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Selfishly, Selflessly Interviewing

[by Colleen Wainwright]

For most of my career, I’ve been the interviewee more often than I have the interviewer. And everything I’ve learned from being the subject has taught me that the easier and more interesting I make things for the person I’m interviewing, the more fun we both have, and the better the end result. This boils down to a few simple things.

First, I do my research. So far, I’ve only interviewed people I’ve already got some interest in. Yet before I walk into the actual interview, I do an additional two to 10 hours of research. This way, when we do sit down, we can jump into connecting the dots much faster–discussing the “why” behind things, rather than the “what”. There’s no point to using my interview subject as a human Google; that’s what Google is for.

Second, I ask greedy questions. Again, for the most part, I’m interviewing people whose brains I really want to pick. So when I talk to Shane Nickerson, fellow Groundlings alum and very successful producer, selfishly I want to know how he got from where we were to where he is, instead of where I am. (Not least of which because I already know the answer to that!) Provided I’ve done my due diligence prior to the meeting, a “selfish” interview ends up being far more interesting to both of us, because, forced to connect dots, the subject ends up learning about his own processes, which are often internalized to the point of invisibility.

Finally, I keep the end in mind. Whether I’m interviewing someone for my column or a client for their website copy, I try to think of the ideal consumer for this information, and what special insights or details might delight them. What problems does this reader have that they need solved? What obstacles already faced and lessons learned would inspire and motivate them? In addition to being more helpful to the end user, it also gives the subject a warm feeling inside, knowing that what they’ve learned can make a difference for someone else.

Bonus link: I love these interviewing tips from veteran journalist (and friend) Daphne Gray-Grant–lifted from a text-messaging crisis prevention hotline!

Colleen Wainwright is a writer and sometime-interviewer who lives in Los Angeles. She loves everything about interviews, except transcribing them.

By Colleen Wainwright | Posted: March 23rd, 2015 | No comments

The Art of the Interview

More and more photographers are spending more and more their time doing something many of us never imagined – interviewing our subjects, not just for our own interest or to help them relax, but as part of the motion or multi-media project we’re working on.  This week, our contributors offer advice, tips and resources to help you develop better interview questions, elicit great sound bites, build rapport with your subjects, and edit interviews more effectively.


By Editor | Posted: March 23rd, 2015 | No comments
Get Connected

The Magic of Vision

[by Chris Winton-Stahle]

Finding Your Vision

It’s easy to get sidetracked from your career goals and there are a whole list of good reasons why it happens. Sometimes an artist has to reinvent themselves because their niche has dried up or they feel creatively unchallenged. Children are born or a parent needs caring for. It’s all completely understandable. This is the nature of life after all. While we’re busy making a living we sometimes lose faith and sight of our dreams.

It’s not easy going after what you want – it can be lonely, scary, confusing and expensive. Success can happen fast, slow, or never. We don’t always know what’s going to work and we don’t all have the luxury to wait and see. But it’s worth it – deep down you know who you are and that person has to get out!

There’s an instinct in your gut that tells you what feels right and what feels wrong. Finding your vision as an artist requires being honest with yourself and those around you. Add to that a whole lot of perseverance and luck.

It’s important to stay inspired. It’s important to take time to play! That is where the passion and love for photography lives! Use  your personal down time to explore and express your ideas, to discover what you love about how you see. Experiment, play, make mistakes. What makes you tick? What gets you excited about photography? There’s no wrong answer! Figure out what interests you and start to build a body of work around that. This will be the beginning of a new portfolio which is uniquely you. From there, look for creative ways to apply your unique vision to your market.

Marketing Your Vision

You should always reach out to people and companies that you want to work with and tell them how excited your are about what they’re doing. Shoot personally produced projects that would be interesting to those brands. You want the people associated with your dream clients to say, “Wow, I can see this being used for our advertising!” It’s amazing how well people will respond to you when they know that you sincerely believe in them.

Sometimes it helps to work with a consultant who can help you refine your unique vision and who knows the market well enough to help you build a portfolio directed toward genres that fit well with your style. Once your style has evolved to a certain point, a consultant can usually help you find ways to make the market chase you. If you refine your style to the point where you become known as the one person who does that one thing better than anyone else, then you will be in demand and can set your price!

You don’t have to know all the steps necessary to get to your goal, just the next one. Paths reveal themselves over time. If you are working hard to find your style, exploring possibilities and being true to yourself as an artist then you are always exactly where you’re supposed to be. Remain flexible and patient. Take your next step, see what happens and enjoy the ride!

Listen to what your heart is telling you to do and produce work you’re passionate about. The people hiring you want to see that passion. They want to know who you are as a person!

The best art – and photography is an art – comes from artists who have poured their heart and soul into the work they’re creating. Exceptional work comes from artists who are not afraid to show personality and vulnerability. Honing your unique vision often requires a lot of exploration and experimentation. But when you’re focusing on creating work you love to make and putting it out into the world then you eventually attract the kind of work you want to be doing. It’s like magic!

© Christopher Winton-Stahle. Let your vision carry you to the destination of your dreams.

© Christopher Winton-Stahle. Let your vision carry you to the destination of your dreams.

Chris Winton-Stahle is an award-winning photographer and accomplished photo illustration artist who sees the camera as only half of his process in creating great imagery. Chris often pulls components from multiple images and CGI when creating his work for clients in advertising, magazines and entertainment.

By Chris Winton-Stahle | Posted: March 20th, 2015 | No comments

Vision + Values = Long-term Success

[by Carolyn Potts]

Talent and smart marketing are both critical to sustain your career. But they are much more powerful when they are allied with your vision and values.

A vision-based business is tied to your core values. Values become the foundation of your vision statement which is something broader and deeper than “I want to make a bunch of money.” Or “I want to get published in X” or “shoot for Y.”

I discovered this by accident. I never sat down and wrote a vision statement. But if I had, it would have said: “I love being the connecting link between two sets of innovative and creative people. Introducing creative people who need to know about each other is a total blast.”

Even though I didn’t write it down, it helped knowing this because without intending to, I ended up making a boatload of money. I was a rep for decades because I really enjoyed working with photographers and art directors–no matter what their budgets.

Some reps who were in it only for the money bailed during the inevitable economic downturns. For them, it was hard to stay in a high-stress business like ad photography when they weren’t getting paid well. My rep firm ended up having staying power. I generated trust among my clients. And trust builds repeat business.

It’s the same with the photographers I know who have survived multiple recessions. Their shooting styles have evolved, but it’s their focus on their core values that have allowed them to survive.

A photographer I know who began his career in the early-1980s is still going strong because his business is based on a deeply sincere love of people. Whether getting a $10,000 fee for an advertising image or a getting $250 for a local headshot, the way he approaches each portrait is exactly the same: he ‘s always 100% present and is happy being with each of his subjects. There’s no ego and no attention paid to what he’s getting paid to shoot. Everyone senses that when in front of his lens. And that’s why he gets tons of repeat business.

Your values should be apparent in your vision and your vision will keep your own and others eyes on your values.

Carolyn Potts, photography marketing consultant, speaker, workshop leader and former photographers’ rep, guides photographers in creating their successful vision-based careers that garner them great money along the way. Find her at and Facebook and Google+

By Carolyn Potts | Posted: March 19th, 2015 | No comments

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