The Connection

There is one majorly important thing an artist must understand throughout their career.  Most people really will not understand you.  No matter how hard they try or how well they know you, they just will not understand what it feels like to be you.  Even if they are another artist they may not understand why it is you do the things you do.  I find myself not always understanding the methodology of other artists or why they are so emotionally attached to something so minor to me yet so massive to them.

I have been lucky and have worked with a few people, or more than a few people over the years who just seem to get me and my work.  It is weird because outside of a working relationship I don’t think we would be friends.  But when we work together there is this magic that happens and an understanding of who each other is.  It is hard to describe, but it goes along the lines of when I talk about meeting inside the lens.  Sometimes it is like it actually happens!

Magic moments and these connections seem to last within me for a very long time.  I may not have spoken with people for months or even years, but there is this feeling that they still get me and what I am trying to do.  They just understand.

It was the same when I was playing music full-time.  There are fans, there are people who like what you do, and there are those who don’t get it at all!  But then there is one or two people who just get it.  They get the meaning and the overall depth of what it is you are trying to accomplish.  It is like no matter what you do, you are always fully exposed to them.  This is terrifying and inspiring all at the same time.

So if someone doesn’t get why you do what you do.  It is okay.  I have come to the realization that not everyone is meant to understand why I do the things I do.  I’m okay with that now, the judgement from others still sucks, but it is going to keep happening.  But if I am being honest, the perspective of being a photographer and a musician is about the same.  As a musician, I didn’t care if someone bought my CD at a gig or not, I always loved it when there was that one person in the front row or off in the corner who just connected with what I was doing.  I could always spot them from the stage.  The connection is gold.  So when I produce the images I do, I know there are people who see them, who like them, who don’t like them or who wonder what my motives are behind it and I don’t care.  I just like it when I make that connection.  It doesn’t matter if it happens inside of the lens or online or when they see a print hanging on the wall.  It is the connection, and it is usually there for a lifetime, locked in my brain and hopefully locked in their’s as well.

Anoush by The Average Jim

The Inspiration Experiment

I have decided to do an experiment.  I have complained and ranted on about some things I don’t like about the photo industry but now I am actually going to try some of these things I have complained about and see if they benefit me in any way.  The first thing I am going to do is a tumblr experiment.  I am going to fill up my blog with “inspiration” along with my own work and see what happens.  I’m sure I will gain more followers but will it have an impact on my business?

I will then start methodically posting on Instagram, maybe even start a new account to see how it works from the beginning.  Using certain hashtags, posting the right kind of photos etc.  I will see how many followers I can get by using certain tactics I have read about.

The whole goal is to see if the time put into this will benefit my actual income of my business as a photographer.  Maybe I am wrong with the way I have complained about things in the past, so instead of continuing to rant I am going to see for myself what the big deal is and if these “proven tactics” actually work.

I know, I must have too much free time on my hands to do this right?  True, but sometimes you have to make the time to make the money.  Plus now when my wife asks me what I’m doing on the internet I can honestly say I’m working. ;)

Carle by The Average Jim

F the Histogram

Photography is a field in which there are many different opinions about what is good and what is not.  For some they rely on the science of it.  What does the histogram look like?  Blah blah blah technical talk.  To me this is taking a well exposed picture, but it is only a small element of what photography really is.

I remember when my wife was talking about style to a large group of photographers this one guy kept interrupting her and telling her the exposure was wrong and if she just turned up the light a little bit she would deliver a “better” image to the model.  My wife then said that she likes the way the shadow wraps around her face and he still didn’t get it, he kept pointing to the histogram and saying it was wrong, but he never really looked at the actual image.

Back when we were all shooting film there was no histogram, this is why I say fuck the histogram!  I know some photographers will tell me I’m wrong for saying this but I don’t really care.  I shoot for mood and for the vision of what I want to show the world.  If I want it dark and moody I’ll shoot it dark and moody dammit!

Take a chance on your photography, yes you need good composition, but take chances and push your own boundaries.  Don’t settle for what some lame photography manual tells you or what some idiot in the crowd says is right.  There is an old saying, those who follow the crowd tend to never do better than the crowd.  Take a different path and see where it leads you.  Be different, be unique and have your own vision.  This is how I shoot everything.  Whether it is a wedding, boudoir, fashion or anything, I shoot the way I see the world.  Now it is the only way I can take photos.  I have been on my own path for so long I don’t even know where the crowd is anymore.

Here is a shot where the histogram would have told me I was wrong, but I wouldn’t know because this is on film. ;)

Jessica by The Average Jim

The Average Guide to Internet Fame

I have figured out how to be more popular on social media!  Lie about everything and talk about how amazing you are!  Also forget about anything wrong you may have EVER done to anyone or about any money you may owe someone.  Also, whenever anyone is pissed at you, be sure to turn it around on them like it was their fault to begin with!

This will be my new seminar on how to get popular and get other people to give you money for no apparent reason!  With the help of The Average Jim’s new program you too can become a narcissist today!  Learn how to never take responsibility for your own actions ever again!  But wait, there’s more!

Oh no!  You made a scene in a bar and called your best friend a whore, that’s okay, turn it around on her and get her to apologize to you by saying “well, if you had never bought me that last drink I wouldn’t have gotten black-out drunk and called you names or put those photos of you on the internet.  So actually it is your fault.”

You’re broke and you can’t pay your rent?  Start a crowdfunding campaign!  We all know you can’t pay your bills because you’re out partying at the hottest clubs in town, but just call it “networking” and it is part of being “in the biz”.  In fact, your crowdfunding campaign can be for your new business that you haven’t even started yet!  Be sure to tell everyone about it at the club too!

Just remember, you don’t need talent, you don’t need an agent, you have the internet so you can be internet famous all on your own!  PR is just a nice way of saying bullshit things about yourself.  Oh, and don’t forget to take a selfie every 5 fucking minutes!  And you must bash where you live now in LA and talk about how rude the people are.  This way when you can’t make it here you can say that you always wanted to go back home because you missed it so much, not for your lack of success in California.  This way people think it was your choice and you didn’t really get evicted from that shitty studio apartment in The Valley, it is okay, people back home in Kentucky don’t know The Valley isn’t really LA.

Now remember, fake a smile, take a selfie and be sure to mention how you don’t want to be late for your audition, which we all know really means your job at Starbucks.

Hope you have all enjoyed my guide to internet fame. ;)

Here is a photo from an actual editorial of people who actually work in the industry.  Mariel and Marita for Cake-Mag

Mariel and Marita by The Average Jim

Recess

I have been working on a new blog.  One that is more geared towards clients and the work I do for them.  I have come to realize that this site is definitely more about me, my views on the photography industry and just total randomness.  It is the link on the top menu of this blog called “Americana Glam”.

With that being said it is kind of nice to have even more freedom to go off leash here on this site.  I know I still have clients who read my rants, and have actually become fans of them, but I think I need a softer, gentler site for my clients.  Even though the images will be the same!  We will see if it works or not.  As of right now I’m just trying to figure it all out.  Story of my life!

This is my playground, this is where I can experiment and see what works and what doesn’t.  I need a place to play, and this is where I do it!  Oh, I think I hear the recess bell….

Codi by The Average Jim

Back to Boudoir?

I hate it when I get a new idea and it is seriously one of the best ideas I have had in a very long time and I’m not quite sure how to make it happen.  I’m driving myself crazy with this because it is exactly where I want to go with my work!  This all came from viewing a folder of past client work and one of my boudoir clients and she just nailed it with her shoot!  I can’t share the images because of the privacy agreement, but damn, she did an amazing job running with the concept!

There are a few other clients I wish I could share on here as well, but when they want privacy I make sure they get it!  But that is a different topic all together.  I was going through old client images because I like seeing the difference between my boudoir clients and the models I work with, and there are several clients who were every bit as good as the models I’ve worked with and even better than a lot of the models I’ve worked with!  I always love it when a client comes in and just rocks the shoot!

I was going to step back from shooting boudoir this year, but now I think I may need to restart this business with my new idea, if I can pull it off!  Honestly, it isn’t the best business plan as far as making a lot of money, but it is affordable and will be super cool and fun.  To me that is what this is all about, having fun and just living the life!  But if I go back to boudoir, it definitely will not be the typical boudoir you see from other photographers, it will be something totally different!

 

Kaley and Parris by The Average Jim

Naked Travels

So I have decided to once again try crowd funding for my road trip project! I am calling it Naked Travels, it is a documentation of different models in my Mercedes while I travel to different parts of the United States.  I am not sure how long it will take me to complete this project but that is kind of what I like about it.  There is no real end in site.

But if you wish to help me out you can donate to my Indie go-go page here.

http://igg.me/p/naked-travels/x/10509563

For as little as $5.00 you will get exclusive images from this project sent to you via email.  These are images that will not be posted here on this site, so the only way to see them is to be a part of this list!  And for an even more exclusive list you can donate $45.00 and receive weekly updates and new images.

Okay, enough with the sales pitch, I’m back to the editing, so far I have photographed over 30 models with this car and it is time to start selecting the images for the first part of the journey!

Desirey by The Average Jim

 

Make It Count

I have never been one to do things the normal way.  Also, I have never really cared what others thought of me while I wasn’t doing things the normal way.  Here is why.

If someone is judging you for what you do, and if what you’re doing isn’t hurting anyone else or illegal, but these other individuals just don’t like it, they are not your friends or fans.  I have lost some “friends” over the years because of the type of work I do.  I can’t blame it on religion because I have some extremely conservative religious friends who love my work!  So what is it that makes people uncomfortable?

A few years ago some friends actually said they had to “unfriend” me on Facebook because it showed what photos I liked in their news feed.  These were just a few (literally a few) photos of models who were friends of mine.  I would like their photo, which was not overtly sexual or even close to nude, but because they were photos of models they had to unfriend me.  It was too “sexy” for them.

Honestly, they’re nice people but they’re not my friends.  One of them actually had a talk with me about how it just wasn’t moral.  Give me a fucking break!  Artists, for centuries, have been amazed and bewildered by the nude human body!  Governments have commissioned works of art that are in the nude!  Churches have commissioned art that is nude!  If me liking a photo of a friend of mine online where she is wearing a t-shirt and shorts is offensive then you have your own issues to deal with!  I guess you’ll be giving your wife a fucking burka for Valentine’s Day.

This is why I say what other people think of me is none of my business.  I didn’t need to hear that from him.  But he felt the need to tell me what I do is wrong.  I work with women, women hire me to take photos of themselves and models contact me to photograph them the way I do.  I’m not forcing anyone into this by any means.  If the women who work with me feel okay with it well then, that is all that matters to me.

I will be embarking on a new project soon, hopefully if all goes well, and this will be in typical Average Jim form.  There are no rules, there are no boundaries and the limitations are only set by the person in front of my lens.  We go where the shoot takes us and that is just what happens.  Sometimes it is sensual sometimes it is fashionable sometimes it is gritty and sometimes it is just cute and fun.  But if you don’t like it, don’t look at it.  If you do like it, feel free to buy some of the work or to hire me to create it for you!  Or just keep coming back for more.

The bottom line is this.  If you feel the need to criticize the work in a negative way based off of your personal beliefs.  I don’t want to hear it because I don’t care.  I live for today and love the freedom that comes with what I do.  My work isn’t about sexuality, it is about freedom, love, throwing caution to the wind and just embracing life.  You only live once, make it count.

Jessica by The Average Jim

Keep Pretending

Okay, so I had said that I was no longer going to rant about the photo industry, but I kind of have to today.  I was on Facebook and saw a forum where someone was asking for advice about some photos they had taken, of course a bunch of photographers pop up and start offering their services to this person.  Everything from workshops to lessons to whatever else they could think of to try to get this person to hire them to be a better photographer.

Here is the problem.  These people should not be teaching anybody anything!  Their work is mediocre at best and they think they are the top professionals in the field.  I’ve talked with a few of them before, they really think they know what they’re doing but honestly their work tells a different story!

It just goes to show that social media can be used to build a name for a business but it doesn’t necessarily promote talent.  I have been told by many people that I should have a much stronger following on Instagram and Twitter, but I just don’t care.  I’m not going to post a ton of self promoting images on Instagram because I am not into it.  Honestly, I photograph models a lot, now mostly for personal projects and some art stuff.  If I had a following of 50,000 people it would most likely be 49,000 guys who just want to see half-naked models.  They wouldn’t care about me or the art of it all.  So why work so hard to entertain people who are not my customers?  I don’t care about the attention, I’m arrogant enough to not need a thousand likes on a photo.

The other thing I found funny is that some of these photographers who were offering lessons and workshops don’t even do photography for a living!  Not because they have a great job and happen to be a great photographer too.  No, it is because they would not make a living as a full-time photographer.  It is hard to do!  I’ve been doing it for years and it is a real struggle to turn a profit!  Every year gets harder and harder.  But to them they have all of the answers.  It is easy to have all of the answers when you have never had to face the tough questions.

Photographers are the new guitarists.  In the 70’s everyone wanted to be a rock star.  In the 80’s everyone wanted to be on MTV.  In the 90’s everyone wanted to be Kurt Cobain.  And now suddenly, everyone wants to be Terry Richardson, but claim not to want to be him, but want to be just like him.

Get a digital camera and a pretty girl to pose for you and suddenly you’re cool and hip!  It doesn’t matter what the image looks like, she’s naked, you’re amazing!  And if anyone tells you otherwise just look at all of those likes you have on Instagram.  1000 paid for likes can’t be wrong!

This is why I choose to do my own thing these days.  Most of the industry is a joke to me, this may offend some of my friends but I really don’t care.  I’m not claiming to be the best photographer in the world here, I just do what I do.  I just laugh at those who think they know everything and have no clue that they have not even scratched the surface of what they should know!

I’m not a teacher, I am not a leader of this industry, I am just a guy who takes pictures of what he wants and how he sees the world.  I’m not going to try to make money off of photographers and be a snake oil salesman.  I am just me and will keep on trying to be the best me I can possibly be.  And I will continue to support those who are leaders in this industry who actually have something amazing to offer.  Everyone else can keep playing their games, keep their internet fame and keep pretending.  Meanwhile, I will keep doing. ;)

Amanda by The Average Jim

It doesn’t have to be art

There is a certain freedom that comes with being an artist.  Actually it is called artistic freedom.  This is the power to do what I want when I want.  I like it this way, in fact I like it so much that I think this is about the only way I will be doing business as a photographer anymore.  Or maybe I won’t be doing business as a photographer anymore and I will just shoot what I want when I want and see if I can make the art I want to make.  And to be perfectly honest, sometimes it will not be art at all.

I like making pretty pictures, or pictures that make you think, or pictures that just make you wonder what in the hell was I thinking?  It is time to follow the voices in my head and just explore the little bits of inspiration which usually get put on hold until they spark a bigger idea.  Maybe the little idea is the big idea?

I need to let photography be my obsession, not my profession.  Well, I shouldn’t be that extreme, I still have people who hire me for what I do and they give me full artistic freedom, so I’m totally cool with that.  I’m just not going to keep trying to make it my main gig financially.  I have some other options and I’m taking them!  And if it pays off I will get to do even more creative photography than ever before!

When it comes to living life I like to think of myself as an explorer.  I don’t believe in the regular 9 to 5 job, I believe in taking as many vacations as possible and I believe in enjoying every moment you can.  My wife gave me some inspiration yesterday as to what I should be doing to make money and, as usual, I think she is right!  It is still in my creative wheelhouse and has nothing to do with selling out!  This will also allow me to focus on the creative side of taking pictures again full-time!  And this makes my energy go through the roof!

I now feel like I am chomping at the bit and ready to charge, but I know I need to restrain myself at first.  There are some hurdles in the way, nothing too huge, but I do need to get passed them before charging forward, as I do not wish to fall flat on my face!

And welcome to my world of being a creative!  Always thinking of new ways to survive in a world that wants your product, but never has the budget to pay you.  The true creativity sometimes comes in how you find new ways to get paid for what you do rather than actually doing what you do!  If you are a creative person, don’t let this stop you, just think of it as part of the creative process and you will find yourself far less frustrated!  Trust me, this is something I know about!

This is from an editorial I shot last year with Charley, we really didn’t have a plan, just walk around Portland and see what happens next, it is definitely my kind of plan!

Charley by The Average Jim

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