better as much as possible.  Not just to be a better photographer, but a better and more creative story-teller.

There are a few new ideas brewing in my head, as usual, but there is one I am really wanting to put together pretty soon.  It is a little bit erotic, a little bit innocent and a whole lot of cool!  Hopefully I can put it together in print the way I see it in my head!  If so I think it will be the next step in the right direction!

Here is one more from my editorial session with Robyn

Robyn by The Average Jim

Back to Basics

I have been contemplating some major changes again to my whole business plan.  This is a regular occurrence for me, I am always wanting to do something different and new.  But this last time I made changes to doing something new I think it was a mistake.  I changed this blog, got a full on website and started doing business the “normal” way.  Yeah, that’s not for me.

I have come to realize that the normal way of doing things just doesn’t work for me.  So I have switched this blog back to the way I had it a year ago, I really like having a blog versus a full on website.  I can have my photo galleries here, but I can also talk, and anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk!  I’m an extrovert and I like showing off my work and being in front of and behind the camera all at the same time!

This year I made some changes that I did like and that I thought were successful.  My goal was to get published and start shooting for magazines again.  This happened and happened better than I had anticipated!  My goal was simply 5 published editorials, just to get my name out there again in that market.  That happened pretty quickly so I decided to make it 12 publications because I figured once a month was good.  It is October and I’ve had 15 publications this year and have been added as a contributing photographer to two magazines!  Not bad for just wanting to get my feet wet again!

I’m not bragging, but here is what I noticed.  My lifestyle fashion photography is my strongest work.  I like shooting boudoir, I really do, but when I add that lifestyle element to it my boudoir clients really liked it better.  So what does this tell me?  It tells me that sticking to my style works best for all of my clients!  My boudoir clients love the Mercedes shots of themselves.  My wedding clients love the fashion approach I take to their wedding photos.  My fashion shoots just flow with whatever my brain can come up with.  Life is easier when I just shoot my style.

So I’m going back to basics.  This is going to be my main site again.  Now I’m based in Palm Springs instead of Ventura full-time.  My Los Angeles clients will just have to come here.  It is only a little further than Ventura was to LA, but less traffic!  I will be shooting here more and more, I am still getting settled in and have actually only done a little bit of shooting here, but soon you will be seeing a lot more from The Average Jim’s Playground. ;)

<img src="lifestyle-fashion-palm-springs-photography-the-average-jim.jpg" alt="lifestyle-fashion-photography-palm-springs-the-average-jim" />


Trial and Success

I’m not sure if other photographers out there feel this way but I often feel my career as a photographer is mostly trial and error.  This industry is a very fickle one and you never know what is going to be the next big thing.  If could be you or it could be the exact opposite of you!

The only constant I have experienced is that when I shoot what I love it tends to stick for the most part.  So that is what I keep doing over and over.  I feel as though I have to push myself but still keep it in the realm of what I love to shoot.  Now that I have moved myself to Palm Springs I feel that even more doors have opened for me to push my own work.  Now more than ever I want to shoot what I want and just see where it takes me.

The artist inside of me is wanting to escape more and more.  This is where the trial and error comes into play.  It is hard to experiment on a paying client, this is why I love editorials!  I can shoot creatively and figure what works best and then repeat it for my client.  It is like I have to separate my art from my client, but I’m not sure if I want to do that anymore.  I really want my client to hire me for what I can do, not what I have done already.

I’ll figure it out one day, but for today, I’ll just keep on doing what I do and see where it takes me.  There may be a lot of trial and error in this business, but the days that are trial and success are the ones that keep me going!

Charlie by The Average Jim

Love Me, Like Me, Dislike Me, Hate Me.

I’ve been working on some ideas lately.  Mostly regarding how I want to run my business and really figuring out what I do and do not want to do.  I have had a lot of success this year with having my work published, so far I think it has been 14 or 15 editorials this year.  What I like about every one of these publications is that they have all been my style.  I didn’t shoot for the look of the magazine, the magazine wanted what I shot.  This is how I want to do everything.

There is one magazine out there that I have been told I really need to submit to.  There is just one problem, it really isn’t a magazine, it is one photographer who runs it and always publishes his work and wants everything to look like what he does.  The internet has allowed people to claim to be something they are not, and while he may have a lot more followers than me, they aren’t the kind of following I want.  I want people to like my work for what it is, not just because I got some young agency model naked.  Yes, I shoot nudes, but I really think there is a difference between getting someone naked in front of a camera and having at least some intellectual content.  What is the reason?  If it’s just to see her boobs I consider it a fail.

And I know there are some people who can’t tell the difference between an image with intellectual content and straight up T&A.  But those people are out there and I’m not considering them into this equation.

My intention with all of my new work is to keep pushing towards my goal of just doing what I do.  I shoot every session differently and I like to think all of my clients and models I work with are individuals and deserve something for themselves.  They all inspire me differently so why would I shoot them all the same?

I do shoot a lot of “boudoir” type sessions.  I guess I call it boudoir because I really don’t have another name for it.  Sometimes it is erotic sometimes it is glamorous and sometimes it has a fashion flair to it.  But it all looks like my work.  Like I said before, it’s just what I do and I’m not changing that for anyone.

Robyn by The Average Jim

The Average Plans

I have not blogged anything for a little while mostly because I’ve been moving and working.  The move into Palm Springs is almost finished, just lots more stuff to unpack and put away.  But by the end of the week I should be ready to get back to normal!  Whatever that is….

There are some big plans in the works, as usual, I’m good at coming up with ideas that take up way too much of my time.  I will hopefully have my book finished and available before the holidays!  It turns out I had way more images than I had thought for this book.  Nothing like creating more work for myself.  So I have to narrow it down and select the images for the final draft.  The fun part is going through all of the old photos, I love going through my old work!  Sometimes you find that hidden gem you never knew was there.

I was recently told I don’t rant enough anymore on this site about the downside of the photography industry.  I think that is mostly because I have decided not to care about what others are doing or not doing.  I have had several opportunities to post something here about watching a photographer I know make every wrong decision for their business, I could mention how photographers are now using social media to flood every outlet with mediocre images and a million hashtags.  I could even mention how there is a total misunderstanding of the term “style” in our industry today.  I won’t even get into the garbage some “magazines” are putting out today.  I’m trying to keep things positive, so I won’t mention any of that today.

Instead I will talk about the positive.  I have at least one book coming out (self published) and possibly a second book as well, if I can get my shit together and finish it!  I have a big promotion coming out for my boudoir photography business so I will be swamped most of November and into December.  And of course I will be shooting more editorials very soon, I just need to get these moving boxes out of my new playground!

And for those of you who read down this far and just didn’t want to see the nude photo below, I will also be speaking at Inspire this February!  I’ll have more on that later, but if you are one of the attendees you will get to hear me rant in person. ;)

Stephanie by The Average Jim


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