Full Time Photographer Episode 263 with Justin Barton: Winning Awards Can Be A Plus In Your Marketing
Justin Barton is a commercial, editorial and interior photographer based out of London. He works in many areas of photography including portraiture, architecture, still life, interiors and landscapes, but his main interest is in documentary photography.
Becoming a Full-Time Photographer
When Justin became a photographer, he assisted many different photographers in many different genres, hence his wide array of photography disciplines. If he had to do it all over again though, he would try to focus and specialize more toward one genre but because he has had experiences in so many, it has helped him in that he can usually pull what a client needs when requested.
Though he loves artistic documentary photography, Justin shoots mostly interiors because there is more work in that area; high end developments are always being built and that gives him a consistent income. The area that brings in the most money are advertising shoots — portraits of real people, but again, those do not provide consistent work.
Justin’s progression to becoming a full-time photographer was slow. He worked a 9-5 office job and would take time off to assist a lot of photographers, gaining knowledge. After 4-5 years of juggling both, he saved three months of salary, quit his day job and went freelance. As he was building his photography business, working his way up in various advertising agencies, he supplemented his income by doing basic retouching for other photographers.
What To Do to Prepare for an Internship
In those years of building his business, Justin hustled hard and made sure he was useful to people. As the conversation transitioned to the subject of giving advice to someone looking to intern or to assist, Justin advises that you make sure to give back, not always be the one taking. As an intern or assistant, knowledge of Photoshop is extremely important as well as a strong work ethic, and a high level of enthusiasm. An assistant who is able to predict what a photographer will do next — in terms of gear he needs etc, is very helpful and impressive as well.
Life is a Roller Coaster
As with every career, Justin has had many failures, saying that there are always ups and downs like a “roller coaster.” After every dip, there follows a high point. Once Justin had set up and planned a photo shoot on a Russian Space shuttle. At the last minute, he learned that his access had been revoked and the shoot was cancelled — all the money spent to pull it off wasted. It was a low point, but the very next day, Justin was in contact with someone else and ended up photographing an amazing plane. He was open minded and got some great shots in the end in spite of the previous day’s low. And that’s just how things work — you have an awful month and then someone offers you a job out of the blue…
Getting Your Name Out There
…That’s why you need to follow up with the people you meet. It can be unpredictable and at times, jobs will come from nowhere or referred by someone from his past when he was an assistant. Justin keeps an open mind and makes sure that he sends cards, newsletters, etc., so that his name is out there.
His best advertising tip is winning an award. It is a “brilliant” opportunity to contact people and keep up with your networks. An award can be used as clout, it gives instant credibility and is an external endorsement for your work. Justin’s best advice when it comes to submitting your work to awards and contests, though, is to pick the awards/contests that makes the most sense to you and your approach. Submit for the important awards, the ones that pertain to you and your work. If you continually submit your work to a certain place and you never seem to get selected, stop submitting and find somewhere else to submit — they may just be looking for a different style than what you have to offer.
What You Will Learn In This Podcast:
Transitioning from a 9-5 office job to a full-time photography job
What to do to get an internship
Riding the highs and lows of any career
Getting your name out there and how winning an award can be your best marketing move
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