Back to Business

I had taken a break from shooting anything fashion related, magazine related or even working with models.  It was a much needed break!  Yesterday was my first model shoot since August and it went very well!  This was not for anything other than to get back to shooting and doing something cool for our portfolios.  Sometimes I just like to have a fun shoot just to have one.

This was also the first shoot at my new location that I can show anyone.  I have had a couple of boudoir sessions here but they want those images kept private!  I’ll be sharing more and more images as the days go by, but for now, here is one of Joni from yesterday.  Welcome to the new and improved playground. ;)

Joni by The Average Jim

Imajimnation

I am at a strange point in my career.  I seem to be caring less about how to get hired out as a photographer and wish to pursue making more art.  And I don’t mean going out and shooting models in the desert, there are enough guys doing that already and also my landscape work isn’t the best!  I’m talking about playing around more with multi-media and different ideas.  There are a million photographers out there these days, and honestly my lifestyle work is being duplicated all the time!  My wife saw a shot the other day and said “how often does this guy copy you?”  Because his Instagram feed was filled with shots that were all very similar to what you would see here on this site…. down to the pose and prop!

This is where I feel that my days a being just a photographer are near the end.  I need to push my own boundaries and knowledge to keep improving and keep pushing forward.  I have never been one to settle and I have also never been one to give up.  I’ve gone off the deep end on several occasions and have always come back with a new idea.  I’m still working on my animated project, the working title is “Imajimnation” and it is going fairly well.  I’ve made some prints, made some art pieces and have some new ideas for a delivery system, but overall it is an idea I feel is heading in the right direction.

I think my biggest downfall is the internet, it is a catch-22.  I love posting work but as soon as you post it someone else tries to steal it.  I don’t care about reblogging or stuff like that.  It is more of the people who are technically savvy and not so creative.  So they steal your creative idea and try to push it as their own.  Or slightly change it and call it originality.  Whatever, life is too short to worry about it for more than 30 seconds.  But I’m sure I’ll think about it again tomorrow for 30 seconds, that is just my nature.

Right now I need to focus on moving in a forward direction.  It is too easy to go back and try and do what I have already done before.  Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?  The days of getting agencies to pay me are probably gone for good.  There are other avenues of work which are probably gone for good as well, at least for me, so even if I were to go back to what I had done, I’m not so sure there is even a market there for me to offer my services to!

This is the art of supply and demand.  My next move is figuring out the demand so I can supply my art! ;)

Olivia by The Average Jim

 

This Is Why

I have been asked before why I do what I do.  I actually get asked this a lot, so often that I am starting to think that this isn’t really the question.  I’m starting to think that the question is more of why do I photograph women?  And why are they often in skimpy clothing or no clothing at all?

Okay here is the reason.  First off, I get along with women and respect women, so therefore women are usually pretty comfortable with me when they get in front of my camera.  When I am shooting a boudoir session or editorial or whatever, they’re usually extremely comfortable with me.  I’ve tried shooting men but over the last 10 years only 4 male models have shown up to shoots.  I’ve booked way more than that but they keep flaking on me so I stopped asking.

Next, do you have any clue as to how many photographers shoot similar styles as I do?  A shit-ton! I’m not quite sure how accurate this data is, but there are a lot of them out there!  So I’m not the only one.  Do you know why there are so many?  Okay, so right off the bat, yeah, there are the guys who just want to be around pretty girls, but most of these guys are not that good so they don’t get a lot of work so they fade away or just hire models to come to their house and run around half-naked.  Next there are the aspiring photographers who are actually pretty good and shoot for free and send in editorial content to online magazines, and what do these magazines want?  Nude or half-naked young agency models.

It is all about supply and demand.  Right now there is a huge demand for this type of work, granted the paying demand is slowing going away because so many people are doing it for free.  But it is still there.  Look at nearly everything online, the photos are of good-looking people wearing next to nothing.

So why do I do this?  Simple.  I fell into this business, I am good at it, I enjoy it and it is just fun!  I have a passion for art, I have a passion for photography and I love to be creative.  I honestly don’t care about nudity one way or the other.  I have seen naked women, naked men, old and young and it doesn’t matter.  I was taught from a young age that nudity and sex are two different things!  Just because I see an attractive woman in the nude doesn’t mean I have to be attracted to her.  She is still a person who deserves respect right?  But when I say that I usually get the argument that I am actually degrading the women in these photos or contributing to the problem in society that women are only to be looked at.  But that is a sociological problem.  How about you start teaching your kids that people are people and you should respect them no matter if they are man or woman or transgender or straight or gay or nude or clothed?  Since when do I have to teach your kids respect?  That isn’t my job, it is your job.  Oh, and also teach them that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of, that would help with the whole body shaming trend that is going on these days.

I know I get judged by others who don’t understand what I do, and that is cool.  This world teaches people to judge others and not themselves all the time.  It is our society.  So I will still get asked this question and sometimes I will get asked this question with a snarky look on the person’s face who asked it.  But I do what I do because it is fun and I like to enjoy my life.

I’m not rich and not even tumblr famous.  I just get by on what I do but I choose to live a simple life and cut out other expenses that some people have and this allows me to keep doing what I get to do.  And if you’re offended, eh, go fuck yourself. ;)

D by The Average Jim

Mistakes and Lessons Learned

I have made many mistakes in this business.  I think the biggest one was when I tried to conform to be like “industry standard” type of photographers.  The problem with being an industry standard photographer is that there are so many people who are doing this type of work.  It is like striving to be mediocre.  Why work so hard to be unoriginal?

I definitely do not see the world like everyone else so why would I want to shoot like everyone else?  It just doesn’t make sense at all.  And honestly, the money is not better when you conform.  It actually raised my production cost therefore I really didn’t make any more money in the end.

Another mistake was letting the old saying of “The customer is always right” get into my business plan.  No, the customer is not always right, especially when they are asking for freebies!  I had a client years ago who made it impossible for me to do my job.  When he didn’t like the end result he kept asking me to make it better, he then wanted to get his hands on the post production end and he still wasn’t happy.  He then insisted on free items to compensate for him not liking the final results.  After giving him a bunch of stuff I realized he was never going to be happy and he just wanted free stuff.  This was an expensive lesson to learn, but if someone wants that much control over my shoot I won’t do it.

The most recent mistake was working for a friend’s business and helping them build up their business.  We had a verbal agreement which seemed to be thrown out with the trash once they realized they could make more money if they didn’t continue on with the terms we both set.  And instead of them just telling me up front that things had changed they made up excuses and it ended up ending a working relationship as well as a friendship.  My mistake was not confronting this immediately and waiting for them to bring it up to me.  Honestly it was a mistake for the best as I learned not to trust them with anything ever again, and I learned that sometimes when you help someone they will not always appreciate it.

My mistake seems to be in trusting that people will stick to their word, but that rarely happens when money is involved.  This is why I make sure everything is in writing and I just stick to the contract unless it is a change made in writing.  Working in this industry having it in writing is about the only way to really cover your ass.  Even then you will get people who want to change the rules after the fact.  I’ve had people get paid, sign a release and then when they realize more money could be made down the road they want more money.  That or they claim they “didn’t understand the terms” and therefore it is void.  People will make up excuses for things all of the time, it is the nature of this business.

The last mistake I will talk about here today is taking on clients for less money than what the job should actually pay.  I understand that certain people just don’t have certain budgets, but here is the lesson to be learned.  One time I took on a job where the actress wanted photos for the promotion of her career and a movie that was coming out.  She couldn’t afford the full rate for this but negotiated a deal with me to where I could use certain images for my own promotion.  Well, after the shoot she decided that she and her agent didn’t like what I shot for my own use and asked that I not use them without her approval.  This was not part of the original agreement but suddenly she had the money to fight me over the usage but not pay my rate to begin with.  The images didn’t mean that much to me so I just didn’t waste the time on the argument.  I will never negotiate these types of terms again.  Another side of this mistake was when I took on a client and gave them a discount because they were a newer business with a start-up budget.  But the lesson here was this.  If they are not willing to pay your regular rate in the beginning they will never be willing to pay more than they originally paid.  In fact they will search out other photographers who are willing to do it for less.

I no longer take jobs where I am not making what I feel is a fair rate.  I no longer take on contracted jobs for other photographers, other than 2nd shooting.  I would rather do something for free than to have a small rate involved.  The smaller the rate the bigger the headache.  There are some small jobs that are not a headache, but I’m talking about the bigger ones where you have a full team and spend a full day shooting with tons of post-production involved.

We all make mistakes, these can be expensive lessons, so be sure to learn from them and not repeat them!

This shoot was not a mistake, in fact lots of good things came from it! :)

Tabatha by The Average Jim

No Excuses, No Apologies

I like weird shit.  Honestly I am not quite sure what I would call my personal taste when it comes to fashion or art or anything.  It is kind of like Americana Glam.  Granted, I would totally consider myself an American photographer or artist or whatever.

Some people like to act like they come from somewhere else as if that gives them more clout.  I think being true to who you are is what gives your work actual meaning.  I grew up in Michigan and spent a huge amount of time in California.  I have been obsessed with California my whole life, the culture, the ocean the glitz and glamour of it all.

I’m not fashion, I like loud music, bright colors and hate pretentious fucks.  I want to be all “Zen” with what I do but I just can’t do it all of the time.  I can’t help but state my opinion about pretty much everything.  I tell outlandish stories to get a reaction from people.  I am often sarcastic to the point that some people are not quite sure if I’m serious or not.  But the thing is, I just don’t take life seriously.

I don’t believe in working a 9-5 job, ever.  I believe sunny days are meant for play.  I believe that the universe will guide me to wherever I’m supposed to be or to whatever I’m supposed to be doing.  That is just the way it works.  And if I have the chance to have an awesome burrito on the way to wherever I am going then awesome!

Some think I am on “cruise-control” but I’m not.  I actually take in every moment I can and enjoy it for what it is.  Right now I am about 10 minutes from jumping into the pool, as soon as I finish this blog and get changed then that is the plan for the afternoon.

I am me, no excuses no apologies.  If there is anything to know about me it is this.  What other people think of me is none of my business.  Or if you just want to hang out and take some cool photos or go for a swim, hit me up.  I’m an open book and I have an open door policy for cool people who just want to chill.  But it is usually BYOB, as I do have a full bar, but all the bottles seem to have leaks in them because they keep getting empty, not quite sure how that happens. ;)

Kara by The Average Jim

All About The Love

New projects are so much fun!  I swear the more I throw myself into them the more fun I have.  I know this world is supposed to be about making money and all of that, but I just really like what I do.  I may go broke with all of my ideas but I have to do them, I have to create and I have to enjoy my life!

My latest project involves animating some of my photographs into cartoon styled images.  I’m also working on prints with some third dimensional properties.  This all comes from my fascination with Pop-Art and mixed media art.  It also comes from my love of west coast culture and everything that is California.

The goal is to take my work to the next level, whatever that may be.  The one thing I never like to do is settle, that just seems like it would be the worst thing possible for me and my work.

I was shooting a lot of editorials last year and while I loved it, I also didn’t like that so many publications just wanted nudes of agency models.  They didn’t seem to care about actual content and that pissed me off.  You don’t need to shoot nudes to be creative.  And don’t get me wrong, I shoot my fair share of nudes, but come on people!  I want to be known for my creative work, not just another guy on the west coast who take pictures of young pretty girls naked.  That would be settling.

Yes, my new work will have some nudity but not every shoot, and honestly probably not even close to half will have nudity.  I like stylized shoots too and when animating you really need wardrobe sometimes to give it that cartoonish look!  It is all about intention and what the vision is for the image.  I just don’t want to be one-dimensional in any way.

I am not a photographer to just take pictures and get paid to do that.  I made that mistake with my career too many times.  I use photography as my medium to share my visions in my head with the rest of the world.  Sometimes I get hired, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes people buy my artwork sometimes they don’t.  But it is the fun and the journey of creating the work that I enjoy the most.  This is why I do what I do, not for the money, but for the love.

Tabatha by The Average Jim

Whatever

My office is such a cluster-fuck of images and whatnot.  I think I thrive in a space where there are too many photos on the walls, too many books on the shelves and just too much everything.  It is like if I can get more things around me the fewer thoughts I have in my head and then, only then, can I actually concentrate.  Like right now I have something else I am thinking about hanging on the wall of my office, I don’t know where there is room for it but I know it has to go up asap!

The randomness of all of this stuff is pretty interesting, but it kind of goes along with the way I think.  If someone were to come in here and try to figure out what I am all about they may either think I’m crazy or just into a whole lot of different stuff!  Everything from surfboard wax to hand tools, film, photos on the wall, rubber stamps, buttons, button maker, cameras, old computers that don’t work but might some day, skate boards, my stereo I bought while still in high school.  Yet is all seems to have it’s place.

I like my random life.  It allows me to change direction anytime I wish.  I don’t have a specific path to follow, I don’t have to stick to any one idea ever.  I’m shooting a wedding in a couple of days, after that maybe a fashion shoot or glamour shoot or just wander out in the desert or just lounge by the pool.  I have a calendar but most of the days are open for whatever.  I actually set aside days for whatever, this way I don’t book something I have to do.  Today I have to clean house because we have guests coming over tomorrow, but that is pretty easy, so I think I’ll make buttons today and hang out by the pool.

I like these “whatever” days, we all need more of them.

Kaley by The Average Jim

Old, New, Used and Abused.

I have a new obsession.  I rent new cameras and play with them for a weekend.  It is a total tax right-off and this way I don’t have to buy a new camera.  Granted I only do this for big events or paid gigs, and I have to say it is kind of fun to play with new toys without dropping $3000.00 or more on a new camera body!  The only thing I am dreading is finding one that I fall in love with that will be way over priced!  I’m sure this will happen as this is something that has happened before to me.

There was a time when I was really into buying new gear, but as I get older I really like my older gear.  For some of my work, people have asked me how I get a certain look.  Once I shot with really expired Polaroid film for a fashion editorial and I was asked how I created that look in Photoshop!  Well, I didn’t.  It was shot with a camera from 1936 with the original lens from 1936 and Polaroid film that was about 15 years old.  That is how I made it look that way.

I shot an editorial last year that had this killer grainy, gritty look to it.  When asked how I got that look I just said I took an old digital camera, pushed it to its limit and that was about it.  Sometimes older gear has a purpose.  I have never been one to think that you must have the newest and best gear to create a great image.  You have to have a vision of what you wish to create and then pick the proper gear for that image.

This weekend I have an idea which requires a newer camera for what I wish to do, so I am renting it.  I will be able to shoot what I want and not spend thousands of dollars on something that will eventually be old gear.  This is my way of saving money and still getting to play with all the toys other people spend thousands of dollars on.  Plus I still have all of my other gear as backup in case the rental fails for any reason.

Hopefully I will shoot something this weekend that I can share here on this site.  If not, oh well.  For now here is an older image, and I won’t tell you how it was done. ;)

Aurora by The Average Jim

Free Market Jim

I’m thinking I should just go full on free-market society with my personal work.  Shoot for free, give away prints and promo pieces and just create for the sake of creating.  I have other avenues which make me money, not a lot, but enough to get by.  I’m so sick of money and I have never really liked it, so why should it motivate me to create?

I’ve probably gone off the deep end again, which is a pretty frequent occurrence around these parts, but I just want to enjoy what I do, which I do enjoy what I do, but I want to do it more and not just to get paid. (how was that for a run on sentence?!?!)

I live in the deep end, I work down here as well.  It is hard to describe this feeling to anyone who is not into creating anything.  I just want to make stuff, art, prints, art prints on other stuff and the list goes on.  I made buttons today because I wanted to.  I will be making more too, I also think I want to make hats and t-shirts, I just really like printing my work on other things, it is pretty cool to see someone else wearing something I made.  Just like it is cool to see my prints hanging in people’s homes, or hidden in a nightstand drawer!

So if you see me in person, hit me up for some free stuff, not sure what I’ll have on me, but I will give you whatever it is I have.

Mac by The Average Jim

Running Wild

I have been wanting to post here for several days but have not been able to because I was in Las Vegas.  I was not there for the convention, although I did make one appearance at the bar at MGM, I was there for a client and photographing them for two days.  I was proud of myself for not even setting foot on the convention floor.  I did manage to win some cash in the casino, and then give it right back the next day, but all in all it was a fun trip!

I also have wanted to talk about my new projects, or new and old projects.  I am definitely way to hyper when it comes to photography.  I have this strange mixture of boudoir and glamour and fashion and art.  Sometimes I feel like I should narrow it down but I can’t.  I seriously can’t.  When I stopped blogging every day I kind of felt like I ended up holding something back from my work.  I know photographers who say “less is more” when showing your work, but that just isn’t me.  I am like photography overload and I want to talk about it, share all the photos I can and just keep posting them all the time!  I love what I do, why would I want to limit myself?

Right now I am embarking on some new projects, one is an animated series of prints which is always close to being done, but then I figure out something that looks better and I have to redo them all again!  I am still sort of shooting boudoir photography here in Palm Springs, but I might be making it a little different style than the regular boudoir that even I was doing for my clients.  But that is a whole different blog to write.

The world is my playground and I am about to unleash myself to it.  I have been taking a break from shooting a lot of these projects but I think it may be time to get back into the swing of things.  Not sure where I’m starting or where I’m going, all I know is that I am taking my camera with me and not setting any rules!  No rules, no limitations and it is time to let my imagination run wild!  Now lets see what happens!

Danielle by The Average Jim

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