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Monday, April 5, 2010

MG3Media: Arts to Entrepreneurs - Pt. 1

Photographers sharing their business approach to the Arts - Three Part Series

As a photographer, how would you further describe yourself as an entrepreneur? 
I keep my day job!  And I have learned how to handle weddings and bar mitzvahs, which pay money I can use to fund my photography in other areas.  I now work for a wedding agency, and I make a day rate shooting for them, while they handle basically everything that happens before and after the wedding.   Aside from weddings, I have two niches.  One is photography of political events.  I do that pro bono for Indy media, and sell some of the photos through the Corbis stock agency.  The other is photography of Latin Music.  I have been connected with Latin Beat Magazine and International Salsa Magazine, as well as and several other websites.  I get requests to buy pictures from the archive on my website or from my magazine contacts.

How would you describe your style of photography?
My style depends heavily on composition.  I like pictures that are strong graphically.  I use a full kit, and I am handy with everything from fisheyes to long telephotos. In clubs, shooting bands, I use very high ISOs, and I don't worry too much about noise. During those shoots, something very real is happening, and I try to capture it.  My goal is for the viewers of my photographs to feel they are "there."

Do you have a few images you can share with us?
Yes, here are five images, showing the breadth of my work:

*Photographs Courtesy of Peter Maiden.  All Rights Reserved. 

Did you go to school to learn photography, or are you self-taught?
I took a handful of photo courses at Foothill College and San Jose State University in the 90s.  Otherwise I am self-taught.

As an artist selling work to the general public, how important do you think it is to have "good business sense", and what specific steps have you taken to insure your business success?
It’s very important to have “good business sense.”  I should say that anyone getting into photography seriously, should be prepared to spend $8-16,000 for a kit.  It's like buying a car, or a mechanic's set of tools.  I was careful to have the resources to make that possible.

How do you balance the artistic and business requirements of your work? 
As a volunteer, I can shoot music or news as I see fit.  Doing weddings I have to please the client, but if I am true to my own vision o the wedding, the clients will likely enjoy the pictures.  I'm doing a series of black and white portraits of media workers for social change, with lights, shot on location and there I am thrilled to have creative control (in collaboration with the subject).  

Did  you or do you currently have a mentor that guides your business growth?
I had a mentor at a wedding studio for two years in the late 90s. She was very tough.  She came out of eight years as an Air Force photographer.  She couldn’t hold onto assistants.  I was tenacious, though, and as a result, got an education.  I think mentors are very important to the learning and continual development process.

What inspires your work most? 
I am inspired by action in front of the lens, and by control behind the lens (within myself).

Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your work?
Absolutely! (see “My Life in Salsa” on the music page).

Is there anything you'd like to add?
Practice the photography that pays, but make the pictures you were born to make, paid or unpaid.  When you can do both at once you have made it in photography.


"Words well spoken, Peter!" It is interesting to see that no matter what field you enter, there are some basic elements that every entrepreneur needs to consider. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with MG3Media Business Insights readers.

 Key Take Aways
* Entrepreneurs balance "big vision" with reality: consider keeping your day job, while gradually building your skills and customer base as a new business owner.
*Entrepreneurs respect the value of education to stay at the top of their game: whether you pursued formal or self-directed learning, build and maintain your value through continued education and/or mentoring. 
*Entrepreneurs understand the importance of a sound business model: evaluate the work to income ratio of your current business model to see if adjustments are necessary. 

Do You Have an Entrepreneurial Insight You'd Like To Share?

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