Success in photography is not easy. It requires not only talent and skill with creating a photo, but also proper timing, the right attitude, and the right environment for whatever kind of images you are currently making. For Joseph Cartright, his start came out of necessity, but he created success for himself using skills not at all related to his artistic acumen.
Want to learn from the best to help you become a better photographer? Phase One is hosting the Stand Out Photo Forum in several cities this year, and Joseph Cartright is teaching a seminar in Toronto. There are a several cities on the list, so for more information, head over to the Stand Out website.
As a Photographer, Joseph has created imagery for many top-tier and up and coming designers, companies and classic brands – Escada, Halston, Victoria’s Secret, L’Oreal, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and has won many awards – PDN, Art Director’s Club and NAHA, America Beauty. As an educator, Joseph is an Adjunct Professor at Parsons MFA Design program. Joseph has created and taught artist based educational programs and lectured for Apple Computers, Microsoft, Phase One, HP, Xrite and Adobe. As a Creative and Technical consultant, Joseph has consulted for Spiegel’s, Apple Computers, HP, Fashion Institute of Technology.
“More than anything, what inspires me is a challenge,” Joseph told us. “Easy is, well … easy. I’m not afraid of failing. As matter of fact, I expect to fail – it’s not just part of the process – it is the process. Success is not a rocket shot to the top. It is a slow arduous climb and your feet are constantly slipping.”
Joseph doesn’t just limit himself to paid work, but actively seeks projects that keep his artistic juices moving. “I have several personal projects on the go all the time. I call them my leverage projects. I like to leverage my time, travels and resources. For example, I get to travel with some clients to events/show – fashion/beauty. I have a personal project with a major beauty client that I travel with to shows/events where I’m creating a Fine Art Gallery series of the magic that happens backstage.”
I expect to fail – it’s not just part of the process – it is the process.
Joeseph didn’t choose photography, it more chose him. “I started my photography career out of necessity. I was in the music business producing and managing talent,” he told us. “I was no longer fulfilled with the music business so I decided to combine my engineering and artistic background and try something both technically and artistically changeling – photography.”
Though he found more joy in photography, it wasn’t his skill with the camera that he attributes to his success. “Honestly, my business acumen has played a huge roll in my success,” Joseph told us. “Regardless of the business you are in, be it art or widgets, it’s still a business. Unless your talent supersedes your ability to run a business you are doomed. Having talent and business smarts is recipe for success.”
“Beside the creative side of the photography/visual process, clients want professionalism,” he continued. “Whether you are working with an ad agency, corporation or a small design firm, everyone has a job they want to keep. We need to be respectful of that. Clients want to know that you can deliver the goods, deliver on time, and go the extra mile when needed – and sometimes even when not needed.”
The key is to get paid for your brain and not your finger.
Joseph told us that his biggest personal hurdle was that initially his knowledge of photography was limited due to his education on the subject. “I am self-taught. Because of my engineering and computer background the technical aspects of photography has been relatively easy to grasp. Being technically proficient does not make you a good photographer per se,” he explained. “Certainly not a well paid one, anyway.”
Joseph then said the most valuable piece of information that any photography could hear: “The key is to get paid for your brain and not your finger.”
“In other words, we make far more money being paid as artists then we do as photographers,” he explained. “As an artist you sell yourself as a visual artist who uses photography as a medium.” This sort of separation immediately differentiates you from all the others out there who own a camera and take pictures. Instead of you being one of them, you instead are classified completely differently.
“When I first started I knew nothing about the business,” Joseph continued. “I did not assist nor did I take any classes. I made an investment in equipment and went for it. I felt confident I could learn the fashion and beauty business, even though it’s the toughest to break into.”
Just because it was challenging didn’t stop Joseph from attempting it. “Call it divine ignorance. Knowing that I had no technical or creative experience I decided to embrace the catalog business. I read books, watched videos, etc… I offered my services for free. Within a year I had a portfolio decent enough to start attracting paying clients. By the second year I was shooting for Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren, etc.”
Bringing all this together, Joseph explained how he pivoted his business to be more successful. “The biggest challenge was what I recently alluded to previously – I knew I was getting paid for my finger and not my brain. At almost three years into photography I decided to stop shooting catalogs, despite the pretty decent income. I knew that in order to have a career I had to pursue the art side of the business.
“That process took several years, most of them were down years, not to mention a terrible economy. But the key to this game is perseverance!”
Joseph has a lot in store for those who come see his seminar in Toronto. “I’m excited about my discussion at the Stand Out Forum. The discussion is on the Art of Lighting. As visual artists we don’t take pictures, we create them. We use our technical knowledge, interpret our clients’ input, and apply our creative bend to the process in order to create something unique – every time.
“In reality there is a hidden agenda – the real focus is to inspire fellow photographers to think of themselves as Artists!”