The Original Average Jim’s Playground

A week ago today I spent the very last day at my original playground.  After 17 years and two months, I said goodbye to my studio in Ventura, CA.  I know it is for the best and I absolutely love my new playground in Palm Springs, CA, but it was a little sad saying goodbye after all of these years.

I photographed numerous clients in this space, everything from boudoir photography, look books, portraits, commercial jobs, and the list goes on and on.  If I listed everyone who I photographed at this studio (which I would probably forget many names to put on the list) it would be the longest blog post ever!

I find myself trying to figure out what is next?  I already have a great place to shoot, but what will I be photographing next?  I’m two hours outside of LA so I won’t be doing much agency model work at all, at least not for the agencies.  The population out this way is not as big as where I was so I can’t count on the number of boudoir sessions as before.  But what do I want to do?

Honestly, I want to do whatever I want to do!  This is a new chapter in my photographic life.  I honestly don’t care if I get published, if I become tumblr famous or if people stop following me because I’m not the “coolest” photographer on Instagram.  I don’t care about fake followers and I am smart enough to know I’m a big enough asshole to never win a popularity contest.

Now I just wish to shoot what I wish to shoot.  I like shooting weddings and photographing women.  I think for now I will just keep on doing that.  Some jobs will pay better than others, but that is fine with me.

It is hard to say goodbye, but that is what happens when you rent, they can raise the rent, you can choose not to renew the lease, and the building can change ownership, or all of the above!  It was fun while it lasted, I will probably never have a space quite like this again.  But my new space needs to be photographed more.  I need to push forward and find my new thing.

So be ready for new images coming very soon!  I have many new ideas and I can’t wait to start shooting again!  But for now, I just want to say goodbye old friend.  Thank you for many years of wonderful craziness and adventures!  You will never be forgotten and the memories will last a lifetime.

I honestly could not pick out one photo to put on the blog for this, so I decided to put up many photos, all taken at The Average Jim’s Playground in Ventura.  ;)

Amanda by The Average Jim Robyn by The Average Jim Casey by The Average Jim Kayle and Parris by The Average Jim Roarie and Lola by The Average Jim Roarie by The Average Jim Kara by The Average Jim Chelsea by The Average Jim Desirey by The Average Jim Lucy by The Average Jim Jessica by The Average Jim Tori by The Average Jim Jillian by The Average Jim Olivia Jordan by The Average Jim Danielle and Louie by The Average Jim Hope by The Average Jim Amanda by The Average Jim

Americana Glam

Okay, so I’m doing this new thing where I have a few different blogs, and I post different topics on different sites.  I know the randomness is usually awesome here on this site, but I thought I’d keep the steadier topics on other sites and leave this one for the total randomness.

Here is a link to one of my other blogs;

The links are also at the top of this page, if you wish to check them all out, I’ll be posting on one of them nearly every day, depending on the topic.

Here is a photo from the blog I posted today on my Americana Glam site, to see the rest click on the link above.

Alexandra by The Average Jim

Peace and Harmony at The Playground

There is a freedom when you begin working for yourself.  I am lucky enough to where I have figured out how to be a working photographer and still only really shoot for myself.  I don’t know exactly how I found this little bit of harmony but I am not letting go!

For years I struggled with rates, I struggled with competition, I just struggled!  These days it is more about having fun with what I do and only shooting what I want to shoot.  This makes for a very happy Jim!

About two and a half weeks ago I held a little workshop at my place in Palm Springs.  It was a small, intimate workshop, I can’t handle doing a huge one, I’d get lost!  Of all the feedback I got this was one thing that really stood out to me.  The attendees were happy that I fed them and just kept it real.  I was kind of shocked that people would go to an all day workshop and pay what they pay and not get fed!  Sorry, but I’m not good when I’m “hangry” and I don’t expect others to work under those conditions either.

But this goes back to what I mentioned about finding harmony with what you do.  I run my workshops the way I run my business and my life.  I like to be happy, I like food and talking with people.  When I shoot I have fun, if I stop having fun I need to stop being a photographer!  I will not let the industry get me down, they can have all the drama and chaos they create.  I am in my own little world, my playground is my sanctuary!  This is where I can let go and just be me.  I encourage everyone to find their place and hold on to it for as long as they can!

Here is a series that was totally unplanned, it was at the end of the workshop and Amanda really wanted to play on the slide. :) Amanda by The Average Jim

Getting Off My Ass

I’ve had a really good run in the photo industry.  There are times I have felt like giving up, times when I wanted to take on the world and times when I wanted to avoid the entire world and just create images for the sake of taking photos.

Sometimes you care what people think and other times you just don’t care at all.  This is a strange profession for me as I am a bit of a narcissist, but in a good way, and I like being on both sides of the camera.  I was an actor for a bit, back in the day yo.

I have this strange desire to work in front of and behind the camera at the same time, but while still being the one who directs and shoots.  I have a plan for this, but it is going to take some doing!  This is what happens when you don’t like working with assistants and I would rather be mad at myself for taking the wrong photo than have an assistant take the wrong photo.  I don’t like blaming others, I’d rather blame myself.  This way I also get the credit when it goes right!  See, I’m a kind and good narcissist.

I shouldn’t say I don’t like working with others, because I do sometimes.  I had a great workshop experience a couple of weeks ago.  I hadn’t really posted since then because I’ve been recovering and while I did attempt to write one blog, it was pretty rude about someone I don’t like in the industry, so I just let it go.

The workshop was fun, and it made me consider actually doing another one this fall or winter.  But we will see, this one went really well and I feel like I made some new friends and just had a really good time.  It was nice to be inspired at my own workshop, and I hope the attendees feel the same way!

So while I had considered phasing out part of my photographic work, I’m just not quite ready yet.  I have too many unfinished ideas.  Now begins the task of making it happen again.  I’ve spent enough time on my but in front of the TV, time to get back to it!

Here is one I liked from the workshop, it is of Amanda at Salvation Mountain.

Amanda by The Average Jim

Thanks for F’n it up for the rest of us!

I feel like I’ve messed up lately.  I’ve been taking time away from blogging and not talking about the photo industry because I have just wanted to remove myself from it in many different ways.  Part of me feels like an outcast simply because I tell the truth.  I see magazines with photos that have seriously shitty composition and when I say something I’m a “hater”.  Bullshit, just because you have a camera and a model in front of you does not make you a good photographer, not even if it gets published.  There are some people who work for magazines who have degrees who don’t know shit about good photography.

There was one other thing that came up lately which I kept away from for the most part.  This whole deal with Taylor Swift and her contract with photographers.  So many photographers are bitching about the fact that she gets control of images blah blah blah.  Then it happened again with The Foo Fighters.  Do you want to know why these contracts exist?  Because photographers have misrepresented performing artists in the past.  Remember that terrible picture of Beyoncé from the Super Bowl?  The one where you muscles are all in a convulsion.  Well maybe if photographers didn’t leak the bad photos celebrities would not have to worry about how they were going to be represented.

From the few celebrities I have photographed I do have some very bad photos in the archives, if they have not yet been deleted that is.  I had a nip-slip of someone and that photo got deleted because I never want to be the photographer who shot a photo like that, even if someone stole it from me I would get blamed so I just deleted it.  Now I’m safe and so is my subject.

Just like everything else in life the few ruin it for the many.  So the next time I hear a photographer bitching about someone not letting them use “their” photos I will remind them that the whole reason it says “do not drink” on a bottle of Drano is because some idiot out there drank it and tried to blame the company.  The whole reason that there are contracts which limit what photographers can do is because of opportunists who try to capitalize on the misfortune of others.

You have a lot of power as a photographer.  You want someone like Taylor Swift to give you permission to use all of the photos?  Then build a career with integrity and build a reputation for only showing the best images.  I know a few people who have built this type of reputation with celebrities and they never have an issue with them simply because they only show them in the best way possible.

So what is my point in all of this?  Photographers, stop fucking it up for yourselves!  Stop putting out shitty work, stop trying to get noticed for the wrong reasons.  If you wanted to be famous you really should not have taken a career behind the camera!  It is like a screenwriter getting pissy because the star of the movie gets the limelight.

This won’t stop the shitty work or the opportunistic behavior of many photographers, it is as if I’m asking the paparazzi to suddenly have a soul.  I’m just saying that these doors are closing on you because someone did something stupid and now we all have to pay the price.

Here is one more from my shoot with Cortney Palm from Zombeavers…. I just love that movie title!

Cortney Palm by The Average Jim

Feel The Love

Apparently I’m an asshole.  Simply because I speak the truth that people don’t want to hear.  I get shit from people because I offer a workshop, yet a few years back I shot an editorial for a major magazine and a week later a photographer hires the same model, shoots nearly the same thing and puts up a workshop on “how to shoot fashion editorial” when he only had less than 5 editorials (none in actual print) and used the image that looked very very similar to the one I shot for a publication with the same model.  But I’m the asshole.

I guess my downfall is that I don’t lie.  I don’t claim to make $150,000 and barely work, I don’t claim that this is an easy career choice.  I work my ass off in many different fields of photography in order to make a living as a photographer and not need to have another job.

Of course people outside of the photo industry actually do recognize my work.  Which that is technically the most important part of my career.  You see, I am able to make contacts with clients and models and thousands of people outside of the photography industry, this is how you make money and survive.

Here is a little story, and this has not lead to a paid job…. yet.  A few weeks ago I was home alone and wanted to drink some adult beverages and watch a movie on Netflix.  Well, my wife and another friend of mine told me about the movie Zombeavers and I thought, why not?  Well I take an Instagram photo of my beer and the movie title and tag it #Zombeavers.  What do you know, one of the stars of the film likes my photo and this leads to a conversation.  This conversation led to a photo shoot.  This photo shoot is now on Arsenic Magazine’s website and I have built a great working relationship with a cool person in the entertainment industry.

I look for outlets outside of the photo industry.  I look for opportunity and I take it when it comes along.  I wrote about that the other day, so go read that if you want more on the topic.

Anyway, here is the shoot that happened all because I wanted to drink cheap American beer and watch a B-movie!

This is one of the stars of Zombeavers, Cortney Palm @vegan_actress on Instagram and @cortneypalm5 on twitter.  Go follow her, she rocks!  Go click the little heart and like the photo set here Arsenic Magazine

Cortney Palm by The Average Jim

The Average Hunger Games

Yeah yeah yeah, I’ve slacked on the blog again.  But if it makes you feel any better I have been working and getting a time-out from Instagram.  I guess promoting your new account is frowned upon. Sorry for being popular, and motivated.

I think the one thing that has kept me going over all of the years is the hunger.  I am still hungry to pursue this career.  I remember photographing all of my classmates back in 1991 in college and making them pose for me, which actually turned into a career because of that!  I was hungry then and I am still hungry.

I shot a killer session last week and am dying to share it with everyone, but I am waiting to see if it gets picked up by a magazine first.  Some of them want to be the first to show it, dammit.  But it will be on here soon!  And I’m sure I will post an image from that shoot every day for two weeks!  Okay, enough about that.

The whole point is to keep up the drive, even when you want to quit and say fuck it all.  When you see new photographers shooting crappy editorials for free and getting known for it.  But what is all that attention for if you can’t pay the rent?

Technology has made it easier to get published, but it has also made it easier to fail.  That first little burst of success comes much easier these days and crawling up the rungs of the ladder may not be as easy.  Insta-fame is not all it is cracked up to be.  But I guess you gotta play the game.  The thing you gotta remember about the game is that you need to have a game plan.  This is where 20 + years of hunger comes into the equation.

I’ve got my plans, I’ve got my whole year planned out now.  It will be the same old Average Jim, but a lot more of the fun stuff!  I may be King of the GWC’s in some respects, but if that is what the camera gods have in store for me I’ll take that ball of T&A and run with it!

Stay hungry my friends. ;)

Here is a film shot back from an editorial shoot I had with Jessica Today

Jessica Today by The Average Jim

The Average Opportunist

One trick I have learned over the years is how to know when opportunity is knocking.  There are many photographers out there who say they “don’t shoot for free” but if you’re gaining something from it, you’re not shooting for free.  I have worked with many people where money has not been exchanged and it has helped me out in other ways, including financially!

Here is a small example of what I mean.  I was shooting for a local (very small) clothing company for very little money, but the gig was weekly.  That company found me because of a trade shoot I did that ended up getting published.  From that small company I put up a casting for models for her shoot and wound up getting noticed by a slightly larger clothing company who had a slightly bigger budget.  They liked my work, hired me several times and also referred me to another paid gig.  I then booked two more shoots with a third company who knew of my work with the 2nd company.  So directly from this one “free” shoot I got published, booked thousands of dollars of work and made more connections in the industry.

My point is that you should always look at the big picture and not just look at it as “free”.  I have had my photos run in magazines that I didn’t even know were publishing them.  But I got credit, and I put it on my list of credits which can lead to more work.  Just because you do not get paid immediately does not mean you won’t get paid eventually.  Of course I am selective and won’t just shoot to shoot, well okay, sometimes I just shoot to shoot.  But I look for opportunity, I try to create opportunity.  The biggest secret to my success, I am just an opportunist!  I take it and run.

I’ve posted this image before, but this is proof that sometimes you just have to take the unpaid work and make something out of it! ;)

Lola and Roarie by The Average Jim

Making it work

I feel like I sometimes do better with more on my plate rather than less.  When I don’t have a lot going on I feel like I forget everything and just want to lay around and not be creative.  But now that I’m putting together this workshop in July and starting to get busy with shoots again I feel more centered and like I’m pushing forward.  Also with my Naked Travels getting funded I’m feeling pretty good about finally finishing the book!

But more about the workshop.  I’m not going to keep discussing what will be discussed, as I am working on the plans for it still and trying to cram all of the information I can into two days!  The whole idea behind this workshop is to host a workshop that teaches what I feel is the real side of this business.  I have spoken at major photography conferences before and hosted workshops before.  But honestly this isn’t my main gig.  My main gig is as a working photographer.  So the information I want to give is based off of how to make a living as a full time photographer.  I know some people make their living off of teaching workshops.  And that is great if you want to learn a specific photographic technique.  But when some of those photographers (who teach workshops) have asked questions how my wife and I are able to book clients and make money, well that says a lot about what they are teaching.

I’m an open book, if you have questions please let me know.  Here is a photo of the info for The Average Jim Workshop.

The Average Workshop

Workshop Update Again

Holy crap things have been busy lately!  The studio has been booked and so many other little things going on that I just have not had a chance to post here!  I just did a shoot for my Naked Travels project, thanks to the wonderful people who donated to my Indiegogo campaign!  Those who donated will be getting a sneak peek via email very soon, and I’m pretty sure they are going to like it!

You can view Naked Travels Here and donate if you can or want to help!

Aside from that I have also been planning the workshop for July.  Busy busy busy!  I think I am going to add a few things to the list on the workshop, of course, any and all questions will be answered.  I shoot nearly everything, fashion, glamour, editorial, portfolio, natural light, studio light, weddings, portraits and on down the list.  I am a people photographer, so whether I am working with an agency model for their portfolio or shooting a wedding I am happy because I get to work with people!  So I thought I would add how to work with agency models and how to get agencies to want to work with you.  It isn’t too tricky, but there are some key points to be able to make it happen and happen over and over.  And then there is how to make money once you’ve got your portfolio.  I will also offer portfolio review, we can go over your portfolio and see what is missing and if it flows properly.  I am constantly changing mine based off of the type of work I wish to get.

If anyone has questions before committing to the workshop please email me at and I will get back to you right away!  I’m hoping to make a more philosophical blog post tomorrow or the next day, today has been too filled with business, I need to clear my head! ;)

Here is one from the archives!  Back from my shoot with Adrienne Manning

Adrienne by The Average Jim


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