I thought I’d tell the story of the new beginning of my career as a photographer. I got my start several years ago with my first official work photographing for my high school yearbook. After graduating high school I moved out to California, not to pursue my dream of becoming a legendary photographic icon, but mostly just to get out of the cold that is Michigan!
I pretty much fell into photography, I also played music, did some construction and delivered a lot of pizza in my college years. Photography was one of those things that kept popping up for me, a wedding here, portraits there, once in a while some “sexy” pics for a friend, and then I started working with models more regularly. This went on and off for years and then I really started to get serious about my work.
Unfortunately I started getting really serious at the beginning of the digital boom. So suddenly all those years of hard work really didn’t matter because everyone could graduate from the local “art” school ($100,000.00 later) and they were a professional photographer now! Even though my studio had been open for quite a while there was instant competition and major undercutting. What was I to do?
I started really pushing the wedding business, fun clients, some stress but the pay is more regular than commercial clients. I found that I actually really enjoy shooting weddings. I can be quite the cynic but I really do like happy days. Well, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to shoot more weddings, it seemed every photographer out there decided they were the next best thing in wedding photography. And with the digital boom, suddenly everyone was a “fashion photographer” too. It was like that scene in the movie Idiocracy where the idiots keep breeding and all the little bubbles keep popping up on the screen. Photographers are everywhere!
So how do I stand out, what can I do to be different? I think I actually said those things to myself out loud one day, and then about a day or two later this happened. A model who had contacted me to shoot abruptly canceled. She just said that she was no longer comfortable working with me. I was at a loss, because despite my harsh tongue I always try to treat my clients with nothing but respect. I had no idea why she had suddenly canceled, and to be honest it actually really made me feel like I had offended her personally and I wanted nothing more than to apologize, but I had no idea what for.
I then found out that another photographer she had worked with had said some really bad things about me that were not even close to true. All because he wanted her to only work with him and not me. Suddenly I no longer wanted to apologize, I decided no more playing nice. So here is the beginning of “The Average Jim” story. I called up my model friend Mac and we decided to have our own photo shoot. And we were not going to copy what this other photographer did, we were going to out-do him. Flat out rip off his “style” which has been done for years by the way, but do it better than he could.
This was the beginning for me. The beginning of no longer listening to all of the crap that people spew out to others, no longer listening to photographers who give false workshops and promise the world. Someone once said to me, “well, if they come back from the workshop happy and feeling good about their business then maybe that’s what they needed.” I have to disagree, ask a crack addict if they are happy when they are high? Not when they are coming down or about to use, but when everything is alright, they will say they feel amazing. But they’re going to crash eventually.
Now some might think I’m a little arrogant and they are wrong, I am a lot arrogant. But I am genuine, ask anyone who has ever met me, the way you read this blog is me in person. I might even be a little more censored here! All I want is for people to have a true understanding of this photography business. I’m sick of the Bullshit in this industry, but it’s not going anywhere so I figure, neither am I.
“The Average Jim” is me, I am basically an average guy who got fed up with the hype of WPPI and the little tours that would try to sell glorified versions of iPhoto to other photographers or base facts on being a good photographer has something to do with your belief in GOD. Want to know how to be a good photographer? Become a good photographer! Holding someone else back does not make you better, it shows your fear of being found out to be a fraud. You do not have to be the best photographer in the world to succeed, but you do have to be genuine.
Love me or hate me, I don’t care, and I’m not going to lie to you to try to get you to buy anything I’m selling. Oh wait, I’m not selling anything, how about that.
A shot from the very first “Average Jim” shoot. Thanks Mac!