There are a lot of important aspects to take seriously while owning a photography business, well, any business for that matter. Taxes, expenses, marketing, promotion, social media, website, etc. It’s a constant cycle of balancing attention with need and making sure you are pushing the business as a whole forward and not leaving one portion further behind then the rest.
If you’ve ever seen Pumping Iron (yes, the body building documentary) featuring a confident and youthful Arnold Schwarzenegger, there is a scene where he talks about his objectives while body building. It’s overly apparent that at the particular time in which this is being filmed, body building is his only focus and the intense fervor in which he purses this niche is inspiring- and a bit daunting. He is being interviewed about how he builds the perfect physique and his answer is a perfect metaphor for any business. He talks about specific body parts, his quads for example. If one quad looks a little bit bigger than his other, he’ll only focus on the smaller quad until it’s of equal proportions as the other. And when both are perfect he will compare his calf muscles to his quads to make sure they looks right, proportionally.
Running a business, much like building a perfect physique is all about balance. For photographers, developing and executing a personal project is a very important part of the business. It keeps your mind sharp, exercises your creativity and gives you the freedom to pursue a specific concept or topic that you might not otherwise be asked to shoot by a client. More importantly, it let’s potential clients see a different side of your work and what you are able to execute.
I’ve done a few personal projects in the past, and this year I’ve been able to complete two. Timeout (which came out in April) and the most recent, Alpaca.
There’s something invigorating about switching gears, most of my shoots lately have been in a studio; a controlled environment both lighting wise and climate wise – the only variable being the attitude of your subject. As much as I love photographing in studio, I needed a break. I wanted to insert myself into an environment where nothing is controlled and with a subject that I was required to capture more journalistically. I packed up the car and drove 7 hours north west to Port Allegany, Pennsylvania to an alpaca farm, Cinco C’s.
Cinco C’s is nestled in the hills of the Allegany’s and is the home to about 70 or so alpaca, run by Carol and Chris Howard, it was a perfect spot for a personal project. The goal, to document the lifecycle of the alpaca and crias(baby alpaca, less than a year old) during the shearing process. What’s a day like in the life of an alpaca, how do the young and old co-exist, how does the shearing process begin, what’s it like to shear an alpaca, physical changes an alpaca goes through during the shearing process. These were some of the points I wanted to touch on while I was out there.
In addition to this, I also wanted to teach myself motion, or video, while on the farm. I am still working on editing the video(which was also something I’ve never done before) but I’ve always believed the best way to learn a new skill is to just throw yourself in the mix.
The project was a success, I learned a ton and came away with a new found respect for alpaca farming and the effort it takes to bring alpaca fleece to market.
A huge thank you the Carol of Cinco C’s for allowing me to crash on the farm for a week!
The entire series can be view here