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

Holding Strong

Moving my photography business (and myself) to Palm Springs was one of the best things I could have done!  I have a home studio again, much better for shooting boudoir photography especially with having a pool too!  But the best part is the way I feel here.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved living in Ventura and still have many connections and friends there as well as numerous clients.  I just like the vibe here in Palm Springs.  I will miss the beach but I can always drive to the beach when I want to and honestly, I needed a change.

I’m not sure how my business will do here, but I’ve already booked wedding and boudoir clients here so it looks promising!  Even if I do less work here I feel like I will be doing more of the work I love and less of the work I just don’t want to do.  Some people talk about how they want to make money and they is why they have a business, not me.  I love the fact that I get paid to do what I love, but I don’t do it for the money.  I can truthfully say I do this out of passion.

I may not know what the future holds, but for at least the next year I will be holding strong in Palm Springs!

Casey by The Average Jim

The Average Perfection

I guess you could say I don’t believe in perfection.  I don’t think it exists, at least not in the technical form.  For decades there have been photographers who argue over what makes a perfect image, is it the lighting, the camera, the film or which digital camera you used.  The biggest problem I see with all of this is that we photographers really aren’t the ones who decide what is perfect.  The viewer ultimately decides what is perfect, therefore there is no formula for perfection.

My personal tastes for my own work are very different from a lot of photographers I know.  I like a gritty feel, I like to feel the mood and not look at it as if it were high definition.  To me HDTV looks unrealistic and is not what the real world looks like, so I don’t photograph it that way.  While I know other photographers who have to have the latest gear and make everything as crystal clear and sharp as possible.  I personally don’t like it, but several other people do.

So there really is no one definition of perfect.  I had a photographer once tell my wife that her histogram was wrong and if she changed her lighting she could deliver a “better image” to the model.  My wife was speaking about personal style, he didn’t get it.  He didn’t get that her style was not to take a text book technical image.  She was creating a mood and therefore the histogram would not look like what it shows it should look like in the photo magazines.  He just couldn’t understand how this internationally recognized and award winning photographer could shoot images with a histogram that looked like that.  To him a perfect image needed to be technically correct.  Style and technique are two different things.

Honestly, most of my clients wouldn’t even know what a histogram is and they probably don’t care!  What they want are images in my style and how I get them doesn’t matter, as long as I get them!  I shoot with different cameras, I shoot with film and digital, I don’t follow the rules set by others, only those I set for myself… which are very few!

I’m not saying what I do is right for everyone, but it is right for me.  When someone criticizes me for the camera I’m shooting with or for my histogram being off, I ignore them.  I don’t have time to waste on these arguments, it is the equivalent of someone criticizing Picaso, Dali, or any painter on which brush they use.  Does it really matter?  No, it doesn’t.  What matters is that you deliver the vision you had in your head to a print.  The final product is what matters, how you get there is up to you!

Kaley and Parris by The Average Jim

The New Palm Springs Playground

Well this has been a big move for me, I am now officially in Palm Springs, CA!  I’m still setting up the new playground but this one is so much better!  I have very similar lighting for some of my favorite styles of shooting and a whole lot more, including a swimming pool complete with slide.  This is where I plan on shooting all of my future boudoir and fashion photography work, except for when the paycheck demands I go elsewhere.

I did love my old studio but it was time for a change.  I have already met some amazing people in my community and have already booked my first boudoir session here and am scheduling for October more fashion shoots and more boudoir shoots which I call “The Seduction Sessions”.

I can’t wait to do my first session here, but first, I need to get the shooting areas ready!  Back to work, no rest for the wicked. ;)

Trisha by The Average Jim

New Playground, Same Attitude. ;)

It looks like I will definitely be making some changes to what I call my “playground”.  Such big changes that I will no longer be using my current studio as of the end of October.  I will be moving into a new place very soon and things will be a little different.  My work is going to be focused more on the creative process rather than the technical or anything like that.  The more I go down this road of being creative and focusing on mood and the overall vibe of an image the more I realize that this is all I want to do!

I’m sure I will not book as many clients as I did this year in the next year but that is okay.  After talking a few friends who are photographers and watching them go through certain things they have to go through to make clients happy or watching them struggle with understanding their own style has made me just want to only do what I do.

Okay, I realize this is pretty vague, but here it is.  There is a difference between delivering a product and delivering art.  Some people wish to create the same thing over and over and get paid for doing that.  I’m not one of those people.  I don’t mind going for the same mood, but everyone needs to be photographed differently in my opinion.  People come in all shapes, sizes and colors!  If I photographed everyone the same some people would hate their images of themselves!  But this is my way of shooting, I’m not saying it is right for everyone, but it is for me.

The problem with the photography industry is that very few photographers will tell this to their clients.  The other problem is that some believe that their way is always right, and when I say people I mean photographers.  I was told recently that I needed to shoot weddings a certain way.  I disagreed and I will still continue to shoot weddings with the approach I like to take.  Especially when I just had a wedding client email me images of what they like for their own wedding coming up in October.  And guess what, it is exactly what I do!  But they want it a little grittier like my style is.  So am I really doing something wrong?  No, I’m not.

I have some big plans for the next year, hopefully I can make them all work out the way I want them to.  All I know is that the next year is all about style.  Everything I do is all about how I see the world and the people who end up in front of my lens.  I don’t care what camera I use, what lens I use, film or digital or jpeg or RAW, none of those things matter.  The only thing that matters is the artwork I produce.

With that being said, here is to the future and all of the adventures I am sure it is about to bring!

Roarie by The Average Jim

I can’t draw or paint.

What type of photographer am I?  I’ve been asked that before, a lot!  I shoot a lot of fashion, boudoir and glamour images.  But what makes me different from the other photographers out there who do the same thing?  I’ve said style in the past, but how does one show a style?  Also, part of me describing to others what type of photographer I am means that I need to know myself what type of photographer I am.

I am not a technician, I know my shit, but I am not a technical photographer and I don’t believe in reading data to tell me whether or not an image is good.  If I can execute my vision into a print, it doesn’t matter how I got to that point, as long as I got to that point.  This is the type of photographer I am, I believe I have the mind of an artist but I cannot draw or paint or sculpt so therefore I take photographs.

No matter what, I deliver what I see in my head.  I was asked why I don’t shoot RAW and I simply said I don’t need to.  To me it doesn’t matter what I shoot or what you shoot, what matters is that I deliver the product I said I was going to deliver.

I don’t care what camera I use, film or digital, even though I do have a huge obsession with film, and I don’t care how new or old a camera is.  I’ve said this a million times, the best camera for the job is the one in my hands.  It’s what I do for me and I’m cool with that, so far my clients seem to be too. ;)

I will continue by film obsession with this image of Victoria shot in Miami a couple of years ago.

Victoria by The Average Jim

Positive and Free

I read another photographer’s rant online today about people offering exposure for their photography instead of pay.  Yes, in this industry we photographers do get bombarded with these types of offers, probably more than any other industry.  People want images for their business or for promotional material and say things like “over 10,000 people will see it and we will put your name on it so they know how to find you” and we photographers tend to think, yeah so you’re paying for those 10,000 ad placements, why can’t you pay for the photos?

But instead of ranting about this I’d like to look at it from a different point of view.  Sometimes exposure is good exposure and you really need to know how to leverage these things into your favor.  Sometimes it is worth it to work for exposure while other times it isn’t.

I have one client who I will not do work for on the terms of exposure, they need to pay me.  Most of their client base is out of state and out of the country, this exposure does nothing for me.  I have another client who is a start up business and they refer me to a ton of people they know in the industry who actually do hire me so I work with them for exposure because I book other clients from them.

I’ve shot several unpaid editorials this year which have helped me book more boudoir sessions as well as more fashion work.

Being in business is not just about putting money into your bank account, of course that is the end goal, but you really need to look at the bigger picture if you want to stick around.  I’ve worked deals with several clients, from commercial clients to boudoir clients to wedding clients all based on what we can do for each other.  It’s not working for free when you network with someone who can actually get you paid work!  Not try to get you work but actually get you work!

I guess I would rather spend my time these days focusing on the positive rather than complaining about work I’m not getting.  It makes more sense to stay positive, it also tends to attract more work.  Just something to think about. ;)

Roarie by The Average Jim


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