A common question that I get asked is how did I get my start in photography. This was one of the few times in my life that I had a plan and things worked out just the way that I dreamt that they would.
Some photographers are self taught but I would not have had the career that I’ve had if I hadn’t attended a photography program. Both positions that I accepted the main requirement was the requirement of a photography degree. I have mixed emotions if a formal degree is required these days but one was critical for my career.
I was hired as an industrial photographer not long after receiving my photography degree. I chose to get a degree in Industrial Photography because I thought it might be a more stable career working for someone else instead of getting a degree in Commercial Photography and probably end up working for myself. At school the majors were similar but The Industrial major required work in video as well as still photography. Today I’m glad I received that video training because lots of jobs require stills and video for each job.
My first day on the job I started on the company’s annual product catalog. All of it was shot on large format Sinar cameras which ment 4x5 and 8x10 color and black and white shots of everything. The shot list was in the hundreds. I learned quickly that there was a big difference between being an amateur and a professional. I miss shooting large format cameras. There is something kind of Zen about them. I had already been shooting Leica’s in school so I really appreciated the quality of the Sinar cameras. I wish I had one these days. I still remember everything about them. I could teach a class on them but I don’t think there is much demand for them these days.
Being thrown into the fire on my very first day of work was eye opening and I learned so much in a very short time. I was pretty experienced working with large format but photographing for a paycheck is a lot different than just walking around and shooting for fun. It really takes a different mindset.