Penny De Los Santos: Take the Leap!

 

CreativeLive NYC

 

Lesson Info

Penny De Los Santos: Take the Leap!

Without any further ado, I will leave us to our last speaker of the day the wonderful beautiful, talented penniless on toes I really honored to be here um so part of the thing is for me is I get a lot from my audience so he does well here with me uh there could be a nice exchange so it helps me kind of really speak but I want to speak and so when first of all, thanks creative life for inviting me back it's always an honor so I'm really honored to be here and I love creative live for many reasons but mostly because the people that work there are awesome I can honestly say you guys air quality quality quality people so if I didn't love my job so much I would totally apply for a job there we're hiring anywhere I think I'm okay um uh so I am talking about a topic that, uh it is kind of well I think it's very important to be a photographer means to have a lot of passion if you don't have passion, you're in the wrong business so and the other thing that comes with passion is dreams, right? W...

e all have dreams I don't think any of you would be sitting in this audience if you didn't have something you were aspiring to I know I aspired to a lot when I when cragg and george and celeste called me and said do you want to do this I was like and I think I can talk about this but it's kind of intense like the past eighteen months for may have been a world in um I live in new york city I'm a professional photographer I shoot a ton of food I would say eighty five percent of what I do is food in a studio now and then I do a lot of travel and it's usually travel related to food so I do stuff for magazines that I like hey go to beirut and photographed these guys who cook meals remembering the home country that they fled from during war um and that's for me is exciting my tradition in photography I came in through as a more of a documentary photographer of photojournalism um I wanted to be a storyteller um I have you know I don't think anybody's a photographer unless they love people period I mean that's what it really comes down to it's about the connection if you're behind the camera it's it's not about me it's about the person on the other side so it really is about stories for me it always has been and it always will even when it's a bucket full of fried chicken I think food tells a story without it out without a doubt I could be sent on assignment during ramadan and photographing these iraqi refugees my editors like you need to go right now, it's a food story to get on a plane, by the way, it's during ramadan and it's a food story, which means they may one meal, which means I had one shot to make this picture, and it was a feature story and I was like, wow, so I go and this is why photographing food culture is like, I don't know why the rest of you guys aren't, but don't because I love it. I I'll take all the assignments, but to go there and have them, you know, there's a story about these eight iraqi refugees have all fled to beirut, and they're living in the bowels of that country. I mean, you think about the way we treat our undocumented people here in this country, it's even worse there. I mean, it's horrible, and they're living in these tiny apartments in the basement of this building in these neighborhoods that are run, you know, pretty restricted anyway. There I am with them, you know, I'm not able to be with him in public because me with them in public means I get detained, they get detained, they could possibly be deported, not good, um, so I had only the time with them in there. In their apartment so in their spending all day with him I'm telling you this because I'm building up this story so that you can see like this is why I love what I do um so I spent all day with them we go to the market I'm like walking behind them you know I have my camera in its bag I look like I don't look like a photographer I'm not speaking english in the taxi doing everything my fixer tells me I should do because I don't want to endanger these guys at all at all um we'll get back to their apartment I'm shooting with them they're not eating they're cooking this whole time and smoking a lot of cigarettes and I'm like jeez, I need to get some food shots here people so finally I'm like in my mind thinking ok, my one shot is them sitting down finally to this amazing meal so I need to like see I have like twelve hours to think about this one photograph so I'm totally you know I'm interviewing them like okay what do you do what you eat and how do you eat and who sits where and trying to get all the information again so that I can make a great photograph um so finally the day progresses and I figure out ok the sun starts to set we heard the call to prayer you know they pray and then eventually slowly they start to bring out these big pieces of like trash bags and they start cutting them and laying them on the floor like this beautiful campus right uh this is this is their table on the men slowly start to line up and I found a stool and I position myself up on the stool just slightly above so I could see them all eating in a semicircle with all the food in the middle and finally they start to settle and then start to gather the food starts to come out that they've cooked everything there's no women it's just eight men me and the fixer I get up on this stool and I am ready you know and all of a sudden the entire room goes black completely dark it's dark it's after midnight it's after sunset so um I've told this story a million times and I told him my ted talk so if you've heard it I'm sorry um so it goes completely dark and I'm like holy and my fixer says it's okay penny it's okay it's just the power it's gone out in the entire neighborhood and I was like that's it I'm my assignments over I have a picture of a guy coming tomatoes, that's it may be stirring some pots but not a lot you know, nothing that really said, hey, we're going share a meal and I was like, I'm I'm toast and you're thinking penny what did you put a flash on your camera? Well, any kind of light coming from these windows at night they're watchman on the rooftops within minutes they would have been at the door we would have been detained I was told specifically by the fixer the writer everybody that produced this story that this was not an option had very, very discreet very careful so it was like ok and there was no available light then in the corner I see a couple of men like lighting I see some flickers of light and I see some candles and they're starting to place them around around this table around this canvas on the floor and I was like and it illuminated their faces and there was a glow that said intimacy and connection and community and it was so powerful I mean, it was that was the moment that was the photographic moment and that was the picture I made men and I was so excited when that happened. I remember that night when I got back to my hotel I I emailed my editors that picture was like three in the morning for them uh, because I felt like it was it was all the tables I've sat at, it was probably one of the most profound meals I've ever had in my life and now you know why I love shooting food photography. I get a chance to sit at some of the most amazing tables in the world. There's no way I could have ever been able to sit there ever. Not as a woman. That is a westerner, not as a journalist. And there I wass and we didn't speak the same language, but for two hours as we share this meal and then it lingered and we talked. It was profound. And here I am. That was that was like two and a half years ago. Here, I am telling you this story still it's still stays with me, and that picture will always stay with me. I'm not showing it to you today. I just realized that I kind of like to tell the story and you can find it on my website. I apologize. I wasn't planning on telling this story at all. Uh, but I just did it because I really wanted to communicate to you guys what I do and why I love to do what I do and why. I think having passion and compassion and a lot of, uh, just hope for what you do is so important why having heart is really important, so I'm a food photographer sort of, um, I shoot but I really try to still tell stories beyond the plate I always encourage people to think beyond the plate believe me work today we're talking about so much more um but I just wanted to give you a small snippet of what it is I do and why I love what I do and if it ignites any interest in you to think about where your food comes from who's making your food or if you want to go back in the kitchen and just look they're beautiful pictures there without it out all this is for them all the food beauty stuff is new stuff that I shot here in new york um any questions someone had a question no question yet about your development than from where you were with the more cultural things to these types of photographs, right? So how are you gonna get there? No, this is good because I'm not going to talk about I'm not showing any more pictures this is it, I'm not going to talk about light meters that was awesome. By the way on I'm not going to talk about f stops or shutter speeds or how to light anything because you've done that for the last two days and I'm sure like you're done, I'm going to talk to you about part I'm going talking about dreams um and I'm gonna talk to you about from a about it from a really honest and sincere place and I procrastinated on making this presentation because I couldn't sit down and write it was really hard and I like I still s was nice enough and didn't call me out and get her my presentation, which was twelve slides till last toe last night yesterday afternoon anyway, my point is is that I realized I can't really script this it has to just come from a really raw place um for me food photography evolved from telling those first stories the first photographs that showed more cultural in markets I hadn't an editor who sent me on an assignment and said, hey, we wanted I went to graduate school and then I parlayed that into an internship with national geographic and then they trained me for the first ten years of my career, so I knew I knew what it meant to be to tell the story geographically liketo always get a sense of place and I always entered people's lives through this cultural lens so I was doing that and when I got this assignment for that from this food magazine it was easy for me and he was like, hey, just just tell make your pictures that way always making it's going to be around food though, but go to the market and do all those things and there are some beautiful moments in those places and so once I did that first time and I fell in love with, you know, the marriage of food and culture I was just like, this is awesome. Entering people's lives through this lens is incredible. I mean, food is the great connector. It is the most honest and purest expression of who we are who doesn't want to photograph that? That is, they're great moments there. So that's, how I parlayed into it. So after I did that first assignment, I fell in love. I had a brief moment. I thought I'm gonna go to cooking school and then I realized how much it was to go to cooking school it's wanted together like the best, which is just up the street here are just a couple hours up the road. Um so then I just decided I'm going to dedicate myself to learning food for starving I spent two years just I mean, intense working out it. Um so that's who I am, I live here in new york city now. I moved here a little over a year ago in september, um and I a year and a half ago, eighteen, eighteen months ago, I was invited by creative life to come talk about food photography, and I did this whole three day course about howto had a photograph, food and how look for food moments and how to photograph food beyond the plate and they we have this we have this oyster like this oyster shucking table we created these food scenes that were hossam like they were so open to this I was like, ok, let's do like a really nice food shoot and then the next two days let's show them food culture so we created these food cultural moments as as in reference to being in seattle, so it was like all these oysters and then this massive beautiful table that was his bounty table and then we made the students shoot and blah, blah, blah, you know, you know it um then at the end of it, I gave everybody this charge. I have one last assignment for all of you I said I said, if you aren't doing what you love, why not? And I don't know what happened, everybody just cried and they were like, oh, my god freaked out and I left creative live teo, I got home and I got I don't even know how many. I don't know how many I send you guys e mails of people just telling me their stories about how they were so empowered they're like, hey, we thought it was just gonna be about food for target, but it was about so much moore and I mean I think that rv is about so much more it's what it's way more than just a bunch of pixels um if it's not then you're gonna burn out really really really quick really quick um so I'm meeting all these e mails like one of them just blew me away I mean, this woman is like I'm forty years old and here I am watching this future I can't even talk about I'm here I am watching this food started class and you reminded me of the dreams I had when I was sixteen that that is powerful that was powerful and I'm reading all these the weeks and the months that followed and then I realized my life is great amazing and comfortable but um I really happy am I doing what I've always wanted to d'oh and I taking it to the next level and the answer was no it wasn't so I completely I took my life was a big box and I turned it upside down and I shook the hell out of it and whatever stock stayed with me god, that sounds harsh it was it was way more gut wrenching but that's pretty much what happened and I had a beautiful house and I rented it I put I would say seventy five to eighty percent of my belongings I gave away the rest was in storage tiny bed, just family heirlooms and then I brought and I drove in a u haul with a dear friend up to new york city and I'm driving on the hudson highway and I moved on nine nine two thousand eleven so ten years after nine eleven nine knots of two days before the big ten year anniversary of nine eleven I'm following my iphone directions and it tells me to go down the hudson highway well in the city that weekend is like on lock down, no trucks allowed of course I didn't know that my phone's not going to tell me that I'm just following the actual directions and I am driving down the hudson highway so happy I'm like I'm in new york I can't believe it I hear like helicopters overhead and sirens are behind me I'm like I pull over and they come out and I'm like, hey and he's like, what are you doing? This is nine eleven we get you cannot be driving down this highway, but he had a better accent in that oh my god, no anyway, so it was like, I'm so sorry I was on my show and he's like I need you to open up the back of the truck and I was like, ok, so I get out open it up and it's like, you know, it's like a couple of chairs and a couple boxes and he was like all right, all right and he goes back to his car like I'm so screwed I'm getting a ticket but this is good karma maybe you know it's a good omen so that I'm in my truck and he comes back around he's like, you know you're not supposed to be doing this and I was like, I know I'm really sorry there's like, welcome to new york, andi didn't give me a ticket I was like yes on dso I've hashtag that like a jillion times anytime something crazy like that happens me to me in the city it's always like welcome to new york anyway, so I happened in my life and move to new york and I completely changed my business like, come elite lee, um, anybody have any questions? Because I need to refer to my notes of this wayne questions. Yeah, online's. So, um what let's see, when we last saw you, you were in texas. Now in new york, how has it changed you or your approach to your job? And do you miss the barbecue? So it's a two part question it's a two but it is completely changed the way I photograph without it out. Um when I got to new york, every day is like, so I rent a studio here because over the overhead for a studio is insane it's like fifteen thousand starting fifteen thousand a month I didn't want to take on that I'm not starting over everybody I worked for was here but that's a lot and so it's really thirty thousand dollars that you have to put down to get the space you know I just was like you know what? I'm ok I'll rent an apartment and so I'll be fine there it's a cute apartment it's not like oh it's nice it's not tiny tiny it's not huge but I just didn't want to, you know, bite off too much so I rent studios which f y I most photographers at least food harbors in the city do everybody kind of downsized once two thousand eight hit big time so yeah I rent studios and when they say it's always a naturalized studio I would really question that by the time like ten a m it's beautiful light two p m the light has gone across this is this is a great studio um so two p m I don't always have a budget to rent this kind of studio I know you guys paid you guys got a special sweet deal um you got a really sweet deal um so I rent studios and they're not what they say is natural light isn't so now I am I'm lighting food everything I showed you is lit so I shoot to make it look like natural light, which I completely learned I didn't I wasn't sure how to do that, which is so I was a natural life tarver with some, you know, exceptions here and there, of course I would light stuff if I had to, but for food, I really felt like the most beautiful light was this beautiful natural light streaming through a window? It just doesn't happen, so now I can shoot through the night, so I light and I also I told you this I've never shot with a tripod I've never wanted to because I come from this documentary tradition, so I actually bought a freaking tripod. I was just going to bring that a really nice try body it's pretty funny, almost like made an announcement about it, but I was like, no, I don't want to embarrass myself. I just didn't know what are some of the what are some of the ways that you like now? So I make a box uh, like I take these to the flats and I about about pro photos, and I bounced them into these v flats and then I take a silk and I covered up so it's like it's like if the light if like a bright sunshine was coming through the window and I just diffuse it basically it's basically and then I do variations on that backlight sidelight and then I cut it a lot or just a bunch of different things maybe there's another creative life course I could of course there is another great a lot oh my god. All right, so um now you know what? I'm not um so I did that class and, um now I'm shooting completely differently uh and I also just want to say before I go any further is that I really think, um, you know, photography so much when I started my career every every kind of stage I've done in my career has been a risk I'm not saying I'm not saying you guys have to all uh you know, up in your life and move to another city or move here, but I'm saying that that at some point in your career you have to ask yourself a really honest question and say and my where I want to be you know, am I who I want to be um and if I'm not what do I need to do? Um when before when I was trying to get into graduate school because I wanted to be I was working at a newspaper and I was horrible I suck that was a very bad photographer andi I wanted to get better and I decided that going to graduate school was the key and I applied to like five really really, really, really good graduate programs that all that had really strong journalism programs because I really wanted to be a storyteller I applied to all five and got rejected by all five I mean just flat out and I my perfectly wasn't great my jerry was ok it wasn't fantastic but I just didn't I wasn't you know they take like eight graduate students or six reading students and they're probably getting a ton you know? So I remember there was one program I don't how university that I that I was just like that's the one I wanted to go to because my end goal was to work in national geographic like every photographer wants right I want to be a national geographic photographer be careful for what you wish for so I called that um so I called national geographic we just back up I called national geographic and I said, hey, I talked to some research and I was like just curious what all your tarver's come on from you know what kind of background influence they come from? They're like well, some of them are scientists who go study a specific field and then they end up you know, photographing because they specialize in ants or elephants or tigers in the wild or something and then others actually go through a journalism program and just really work on photography and then we recruit them so it's like, well, where those come where that where's that latter group coming from? And they named three schools missouri, ohio university, ohio and I think the third one was western kentucky um, at the time, I don't know what those odds are anymore on dso I didn't apply to western kentucky, but I applied a bunch of others and I wanted to get ohio university because the last, like five of their interns, came from that school when I was in school and get you so I applied didn't get into any of them, but I was really upset, so I called the director of the program at ohio university was like, hey, I want it, you know, I'm gonna I'm gonna play again, I know you said no, but what can I do to be maybe accepted next year? And he was like, you know what? Let me play back was like, oh, my god, this's crazy. So sure enough, you call me back like the next day, and he said, we didn't take you because we have only had so many spaces and we fund all of our graduate students, and so we can't fund you, we don't take you, but you were a finalist, we just, you know, we had to weed people out, um, but we'd be willing to take you on this year if you are going to find out yourself just for the first semester and if you meet certain requirements and really improved will fund you and I was like, hell, yeah, I'm going, you know? So I ended going to graduate school, I worked my butt off, um and I worked my guess and of getting funding and then, you know, not, you know the rest of story, I mean, I got the internship with national geographic, so it was a huge risk and I didn't easily get the internship of national geographic I went to like mexico, I did this personal project on women and children in prison, and I went to mexico when I photograph them, and it was this intense, horribly dangerous situation it's like one of the most, you know, drug ridden and violent places in the world now and there I am in this prison is coed prison, um, they're photographing and telling the story. The ironic thing is that one of the more interesting pictures I have is when they feed the prisoners, you know, and it's just bring big pots of just stuff, and they feed them out any way I was a retired from before I even realized it is what I'm realizing, but anyway, my point is is that there are two risks right there that I made one was I tried to get a graduate school and I couldn't and then I just approach somebody and said, hey, what if can I try I'm willing to work you don't have to give me any money I'm just just let me try the other thing is I produced that body of work completely sight unseen went there it was a huge risk I was told no but got into the prison eventually made this body work which then got me in a national geographic all that to say that it is one hundred percent this business is about risk and it's so much more than by financial risk as it is an emotional and a personal risk um I think all of you guys know that by now, right? Right I don't know if the cameras were catching it but there's a sea of nodding heads right here yeah, but so you spent the past few days just figuring out everything you need to know um technically about photography and I just I have only a few things to say to you because I want to empower you to think about your photography so much larger than from behind the camera um there there are a couple things I want to say um that I've learned this far and I am still figuring it out but the game has changed for me drastically um you know I'm in a new community making new friends every day and learning stuff completely what feels like all over um I have a huge shoot on next week uh I don't feel comfortable talking about clients stuff but it's a really big commercial client and and you know I went from negotiating a very small day rate do a really nice day right because they trusted me but just the later it was just completely different before like completely different before like the game has changed for me so um I completely lost it was going to say I mean it is just going on can I ask you something please? Okay, I noticed when we were going through your photos we had a lot of people in the beginning as you were talking about full food culture and now you're showing stories the one that was the mark it is interesting to contrast in earlier market photo with ones of all the spices and everything how is your storytelling change without people in the images that's a really great question I think I think when you're shooting food you need to always have drama in the frame or tension in the frame and so you can do that by how you light it or your camera angle um if I could go back on this can you go back? Nico so storytelling is by lighting and these are the food photographs and how your styling, the food and the props you used I still think it tells a story gives movement emotion I think food would really if it's not appetizing and delicious looking it's not ever going to be no matter how great of a photographer you are you need to start with really beautiful food that I think that that's pretty much I'm not saying unattractive people don't make beautiful photographs but I think it just helps if you've got a good looking subject that may have came out complete so these are these are these are the few nuggets of wisdom I have ready this is one of my favorite ones is this the is this the marker? I knew that this's the three p's three piece okay, you got that three people project I've always wanted to do this right on a board and have people watch me and penny no, I'm just kidding profit those three um wow that's so nice the sharpie people project profit and not in that order those three piece. So as you start your career you want to have one of those piece hopefully it's profit but then sometimes it's not and you get a chance to work with a great person like an amazing subject were an incredible art director or a wonderful editor or there's no money it's not great people but it is a kick it's a great project as you get more enduring career you start to get more of the piece so maybe it's a great person and a great project the money's not there you still do it or it's a great you're getting paid really well and you're working with some really great people but the project's kind of you you still it's great and as you get more and more in your career then you start to get all three of these and that's when you're in the sweet spot that is this that is the goal and this should guide you throughout your entire career it should help you determine if it's a project you need to take I just someone came to me with ah project and it was someone I wanted to work with the money wasn't there and it was an ok project and I just felt like I wasn't I didn't I decided not to do it I would it just wasn't it wasn't enough of the piece for me so to speak but that said if it's a great project and I know I'm gonna make amazing photographs we're going to go around the world like some of these magazine assignments which have sent me to over thirty countries I'm doing it I don't care if I'm subsidizing the magazine that's a great opportunity it's an amazing opportunity um so the three p's that's huge um and then I think it's important to always surround yourself with mentors and people that inspire you, I think you should think about the company you keep, I'm talking about professionally and personally, um, I think you should surround herself with people who not only have a lot of passion about their profession, but our compassionate and have really good personal ethics. I think that that is the most important thing, without a doubt and being in a successful person and being a great storyteller photographer, um, way have more questions if you would like, yeah, I'll take in the internet or any questions in the audience because you're so quiet if I scared you in the front room, I have a little bit having it was when I started doing these right? So french kiss photo is wondering at this point in your career is food photography stressful for you? Uh, yeah, yeah, I don't know what he means by that it's I am producing way more than I want to be if that makes sense, so I am negotiating everything and I'm producing a lot. So when I get off the phone with the client and I've, I booked a big shoot I'm having to, like, do everything around it, I haven't I have assistance that I used, but I haven't built up like in the one year that I've been here it's kind of blown away I've had its most financially since sex successful can't even say it it's the best you've ever had I was telling someone else that this week which is I think great I mean two thousand eleven is supposed to be a bad year financially for a lot of people but there's a lot of work and what I do a lot and I'm what's exciting about this three pieces I'm actually turning down work not because if they're not it's just I don't have time and I I want at the point where I want the project to fuel man I want to feel really good about what I'm doing you know it's it's great to be in I've said no to projects in the past but now I'm saying no to projects because they just don't have time. So first of all I want to give you a shout out from rodney bed soul who was one of your students and your creative live class who says can you please tell penny that I love her? No but a question from a couple of focusing on line french puppy and smith in texas what advice do you have for people who are wanting to get into food photography where two people look to get their images published? Could you talk about that a little bit? Yeah um I would start ah food block there are like two million food blocks now it's insane and I think it says a lot about how excited people are about food but it's one way to at least start a conversation and have people look at your work. I also want to say that I think it's really important tio it's hard it's it's really hard and a lot of people make blog's and they're bad like they're bad like the contents just bad it's not I don't want to it's not fun to look at, so I would really be more thoughtful about what I'm photographing I'm more I goto blog's for more inspiration and I like to see beautiful photographs, but I don't want to goto somebody friends that are cooks and cookbook authors and recipe people that I don't want to offend anybody but I don't really go two blocks for recipes I goto blog's to get inspired visually so think about who your audience is and think about what you want to say if you start a food log so I don't you know, like I have a food block and I really it's more experiential you know I want to show people I'm going what I'm photographing something funny, something unusual so it started blogging and I would like I would tell this to anybody he was just starting photography whether it's food or not I think it's important teo I think it's really important to just start and make pictures of budget you can you know um is there any more questions my chance there are plenty uh from olympia washington could you talk more about what drives you to overcome fear and break through your comfort zone well uh I think it has to come yeah, I don't know the answer to that yet I just know that you know when so what happened for me is I don't have a lot of mentors and I had an honest conversation with someone who I highly respect in the industry another driver and she said so where you bait she's a wonderful food tarver I mean, she is amazing and she's where your base and I told her is based in austin and she was like, what you doing there? You're not gonna love you austin um but and she was right you know that two big food markets are three really to really in new york in chicago that's it um and everybody had already worked for was here so it felt like a natural place for me to go but was an honest question and so I think we all wake up a different times we all wake up at different times so I've heard that before I just wasn't ready to hear it I finally heard it, you know that's what drives me is when you finally hear it you know it's hard breaking up you break it with people and you've known that there wasn't great the whole time but but it was fun and, you know, worked and then you finally here you know what I mean? Um I'm not speaking specifically I'm just using that as an analogy um anyway, so we have courtney who says that her daddy is in the audience who was beyonce like to be here? Apparently he is the tall tend bald man in front row here wants to know what the best aspect of the industry to get into is while living in a small town is there any leg problems with starting out in a small town while you're doing this sort of thing man keep going keep the dream alive. Um so wait, what is the question? What should he do in a small town? Okay, where guys I love small towns. It is I'm from a small town it's and it's about two and a half hours from its and like ariel pennsylvanians focus so it's just it's not like here or chicago or and that's where she's getting at it that's it's hard getting to it in a place like that and you know yes and almost anything and not just food yeah, sure, sure there's just I have to move, I have to do what you did and took my box upside down and shake it and and which I could, because my youngest child is a freshman, so I only have three or four more years, and I'm free to go, so I can so that's time you'll come to so e I think you have to I think it's important to just grows a photographer and see where that takes you, you know, um, I would I don't I mean, I could answer this question so many ways, I think it's important to just rose a photographer first and then just see what happens, you know, um, practice every day shoot every day, she with any camera you have, I shoot with my iphone on this all the time, andi, I think there's a lot to be said for social media and and mobile photographs. Um, I haven't seen your work and senior portfolio, so I don't I can't answer it specifically to you because I think I could give you a nice, positive pretty ok, so I would just I would passionately pursue it as much as you can. I'd self assigned projects as much as you can do yourself a favor and self assign your dream assignment, I've said that a bazillion times when I've said that so many times but I'm going to say it again because you guys haven't seen me before self assign your dream assignment because no one's ever going to give it to you they're really not I mean they might you might get close to it but honestly do yourselves a favor put away a little bit of money, go to whatever country you've always wanted to go to or whatever town or whatever story or project but I always wanted to dio and do it and do that two times a year and give yourself two weeks one week for each project you just sort of answered one of my questions was doing assignments for yourself and making your building a body of work and doing the food blogger idea but what's the how do you get it in front of publications? Do you I mean, do you have? I mean, do you cold solicitor? Do you send on teo teo? You are a lot of people don't don't take or don't consider unsolicited aware work it's it's, it's such a different game now um, four years ago I would have answered this question completely differently, but now, um I mean, people can get published just from a great photograph and you know, I've you can have, you know, a researcher at sun and martha stewart living say, hey penny we understand that you were in india could you do have any photographs from the deli and the old, you know, in the old city or from I'm sorry, the market in the whole city and you're like, um so that could be you, it could be anybody, so I I don't think there is one path anymore. There are many ways I think if you've got great work, awesome, but you have to figure out a way to get it out there so I would put it out on every platform you have, whether it's facebook, twitter, ah blawg, it's crazy because those words were not considered as heavy or important three years ago, you know? And now I have editors who who look at that stuff, right? I mean, you never know how it's going to connect to somebody else totally so, uh, magazines the landscape in that industry has changed it's it's kind of startling, so if you've got a beautiful set of photographs, a nice body of work, why not? I mean, I I'd come to new york and and figure out who the editor is, and I'd send it to him, I think the important operative word there is good words is good body of work, you know, what you may think is great may not be for that you know particular magazine but it may be great for another magazine you have to develop relationships like anybody here you know, I'm not a lot of the editors that I work with work with me because we've had such a long term relationship they know that when I get a budget or an expense account I'm not going to go sit at the hotel bar I'm going so that you you do work mostly then for food and travel magazines no, I mean yes or no I'm running some like a percentage of what I do comes from that but I pay my rent by doing more commercial, commercial and books meeting and like an actual manufacturers product shoot or you're saying like a themed cook tana I do a ton of cookbooks shoot for hotels have done doing something for four seasons hotel line um some high end commercial stuff great. Thank you. I mean that's editorial stuff is great because that those were the best assignments. Okay, if you're not going to sell the sign there will be the best but they'll be nicer assignments ones that I get to do a nice travel assignments they're great um but there are other stuff pays the bills so you got a it's a mixed bag and you really have to be ableto right now let's check in a year I think it's gonna change yeah wave a lot of more questions if you're cool with that yeah ok great question from sydney marty in new mexico and then also jeff beier also asked penny when you go out on a shoot like afghanistan or iraq do you write the text of an article a cz well and also marty you when you're taking people stories are you writing the stories down? I don't I write but I don't write for publication I have a journalism degree e keep more of a just a travel log with my foot I do a visual log with my photographs so no I don't my brother asked me that like ten years ago are you writing about every place you go to him I haven't been but I have a really great memory for detail like it's pretty awesome if I can say that about myself you are from tiger that's one thing I do well I have a really great detail oriented memory um so I'm not forget all your names but um so I don't know if I answered that question completely yeah coloma says on obvious question but are you happy you moved to new york? Paloma says I'm forty nine and have gotten lots of criticism for not knowing what I want to do next with my photography is it too late to make his drastic change like moving in new york? I think I think my question diploma is what does she want to do? You know what is that she really wants to d'oh you know, I don't I'm not telling everybody they need to get up and move I do think everybody needs to search themselves and asked that question asked the hard questions and sometimes we're not ready for the answers and sometimes it's really, really, really, really painful I mean like really painful you know? Yeah, but she's going to ask you what are some of the ways that you think people can ask themselves those hard questions? What are the one of the things that we can dio I think started it the start for starters, I think coming to a place like this you know, being in this space where your mind is open your and your heart center is open and you're kind of like, ok, I want to grow that's a hard thing to admit I can honestly say it's hard to admit when you want to grow it's hard to make that proclamation and by sitting here in front of the entire interwebs and everybody here at in these shares you're saying I want to grow wherever you are in your life you're saying to everybody I want to grow that's an intense they I think that's a really intense thing how many times have you said that in your life? Okay, so maybe you said it from grade one to twelve but after that okay and then maybe college but after that any time did you really say I want to grow yeah, I think we say it internally to ourselves at night I want to be a better really want to be a better photographer I wanna be better percent I want to be a better or something but how many times we physically go out of our way to really proclaim that it's intense it's hard? I would agree and along that line I think it takes a lot of personal strength to continue following that path if you can't succeed immediately, which is unrealistic to believe you can what do you do given that with people that you sometimes they're surrounded by and I'm not saying specifically family but people who you may be surrounded by who give off negativity about you're not succeeding fast enough or wow man that's a heavy thing to ignores intense I wouldn't hang out with your family as much my family's cool my family's going that's what I mean about your family but I mean whoever those people are, I think you get to pick our thankfully we actually do get to pick our friends uh at least that's what I was told um and so hang out you know when you get to pick your friends, you don't take your family I'm not saying it's you but whoever this person is um I think don't we I mean, look, I think everybody here can say their parts of their life that aren't easier perfect are right and that her heart and you know, you just maybe you don't spend much time with those people who aren't you know, really truly there with you, you know? I mean and that said I think it's it's really important surround yourself with people who are there or who are striving to get there if that's like I would say fifty percent of it you know in terms of it's got to start with you and it's really it's really gonna start with an idea and then that ideas they have a lot of heart and passion behind it it really does. I know can I I I know you and susan and I know so many people who me I mean so many people who had this idea this dream this hope and then just you just slowly walk on that path and you know it's really about a journey and you know, success is so much I mean it's it's not always this like perfect picture but it does happen just as a follow up you talk about about mentors and can you address a little bit how you think how you would approach finding mentors or how it has happened in your life and how you would recommend people find their mentors I think you find people that I think you find what you're looking for in your own life so if you feel like you know you're not around enough positive people find somebody who's positive find somebody who's positive doing what you want to be doing so uh yeah that's the first step and I also encourage you to find people that I think it's important to have older people in your life that have done the journey and made the difference and reach their goals and and are there so that you can you know they can impart that knowledge to you as a kid at a very young age I always wanted to be around older people and I think mostly because I was really a seeker I always had those deep questions. So ms mcguire well I really ever be happy you know, I was a ridiculous like thirteen year old really heavy, intense kid um I was I was always like that and and I think I think listen this is this's this's my photographers are we are misfits were emotionally insecure people I am talking about tarver's yes. Which camera am I looking at? I'm talking about tarver's we are emotionally insecure this is a horrible it's a hard industry we are only as good as our last photograph I hate that stuff we're only as good as our last photograph where only his greatest our client list here we are insecure bunch we're always looking for a pure approval always I've hung around with enough photographer to know and oh I am of tarp way are we're just crippled that way, you know? So we're always trying to find who we are or the next best thing or and it's not great it's socks and I hate keeping company with tarver's sorry if I've offended anybody here but it's just it's it's ah it's a tough group you know and tell me if that isn't everybody here right? Come on raise him a pie way are were insecure we want to be better we feel like we're not good enough we might have just shot the most amazing project and our entire life and then we looked on facebook and saw our friend who's also tarver and her his portfolio and then we feel like crap about how many times that happening okay for me it could get so bad that I just can't I stopped looking I just stopped looking I can't look but I'm not gonna look at that for a while, you know? And I think it's just it's the nature of our industry it's super competitive we're all trying to get the same jobs and we're really trying to distinguish ourselves from each other, so I really try toe I really try to rely on the fact that I'm just you know, there there are a few things that I can control and here's what they are I can I can control who I am as a person so I could be a really, really good, heartfelt, honest person full of integrity. Okay, that one I got and I can work my ass off that when I got the rest is up to fate and destiny and good luck, you know, that's it that's really all you can do so just work on those two things. I have three things I want to tell you three things I want to ask you I'm gonna leave you with um and I might add a little more to it but my my my, my question to you all is what is it you really want to be doing? What is it that would make you the most happiest person in the world? What is it? I'm talking specifically professional here. What is it? Who can answer that? Can I get someone to be brave enough three people to be brave enough to tell me what that is? Wow, awesome way from mike. I want to teach on creative life also cool dio I want I want to teach I think I think it's so important how negative people get and it's not so much a competition thing with this person's work is better than mine but I see people that have so much talent and so much more potential and one person will cut them down for one thing well yeah her work's phenomenal but she did it photoshopping unless she understands this lighting it doesn't count or yeah this person's great in photography but they don't have all the latest actions and they just cut him down instead of building them up and I think people like you are sometimes more essential to some persons path I think sometimes they're more they're more essential to a person's path and understanding the lighting or the technical aspect sometime having someone pushed them and go you can do this matters more than all the other knowledge they acquired yeah well I look I think that harvey is so much more than a bunch of pixels have said that earlier but it really is it's so much more than a perfectly supposed photograph and if it is about that for you I don't know you wouldn't be sitting in this audience there's no way you'd be here if you already are ok actually you've answered this question for me if you were where you wanted to be you wouldn't be sitting here right and everybody online wouldn't be watching we're all looking for some nugget of truth or hope or just something that gets us to the next idea or project or place or where we feel great I think that's just life in general, this journey is it's wonderful and intense and interesting, and I think we should all try to do it from a place of joy, and I'm not religious or spiritual anything, but I think it you have to ask yourself, what is it that would make you have that? What is it that would make you happy? For me? It was like I can up my gain so much more, and I'm not doing it now, and I'm sorry to hurt everybody that I just put around my life that I love a lot, but I have to do this, or I'm not going to survive. Doing is what I'm I'm here because I want to be doing this if I found my home on where I'm going to be doing it. No, I haven't, but I will. And it's a news new journey for me, my daughter who's, russ so graciously as the question of itt's, a heartfelt question we don't dress because she found her dream from our small little town to hear she was in brooklyn to follow for teaching on she's doing what she wanted, and she did exactly what I wrote down, that you find your dream and go after basic than she did, and she's following her dream think atlanta here, yeah so although I'd like to come live with you and so I do have a home to come to I was joking about that but this is what I like to be doing and that's why I'm here with people like you and creative thank you okay we don't have to take it did anybody else wanted there was someone else that wanted to tell me what they wanted to be doing but you could you don't have to you know big no pressure you don't have to I mean I'd love it but well it may be the happiest is shooting rock n roll that's where I feel the most alive that's what I love doing and if that be my career and the way that I was able to bring people happiness to look in the photos and then get that happiness and the excitement when I met the show it's that's when I feel alive that's awesome you guys felt that right everybody felt that what was that? What was that that's awesome so here's the questions if you're not doing what you love why not? Okay so whatever it is that's going to make you happy whatever that is you all can answer that rock n roll teach creative live I forgot ok still searching whatever that is whatever it is what is it that would make you happy one two what do you need? I just forgot the second one and I did I really did I'm just gonna go with the guys go with it yeah what do you want to get there that would be office right. How are you going to get their second question how are you going to get there? Okay penny, wake up one day after this intense conversation with my mentor he said what the hell you doing in austin? I need to be in new york what am I going to do to get there? What am I going to do to get there? I'm gonna rip out my heart but I'm together so what are you going to do together? And then the third thing is when you're going to do it when you're going to do it when you're gonna wake up I'm gonna finish with this one story and some of you have heard it and I apologize but I was in under threat and I was going to go do this photography program I was really excited about and I kind of I took a chance and went away from you know, the college I'd initially gone too and I was going to go study photography for one year at this other school and at that point in my cooking in my college years I was a marketing major wanted to be like a banker got it should have done that would be amazing could be living here really well and, uh, and I was the night before I packed up my car and I was going to stay at my brother's apartment. It was the night before I was about to leave, and, uh, we've gone out to dinner, and, um, I was saying goodbye to my brother and I was like, sleeping on the couch. I was about to get a bed. I was like, hey, jim and I it's, his nickname, um, really nervous and he's like, oh, you shouldn't be nervous. I was like, but what if I'm not good enough and he looked at me and he said, penny, what if you are? And here I am right now, so here's, what I say to all of you, whatever that question was, whatever that answer was, whatever the thing it is the things you need to do. What if you are get enough? What if it's just waiting for you to happen? Thank you.

Class Description

In October 2012, creativeLIVE presented an all-star photography event, broadcasting LIVE from New York City! We pulled together an amazing cast of 8 professional photographers from around the globe and from various genres of photography for 2 days of creativeLIVE NYC, a free online photography course!

Each day, we had four instructors speak, shoot, and inspire. We had returning creativeLIVE favorites and new speakers who quickly joined those ranks. To top the event off, on Friday night we had a special live broadcast of Photographers Ignite hosted by Kevin Kubota!

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