Heads up, New Jersey. Event incoming. Sure it’s some 9 months away, but I’m beyond pleased to share with you that I’ll be a small part of a great big event at Manahawkin Lake on September 17, 2016. The 2nd annual Makers Festival will be unleashed upon the world, and I’ll be there peddling my wares. If you managed to attend last year’s event you know firsthand the fantastic production that is Makers Fest. But if you’re looking for more insight, you should absolutely check out their website, Facebook page, and Instagram account. Their follow comes with the highest recommendation.
As part of their highly organized and ardently purposeful marketing efforts all 2016 vendors were asked to provide answers to some or all of the following interview questions. Considering I’ve got this here website I thought why not blog out my answers here? So here goes:
Makers Fest Asks:
What is one thing you would like the public to know about your business?
I’m very new to the whole business aspect of this venture, so really I’d just want the people to know that I’ve recently launched my online SmugMug shop. It’s currently a work in progress, and I still plan on servicing requests for custom framed pieces, but the online shop is the place to go for quick and easy ordering, printing, and shipping of my work.
Where do you see yourself and your craft 5 years from now?
Obviously I want to continue to learn, grow, and improve in as many aspects of photography as possible; continually honing my workflow, strengthening my portfolio, and better representing the underrepresented beauty of New Jersey—with a particular focus on coastal and southern areas. Beyond that, I’d love to experiment with shooting film, creating video and time lapse productions, and becoming an evangelist of sorts for all this wonderful nature surrounding my home town of Manahawkin and the broader LBI region. In a perfect world I could merge my skill of public speaking with my passion for photography in a union that would bring knowledge, connection, and learning to any audience willing to listen.
Is your business a hobby, full-time work, or both?
Considering I’m now selling work it’s going to be tough to make my case as this being just a hobby, though that’s still how I parse it out in my own head. I work full time in a fulfilling career that is wholly separate from my photography. I think of my time behind the lens as a detachment from the day-to-day world that can even in the best of professions mire us all. While I’d love to someday have the good problem of making photographs as a singular profession, I don’t want this hobby to ever feel like work. I’d regret any attempt to monetize if the joy was stripped away at the hands of aggressive, business-type demands that can erode the creative process. But that wouldn’t exactly be a #FirstWorldProblem I’d cry too much about.
What would your advice be to others looking to start something similar?
Shoot. Shoot. And shoot some more. Did I forget to say go shoot? Oh, and don’t worry too much about your gear. Starting out as a complete neophyte photographer in 2012 with zero expectations and little to no camera experience, I participated in a photo a day project that saw me end the year with over 25,000 photographs taken on a used, first generation Canon Digital Rebel—they didn’t even have model numbers back then. Throughout the process I had heard all about how you need to get through your first 10,000 pictures. That these would be your worst, and that this kind of spray and pray method to photography was essential for gaining the skill for making good photographs. In my case, it was true. By the middle of 2012, things started to click, and here are there I began creating images that actually looked like they were made by someone who almost had a clue. It was a good, albeit unexpected development and I haven’t looked back.
So get out there. Do it every day. Photograph everything. Experiment with the different manual settings to see how these choices affect your final image. Celebrate your victories, learn from your losses, and reward yourself for hitting your goals—even if it’s committing to take a picture a day for a month. Most important: have fun. As soon as it feels like a chore it’s over. Oh, and if you think you want to be a landscape photographer do invest in a sturdy tripod—that’s one bit of gear you should prioritize.
What is your favorite part about working in the creative field?
Stress relief and bringing joy to others. It’s equal parts humbling and empowering to watch someone react positively to something you had a hand in creating. It makes all the ups and downs, all the effort, all the focus, and all those times you just want to throw in the towel worth it. It’s a gift to open up to others such that they too can share an experience.
What do you think the most common misconception is about your craft?
The belief that gear is everything. Now I’m not saying equipment doesn’t matter, or won’t bring some improvement to your photographs, but it’s not the panacea for great pictures, either. The greatest camera and lens combo in the world will not magically conjure great lighting conditions, or manifest interesting foreground to compose your frames for you. And considering these powerhouse devices we’ve got kicking around in our pockets, a great photograph is only a click away from your mobile device. I’m continually impressed with the photographs I can make right on my iPhone. So do yourself a favor: don’t let costly gear be a barrier to entry. The drain on your wallet can always come later.
What inspires your work?
A combination of wanting to show off our area for all its worth, and a competitive drive to be the very best I can be. When I see the magnificent work of others and the hair on the back of my neck stands up, I think to myself, that’s how I hope people respond to my work someday. That’s what drives me.
Why did you choose to participate in The Makers Festival?
First of all I love every single thing your organization is doing. Every. Single. Thing. Highlighting the undercurrent of local talent that has largely flown under the radar in a region that’s not exactly known for a happening art scene. It’s better yet that this is an organization run by women. I’m all about doing stuff outside the norm that breaks free of the tropes, perils, and frankly boredom of patriarchal paradigms. I can’t say enough how great it is to be part of something new and different. I’m honored and surprised to be selected among such a talented crew of artists, creators, and makers. You’re creating opportunity where there was none, and working to put the LBI region on the map for more than just its sunny beaches and seasonal watering holes.
What motivates you in the face of adversity?
I’d like to sit here and mash out words to suggest this is an area of strength and experience. Truthfully adversity and I have a mixed record, but I’m working hard to appreciate the necessary relationship with adversity, failure, and struggle recognizing they are key ingredients to any learning process. The most important takeaway? Sometimes the stress and discomfort will open new doors that were otherwise unseen. My own relationship with photography was born of such struggle.
If you could choose any superpower, what would it be and why?
Time travel. As a lover of history I’d be endlessly educated if I could travel to key places and points of time. If only to simply observe what actually happened. I wouldn’t want to change things and create some kind of paradox in the spacetime continuum, I’d just want to sit and observe first hand as a time traveling fly on the wall, able to better assess events as they actually happened such that I could measure them against narratives that have become for better or for worse ingrained in conventional wisdom.