Today’s Question With A Pro subject is the awesome Seth Resnick – who gave us incredibly in depth answers to our questions about inspiration, being constantly connected, and the importance of honing your skills. Seth is a travel photographer, educator, and long time ASMP member based in Miami, FL.
We Asked: What aspects of business and marketing have changed the most for your business in the last few years?
Seth Said: Business and marketing have continually changed for me since I started in 1979. The key to success is to embrace change and stay abreast of future technologies. Essentially my business is continually evolving and changing. There simply is no status quo. A decade ago my marketing was based mostly on source books. I would spend oodles of money taking out multiple page ads in several source books in order to stand out and be different. A decade later source books seem like dinosaurs and for me they have all been replaced by a new set of communication skills. For me it is critical to devote part of every day responding to emails, checking Constant Contact, Facebook, Linkedin, GooglePlus and my multiple websites. We are in a multi-media world and be able to communicate on whatever platform my customers are on is critical.
I travel around the world to exotic destinations but even in places like Antarctica I remain connected because the concept of “out of the office” really is a thing of the past. People appreciate but also expect me to respond to emails, texts, tweets and calls within minutes of receipt. Thanks to the Internet, I am truly global and rather than getting help from someone next door I can now easily get that help from specialists no matter where they are located. My web person is in California along with my marketing support and I utilize services from around the world.
Quite simply for me the biggest change is likely in the amount of data that I now have to manage. I’ve got terabytes of customer interactions, contracts, invoices, documents, analytics from Google, metrics from my marketing service, blogs, tweets news feeds and how to route that data has become and integral part of my day.
We Asked: Where do you search for inspiration outside of the worlds of photography and art? what other disciplines inform your creativity?
Seth Said: I gain inspiration from happiness and that comes from many sources. I find peace and solitude when I am out in the ocean on my paddle board, skiing, cooking. gardening, enjoying my family. When I am happy inside, I am creative and it is reflected in my images. As creatives, we should not have a shortage of good ideas. There are times, however, when inspiration and motivation elude us. The feeling of a lack of creative energy leads to stress and stress leads to a lack of creative energy. Stress can come from boring projects, hard to deal with clients, Looming deadlines, impending bills, downturn in business or simple feelings of fatigue, all of which suggest the onset of burnout. The big problem is that almost everyone experiences a sense of burnout and burnout can effectively extinguish our creative fire. When we find ourselves in these situations, it is critical to focus on a methodology that will reignite the fire and energy so that we can rekindle those creative flames.
Ironically as we become better and better at our craft we also keep upping the ante. Surpassing the ante becomes harder and harder and it is important to understand that this should be a positive feeling and not a negative one. New successes come from many failures. These failures can actually energizes us and induce self-motivation. When we exercise we tap into adrenaline and when we really test our creativity we can and challenges we can tap into a rush of adrenaline and other neurochemicals which can instill energy, confidence, motivation, and ultimately satisfaction.
Creativity is like a bell curves and our creative abilities will cycle with ups and down. We all go through these highs and lows. In the lows it is important to find a way to revitalize. A few months back I was in the Atacama Desert in a very remote part of Argentina. I was photographing in a place known as the Stone Pumice Field. It is a place like no other on Earth and the sheer sense of a scale is beyond imagination. On my second day of shooting I was having a difficult time finding my voice. After getting very frustrated I went back to my vehicle and played a mindless game on my iphone. The game allowed me to relax and then I was able to refocus and I got out of the vehicle and made my two best images of the trip. I don’t think I would have made either of the images I made without frustration and without a way of relaxing and refocusing my vision.
We Asked: As not just a photographer, but also an educator – what is the most important lesson you think you can pass on to a young photographer early in their career?
Seth Said: My teaching philosophy revolves around the idea of being as well-balanced of a photographer as possible. Technical skills must be mastered as well as conceptual skills but it must start with a solid image. No matter how accomplished you are technically, if your ideas are weak, then your images simply won’t work, and, conversely, no matter how good your ideas are, if your technical skills are lacking your images can’t work. No matter how innovative the idea is, it is not worth showing if it is done poorly.
As photographers, it is critical to develop your own visual voice. How do you find your voice? First off, recognize that it already exists; this isn’t something you have to conjure up out of thin air, you just have to do some digging around to understand it better. It is critical to find your voice and make sure that others know your visual voice. Once you have a visual voice that is recognized by others it is easier to get hired based on that vision. So many photographers want to be generalists and the problem with that is you are now like most of the competition. Finding and developing your voice separates you from the competition.
Like anything in life practice helps to make perfection and photography requires practice, which brings me to the most important exercise of all which is simply to make sure you are carrying a camera.
Without the camera there can be no perfection and carrying the camera can exercise not only the mind but it also qualifies as physical exercise. Exercise is not only smart for your heart it can also make you a better photographer. We all know that without exercise we get out of shape and our bodies change and not in a positive way. In much the same way that our bodies get out of shape without using our muscles, as a photographer my cognitive and visual capabilities decrease if I don’t shoot images almost every day.
This is what Seth had to say about the image he shared below:
“Sandstorm in Namibia – Deadvlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, Namibia. I have been here many times and trying to produce and image that is different from what most people shoot here is a challenge. Luck was in my favor on the third visit to this location in a week. An epic sandstorm made getting there a challenge and we were going to turn back several times because you simply could not see but we stuck with it and the payoff was immense. As we were hiking in the sandstorm the sun started to break and the mix of wind, sand and light produced something I have never seen in this location before. Thirty minutes after this image the storm was gone”
Find more of Seth’s work and learn about his educational programs on his website.
If this article was of interest to you, then check out some of the other posts in the Questions with a Pro and Questions with an Educator series.