I went back to my roots.

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No, I’m not talking about hair color. I went back to my old stomping grounds this morning for the annual pool shoot. You know the one. It’s where I took that one photo I entered in that one contest that one time. Yeah, it’s pretty rad.

Well, of course, since I’m in town I wanted to participate. As fate would have it, they were short on models, so I decided this was the year I would step out of my ego that only allows a handful of photographers to hold a camera in front of me and take the opportunity to give the new kids a chance. I’m pretty glad I did.

They would shoot shoot shoot away, and every so often I would ask to see the photo. (This is not the norm for models. Unless the photographer starts the “wanna see the back of my camera” conversation, usually they wouldn’t see until post processing or later.) I sort of have this reputation for being intense… Don’t reeeeeally know where people get THAT idea…HAH! At first the students seemed slightly terrified of what I was going to say; I wasn’t mean, don’t worry. But I did take the opportunity to say, “hey, I see what you did, let me tell you how you can make it better with the same advice I was given when I was at the stage you are.”

It works. #hollapraise

Guys, photography is really fun. Why do y’all think I do it so much? There is ALWAYS room to improve and learn. I don’t think people realize how satisfying TEACHING is: when you explain something to someone and they get it… wow. It’s just… There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing that feeling is. For me, I hate asking questions — I like to learn things on my own — if I can’t do that, THEN I ask for help. Wasn’t the best decision in Algebra 2 but I mean… hindsight, right?

Photography is one of those really amazing things that a lot of people WANT to share. People WANT to learn how to take better pictures, but sometimes it’s like the veterans of the industry aren’t interested in sharing what they know. And for what? Ego? Competition? Okay yeah. It’s the competition. What happens if someone is technically more talented than I am? Well that pretty much means I need to step up my game. There is no greater competition than yourself.

So I got to help some people with portraits today. That wasn’t all — one student, a sophomore, was asking me about internships and what my advice would be for her to find a paid internship.

This was my advice, and my dear friend Ryan Scott Welsh will back me up on this one: no one ACTUALLY expects anyone in their late teens to early/mid-twenties to be financially stable. If you’re more concerned with making money, you shouldn’t be in the creative field.

Say you find two internships: one will pay you and one won’t. The one that pays is with a giant company that would be an AWESOME addition to a resume, but you’re one of 10 other interns and you only meet the big boss one time at the beginning of the internship on a tour of the building. The one that doesn’t pay is with a small business, less than five people work for the company, and you’re going to be loaded with a ton of responsibility because you’re the only intern they have time to deal with. They aren’t as well known, but you’ll have a personal relationship with the big boss who would gladly talk you up to any future employer… or hey, maybe they’ll hire you back one day.

What are you more interested in: quality or quantity? If you’re answer is quantity, stop trying to convince yourself that you’re a creative. Just stop. Creatives create. Creatives are learners, our goal is to always be better so we can provide our clients with QUALITY work that will LAST. Talent isn’t just a natural thing, it takes a lot of practice. Nothing about creativity is perfect the first time around. Don’t anyone dare throw Annie Leibovitz in my face SHE’S THE EXCEPTION NOT THE RULE. Wanna know how many shots you have to fire to get one good one? 100. Wanna know how many you have to fire to get one as good as Annie? 1,000,000 (That might be an exaggeration, even though it’s honestly not.)

Yeah, we want to get as many projects done as we can so our income can support us. Don’t take what I’m saying to mean that I don’t care about making money. I do, but only enough to keep a roof over my head, gas in my car, my bills paid for, and food in my stomach. Everything else is gravy.

People won’t want to hire you if your work and personality aren’t consistent with the price. Start from the bottom… get there. Have a good attitude. Know that the money will come. Eventually.

You have the potential for the talent, now go do something with it and learn from someone who knows better than you… then keep learning from other people who might know better than them.

*steps off soap box*

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