Dante's Journey

From Mix Tape Covers to Big Brand Campaigns
Season: 1  |   Episode: 4  |   Date: 2021-11-02
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Sought after commercial photographer and creative director Dante Marshall joins us on this episode of The Photographer’s Journey. For at least 8 years working in LA, Dante has shot for many recording artist such as Stevie Wonder and Big Sean and well known brands like Nike, Converse, Fender and more.

In this episode he covers:

  • How his friend group propelled him into taking photography more seriously after a start in graphic design
  • His experience in moving to LA with very little and his journey to success
  • The way he maintained his professional relationships throughout COVID
  • How the Importance of maintaining personal work can be in attracting new clients and bigger brands

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Explore more of Dante's work

Dante Marshall is a photographer, creative director and writer based in Los Angeles, California. He finds himself attracted to forward thinkers who are interested in driving culture and discussing ideas and less concerned with the simple lives of others. Dante’s services range from photography, creative direction, brand strategy, video production and brand partnership.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the photographers Journey podcast for the photography community. I’m your host, Lucas dredger. And I’m also the CEO and co founder of format. On this podcast, I’ll be interviewing a diverse range of successful photographers from around the globe, about the journeys as artists and entrepreneurs will talk about their stories, their work, their inspiration, and how they have grown their businesses. Alright, this episode of the photographer’s journey is part of a season we are calling photographers COVID In the future, where I’m talking to photographers about how they got started, how COVID has impacted their photography, their work and their outlook on the future. I hope that their stories that work and everything we talked about today will be a source of inspiration for you as you continue on your own journey through this pandemic and beyond. Today, I’m joined by Dante, thanks for joining me, Dante.

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.

My pleasure. My pleasure. Dante Marshall is a photographer, creative director and a writer based in Los Angeles that his service is range from photography, creative direction, brand strategy, video production and brand partnership. Since 2013, Dante has had the opportunity to collaborate with companies such as Acura adidas Originals, Belvedere, vodka, City of Hope, Honda, rock nation, wells, Fargo, Neff, headwear, and Puma among others. That’s a long list of clients, man, congratulations. Nice, nice. It’s an I love to I’d love to start a conversation and rewind a little bit to the very beginning of how you how you got started in photography, I would love to hear how you discovered photography and how you got into it in the first place.

Yeah, for sure. I, man, just so way, way back, I used to do like graphic design, like MySpace layouts and stuff like that. But my father, actually he was studying photography for for a while. And I would go on photo shoots with him. And there was one time where I just picked up his camera and went out there was a young lady I was dating at the time. And she was getting into modeling. And I’m like, Oh, I’ll take some pictures of you. So we went to the lake, took some pictures, the pictures actually came out pretty decent. Her friend saw those pictures and was like, you think that, you know, take pictures of me and I just start taking pictures of her friends and then all of our friends. And next thing you know, it just became a thing that was that, that I was pretty passionate about. I never really thought that it would turn into an actual career. Thought it was just kind of like a hobby that I picked up in the lobby. But it ended up being something that I fell in love with and turned into a career I later on figured that. Like, as I’m shooting these friends, people would will start to reach out to me when like, I think Facebook at the time, because I was putting these pictures up on Facebook. And people would ask like, hey, how much do you charge? And I’m like, Whoa, like people actually pay me to do this. This is This is crazy. So like I was, you know, charging, like, I think 50 bucks or something to shoot at the time and, and slowly the prices are starting to go up and it just turned into a whole profession, man. It was it was crazy.

Huh? That’s a that’s that sounds like a really kind of interesting journey. What? You know, how do you remember the moment where it went from? I’m going to shoot some friends for fun to hey, I’m going to take this seriously enough for this to turn into my career. Do you remember that moment? Is that what triggered that? Was it an event? Was it a specific client requests where you got noticed enough where, you know, there was enough money in it where you’re like, Okay, I can actually do this.

Yeah, yeah. So I was I was shooting friends. And there were there were a few things actually. I had a few, a few friends that were getting into the music industry. And so I started shooting them mixtape covers and things like that. And then a couple of them had had ended up getting record deals. And so they got record deals. And you know, I was already taking their pictures at the time and it was like, Okay, well, you think that you would be you know, open to shooting this, this single cover or this album artwork for you know, for a check and I’m like, of course, you know, but I will say that I I really started taking a serious when I saw my my parents got me a camera for like Christmas after I you know, expressed an interest in it. And I was just shooting a bunch of stuff and and it wasn’t until I actually I guess I had a shoot coming up for for one of one of my friends his album cover which we actually didn’t end up using any of these images, but I knew that I went wanted this to be like, done the right way, you know? So I was like, Okay, well, I want to invest in like, whatever the best cameras that I can afford at the time would be. And I think that this was like, Man, I don’t remember what it was, I felt like this was when the Canon five D had just became like a thing that was like the maybe it was a mark two or something I don’t I don’t remember. But it was like this Canon camera that I that I saved up like, all of my coins to get. And I got that and I’m like, okay, if I’m going to spend this kind of money on this camera, then it has to be like a serious thing. Like, I have to take it seriously. So I got that camera. And we went out and we shot those photos. And people, people loved what they did see, like I said, we didn’t end up shooting, or we didn’t end up using those photos as the actual album cover. But we shot like a ton of photos that day. And that’s when I knew like, Okay, this is this is gonna be a real thing. And so that was like those friends there is a gentleman His name is one is Big Sean, he still makes, you know, amazing music. And there’s another gentleman, Mike Posner, and he still makes awesome music as well. So both of them, like, we would run around just like, you know, shooting for fun, but as they started to progress in their careers, you know, I was just kind of like capturing the moments and mixtape covers and single artwork and all of that. And once I got that camera, though, I knew like, Hey, this is this is a serious thing. Like, um, he can just spend this type of money on something and not try to like, you know, turn it into an actual career.

Yeah. And you, you move to LA, right, like you’re not originally from LA.

I’m not originally from LA. So I grew up in Michigan, I moved from Detroit. I moved from Detroit to LA, about eight years ago. And that was, you know, I guess that’s when it went from me calling myself like, an actual photographer to Oh, no, you have, like, you are a professional photographer. That’s when I really started to get, you know, the, I guess, the big time, you know, like the big gigs, if you call it that, that’s when I started shooting campaigns and, and working with all of these different these different brands, and really got into doing more creative direction and just like brand partnership, and traveling and doing all of this stuff. So that was about eight years ago now. But yeah, I’m from from Michigan, I moved to LA. And I don’t know, the first the first year in LA It was rough man. You know, it was it was rough. Like I was like, Yeah, I’m gonna go out there and pursue, you know, pursue this photography thing. And it’s just gonna like, like, so before I moved in Michigan, because I was shooting for these. These different entertainers, I thought I was, you know, like, doing decent, like in Michigan, but it was completely different in LA. No one knew me. I’d move there with barely any money. And I’m like, it’s cool. Like, I’m just going to I’m going to get out there and I’m going to show people my work and I’m just gonna start getting work and it’s just gonna happen. I don’t know, I thought it was gonna happen. I didn’t. You know, like, my first year out there. I was man. Struggling, like, at least the first six months I remember. I was like, really broke, you know, like, really broke. I remember having like, I remember the first few months like, man, like, I just no money. Like, I remember calling back home. I call my parents like, Hey, do you think that I could like, order a pizza on your on your debit card? Could you order me a pizza? While they’re in Michigan, you know, like, just and I’m trying to, like, make this large pizza stretch, cuz I’m just like, so you know, so broke man, I’m doing these shoots for, you know, little to no pay. And even then there was like, net 30. So, um, so I’m like, you know, I’m doing shoots for like a couple 100 bucks for these different for these different companies. And by the time I actually get paid, I’ve already pretty much like spent the couple 100 bucks that I would get for the for the shoot. It was It was rough. It wasn’t until. So I moved out there. Like, in the summer, it was like June actually, it was around, you know, around this time, like I moved there around June. And it wasn’t until the top of that, that next year that things started to sort of take shape. I remember just feeling like Okay, I gotta I gotta do something, you know, I got to do something. And so I started to reach out to a bunch of people I started to tighten up my resume and I started to, you know, like, tighten up my portfolio and reach out to people on LinkedIn and these other like networking sites. And at the time After the year, I started to get some of the people that I was reaching out to, like call me, you know, like just most of it didn’t go through, but some of it would. And I remember the first big job or first big assignment that I got, once I moved to LA was a job for will to one, I had an opportunity to shoot a music artist for Atlantic Records. And so that was like, I guess my first big check. But then, shortly after that, I was asked to go on this tour for TGI Fridays, the restaurant, and it was going to be this summer tour where I was going to travel and do this, I think it was like a 10 or 12 week tour, where each week or each, each week, I was in a different city and state just kind of documenting the best of handcrafted America. And while I was while I was doing that, I met tons of people and, and shot so many images and like, which that’s a whole nother story. Because at the end of the tour, I actually like all of my camera gear ended up getting stolen and the hard drives and all of the all of the work just got stolen, and I’d have nothing to really show for it. But at that time, you know, like it was like I was posting stuff and sort of, you know, sharing that online. And that was one of the things that really, really kicked off my journey as a creative in LA, for sure.

Running a successful photography, business doesn’t have to be challenging or time consuming. At format, we help photographers easily run and grow their business from end to end, from showcasing their work in a beautiful online portfolio, to delivering seamless, professional client experience to selling prints commissioned free, and everything in between. We’ve built format to help you succeed by creating easy to use world class, all my tools. By joining format, you are joining 10s of 1000s of photographers in every country to committing to help us continue to develop world class suite of tools specifically designed for photographers. Every day we commit to being an ally to photographers with the goal to further propel photography and the careers of photographers around the world. I invite you to try format free@format.com Thank you sounds like you know, you went through a tough time. And then there’s the hustle that ran like there’s there’s a some kind of a wake up call, did you have a mentor? Or was that something that you just get something clicked and you’re like, I gotta hustle to make this happen.

I didn’t have a mentor, I just knew that I had to hustle, you know, your back is against the wall and you’re like, Look, you got to make money somehow, you know, you got to make money somehow. And I would, I wanted to invest in myself. And I felt like it was important for me to get paid to be myself as opposed to me going and working elsewhere. I didn’t have a problem working elsewhere. But I just felt like if I put as much as much time and energy and effort into working for myself as I would for someone else, then it would it would pay off at some point. And so with that hustle, I made it a point to say like, look, I don’t want to do whatever I have to do to make sure that people see my work. And so I would um, when I mentioned LinkedIn like I would, I would I would get on these social networking sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and just write a list of everyone that I wanted to reach out to, and I was sin, I will make it a point to send 100 emails a week. And you know, like, I was getting 20 emails a day, I’m like, I’m not going to stop not getting out of this seat. Until I send 20 emails a day, I don’t care who it is, you know, I’m sending emails to, to friends to family, to, to art directors, to creative directors, to, to producers, to art buyers, to founders co found just anyone that I could possibly find that I felt like should see the work that I’m creating. And hopefully, you know, they’ll like it enough to tell someone about me or some sort of opportunity may come from it, you know, and I just kept doing that and kept doing that. And, you know, eventually some of those people like started to start to call. So those to backtrack a little bit. That’s what I was doing before, like, so that six months when I just there was nothing coming in. That’s what I was doing during that time. And it took a few months, I say three or four months before I actually got a phone call. It was at the beginning of the year where people were like, Hey, man, like love your work. Don’t have anything for you now but we’re gonna keep you know, keep you in mind. And every few months I would just like hey, like just circling back like still shooting here though. Some new stuff like just, you know, yeah, had to add a bit. Yeah,

you had you had to do that. Right. And so like, listen, it sounds like so like format. What we’ve realized is that there’s the artistic journey of a photographer right the craft the development of the work that skill. And then there’s the business journey, right? The the business entrepreneur connection, hustle, just that story alone, it sounds like you have that business hustle, you know, you, your back against the wall, you start writing emails, you start writing messages, and eventually something sticks. And you figure it out, and so that you have momentum there. Did you? Did you have any kind of business experience before that? Because it’s, you know, it’s not, you know, yes, everyone can write an email, but like, there’s a way of writing an email. And you also have to make sure that you’re, you’re keeping in touch and connecting with those people, and building those relationships that you have a business background at all, or is that just did that just come naturally for you?

A little bit of both, so I never went to college. So it wasn’t like I, you know, took a business in college or had any classes or anything. But I before I have moved to LA before I got started, I was comfortable with reaching out to people like I was always, I guess, hustling if you will, like when I was in high school I used to sell, like, mixtapes, and I would, I threw parties and doing that sort of thing. But in terms of like business business, not not so much, I just knew that. The only way to get what you want is to ask for it. And you can’t be afraid, you know, you can’t be afraid to get out there and actually, like reach out to people and let them know that you exist and let them know what you want. Because if you you know closed mouths don’t get fed is what my parents used to always tell me. And so if there’s something that you want, you just have to like, you know, you just have to let them know. So in a way I did, but it was more of me just not being afraid of sending out tons of emails and realizing that there’s kind of like, a certain way to do it. Like, for example, I would I would send out these emails. And these emails were kinda a little longer than they should have been, I felt like oh, well, in order to feel prefer in order to come off as a professional, like, I need to, you know, write these paragraphs and all of this. And then I realized that the longer the emails, the less people want to read them. And so I’m like, Okay, let me kind of straight to the point, you know, and after sending out, I don’t know, hundreds of emails and realizing that the ones that, like, toward the end of the day, were the ones that people will respond to, because I was kind of lazy, like just, ah, you know, I’m done, tell you, here’s my work, let me know, you know, those were the ones that people will get back to. And I’m like, Well, wait a minute, I’m sending these two or three paragraphs to these people. And they’re not even reading them. And then when I send like, these one liners, people are getting back. So I just kind of started doing that. And it was, it was definitely more like a trial and error thing.

And before, you’re probably just sending them and you’re hoping for the best now you can use like trackers to figure out how many emails were opened and how long, you know, did they click on something like all these all these tactics, you

know that you read it now, because you’ve opened this, you’ve opened this three times at this time. So you know, like, it’s so light? Exactly, exactly. You know, it’s so much different from from how it used to be back then it was honestly just just a shot in the dark. And now you know, it’s so much more strategic and they have there are programs out there that help you with like a database of these different people that you want to reach out to and things like that. So it just makes it much easier. You know, after a while you compile a mailing list of the people that you’ve reached out to or people that have reached out to you like potential clients and stuff. So, you know, over the over the years, I’ve definitely learned how to not just be a photographer or creative but a businessman and the importance of actually running a business or that being more important than then the work itself. You know, at point, honestly.

Well, it sounds like it sounds like you did both really well. Right? You went through this journey where people validate your work, they said, you know, you’re good enough, we’re gonna pay you now. Like, we want you to shoot for us. And then you go out there and you just put yourself out there, you take the risk, you hustle, you take you take the biggest risk of your life moving somewhere new, you know, your backs against the wall, and then you make it happen. That’s, you know, that’s commendable. Congratulations, that doesn’t happen to everybody. It takes the right you know, it takes a you know, a certain amount of luck. Definitely a lot of hustle. Right. Right time, right place, right time, etc. So congratulations on all that you’ve achieved. And I know that I’ve caught you at a really good time now because I think you’ve just signed with representation, right? Like you’ve got a you found an agent or an agent found you recently.

Absolutely. Yeah. So just recently, at the top of this year, I signed with represent I have representation now. Fox creative, love them over their page long. She’s a sweetheart. They take care of me I was just on the phone with him right before this, you know, right before this podcast, actually just getting some stuff together for some shoots that we have coming up within the next few weeks. But that that helps tremendously. You know, it helps tremendously because I’m at a place in my career where I want to be able to focus on more of family time and that especially with the pandemic, but more importantly, just focus on passion projects, and, you know, doing personal work. And this habit representation allows me to do that. Because I don’t have to sit in front of the computer and, you know, go back and forth with potential clients and send out those 100 emails that I mentioned. And, you know, try to figure out, like, you know, who else is bidding on a job and, you know, travel and expenses, just all of that stuff, like, I finally have a team that I’m comfortable with that, that actually handles that stuff for me, which is just truly, truly a blessing. And it’s just an honor to be, you know, on on that roster and have someone that I’m confident in and that, you know, that’s like a family, you know, a family that I can I can trust to handle those things. For me. It’s awesome. It’s been awesome.

No, that’s great. Congratulations. Good. That’s a really good segue to talk about your work. Your let’s start with your personal projects, because I was looking through your website, even the work that you shared with me the was the photos of essence, and there’s also a YouTube video, I think we’re captures some of that work. What does What does personal work mean to you? Why is it important for you to do personal work?

Man, everyone that is listening to this personal work is the most important thing, when it comes to being a creative, it defines you, it helps shape you and your career, it allows people to know what you not only what you are capable of, but what type of work you are interested in. You know, and if you like, you get to a certain point in your career where there’s, there’s so much different work out there that’s coming at you so many people are asking you, hey, like, Can you shoot this or that or this or that. And like, if you, if, if you just say yes to everything, then you can kind of lose yourself as a creative. And it’s important to have some sort of identity, you know, just as a creative and so with the personal work, it allows you to show people what what you are good at, or what you’re interested in shooting, simply put, personal work for me is something that I try to do as often as possible. If not more than then the, you know, the work for clients that I do. Sometimes it just doesn’t work like that, because it gets really busy. But when I do have a little downtime, especially like last year, when you know there’s a whole pandemic going on and people are staying inside, it allows you to sit down and sort of strategically plan out the personal work and treat that as if it is worked for a client and that allows you to sin, a sin work out to these potential clients letting them know like, hey, yes, I can do that. And yes, I can do that. But this is this is where my, you know, kind of work is going this is where my passion lies. This is like this is what, what I see or how I feel right now, you know, like this is, for example. I started to get bored with photography a few years ago, and I was just trying to figure out what what to do to kind of reignite that, you know, that like the love and the passion for it. And I think that it was for I think that the reason that I was bored was because everything was starting to sort of look the same with Instagram and all of that I just felt like everything was just like super HD. And I’m like, I need to do something different. Like maybe take a step back and sort of practice the art of slow living and just kind of like, like do everything from you know, from start to finish. And to me that meant getting back into film photography. And so I started shooting way more film photography, I started composing my shots differently. I started developing film at home I started printing more and just doing all that and so when you mentioned the shoot with with essence that was that was one of those, those projects that I was like okay, well, like I’m I’m going to pay for this out of pocket. I’m going to get some friends together. We’re going to shoot like a BTS video like we used to do back in the day, I’m shooting this like the majority of this is going to be on on film. So like I’m going to develop all of this I’m going to scan this I’m going to print this we’re going to like actually put this project together. And this is going to be something that that shows people kind of where I am and like where you know where my eye sees right now today and it’s just sort of reignited my passion for photography being able to shoot not just film but shooting you know shooting these these personal projects these passion projects, like like the shoot, we did with essence

then, you know, the project’s like like the shoot with essence it, do you have a team that you always work with? Or do you always kind of variety use variety of creatives like stylists, makeup artists, or is it always a close knit team that you’ve developed,

I have a close knit team, a lot of those projects that we a lot of those projects that I work on. So all of the personal projects, I try to work with the same team, you know, same friends, same family, just so we’re comfortable working together on set, because with me not going to school for this, I always felt like, oh, like, it’d be a lot more nervous. If I’m working with a bunch of strangers, and this person doesn’t know how to follow my film, or this person, you know, I just, we just don’t like mesh well together, you know, and so I try my best to work with the same people. Same, same assistant, same, same stylist, same, you know, like for hair, and makeup and wardrobe, and that whole thing. You know, it doesn’t always work that way. Because sometimes I’m in a different city, state country. But I try my best to, to keep it, you know, in the family. So whatever, whatever that means just kind of like constantly working with the same people. I feel like whoever I work with on the person on the passion projects, those are the people that I bring into the fold when I’m working on something for, I don’t know, Wells Fargo or Adidas or Nike or something like that. Like, I’m just trying to make sure that you know, it’s the same team all the time. That’s important to me, I feel most comfortable when I’m when I’m working with a team that I’m comfortable with, you

know that that sounds awesome. To be honest, like I when I look at your photography that projects, specifically is is a work of art, some of those shots, the lighting the composition, like it’s so beautiful, I couldn’t want to print it put on my wall. Are you selling these prints at all? Like is this going in a book somewhere?

I have a book that I that I’ve been working on. So I have a book that I carry around, like, oh, school, you know, like, I keep a book with, you know, like a portfolio book. And so whenever someone’s like, hey, like, you got an Instagram like, oh, yeah, I got an Instagram, but I actually have this book and I and let them let them flip through that. It’s not It’s not for sale. Yeah, it has some, you know, some client work and then some personal work. And and for sure. So there’s, there’s a mix, it’s not for sale, a lot of people ask, like, when is it going to go on sale, and at some point within the next few years, like I do plan on releasing something that’s for sale, again, with representation, that’s something that like, allowing them to focus on, you know, getting new work, and, you know, current clients, and it allows me to take a step back and work on finishing the book, and, you know, new prints and things like that. So to answer your question, the short answer is no, it’s not for sale right now. But at some point, there will be a book, at some point. I’m currently, you know, restructuring the website to where I can put some prints up for people to sell. We’re just trying to make it to where it says easy and as seamless as possible for people to go and, you know, click the pictures that they want to get printed, and you know, figure out framing and all of that stuff. But do it like this straight from the website. So that’s something that’s been important to me. And that’s something that we’re working on right now.

Let me know, let me know if we can help. I think you’re at the right place.

Definitely at the right place, I’m pretty sure you know, we’ll get that together really soon.

That’s awesome. And wanted to take a segue to your other work your client work, but also to touch on the celebrity work. I know you shoot a few celebrities here and there. I saw the likes of you know, Jay Z and Beyonce, Stevie Wonder I did want to talk about the Stevie Wonder shots. Because it really caught my eye. Tell me a little bit about that shoot. And the difficulties of, of just in general shooting celebrities, is it a different? Yeah, different different type of client, right?

Is it’s so different. And it’s so different because one Stevie Wonder shoot was a little different, but just in general, with with celebrities is awesome because they’re, you know, they don’t always have that much time. You know, like sometimes you get on set and you spend more time setting up this like you know, your set then you do then you actually have with with the talent and that can make it difficult because, you know, I’ve been on shoots where I have 15 minutes to get the shot, you know, and like we’re setting up lights and all this stuff for a couple of hours and then they’re like, Okay, you know, you have this person for 15 minutes and you’re trying to get like, literally like three looks off in 15 minutes. So you’re like click click click, and I shoot a lot of film so I can’t even really see what I have. So I’m like click click click OK. We just shot a row and by the time we’re low in the next row, it’s almost time for them to get out of there. You know, so it’s tough with with the Stevie Wonder shoe. That was really fun because we had a lot of time. So much time like we had you know, the the entire day. We went to his place in like his home and you It was in Bellaire, like out in California. And it was beautiful home. You know, his team is amazing. We got there early. And the synergy, like just it was, it was so beautiful, like he was playing beautiful music the entire time. And we’re dancing and just having a good time. And like, having a good time, we talked about so many things he’s from, you know, from from Michigan as I am. So, you know, we had quite a bit in common when it comes to that we talked about new music and old music and the whole thing, but just when I say we had so much time, it was time was important, because time was an important, you know, so this was my first one working with Stevie Wonder he’s a legend, everyone knows that. But not only that, it’s just, this is my first time working with like, anyone that was blind, you know. And so when you think about, like, how you direct them, and like how they like, you know, how they actually listen, it’s just, it’s so much different, but more importantly, how, how they like how they perceive time, you know, it’s just, it’s just different, you know, like he, he moves at his own pace, because time is just kind of different when you are not really looking at it, like oh, like, we’re, we’re losing sunlight, or, you know, it just anything like that, you know, it’s just completely different. And so it was just, it was amazing to, to be in His presence and to work with him like that. But just like, his outlook on time, and how he approaches things was just so different. And it was so it was so cool. And just put so many things in perspective for me, and, you know, the, like his the jokes that he was telling about, about being more like, there’s a shot that he was on, like on his balcony, and I’m like, okay, just kind of like, you know, look out, like look off the balcony. And he’s just like cracking jokes about it and stuff. And I’m like, This is awesome, man. Like, he was truly, you know, he’s truly a legend. And just so talented. And he listens. And he’s just like a great person, man, like, and then, you know, the artwork that he has at his home. It was just, it was an amazing experience, man, seriously, it’s awesome.

And so you should you should, you know, a few celebrity shots. But what do you want to be known for? Like, what is the genre of photography, you want to be, you know, you’re currently practicing.

And I, I guess, the short answer, it’s just like, a lifestyle, you know, photography, I shoot a lot of portraits and things like that. A lot of like, I do a lot of advertising and commercial work a lot of editorial, but I just just lifestyle in general, I love capturing the moment, you know, like I’m, I’m always telling, I’m always telling the talent that I work with, to look away. One, when I do shoots, I always try to have a second shooter there. Because, like, I’m getting the main shots, but then I’m always like, okay, look at you know, look at this person’s camera. So like, my, my, my first ad or my, you know, second shooter often is a guy named Justin. I’m like, Okay, look at Justin shooter, or look at Justin’s camera. And just kind of pretend like I’m not here. So just taking shots. And I like to sort of just be a fly on the wall and capture those moments. Because oftentimes, when you pick up a camera, people start to get kind of uncomfortable. And they’re like, Okay, let me sit up and do this thing that you feel like you’re supposed to do when you know when there’s a camera on you. But when no one is watching, that’s typically when people pull out the best dance moves, you know. And so I’m like, okay, oh, those are the best shots. For me, I always tell people that, you know, when you’re looking at the camera, it’s a portrait, but when you’re looking at away, or when you’re looking away from the camera, it’s a moment and I love to capture those moments, you know, so even if it’s a portrait, I’m taking pictures, click, click, click, and then I’m like, Alright, we got it. And that’s when they’ll like laugh, put their head. Like they’re like, who and that’s when I’m actually like, that’s when I actually fire away. And those are typically the shots like in my portfolio. Those are the shots that people see those are the moments that I try to capture. And then all of the other shots is just like and those were just kind of like warm up. You know,

I love that. I love that technique that that skill that you just showed that shared that’s that’s pretty awesome. For sure. I never I’ve never heard that one before. But I think it’s quite quite great. And it’s exactly at right capturing that that essence that moment where somebody themselves versus putting on the front or the show in front of the lens.

Yeah, sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable to you know, when you have a big camera in front of you. So it’s just, you know, try to be discreet about it and make people feel as comfortable as possible.

Nice. We’re shooting this episode during COVID COVID. Hopefully, fingers crossed is coming to some kind of an end very soon, right. Fingers crossed, right? How just you know, I’m curious if you could share with us. How did COVID impact your work your professional life, not so much your personal life but your professional life? slowed down during that time? Did you get to focus more on your personal life? And your personal work? What was that? Like?

Absolutely, absolutely, I am. It’s slowed down everything. I mean, you know, we all know that the the world sort of just, like, kind of pause for a few months, you know, but it just in a lot of ways, man, it allowed me to take a step back, and to one focus on the things that were most important, which was, you know, my health, and then, you know, friends and family and just, you know, realize that life is short. And like I said, like lifestyle photography, but capturing the moments that are most important to me, I realized, like, even with, you know, when we mentioned, celebrity work, I love celebrities, and all of that, but if we strip them away from all of those things, they’re just people, right. And I realized that I was taking way more pictures of, of life for clients than I was of my actual, closest friends and family. And so during that time, it made me really take a step back and start capturing way, way more images of, you know, just friends and family, like spending more time with them, capturing those moments, and I don’t necessarily have to tell them to like, sit up straight and stuff during, you know, during, like, when I’m, when I pick up a camera, because they’re used to just having me around. So it was, it’s just crazy to think that, you know, I have a camera all the time, and I’m so busy setting up these shoes for clients that I’m never taking pictures of the people that I actually care the most about, or spend the most time with. So during COVID, I’ve definitely done some so much of that. There have been way more zoom meetings, like different like, cause like Google Hangouts and things like that, then then in person, the way that I sort of showcase my work, I think, is different, like I’ve, you know, switched up what’s in my portfolio a little bit and sort of, like, adjusted or, like made some tweaks to like, how my website looks and things like that during during COVID. Just because I felt like, there were certain things that are less important. And there are certain things that are way more important. And a lot of that, you know, goes back to personal work and things like that, but COVID is definitely sort of shifted my perspective on those things. And I’ve kind of, you know, pivoted into trying to figure out how I can make sure that I, I spend way more time with the people that I care about the most, which is one of the another one of the reasons why I decided to, you know, start to, you know, to find representation and to do that thing, so that way, they can focus on the business thing, and I can just, you know, spend more time with with my loved ones.

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Let’s get that, you know, there was some learning lessons there and some positivity, right. And especially, you know, even the fact that you were able to overcome it, and, you know, get to this point where now hopefully, things will pick up again, I talked to a few photographers recently that they found themselves connecting to their clients more during COVID, did you do any of that, by any chance, have you had a chance to, like, actually reach out to your clients just to check on them see how they’re doing?

There was a lot of that there was a lot, there were some, there were clients. So when, like, I was still I was sending out a bunch of emails, instead of trying to get new work, it was a lot of just, you know, me checking on people that I work with quite a bit. You know, like, it went from emails to us playing video games online together, you know, so, a lot of like, Call of Duty and things like that with my screens, I never would think that I would be like, you know, playing video games with and it’s just like, this is this is awesome. So, definitely, definitely a lot of that, you know, there were things again, with just making sure that people are safe, safe and staying healthy. And you know, like the things that matter most, you know, like, yeah, we want to get through work and create images and all of that, but ultimately, you know, the, the country the world was just going through just really strange times, you know, and it was it was important to just connect with people and not only ask, like, Hey, how are you doing to ask like, Hey, how are you really doing? You know, you ask someone like, Hey, how are you? Like, oh, I’m good. Thanks for asking, and just go on about their day. Like, no, how are you really, you know, like, how, how’s your family? Like, how are you really doing and so we had time to really take a step back and just breathe and have like, you know, meaningful conversations like actually move with intent, and as opposed to just like, going through the motions of what we think we’re supposed to do or say to people so absolutely, like I’ve I’ve built much stronger relationships with, with, you know, some of the people that I’ve that I’ve worked with in the past and people that like, you know, potential clients or people that that I’ve been talking about doing things with We just never got an opportunity to work to work together on anything. And now we’re like, you know, much closer, regardless of, you know, our business or our working relationship for sure.

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