People often asked how I decided to become a professional photographer. The truth is photography found me. It is truly one of those “Steve Jobs” Stanford commencement speech moments, where you connect the dots of your life looking backward.
Were you always creative?
I never thought of myself as creative, sincerely. I thought that meant crafty, and I was definitely not crafty.
Out of college I accepted my first job with a top Fortune 5 company and was put on their sales to management track. I ended up staying 15 years with this company. Okay, the company was Eastman Kodak company, at the time the 4th most recognizable brand in the world.
But you worked for one of the top photography companies in the world, of course you were destined to be a photographer. But not so fast. I was in the B2B side of the business and my experiences were related to marketing/management/sales of large equipment and did not include the consumer photographic side. I loved working for Kodak. Ultimately, Kodak sold our division, and I was given a wonderful departure package that included the opportunity to be trained in any field I desired. Since I had young sons at home and because of my affection toward Kodak, I decided to study photography in order to take better pictures of them.
Okay, now you become a professional photographer! Nope, I just wanted to take better pictures of my sons. I decided to hire a local photographer and mom who had worked at Rolling Stone and thus began my love of photography. To get more hands-on experience, we would photograph our mutual kids and others at our local elementary school and give those pictures to the parents. Before long I was getting requests to photograph families. I hesitated for about a year, but the requests kept coming in.
Yes, I decided I would give it a try. For lots of reasons, I did not think I would enjoy it. Well, I was wrong. I fell in love with photographing people. I loved mixing the art and the science of photography to create beautiful images that families loved. I really loved the intimate connection you have with people while photographing them, putting them at ease, and then capturing authentic moments. But honestly, nobody was more surprised than me. Who knew…I was a creative soul, just waiting for the right moment to “become”?
And all of those years managing at Kodak came into play for my small enterprise. Kodak was known worldwide for the excellent customer, quality products, and amazing marketing/advertising strategies. Do you remember the phrase “A Kodak Moment” reflecting a special time in your life captured in pictures? I transferred all of these lessons learned to my own business.
Do you still love being a professional photographer?
Yes, more than ever! Photography delights and surprises me every day. I love it all, the client connection, the creativity, the business side and so much more. It truly continues to enrich my life in so many more ways than I could ever have imagined.
More dots… Steve. By the way, I also worked for a movie theater in high school and a professional photography portrait studio in college. Looking back, I was certainly attracted to imagery and now it seems like it was all meant to be.