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Behind the Scenes of Pro Photographer Journey

By Michelle Ecker on March 23, 2016


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After assisting with in-house magazine printing and layouts in 2009, Chamira Young began to find herself further involved in the compositional aspects of the work as well. Progressively incorporating photography into her professional routine from then on, she soon began to realize the essential importance of relationships and networking within the creative industry. Since then, she’s gone on to launch Pro Photographer Journey- an easily accessible podcast through which photographers can discuss the industry in an openly positive, helpful way. We recently had the chance to chat with Chamira about the development of the podcast, the ways it’s influenced the creative community so far and its opportunities for growth in the future. Here’s what we learned:

Behind the Scenes of Pro Photographer Journey

What inspired you to take the photography industry conversation to the podcast platform?

To be frank, podcasting gave me an excuse to initiate conversations with the highly successful photographers in the industry. It’s about collaboration, not competition, and so I knew these interviews would help not only my own photography business, but it would also help the photographers who tuned into the show as well.

How do you think that switch has helped facilitate better conversation within the industry?

The podcast helps spreads the message that we’re all in this journey together. It is a journey, you know, and one that should never be traveled alone. I believe information should be shared for the benefit of others. It’s great to see more experienced photographers helping the less experienced photographers. And down the line, hopefully those who benefit from the teachings of others will be willing to help other beginning photographers down the line.

Describe your emphasis on collaboration in lieu of competition- do you think this applies to all aspects of the field?

I believe it does. There is enough wealth and abundance to go around for all of us. The more people you try to help, the more successful your own business becomes. I’ve discovered that this is absolutely true in the case of photography. It also improves our industry as a whole.

What type of information do you usually hope to uncover during conversations with your podcast guests?

The discussions around business and marketing are the juiciest portions of the interviews. We talk about the challenges they overcome running their photography businesses. We also chat about the techniques they use to get new assignments, and lessons they’ve learned over the span of their careers. We also touch on the equipment they use, and their post-shoot workflows. It is solid information that I wish I would have learned prior to starting my own photography business years ago.

Who are some of the most memorable guests you’ve hosted in the past?

One that comes to mind right away is travel photographer Trey Ratcliff from episode 35. As accomplished as that guy is, I was amazed at how down to earth and friendly he was. And on top of that, he had only just gotten out of the hospital with pneumonia a couple days before our interview – which I was actually not aware of prior to jumping on the call for the interview! I was shocked when he enthusiastically insisted that we do the interview anyway. During our hour-long chat for the podcast, he stressed the importance of finding your inner-child and expressing yourself through your photography. We also had a much-needed discussion on sustainable lifestyle design for professional photographers. It was great.

Mimika Cooney from Episode 55 was another great guest. She was a whirlwind! Her energy and passion really shined through. During her interview, I did a whole lot more listening than usual, which I did not mind at all. We discussed the important of being aware of the “signals” we send out to prospective clients, and focusing your marketing efforts on your ideal customers.

Who do you hope to speak with in the future?

It is an ever-growing list! Right now I’m working on getting celebrity photographer Matthew Jordan Smith on the show. He’s done shoots for Oprah, Tyra Banks, Aretha Franklin, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore…just to name a few of his past clients. It would be awesome to hear about his photography journey.

Do you think people with creative careers often struggle with the business aspect? If so, why?

Most creatives absolutely struggle with the business side! We often step into a creative career because we think we’re going to get to do more of what we love, when the reality is that running a business brings so much more into the equation. For photographers, we start off with a passion for taking photos, and then we get the bright idea that we should try to make a living off of it. For some reason, we think that we’ll be taking more photos if we’re running a business. However, soon enough we realize we actually spend more time chasing new clients, dealing with numbers, and doing “deskwork”.

What small steps do you think an aspiring photographer could take to transition towards a more well-rounded business entrepreneur?

First of all, you need to determine WHY you want to step into professional photography, and WHAT areas you want to focus on specifically. This step will drive the entire direction your business moves in. Next, you want to laser focus on your target audience. You need to determine who your target audience is so that you know WHO needs your services.

How long has photography been a part of your life?

Since 2009, when I worked at a motorcycle magazine and began helping with the in-house studio shoots we had for our covers. I was originally hired to handle printing and layout, but it was inevitable that I would get pulled into the shoots. All of my coworkers had Canons, so it was a natural progression for me to get one as well (although I want to stress that the brand you use does NOT guarantee your success as a photographer.)

How has the development of PPJ helped or enhanced your creative vision?

Yes, it’s made me a better photographer and business owner. It’s also given me a passion for helping other photographers improve.

If you had to define the message you want to send to your listeners- what would you say that message is?

It’s all about collaboration, not competition, and the Pro Photographer Journey Podcast’s goal is to help grow that. Through the stories and lessons from the top-level photographers that we chat with, we’re forming a community to help each other rise to the top. All of our stories are connected, after all. Helping each other succeed helps improve the photography industry as a whole.

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