This is the first portrait I ever got paid for. I got $50 which is not a livable wage for all the time and work involved but what I learned was invaluable. North-facing windows, I discovered, provide the best light. And the serendipity of location my ally.
I began my portrait photography career as a Task Rabbit which gave me experience and helped me build my portfolio. But it was no way to live. The so-called ‘gig economy’ is rigged. Service providers compete on price. It’s a race to the bottom. In order to win projects you have to bid blind, and bid low. There was no way I could make it as a photographer that way.
But how DO you make it? I don’t know. Word of mouth and constant hustle. It’s not enough to be good. You have to be lucky, and dogged. And you need friends. Thank God for my friends. Gratitude is always helpful but what I’m really here to talk about is authenticity. Truth. My photos strive for a certain truth in how they portray the people in them.
I believe in what I do. I believe there’s merit to my approach. I believe that we need to look each other in the eye and open ourselves to true friendship. The land of social media can be sterile, and false and sometimes hopeless, but your photograph doesn’t have to be. Your photograph is the gateway to you. Authenticity begins here.