Final Food Photo Career Advice
And so it helps. Don't be afraid to reach out to people. I just called food photographers up when I was young. I don't do that anymore but when I started out I would just invite myself over to studios and go for tours of their studios, and generally they're really open. I've had a lot of people who've helped me along the way that I really owe a lot to who are photographers. It tends to be once you get to a certain level that you don't associate with them as much 'cause it's just your paths don't cross as much 'cause you're doing the similar thing. But early on don't be afraid to ask 'cause they will help. Some are just too busy so you do have to respect their time and their ability to give back. But they do, occasionally, the ones that do, will be friends for a while and they will enjoy seeing you progress. I mean seek out ones that you know are within maybe five to ten years of possibly retiring. They are really, or even more, interested in really giving back to the next generation of...
people coming up. And that's kind of the part of the reason I teach, even though I'm younger I really enjoy that part of it. And 'cause I think there's talent out there that won't necessarily just compete with me. They'll offer a different vision that I won't have any answer because there's a lot of work to go around as long as you have the ability to execute. I mean people say their careers are ending, I think there's a lot of work. There is a lot of work out there. You have to be willing to go out and get it and put in a lot of work to be found. It just takes a lot of work, it really does, just like anything. There's not one thing you can do, it just takes consistency and patience and effort and you will see results. You really will. You don't even have to be a fully talented artist. You can be a true photographic technician on an extreme level and create masterful bottle shots that are very consistent and do catalog. There's just different approaches, there's not one approach to photography and so use the history and the careers that you've already or currently and or have been in. Use those to your advantage in your photography career because photography spans not just food, but everything, just absolutely everything, it's endless. It's up to you, you can even create industries in regards to photography that weren't even there before, like CreativeLive. Chase is a really good example of that where he discovered he's not only an amazing photographer but he has a lot to give back in regards to education. It was a brilliant idea. It's not just about photography, it's about the educational side of things. It's a mix of things. I don't just teach or just do this, and I work with Westcott. I'll maybe design food-friendly products that are more geared towards product and food. Where they have a lot of portrait, you know the eyelighter or whatever. I'm really interested in stuff like that. So you have to have a business mind and a creative mind at the same time and that's not always easy. You have to understand that you can be good at both, you're not just one or the other. A lot of people are different variations of both. And you really have to embrace that and go for it and not be afraid to do that and just put both feet in, when you're ready. So that's it. (laughing)
Steve, I guess just one sort of final question for you. This has been an incredible class. So much jam-packed into just one class. Where you are now, what would you tell Steve when he was just starting? To do, whether differently, or what would your kind of final advice to that Steve be?
[Steve} To younger Steve?
To younger Steve.
Forget finer print sales, completely. Just don't do it. (laughs) I wanted to be, when i was younger I wanted to be Peter Lik. I wanted to be Rodney Lowe. They're like these masters of landscape photography who sell millions of dollars. I mean they do really well. I really like Rodney and both their work. And that's all I wanted to do. I wanted to have a gallery and there's people doing that and making good money. Or Wolf, locally does an amazing job. But it's not just about his images, it's about who he is more than his images and what he stands for. And so that takes a long time to carve out and become known for, especially now. It was a little bit, I wouldn't say easier. But you had to really make a print, you had to know film, it was expensive. Now food photography is great because there is a lot of demand for it. People haven't stopped eating or buying packages with pictures on them. That hasn't changed at all. In fact there's a whole new realm of people coming up who are starting small businesses of cookware, of kind of revolutionary Sous Vide machines or induction. You know there's a lot of new mom-and-pop places that are going to become the new big dogs of our industry to reach a larger audience and you can kind of come up along with them. You can go to people in your city who are small and offer to shoot for free the first time and sort of forge your relationship with them. And maybe they become the next Coke or maybe they come the, you know. There's sort of a transition going on where the big dogs are watching closely the smaller players in the food industry. So you have to be abreast, you have to keep up to date on that stuff too, not just the art. I don't read a lot of photography magazines, I read Ad Age and some things that are going on in the business so I know how I can solve their problems or bring stuff up in meetings that's of value to them. So just get really into that side of it. Just have photography, work so hard at photography for the first part of your career that you almost forget you're doing it and that you almost forget that that's even. And just focus on the client's vision, focus on what they need, focus on marketing and business, and over time you will be successful at something. It's just if you have that mindset you will eventually fall into a place, whether it's photography or not. It could be your own product business. You say, there's a demand for this, go do it. But because of your knowledge of photography you know that that's viable. So if you really work hard you're going to find yourself in some level of success.
I love sort of that final sentiment because you don't know what the path is going to be and you just follow the different things that come along. And nobody's going to have the same path as Steve but we take all these things that you have experienced and can know what might be coming and know what path to lead, to go with for ourselves.
Steve, where can people follow you, get a hold of you? How do they stay in touch?
I am on Snapchat 24 hours a day even when I sleep. (laughing) That is not true. I'm mostly on Instagram. That's really where all my pts stuff goes. I love the platform. If you want to see my kids I'm on Facebook. But mostly just Twitter and Instagram. I do post to Twitter when things are going on, I am there. But really Instagram is the one that I find the most valuable.