Stop and Go

After all of these years I have decided to stop.  I am going to stop giving advice about the photography industry.  I will continue to be a photographer and artist but I no longer care about where the industry is going.  Months ago I decided to focus on the positive and I don’t feel like I can do that while still fighting the bullshit in the industry.  There are so many battles going on within the photography industry and it is overwhelming!  How to build your business, how to sell your prints, how to cause controversy on social media to gain followers and the list goes on.  There is a huge unethical side to this business which I just do not wish to be a part of, so I am removing myself from the equation entirely.

I do what I do.  It is pretty simple, no false claims, no fake controversy.  I don’t teach workshops, I will not speak at conferences and I will not fake it to make it.  Photographers are a funny breed.  Some consider themselves to be artists while others look at it as a business and part of the problem is when we all don’t see eye to eye logic does not prevail.  The person with the most fans will think they have won the argument because their fans think they can do no wrong.  You can be unethical and bullshit your way through your “class” you are teaching but in the end it is still a lie.

So instead of continuing to fight for what is ethical and teaching people how to be a better photographer I’m just going to let the herd thin itself.  If someone is gullible enough to listen to the bullshit then I just have to let them take the path they have chosen.  I was told recently that my comments regarding someone’s (what I called) unethical business practice were out of line.  I know why they said this.  I was supposed to speak at a conference and didn’t because of client obligations.  But the person I was calling out was also a speaker at this conference but she brings in attendees, so I guess I can’t call her out for being an unethical person because it is bad for business.  So I will just separate myself from these kinds of people.  They choose dollars over knowledge and call it good teaching.  I still call it bullshit, but it is bullshit that wishes to stay bullshit, I can’t change that.

From now on I am just going to be me.  I will do my best to stay out of the crap this industry has to offer and I will keep moving forward.  I will keep on taking pictures the way I do and hopefully keep evolving as a photographer.  My goal is to better myself every chance I get, and one way of doing that is letting go of all negativity I have towards this industry.  I made this change in my personal life and it has made such drastic improvements that I really need to let it flow into my professional life.  I am still a straight talking no fluff kind of guy, I still won’t take shit from anyone, I just don’t have to fight so hard.

It is kind of like when you’re driving a car and there is always that one guy who passes everyone while he is in the right turn lane and then wants to get over.  You can either get close to the bumper of the car in front of you and not let him in, or you can just let the asshole go in front of you and let him get as far away from you as possible.  I’m letting the assholes go.  I hope they drive themselves as far away from me as they can. ;)

Here is a sample of a new project I am working on…. if you like it cool, if not, oh well. ;)

"Smile" by The Average Jim

Settled in Palm Springs

Many people who know me ask me why I moved to Palm Springs.  Honestly, I needed a change and this was one of my favorite places in California and had actually thought about moving here for over 3 years.  They still ask why Palm Springs?  The other questions usually revolve around money, they will ask “well is there a market for boudoir photography?”  “Is there really any work out there?”  Yes and no.  I am two and a half hours from my Ventura studio, that really is not that far.  I’m less than two hours from Los Angeles so if I feel the desire I can go there.  There is some work here, but that is not why I moved.

Living in Ventura could be wonderful at times.  Gorgeous weather and the beaches were amazing!  But it is kind of a blue-collar conservative town.  It has a fairly big population so I did get customers, but not all of them got what it is I do.  I thought about moving to Los Angeles, but I just can’t do it.  The amount of networking and cut-throat business practices that go along with living there are things I just don’t want to do anymore.  Plus the air quality just is not that good.

Palm Springs is a place that I fell in love with many years ago.  There is a very open-minded community here and when people find out I photograph nudes for a living they usually either ask to see my work or just find it interesting.  So far no real judging me for what I do, which is a nice way to live!

Work has slowed down a little since moving here, but it has given me perspective and time to really focus on what I want to do rather than what I have to do to just pay the bills.  It is a slower pace here, which I am really starting to love.  I have talked in the past about wanting to have my own little commune away from the world where I could create my art, well I think I have found it.  It also took me away from a lot of the BS that the industry in LA seems to have and likes to throw at you.  I’m starting to really think I made the right move.

I have not worked with a model since August of last year!  I have had many client sessions but could probably use a few more.  I have become a little complacent, and I’m not sure if this is a bad thing or not.  I’m sure after a while my bank account will say it is!  And now that I am comfortable and settled in, I probably should get to booking more sessions, but lounging out by the pool is so hard to resist! ;)

Amanda by The Average Jim

The Average Theory

It is no secret how I love the 1970’s!  But it is getting to the point where if I can build sets that resemble the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s I will!  It isn’t so much the actual decades that I like as much as it is the nostalgia.  I like the mood of images where you are not quite sure when the photo was taken or where.  To me this is how I like to shoot boudoir photography, keep it a little mysterious.

My approach is definitely a little different.  Maybe it is because I am also a musician and songwriter, but I want the images I shoot for my boudoir clients to tell a story.  When the images are put into a book it is a narrative.  There must be a beginning a middle and an end.  It doesn’t have to be a complex story, just one that sparks the imagination.  Even if there is only one image to show from the session I want there to be a story.  I shouldn’t have to tell the story, it should be one you create for yourself.

Personally I think too many photographers talk about the technical.  What the settings on the camera were, where the light was coming from, film speed or ISO on the camera and all the things they did in post production to get it to look the way it does.  All that information is great if you’re teaching a workshop, but honestly I don’t care.  The only thing I care about is how it looks.  It reminds me of a quote from Eddie Van Halen.  I’m not sure where it originated or even if it is an actual quote.  It was regarding a discussion on music theory, and can be applied to photographic theory, he said (and I’m paraphrasing) “if it sounds good it is good.” And that is how I like to approach my work.  If it looks good, it doesn’t matter how it got there, it just did.

Every now and then I am lucky enough to have an actual boudoir client who allows me to show photos on this site.  Here is Miss “Y”.

Miss "Y" by The Average Jim

Redefining Perfect

When it comes to my boudoir photography I really tend to not do the typical styles.  Every single time I google images for boudoir photography I tend to get disappointed.  It is as if nobody has thought of a new pose or different lighting since the 1980’s!  It reminds me of Glamour Shots in the mall!

Apparently if people are still doing it, it must still be what people want right?  Or maybe they just don’t know where else to look?  Maybe they don’t know about other options out there?  Who knows, all I know is that I am happy not to be doing the same old thing!

To me a perfect image describes a mood and evokes a feeling.  The technical are secondary to me.  But I have been quoted as saying there is no such thing as too much film grain!  I love grainy and gritty images.  Nothing you would probably ever see in Maxim or magazines like that.  I like that raw feel and intensity.  There is beauty in the imperfections, in fact I don’t really like that word because to me what makes an image perfect is when there is mystery to it.  I don’t always want a technically perfect image because sometimes what isn’t “correct” is what makes the shot even more amazing!  Perfection is one of those things you cannot force, it is about being in the moment and capturing the mood.

I like risk, I like taking chances and I really like pushing myself to take these sessions to the next level, whatever it may be.  I’ve got some new ideas and hopefully some willing subjects lined up.  Can’t wait for what is in store for 2015!

Codi by The Average Jim

Honest and Respectful…

Believe it or not I am a people person.  I am just a little cynical and sarcastic at times, or most of the time.  A lot of the time I will post on here about what I don’t like about the photography industry, and there is a lot not to like!  But what I love about being a photographer is working with people.  Since moving to Palm Springs I have been lucky enough to have met some great people.  Some have been clients some have been other professionals in the industry.  But they all share a positive vibe, maybe it is the dry air out here or something?

I have made changes to my business practices, which are better for myself and for my clients, and I have been able to take a more personal approach to my work.  I like to get to know my clients, I don’t like to rush shoots just to maintain the time frame for “billable hours” or anything like that.  I don’t give away the farm, but I like to add “ish” to any time frame I give myself.

My work is my passion and what I love to do and I feel lucky that I get to do this every single day!  Honestly because of the changes in my business practice I do not make as much as I used to make.  But when I work I am happy.  The people who hire me now tend to hire me because they like the way I work and the way I portray them.  This has always been my goal.  I want to see people for who they are and convey this in a photograph.  I’m not here for shock value or to shoot blatant nude photos for attention.  In fact some of my more “erotic” work has never been seen online!  Not to mention the huge number of boudoir client photos that have never been published for sake of their privacy.

Recently a fairly popular boudoir photographer in the industry had said that all of her clients have to sign a model release and allow her to use the photos for her own promotion.  To me this is bullshit.  I have had amazing clients who work in law enforcement and several teachers as well.  These people could be terminated from their jobs if I were to publish photos of them.  So why would I turn them away as clients and not let them have a great, fun boudoir experience?  Of course I also believe it is totally lame to be fired over these types of photos, but that is the country we live in.

With all of these changes to my business there is one big factor which made me want to make the change.  The one single factor is this one word.  Respect.  I respect my clients and they in turn respect me and my work.  When you are honest with your clients and with yourself you can truly make magic happen.  Honesty coupled with respect is a recipe for happiness.  The frustration goes away for the most part.  I am an artist so I accept that frustration is going to happen whether I want it to or not, but this helps it stay away from the business side of things!

Be happy, be open, be respectful and be honest.  Of course I still call things how I see them and will still call bullshit on frauds, but that is me being honest and respectful to my craft. ;)

Anoush by The Average Jim

The Average Kickstarter

Well, I warned you and now here it is!  This is my Kickstarter for my Mercedes project I like to call The Average Ride.

The link is here if you wish to know more about this project.

I have been contemplating this project for a long time now.  I almost sold the car, then people wanted me to keep it, clients loved shooting in it and I have had several other private messages and emails from people asking me to shoot more with this car.  They just love the sessions that happen inside of this wonderful automobile!  And I have to admit it, so do I!

So if you’re into supporting me on this endeavor please click on the link above and check out the different options.  Donations as low as only $5!  This is the only way for me to keep this project alive and make the book of all of the adventures in this magnificent car.  Thanks in advance for your support!

Here is one from one of my many sessions with my part-time assistant/model Robyn.

Robyn by The Average Jim

The Average Ride

Tomorrow marks the day of something awesome!  I will be launching my Kickstarter campaign, I know, people get really sick and tired of others asking for money, I hope this one comes off a little differently.

I have been asked by many people to continue to photograph models with my Mercedes.  Honestly, I love doing this but there are some expenses that come along with having an older car and I also have to start driving it longer distances to cool locations for some of my ideas.  So this campaign is strictly for the Mercedes project which I call “The Average Ride”.

Since I have been asked by many people (seriously it is the most requested shoot I get) I thought I would try to continue and expand this project into a book while also expanding into much more elaborate shoots.

I apologize in advance for the amount of posting I will be doing on my social media pages and this blog to promote this campaign, but this will be the decider of whether or not I continue this project.  I cannot afford it on my own so therefore I am asking for help from the people who would like to see it continue!

I will post more info about this tomorrow (and the following days) so be on the look out for more photos from these sessions and more updates on the Kickstarter campaign!

Casey by The Average Jim

The Moody Jim

I am such a moody artist.  One minute I’m loving everything and the next I hate everyone.  Notice I didn’t say one minute I’m loving everyone, because that just doesn’t happen.  But with all of this moodiness I think I know where I went wrong last year.  I tried to be nice to everyone and went out of my way to show it.  Well I got burned a lot last year and taken advantage of, which I knew would probably happen, but now I know what I need to do, or what I think I need to do, or what I should probably do.  Something like that.

This year ends my full-time pursuit of boudoir photography.  If someone likes my work and wants to pay my rate I’ll do it because I love shooting boudoir!  But I’m going back to my original pricing of you purchase an album and I shoot to fill it and it has to be my style, no cheesy Pinterest glamour shots.  Plus there are thousands of other boudoir photographers out there who do that type of stuff, a few of them are really good while the others should probably go find another calling.  Just being honest.  This year also officially ends my pursuit of any and all commercial work.  I’m over it, end of story.

So what does this leave?  Well, editorials don’t pay squat, they can be fun to shoot but in the end it’s just internet fame, and not much of it if you ask me.  But it does leave my personal shoots and my art shoots.  This means more crazy ideas from yours truly.  I am a huge fan of conceptual art and pop art, which really does blend well with being a photographer.  So this year I wish to pursue my creative side.  I don’t care if I have to go work at Starbucks to pay my bills, although that probably won’t happen because I suck and making coffee and I still do shoot weddings, but you get the idea.

I am in the process of the release of my new work and it will be available very soon!  I have the first prints arriving this week and they will be going up on my Etsy store very soon!  I am embracing the mad-man inside of my head and pushing forward with new ideas.  So expect me to blog a lot more, kind of like I did in the past and hopefully this time the posts will be filled with more of my new work while still showcasing some of the older stuff from the archives.  I had contemplated not showing my new work on this site, but I think I have found a way to do it where it won’t be stolen as much as my images have been in the past.  Well, I hope not as much!

Welcome to my mind, buckle up, it is going to be a bumpy ride of ups and downs and sometimes utter madness! But if you know me well enough you’ll probably be used to it. ;)

Katie by The Average Jim

 

 

Unmerciful

There are a few different mindsets in the photography community.  One is that of the business person who just sees the dollar value of the product and service and despite what they say, from my experience at least, they just don’t understand the artistic side of things.  Which leads to another mindset of the artist who just wants to create and be hired to do what they do.  Then, and this is a newer one, there is the self promotion whore.  This is the person who thinks everything they do is gold and must share it with the entire world all the time.  You can’t go on Facebook without seeing a new post from them and they are talking about how much everyone loves them.

I saw a post from a photographer who was talking about someone who was unhappy with their service, their blog post was like 5 or 6 of mine in length, and I think I’m long winded sometimes!  They were, in my opinion, trying to turn this into something that might go viral just to promote their business.  Honestly I am so sick of photographers like this.  Sure, maybe I lean a little more to the artist side and just want people to hire me for what I do, but I do understand some self promotion and the fact that you need to make money.  Here are some tips I think nobody will listen to.

First, be dedicated to who you are.  If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, nobody else will either.  Next, don’t listen to critics, ever.  The last time I checked a critic never spent money on me and never paid any of my bills, but my clients have.  Getting a critique from someone you respect is much different than listening to someone who blabs on and on about other people’s work.  This brings me to my next line, I’m quoting Lester Bangs in the movie Almost Famous “Be honest and unmerciful” granted this was advice to a critic, but this is how you should feel about your work.

This isn’t about over selling yourself, this isn’t about posting constantly and just saying you are proud of your work, this is about owning it.  People may hate it, people may call it names and talk down about it and may call you names for what you do.  Any artist who has made a name for themselves has been through this and if you want to succeed you need to push forward and let them say what they will.  I have been called many names over the years and I think my next project just may cause people to continue to do so and guess what, I don’t care.  Not because I have no feelings but because I cannot care about what others think of me.

I have been around long enough to know that I must do what I see in my head.  I have no choice in the matter, good bad or indifferent I have to do it.  I’m working on a whole bunch of new ideas for boudoir photography that will not revolutionize the industry, but it will definitely make what I do something that not too many other photographers would be willing to do for their boudoir clients!

I am never sure what category I fall into so I just tend to stick with my own and see what happens next.  Welcome to my world, now you can see why I call it a playground.  It’s fun, you get to play with cool things and every now and then you fall down and get hurt.  This is what it is all about for me, the adventure and the artistic release.  Can’t wait for what is next!

Kaley by The Average Jim

Doing My Own Thing

I am going to be embarking on a new project when it comes to photography.  I have learned quite a few new things over the past year.  Most of these things I knew were coming but I still had that glimmer of optimistic hope for the photo industry, I was wrong for the most part.

The internet has pulled a switcharoo on all of us photographers.  The digital age has also contributed to this in mostly a negative way, but there is hope for the positive to shine through.  The internet brought us social media and with it a way to connect with people with similar interests whom we have never met.  For photographers this sounded great and all, I mean we can now show our work to potential clients and bombard them with images all the time!  But wait, we want better digital cameras, and make them smaller and cheaper too.  Oh wait, now everyone can have them?

In several parts of the industry photographers have actually cut themselves out of being the middle man.  It used to be that magazines or advertisers would have to hire a photographer to get a photo to sell their product.  Nope, not anymore!  Now you can go online and find one for free!  Or you can start a magazine based off of models taking photos of themselves with cell phones!  No more need for a photographer, at least not a good one.

Sure, the bigger magazines will still hire good photographers, but I am presuming that the rates will be dropping soon as several magazines are firing staff photographers and hiring freelancers.  It is basic supply and demand, there is a demand but there are too many photographers out there doing work for way too little of money.  I mean, I have low rates and I am getting under bid constantly!

I refuse to fight it, I have some dedicated clients and that is my bread and butter, but I’m not going to fight anymore.  I’m moving on.  I’m not quitting photography by any means, I am just going to look at it differently.  It is a tool I will use to help me create the new art I am choosing to create.  Honestly I am very hesitant to post any of the new work online yet because I have had so many images stolen from me recently.  And when I say stolen, I don’t mean just taken from this site and posted on a blog, I mean magazines with millions of followers taking my images.

So for now, my new work will not be shown here.  I will still shoot boudoir sessions when they come up and I will still shoot weddings when they come up.  I will even still shoot some fun editorial sessions when they come up.  But my art, I’m going a different route, I’m aiming high and going for gallery representation.  My new project is something which I think (and hope) will catch on.  I actually feel kind of foolish for not realizing the potential of this project sooner, it is as if the idea were hiding in plain site right in front of me.  So maybe the timing is finally right.  I’m in the right place, Palm Springs that is, and I’m finally in the right frame of mind.

I will continue to show some of my favorite images from past sessions here on this site, but overall this is just my blog to vent, talk photography, showcase some of my work and to do whatever I please, after all, it is my playground. ;)

Emmy by The Average Jim

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