I remember reading a blog post by fellow photographer Jeremy Cowart a few months ago, about how he had decided to re-design his website and write for his community and his followers, not for his clients:
For my entire career, I’ve targeted my website towards my clients… an extensive portfolio, a simple about page and a contact page. That’s the norm for most photography websites and is still a great route to go.
But I’ve recently realized that probably 2% of my overall website traffic consists of clients and/or potential clients. So what about that other 98%?
That other 98% is YOU. Aspiring photographers, fellow photographers, creative-types, designers, painters, parents, college students, fans, friends, family, followers, dreamers, thinkers and doers.
At the same time I was going through a similar thinking process, and was looking for more authenticity in my writing. I felt I needed to respond to this new personal direction as well.
We sometimes put too much emphasis on social media and writing “just” for followers isn’t the right way either: too often do we forget to live, in order to take this nice photo, or thinking we will post a nice status update on social media. The real value comes, in my opinion, from sharing a genuine life experience (that’s also what you get when you get older!), and reflecting on what you have been through. The hope is that this experience can serve others to navigate the intricate meanders of a freelancer and artist career, or avoid some of the mistakes I may have made. If at least, my experience, successes and failures can be useful to others, it will make me happy.
I will do my best to share what I have experienced, as I was going from a traditional engineering career, taking a complete new direction by starting my photography business 5 years ago. If you are new to the blog, let me tell you the genesis quickly…
An engineer by training, after working for a few years as a management consultant, I started as a freelance photographer in 2010, first and foremost to create the Climate Heroes project.
After an accelerated photo training at Gobelins in Paris (an amazing school), I soon found out that money was scarce among magazines and editorial clients in Europe (I am based in France). I therefore turned myself to a more commercial market, exploring the advertising world and started making great connections with ad agencies, clients, and artistic directors in the outdoors/adventure and sports arena.
I couldn’t be happier about those years, this has been a (sometimes difficult but) amazing journey, and I learned so much in the process. I am amazed and grateful for where I am today, considering that I started as an engineer, and became in a short time an advertising / commercial photographer commissioned by clients such as Red Bull, Bicycling Magazine, or the French National Sports Institute (the training base for French Olympic Athletes) and receiving several prizes for my work.
I am so lucky to have been able to travel for assignments, and carry out my personal projects throughout the world, be it in the jungle of Indonesia, bathing with 100 million pilgrims in India during Kumbh Mela, or many other trips.
As time passes and I get to know myself better, I have become increasingly aware of my personal vision, how to align my values with the content of my work, and of what I wanted to bring this world, if anything. I have recently thought a lot about the content that I could share on this blog, and with the support of my amazing girlfriend, amazing friends, and a lot of introspection, have decided to bring this personal story and perspective to life, and share it here.
This process, although it may seem natural, is not always easy, as it requires for one to dare to be vulnerable. In a word, be comfortable that sharing the more personal part of you is also the most genuine and only way to pursue authentic (and successful) relationships in life. Whether as a partner, friend, child, parent, or photographer!
Here are the four themes I want to explore on the blog:
1) Work and Behind-the-Scenes
This section comprises new commissioned work, personal projects, production tips and Behind the Scene videos. That’s all the fun part, the entertainment, all the cool results and the videos created while doing photographic work. That’s just the first layer, before digging deeper into the rest…
2) Engineer and Photographer
After 5 years of studying in the world’s best universities and after working as a management consultant for 3 years, I felt the need to explore life and live my passion, follow my calling and express my creativity through my work.
In this section I will talk about how this engineering background influenced me (and still does) when I became a photographer. I will also touch on how one can make this transition, where I learnt the tools and techniques, what relationship I made, etc. Also, what my former activity can bring to photography, and vice versa. In a way, I am still an engineer, and have always been a photographer.
I will share what I learnt along the way, and I hope you can see it as a toolbox for learning too! An example of a post from this category is Artist+entrepreneur, why you can’t affort to (just) be creative
3) Travel and adventure
I have always been a traveler, and love discovering the world. I have seen 38 countries to date, and although this may seem like a small number as compared to others (think about Chris Guillebeau who has visited them all), I really need this open window on the world, this is where my inspiration comes from. Discovering new cultures, seeing other ways of living, and the beauties of our planet is very important to me. Going to meet others and be in contact to other cultures and people is what made me jump into photography when I left my consulting job: I felt I needed to dare go and live those experiences. Otherwise, I would not become the person I wanted to be, generous with others and open to their vision of the world, or our planet.
This will be a sort of travel book and a place to reflect on all those inspirations that come from the outside world. You can check out EastWestEast: a 15,500km road trip in Canada and the US for an example.
Here I will make the synthesis of all those experiences. The science, the engineering, the consulting, the tools I learned and what I have experienced working as an artist and photographer. The demands I put on myself to create great photographs but also have an artistic message, or at least a contribution to bring to the world. This is where everything comes together.
I will also talk a lot about the preservation of our environment, ideas and inspirations on green living, recycling, and our planet in general.
My background and my Climate Heroes project have brought me this environmental awareness, this respect of our planet, which I have discovered through traveling and amazing discussions with my girlfriend. So this category will also deal a great bunch about eco-consciousness, the environment, climate change, and the role I want to have as an artist, to raise awareness and document some of the changes we, as a civilization, are going through.
I hope that this format brings you valuable information and learn valuable insights about photography and, most importantly, how to find your voice, and contribute to the discussion in a meaningful manner!
What about you? What journey have you followed in order to find your vision and voice? Have you also become a photographer after a first life?