Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Photographer Interview: Artemis Clover Part 2

Artemis had so many great pieces of advice to share I decided to break her interview into 2 parts. She started a business and ended a business and learned a lot in the process.

If you didn’t read yesterday, feel free to catch up here.

artemis 10All professional wedding photographers:
1. Are great social networkers
2. Are always super sweet and friendly
3. Are outgoing
4. Shop at Anthropologie
5. Have rock star attitudeart 2 
I am precisely none of those things so therefore, I am not a professional. Never minding the fact that being a professional simply means you are getting paid for your work, these days, with the availability of DSLRs, super-fast lens, and post-processing tools for mass consumption, everyone and their dog’s babysitter can keep an arsenal of photography goods in their backpacks to rival that of any “professional.”
artemis_clover_beach2
So now we have this conglomerate pool of “professionals” in this easy-entry industry because who wouldn’t want to get invited to fabulous weddings every weekend just because you own a nice camera? art 1Wedding photography promises us that we will be touted as mini-celebrities in our neighborhoods because all photographers keep blogs (and of course, we know that EVERYONE is reading your blog, I mean, they gotta be!) so therefore, this is as close as you are going to get to joining the ranks of, say, Anthony Robbins, as you'll ever get. artemis 3I say Anthony Robbins because the number of wedding photographers that can truly make a living on shooting events alone is probably a fraction of a percent of those of us who would like to think we are bringing in the big bucks.  art 3 The rest of us, like Mr. Robbins, sell our knowledge of how we made it “big” in the industry to other wannabe photographers who are so eager for the secrets of the trade that they willingly shell out money for information as secretive as, well, common sense.artemis 1
So I’m telling you right now, as long as you wear your converse sneakers with skinny jeans and own a fedora-like cap and skinny tie somewhere in your closet, hold your camera like Sylvester Stallone holds his gun in The Expendables, and start every conversation with “Are you Canon or Nikon?”, then you can call yourself a professional. artemis 4I can say all these things (and again, what do I know?) because I have been there. I was part of that legion of newbies who hailed all of the rock star photographers like they were gods and goddesses of a parallel universe. I was that photographer slut who went to all the networking events and shot all the weddings for next-to-nothing or worse yet, FREE. art 4And now that I am so far removed from the business of it all, I can start to find the joy and art in photography again and take pictures of family and friends just because it is fun.
 artemis 8  On getting business: art 6 
Many people take beautiful pictures but unfortunately, beautiful pictures are not enough. When I first started, I needed a portfolio so I shot sorority and fraternity parties for free for my friends. Then I had a friend from work who was renewing her vows and she had seen some of my party pictures so she asked if I could shoot her wedding ceremony and reception. art 5I had just upgraded to my Mark II and had my arsenal of lenses but I didn't have the experience of shooting an actual wedding so I agreed to do it for free. I treated her wedding like a professional gig and she liked her pictures so much she paid me a little bit for it and got me some portrait referrals. artemis 9When I determined I wanted to make a business from this, my sister advertised on craigslist since it was free and we got some low-budget weddings from that. Our godfather is a commercial photographer and website designer so my sister worked with him for a month to design our first photo blog. From there, I announced my photo business on Facebook and received an out pour of support and awe from not just friends and family but also people who I haven't talked to in years.art 8   People started to ask us to do side gigs in exchange for services that could help promote my business. A friend of mine was starting a food tour in Los Angeles so he asked us to document their first tour in exchange for a new website design from his business partner. Another friend wanted a free portrait session for an interview he  was doing with the Los Angeles Times. I ended up getting a half-page color spread from that in one of the largest newspapers in the countries. artemis 7
In short, I never paid for advertising and I don't think photographers need to. Think about it: When you are choosing a photographer for yourself, do you go through ads or would you rather find someone through referrals? So my advice to photographers is to stay extremely well connected and let others know about your business. You never know who you can help and who can help you. art 7Sometimes you do need to do things pro bono to get something else out of it.
A client looks for these things in a photographer: Consistency, reliability, professionalism, and a fun experience. Make sure you know your craft and can CONSISTENTLY take good pictures and miss as little as possible. When choosing a photographer for my wedding (down the line?), I will pay good money for someone I KNOW will get the shots I want. I will pay for someone whose style is consistent so I know what to expect. artemis 5
And NETWORK! Not just online networking but go out to networking events and INTENTIONALLY meet people. During months when I don't have much going on, I go to some sort of a networking event once a week. I meet with marketing people in Los Angeles, Asian Americans in the entertainment industry, wedding industry mixers, enterprenuer workshops, and am plugged into a young entreprenuer club called Young Ambitious Los Angeles.
You are your business so you have to be a walking PR campaign for yourself. Be honest about your intentions and be proud of your craft and business. Stay connected and never turn down opportunities, even if they are very small. You never know what will come back to you down the line. Even though I don't even know where I will take my business anymore and don't promote AT ALL, I still get friends and aquaintances who want portraits or head shots. They see my pictures on my blog, my Facebook (when I had one), or are direct friends of mine.
Photography is an extremely crowded field but there is always room on the top for the right person.artemis 2

What didn't work:
Not giving my business the respect it deserved. I sometimes didn't want to promote to take things as seriously as I should have. I should have been more proud of my accomplishments.
Also, charge people what you are worth. I did a lot of free things in the beginning and there is that fine line where the free has to stop in order for people to know your worth. Even for close friends now I still charge for my time because I want others to take the shoot seriously and know what it is worth.
And don't give up! I did when I got pregnant and lost that drive to push my business to another level. A business and reputation take years to grow so embark on it knowing it needs a long-term commitment from you for it to flourish.

artemis 6

Go ahead and visit her.

You know you need one more blog addiction, right? : )

Artemis Clover Blog

26 comments:

Heather said...

Really enjoyed reading this two part interview! Thanks for sharing with us!

Elizabeth said...

She's AMAZING. Thank you for sharing. I love her stuff, and I'm so glad you made it a two-part interview!

GabbyRM said...

Again, great interview. Such an interesting read. Love the photos on this part, too. Definitely going to check out her blog. Thanks.

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

I appreciate your common sense! A growing business and good reputation don't drop in your lap just because you take good pictures. You do have to work for it too!

I'm just the MOM said...

Like I said in part 1, she's so honest and "down to earth." My friend and I are actually attending an asian/american networking night here in Austin. I can't wait to get her name out there.

Julie O'Dell said...

Hello! You posted such a nice comment on my blog and I wanted to say "Thanks!" I just read through several of your posts and love you blog! Great job!

lifebythecreek said...

I love the photography. I die at the words, because they are a dagger to my heart. After only a few shoots, I found myself avoiding my camera bag. Deliberately averting my eyes, looking past it, and I finally drew the line when I realized that I was picking it up in order to put it in another room so I wouldn't have to see it. This is the same camera that has been my closest friend in so many situations; now, suddenly, I'm avoiding it as if it had bubonic plague. joY had become joB, and that little one-letter switch made me start to hate taing pictures. I'm happy to see what it looks like to push psat that and continue on; thanks for lighting the way!

Farmgirl Paints said...

she's an open book...i love people like that. not afraid to share and give advice. bless her:)

Just Bits and Pieces said...

Wonderful advice!!!! Thank you for such a great interview!

Lori said...

A great second half of your interview with her! I think what I like the most about her is her honesty and openness. Her little guy is gorgeous but looking at his beautiful mommy it's not surprising. XX

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I loved this interview - so unique and real. I seldom click over to the photographer's site but I'm definitely going to this time.

And I hadn't planned on becoming a professional photographer, but now know I never could - I'm just not cool enough to shop at Anthropologie.

Jabacue said...

Thanks for this very insightful outlook from a very 'sound' photographer. Love her work and philosophy.
Jim

Maddy said...

Wow! I really enjoyed reading this interview! I think she's so right on so many levels! And I can definitely see the wide-eyed excitement in myself at some of the photography rockstars out there. Really glad for the dose of reality. I'm glad she gave such honest and open look into what happened in her business. Of course there's no magic formula to making it "big". You have to work hard in your craft and marketing and just keeping putting yourself out there. Some times there's a little bit of luck involved too. Again, what a great interview! Looking forward to learning more about Miss Artemis Clover - the person :)

Formerly known as Frau said...

Great part 11 Interview and insights! I really enjoyed it and seeing more beautiful pictures!

Cook of the House said...

I had the photographer from hell at our wedding. She was whining to me that it was taking too long and she had to go home because she had a babysitter!

Mandy, Dustin and Thomas said...

Enjoyed reading your interview and your pictures are AMAZING!!!

TechnoBabe said...

Nice interview. You have such a sharing heart.

Artemis Clover: The real L.A. love story. said...

i love how the second part came out, too, becky!! thanks again for the interview and feel free to let me know how i can support you at anytime!

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Talented and so beautiful, too! Wow.

Puna said...

I have been enjoying your posts and I hope you get to do photography again as a "full time mome." You are so talented!

Love Letters To China said...

Thanks so much Becky for posting this interview. What great information to think about if I ever do decide to start my own business. What amazing photos!

Allison said...

What a fabulous interview! Thanks to Artemis Clover for sharing her wisdom!! Thanks Becky for always asking the questions that I would want to know :)

Freckles & Dimples Photography said...

Great interview, Becky! I enjoyed reading the honesty and the knowledge that she was so willing to share. her images are beautiful and captivating.

Abby said...

Thank you for stopping by the blog and commenting! :)

Sarah said...

GREAT GREAT GREAT advice! wow, thank you Artemis; you speak the truth so eloquently!

God's Favorite Shoes! said...

These pics are breath taking!