Jason Collin

Jason presents at 1 Million Cups Albuquerque watch the video

Jason presents at 1 Million Cups Albuquerque watch the video

My story of becoming a professional photographer

I had the opportunity to present the story of how I became a professional photographer at 1 Million Cups this week here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a chance for me to really think about what was the start of my path to becoming a professional photographer. I realized it began back in 2001, on a trip to Thailand and Cambodia. I invite you to watch the video below to hear the full story. I begin presenting just a couple minutes into the video.

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Go Local Boom Show radio interview!

Go Local Boom Show radio interview!

Go Local Boom is a local Albuquerque, New Mexico radio show dedicated to showcasing local businesses.  I was interviewed about my photography business (Jason Collin Photography) where I had the chance to talk about how I got started in photography, how working for something you are passionate about is great, and how I go about teaching photography to people of wide ranging experience levels.  

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Meeting Rick Sammon - what I learned in Oldsmar Florida

Jason & Rick Sammon - I got to meet one of my biggest photography influences - thank you Kathy for the photoI was walking down the hallway in the Hilton Garden Inn looking to make a quick restroom stop before attending a photography seminar.  I see a tall man at the end of the hallway who asks me, if I am looking for the photography seminar, that it is this way.  I do not recognize him at first from a few feet away, but the voice was very familiar.  As I get closer I realize it is the speaker for the seminar himself, Rick Sammon.  In my mind I thought wow, shook his hand and asked if he would sign my copy of his book, DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SECRETS.  He did so gladly.  This is how I got to meet Rick Sammon for the first time after listening to him for years on photography podcasts, which made his voice very familiar to me.

Rick (website) is a very famous photography traveling to dozens and dozens of countries making all kinds of photographs.  His photography talent is evident in his images.  What is perhaps even more amazing about him is his passion and enthusiasm for sharing what he knows and loves about photography with people, often for free.  This particular evening he gave two hours of his time to talk to about a hundred local photographers of all levels.  His photography podcasts I used to listen to were all for free.  I really respect how much he gives to help others love photography as much as he does.  

About thirty minutes into Rick's photography seminar I began to realize just exactly how much my own photography knowledge came from him.  Things I now tell my own photography students are nearly verbatim tips Rick espouses as key things for making great photographs.  This surprised me and made me smile.  I guess, however, this should hardly be surprising given I have listend to dozens of hours of his podcasts and read his SECRETS book containing all those tips.  

Depsite all that expsoure already to Rick's knowledge, here are things I learned during his 2-hour seminar: 

  • speedlights keep pupils wide (bedroom eyes)
  • use layer masks for combining to very different DoF's
  • horse photographs ideally show all legs off the ground (I thought just curled under before, which is probably the same actually)
  • a photographer should practice (a lot)
  • cut a slotted hole in a piece of cardboard for movie lighting (like when peeping through window blinds)
  • include shadows on a wall to add depth
  • conversely put the flash high to hide shadows on walls 

It was inspiring to meet Rick and feel his enthusiasm.  This is my photography tip for your, go and hear (famous) professional photographers speak!  I am sure you will always learn something.  This will help your photography a lot.  Each tip you can pick up adds to your skill set.  Picking up a few key skills from other photographers and lots of practice was how I taught myself DSLR photography.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it was to me randomly picking up a key piece of photography knowledge here and there because of being around other photographers via seminars like this one and even more through photography meetups.  

Thank you very much to Kathy for organizing this seminar and for making the photo of me with Rick above and for giving so much of her own time to run The Tampa Bay Strobist & Photoshop Collective on Meetup.com.  You should join her group!

So now I have had direct contact with my two favorite photographers and biggest influences, this meeting with Rick Sammon and a few years ago Scott Bourne personally critiqued one of my photos on his website.  Try and seek out and meet your own favorite photographers!  It may be easier than you think.

Jason's new headshot with Nikon D300

Finally, a kind of photographer's stereotype headshot for me.

I have few photographs of myself, at least not many "headshot" or "portfolio" type shots of myself.  I have shots of me jumping across a canyon, hanging out in the French Quarter, hanging out with some kids in Cambodia, jumping off boulder in New Mexico, hanging out in Chinatown in San Francisco, crossing half-tree bridges, jumping off more boulders in Korea, hanging out with hipsters in Korea, and even me skimboarding in Japan.  The above is my first stereotypical photographer's headshot, i.e. some dude holding a camera.  

This was just a quick attempt made on my back patio with some help from f8 Consortium colleague and friend Marc, who took the shot.

Which era Jason do you like best?  Let me know in the comments below.

Yours Truly on the set!

Jason Collin holding a reflector on set in InnisbrookHave I left the still world and moved into motion?  No...not yet at least.  More about the Cush 'N Shade photo gig soon, but for now, let me know how my reflector holding technique is.  

My impression is it's a hard job as the models are annoyed by it, and thus perhaps annoyed at you, and you often have to keep your arms outstretched for semi-long periods of time.  However, if you enjoy shining a bright light into the eyes of people who cannot move, then it's definitely a career choice you should look into.  

I had a booth at the St. Pete Multi-Chamber Business Showcase!

I had my first major public relations push last week by surprisingly having a booth at the St. Petersburg Multi-Chamber Business Showcase.  It was a surprise in that I was supposed to be sharing only a table (4 feet of my own space) with another business.  Well, I ended up having my own booth, which was sweet, but I did not bring materials to fill such a space, so had to resign to just splaying out my pamphlets, postcards and a few print outs around my showcase piece:  the 24" Dell monitor displaying 350+ of images I handpicked for the event.

I did not spend much time actually inside my booth.  I was wisely told by a chamber official much better at PR than myself to stand out in front and handout my sweet canine photography postcards to any and all passersby.  At first I was shy about this, and I was also being bombarded by people wondering over from other booths to try and sell me on their wares & services.  This greatly annoyed me at first because I was at my booth trying to promote my business, and here they were taking my time to shill themselves.  A few times possibly legit potential clients were browsing my materials and I had to waste time shedding the shillers before I could go over and talk to the potential client.

Eventually all the shillers made their rounds and only legit attendees were walking by.  During this time I came out of my shell and handed out nearly all of my pamphlets and postcards.  I had several interesting conversations with people who stopped by on topics ranging from of course my photography services, to my experiences in Japan, to the general state of the current business climate.  I always like interacting with the general public in this manner and packed up my booth feeling good about the personal connections I made at the event.

 It has been one week now and I have had no inquires from anyone I met at the business showcase.  So in light of this, it is hard for me to call the event a success for my business and me personally, though I still retain hope and a good feeling that clients will eventually emerge from the PR work I did at the event.