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  1. #1
    jovo's Avatar
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    On Being A Professional Photogapher...Tell us your story, please...

    On Dorothy Blum Cooper's thread about her decision to not accept a color assignment, there are some interesting posts by several of you who earn your living as professional photographers, both fine art and commercial. Brian Kosoff (Early Riser) tells an interesting story about his experiences. But there are so many others whose stories would be very interesting to read.

    Would some, or all !, of you who do that tell your stories? I think it would be interesting to us all, but also useful and informative to those who are making the decision to go down that professional path.
    John Voss

    My Blog

  2. #2
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Will I talk about myself? Well ... if you insist!

    Left school in 1967 with no idea what to do, joined the Civil Service (Department of Health and Social Security). Had previously been a keen photo hobbyist while at school. Stayed at this desk job for about 15 months, then decided to try photography and got a transfer to the Ministry of Technology, where I got paid £10 a week (in 1969) to operate a 16x20" Littlejohn process camera. Was allowed day release 1 day a week to study. Eventually got a diploma in 1971.

    Moved in 1970 to the Victoria & Albert Museum, got paid a few £s more to photograph art objects, using most 8x10" cameras. Used to volunteer for evening shifts and do press and PR work with the museum's Leica. Work at the museum was fascinating, pay and career prospects very poor, so moved about 50 yards to Imperial College Botany Department (right by the Albert Hall), where I became head of the photography department (total strength: me) and photographed diseased leaves, occasionally healthy plants, and lots of architecture, etc, for a glossy brochure. Was playing in a rock band around the student scene at this time. Did some freelance press during this period, too, got the odd publication in the nationals.

    By 1974, fame having strangely failed to tap me on the shoulder, I took a job with Ilford Limited as a technical writer and wrote booklets, advertisements etc., on the products. The company was not in good shape at this time, it was moving out of the Ilford site and going to Basildon, Essex (a short time later, it closed all operations in SE England and regrouped at Mobberley), so I retrained as a technical translator, which is the work I do on a freelance basis, together with editing and the occasional from-scratch magazine article, still today. Writing is much more lucrative for me than photography ever was, whereas photography is much more fun without commercial pressure!

    Regards,

    David

  3. #3
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    Like most men pretty much everything I did from the time I was 6 months old was directed to the task of getting laid. I spend most of my school years in that endeavor and when it came time for exams, I didnít have a clue what the answers were because I was too busy. I tried music, but that didnít do me much good either, so at the ripe old age of 22, I bought a camera and started taking pictures of women.

    I always told them they had fascinating faces but what I was really after was something a bit lower. I finally opened my first studio at the age of 25 and spent most of the first year playing the piano. Gradually it took off and I was shooting portraits and weddings and family stuff. I eventually had a 3000 square foot studio with 4 employees, did all my own color printing, etc. I traveled all over the US and Canada taking seminars and workshops. I once trained with a New York fashion photographer for a week and I told him how much I like the whole fashion thing. Really I just wanted to nail a few models but I never told him that. When he saw my work he sort of changed my mind on what I was doing. He said fashion photography is really just bird cage lining and within a month the pictures are irrelevant. He said doing family pictures is far more important and meaningful that anything he was doing.

    When I got home I re-dedicated myself to portraits. After shooting 500 wedding I was given a reprieve from the Governor General and told that Iíd done my time. So I concentrated strictly on families and portraits.

    I sold that studio after 10 years and moved to LA. Ah- ha now Iíll get laid a lot. Didnít happen. Well at first anyway. I snagged a job working for Franciscan Communications, a Catholic communications company, and thrived as the resident pagan. Whenever they had questions about life in the real world they came to me. For 4 years I did social documentary photography for them, then I shot headshots of wannabees, did actor portfolios, shot stills for movies, did location scouting for car commercials, then after the riots I got the hell out of Dodge.

    I started black and white when I landed back in San Jose after spending a year in Portland OR. That was about 13 years ago. There was, and still is an incredible amount to learn and Iíve barely scratched the surface. I quit photographing pretty girls a long time ago because, although somewhat of a slow learner, I finally discovered that I could get laid on my own and beside pretty girls donít, I repeat, donít, buy photographs. Itís those parents with those cute little kids that do. And guess what, they keep having more and more and they look different from month to month.

    That little tidbit of information took me 20 some years to learn.

    Michael
    Last edited by blansky; 08-30-2006 at 01:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    I snagged a job working for Franciscan Communications, a Catholic communications company, and thrived as the resident pagan. Whenever they had questions about life in the real world they came to me.
    Based on the media over the past few years, you seem to have some influence.

  5. #5

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    Great thread! Let's have some more, please.

  6. #6
    jovo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    Like most men pretty much everything I did from the time I was 6 months old was directed to the task of getting laid.
    If nothing else works out for you, Michael, consider a second career as a motivational speaker.


    David, in your department of one, were you a good boss?
    John Voss

    My Blog

  7. #7
    DBP
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    I think I finally nailed down why Blansky's style seems familiar - He's doing Hunter Thompson imitating Dave Barry imitating Hemingway.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBP
    I think I finally nailed down why Blansky's style seems familiar - He's doing Hunter Thompson imitating Dave Barry imitating Hemingway.
    Miaow!

    Cheers,

    R.

  9. #9
    blansky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBP
    I think I finally nailed down why Blansky's style seems familiar - He's doing Hunter Thompson imitating Dave Barry imitating Hemingway.
    Actually it's homegrown because I've never read any of them.

    Sorry for the confusion.



    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
    Writing is much more lucrative for me than photography ever was, whereas photography is much more fun without commercial pressure! Regards, David
    Yes. The big thing is that photographers can be lucky: the occasional good picture makes them look good. Writers can't fake it the same way: what you write has to be grammatical, correctly spelled, usw.

    One of my dearest friends, the late Colin Glanfield, was a significantly better photographer than I, but wanted to be a writer, at which he was merely good. I'm a significantly better writer than he was, but would love to be a better photographer. I make up for it to some extent by being a competent photographer (good amateur level) and knowing a fair amount about technique and history.

    Stories? Endless, from my assistant days. The art director who wanted a lion in the back of a baby Peugeot. Think of it as a 500 lb kitten and a 2000 lb ball of wool. The reshoot (comped into the Peugeot hatchback shot) was made from a pic of the Peugeot and a pic of the lion in a hatchback-shaped frame made of railway sleepers (?ties in American). And he was shooting 10-on (Pentax 6x7) and the best pic was always frame 11...

    The art director with the car magazine, with nude or semi-nude bimbos draped over the cars. He was not as other men, and he said, "I hate this ****ing job. It's the same old ****ing rubbish, week after week. And the ****ing cars are no better."

    Cheers.

    R.

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