This week’s Questions with a Pro features Rick A Brown.
Rick is an Oregon based photographer who utilizes both still and motion to shoot a wide variety of subjects. He especially enjoys shooting aviation photography and is even authoring a book about the aviation history of Oregon. Here, Rick outlines his transition from part-time to full-time photography, how he incorporated video into his business, and the role personal work fits into his business.
We asked: How did you make the transition from shooting part-time to shooting full-time? How did you know it was time to take the leap?
Rick said: My transition from part-time to full-time shooter was not 100% voluntary. I had been working in the biotech industry and part-time as a wildlife photographer. After a very frustrating couple of years at that job, I lost it. I loved photography so much, and had been trying to move to shooting full-time and decided I wasn’t going back to the corporate world. I moved in with family where I would also be helping with caregiving for my grandmother, thus somewhat justifying my very inexpensive rent. Photography has thus far been a financial challenge, but I have been doing very exciting, fulfilling things that my past life never offered.
We asked: How did you go about incorporating video into your photography business? What was the most challenging part of this inclusion?
Rick said: Incorporating video has been interesting, and thus far I have made little money at it. It has been an element helping me get noticed but I am rarely getting paid to do it. The main challenge with it is I am not the best at the marketing end of this business and video seems even more challenging than stills in this regard.
We asked: What would you say is the most important aspect of a successful set? Why?
Rick said: I find folks on set having fun is the most important part. Except for the air to air photography, safety is the most important issue. We usually say that the primary goal is to finish with a safe landing and beer together and great photos is the secondary goal, but even in this scenario, fun is pretty important. Having said that, fun is pretty automatic on an air to air shoot. In the rest of my photography, the fun takes a little more work; mainly working past social anxieties and not showing any worries about technical matters to the other folks on set.
We asked: What role does personal work play in your business?
Rick said: Personal work is very important in my business, in fact on the aviation side, the line between the two gets really blurry. Much of the work that I’ve done in aviation happens as the folks I work with on personal projects approach me and say they would love to see some story ideas in a magazine. From there I approach magazines with that and turn it into a magazine assignment somewhere. On the portrait/lifestyle side of my business, personal work is still exceedingly important, but the distinction is more obvious. Personal work provides most of my images for self-promotion.
We asked: What is the main goal you have for your business for 2020? How do you plan to accomplish it?
Rick said: My main goal for 2020 is to increase revenue significantly through making the portrait/lifestyle side of my business much larger. The plan was always to do that primarily and shoot aviation as fun that hopefully breaks even. Thus far, I have made more money through aviation though. I intend to do this through personal work that hopefully motivates potential clients to work with me as well as utilize more strategic marketing. I hope to acquire the ability for more strategic marketing through professional development training such as the “Power to the Photographer” workshop that the ASMP Oregon chapter is hosting in early January.
Find more of Rick’s work on his website.