If I don’t do any commercial work, I can go back to working in an art or design studio full-time for three to six years. But when it comes to photography, you’ll still be shooting the same things as if you weren’t, but with new cameras.
It’s more challenging to sell your work now. There’s more pressure [as a photographer], and the market is way more competitive, so when you’re looking for a new work, the market is way more competitive. You need to really nail it. If you’re a good portrait photographer, you’re on top of the food chain, so if you’re not doing great, people will say, “Oh, the market has changed. It’s only good for portrait work.”
That’s why I’ve always tried to shoot everything I’m working on: everything from a model who’s pregnant right up to a wedding that happens this week. I try to find a theme so that I’m getting as many ideas at any given time as possible. We’ll all see the same photos in the grocery store, we’ll all walk to the same Starbucks—so I like to keep going in different directions.
What makes the current commercial photography industry appealing?
I think most of the commercial photography industry is still based on the traditional idea of photographers who use a specific type of camera: the film camera or the instant-snap camera. It’s a world where people still use those cameras, and the camera they use is the same camera you use when you get ready to show them your best photos. It’s almost like the camera is the best representation of me—because it’s an example of my skills. I want to show it in a way that’s also representative of my abilities.
So I’m really interested in finding new ways to show people exactly what you can do with a camera—whether it’s my camera or some other one that I really enjoy using. It’s not about having a good camera. It’s more about letting people know what they can do with a camera by showing it to them.
There’s a lot of pressure now because of technology. Every time you move around, you’re looking at another camera or another type of camera or another camera that someone else made (like you see in photojournalism), or something really cool that you bought. There’s so much to look forward to: it’s hard to find something really amazing that only you can do. The only thing I can think of