***READERS… once again, we’re bringing you a special feature post on a photographer with a slightly different focus:) enjoy! also… we’ve gotten such a great response from photographers wanting to be featured, that starting this month, we’ll be featuring 2 photographers each week! but that doesn’t mean we don’t need more submissions… we are always looking for new photographers to feature, so don’t be shy! email us and get featured! thanks!!!***
Meet Patrick Emmons, a manual RAW canon shooter who uses his right eye to capture mostly musician press, promotional photos and commercial photography. His personal business is Patrick Makes Photographs, but he also works full time for Jimmy Williams – a commercial photographer in Raleigh, NC
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
I started out photographing bands at concerts, that is pretty much what got me into photography. As soon as I started the photography program at App and began receiving positive reaction from the photos I was taking, I knew that I wanted to at least try to do this for a living or at least make money on the side doing it. It was after I got through all of the film developing, alternative processes, and artsy photography classes that I started to realize I could work in the world of commercial photography and actually make a good living.
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
There are actually two things I’ve learned that I think are important to any photographer trying to make it in the industry. First is that you need to create a “brand” out of your photography. You want people to know you for your unique style and come to you because of it. If you’ve got a style that is truly unique and your name is out there, when you advertise your services people may already know of you or see that you’ve got something others don’t and choose you because of that. The photographer I work for at my 9-5 job has such a distinct style that people come to him because they want his “brand” of photography for their job, not just because he is a good photographer. The other thing I’ve learned is the importance of the business & production side of being a photographer. In commercial photography, you can’t just show up and shoot – there is a whole lot more involved and if you don’t have someone to manage all of that you’ll go nowhere.
What makes you different from everyone else?
I would guess my style would make me different from other photographers. I light and retouch my photos in a way that I created, not mimicking anyone else. I’m sure I do certain things similar to other photographers, but my end product doesn’t look like anyone else’s stuff for the most part. I retouch all of my photographs personally and that is what helps give my photos their personal touch.
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
I honestly don’t really pay attention to other photographers. I’ll see specific photos I like here and there, but don’t really have time to look through magazines, books, and the internet at what everyone else is doing.
One item you can’t live without?
Probably my canon 16-35mm lens. I use it on almost every press / promo shoot I do for bands and 16mm is always interesting no matter what I’m photographing. I do hate fisheye lenses though, I like wide but not incredibly distorted.
Your best bokeh image and why?
I think my favorite one is a photo I took back when I had a Canon 85mm 1.2L. It was during the week we spent at the beach before my wedding, I photographed one of my wife’s best friends from Seattle sitting in a tree in Corrola, NC. The way the bokeh effects the leaves and the highlights coming through them looks awesome to me.
Why did you want to be included on The Bokeh Pot?
I like to talk about the stuff I do and show people what I make. Hopefully I can get some feedback from a totally different crowd than normal.
Don’t really have a favorite book, although the one I am currently reading is awesome – “Perpetual” by Brian Huey, one of my friend’s dad.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’ll look through music magazines and see how other photographers are shooting bands. The main way I get inspiration is usually from random thoughts and ideas that come into my head while working. A lot of my photo ideas come from the location that I shoot at, so I’m constantly looking around when I drive anywhere just in case I drive by something that I think would be perfect for a photo.
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
Having a portfolio of images that creates a style that people want and can only get from me. Band photographers are a dime a dozen and most will shoot bands they like or that are bigger for free. You’ve got to get past the “fame” that the band has and charge them what you’re photos are worth regardless. If they chose someone else because they’ll do it for free, then they’ll likely get images that reflect what they’ve paid and maybe in the future they’d come back to you.
Do you use a second shooter?
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
Wait until I do this full time. But even then I’d only want an assistant, never anyone else shooting.
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
I honestly would only want to shoot as a 1st shooter, doing what I am doing now. I should become a 2nd shooter for my current boss eventually though, and I would enjoy that for sure.
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
I am not a member of any organizations and haven’t won any awards. I rarely submit my work to anything, just the Communication Arts Photo Annual pretty much.
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
I was lucky enough to not have to take a leap. I started doing everything on the weekends as I was working full time and didn’t have to rely on getting work as a form of income. Once I contacted the publisher of Alternative Press magazine to show him my work, he started to hire me to do shoots every now and then.
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Focus on promotion and marketing of your style and branding, and send it anywhere you can think of. Pay for ad space in important magazines, do direct mail stuff, etc. Use myspace too to spread the word. Try and get a full or part time job that is similar to photography in some way so you can stay focused while you are waiting for the photography stuff to be at the level it needs to be in order to do it full time. I’m not even there yet so I can’t say much more.
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
Nothing yet, but I am working on a direct mail piece that looks pretty amazing so far. Hopefully it will catch the eyes of some record labels and magazines I haven’t worked with and I’ll get more work.
Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)? If for, who have you had the most success with?
100% for advertising. Word of mouth is great, but some people just aren’t going to know who you are and what you do until you reach them somehow yourself.
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