Everyone becomes a photographer for a different reason. We each see something different when we raise a camera to our eye and we each want something different from the resulting picture. The deeper you go into a photography career, the more apparent these differences are. Photography can be whatever you want it to be. And that’s likely the reason photography is more popular and accessible than at any time in our history. Experiencing life through a viewfinder opens a door to life that would be hard to achieve in any other way. I think that’s why so many are drawn to making pictures.
But while information about cameras, lenses and megapixels is readily available on countless websites, the questions about finding the right path in this brilliant profession are somewhat less plentiful.
Many of the photographers I’ve met have been kind enough to keep in touch and share their stories from all sides of the camera. Some have been students at workshops or photographers I met online, while others are picture editors at some of the country’s finest publications. Almost invariably, the relationship evolves into an ongoing dialog about the many facets of photography. Some even lead to lasting friendships.
Those who connect are usually trying to understand how they fit into this great profession. They ask about finding their specialty, developing a style, negotiating a fair contract, licensing their images, dealing with paperwork, balancing family and career, planning for the future, and more than ever before, they ask about ways to stay ahead of the competition.
“The only limiting factor on where photography can take you is not knowing how to get where you want to go.”
Photography can put you on the sidelines of a sporting event, in a large studio with a celebrity, or inside the oval office with the President of the United States. You can be commissioned to photograph the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, assigned to a story on the wildlife in Tanzania, or hired to capture the bliss of someone’s wedding day. Photography is the rare career that will allow you to access, explore, and document the parts of life that you find most interesting—and then pay you for that privilege.
The only limiting factor on where photography can take you is not knowing how to get where you want to go. And every photographer has been in that position—sometimes more than once in a career. There were many photographers and editors throughout my career who offered me invaluable advice when I needed it most. Those friendly conversations were instrumental in helping me to see the answers that were eluding me. It’s that type of perspective that I hope to bring to Notes to Friends. Undoubtedly, each conversation won’t hit the mark for everyone. But since we all share a love for the medium, my hope is that there will be the common thread of photography that will make the dialog valuable.
I hope you’ll visit when you can, and send me a comment when you have an idea. If there is a part of your career that has been challenging you lately, please consider suggesting it as topic. It’s more than likely that it will be of interest to other photographers as well.
Thanks for reading!
Joey Terrill is a Los Angeles-based photographer with clients that include American Express, Coca-Cola, Disney, Golf Digest, Major League Baseball, Red Bull, and Sports Illustrated. He teaches workshops and speaks at seminars including the Summit Series Workshops, WPPI, Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, UPAA Symposium, World in Focus, and Nikon School.