Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
Well, I’m 25 years old. I live in Kansas City, Missouri and have lived in this area for over 20 years. I’ve spent my time photographing bands both from the pit and backstage. Some of the bands I’ve directly worked with are: Otherwise, Like a Storm, Gooding, and most recently, Drowning Pool. I also own Rockroll Magazine and have had that going for a little over a year now, writing about bands.
What drove you to choose your career path?
Well I’ve played guitar for close to a decade now, and have been in multiple local bands. After awhile I found myself burnt out on playing live shows. During that time away I was working a full time office job in the IT industry, and I happened upon a pawn shop in my neighborhood one day after work. I ended up finding what would end up becoming my first DSLR camera. The rest is history!
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I didn’t actually go to college after high school, as I was working full time jobs right out of high school along with playing in those local bar bands. I actually just researched, and spent days upon days teaching myself about photography. I taught myself everything I could that I felt I needed to know, and then I went out and started shooting. In my opinion, the best way for you to succeed in life is through life experiences. Education can only help give you a few of the tools needed, but you have to still know what to use each tool for and when.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
I spend the majority of my days on social media promoting my blog on coltcoan.com, always pushing for new jobs and photo projects, and creating content for the websites. If I had to create some fictional numbers, it’d be 90% of my work is creating online content and networking, while 10% is actually photographing people. It seems very disproportionate but it really isn’t. It’s just the nature of this business in 2016 and it requires adaptation on the artist’s part.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
The two average assumptions are actually polar opposites, and they both are incorrect. The first is that a photographer just takes pictures all day and then edits those photos, somehow making ends meet. The second assumption is that photographers don’t do anything that earns an income, thus being lazy people. The business is very wacky in today’s age, but it can be very successful if you’re willing to evolve and multiple find sources of income that don’t rely on *just* taking photos, or *just* writing album reviews, or whatever it is you might do.
What are your average work hours?
It’s hard to say, as there will be weeks I’ll be out of town photographing for bands and that might go for 14-16 hours straight, or as little as a 4 hour stretch in a studio. The average day to day operation is probably from 10am-9pm with a few breaks in between. Outside of those hours, I’m relaxing, playing Playstation, or watching bad television.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Use a schedule! Haha. Plan everything you can, as far in advance as you can. I have always grown up never using a schedule and just having a freakishly extensive memory. I’ve learned that my memory may not be as extensive as I had once thought. One more thing I will say, is remember that your goal is to accomplish tasks and projects to make yourself successful. Don’t be afraid to do something that may be looked at as being a ‘douchebag’ in public. For instance, if I have an idea I have to get down right away or I’ll forget it and can’t type it out that second, I’ll use Siri to take that note for me even in public. I do things that are fast and efficient, and they aren’t always publicly popular. I don’t care, I’m here for success, not to be prom king.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I think it’s just the transparency. I don’t care that people see me for who I am. I’ve always been an odd person growing up, and I’ve always worked extremely hard to succeed where others do not. Honesty and straight-forwardness goes a long way in building life long relationships with people. Sure, there’s a fine line in playing the political line in any business, but it doesn’t have to be that way when just meeting new clients or people in general. You can simply be a human being with them. It goes further.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
If you’re looking to hire a photographer, always be willing to ask the uncomfortable questions. I want people to feel free to ask me whatever is on their mind. Also, always have your estimated budget in mind when looking for someone. I don’t want to try and figure out what it is you can afford and what you can’t. If it’s $200, there’s nothing wrong with that, so say it! If it’s too low, that’s okay, but that goes back to being straight-forward with people.
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
Honestly, the worst part of any job for me personally is just blocking out time for myself. I sometimes don’t know when to step away from my work to clear my head. It sounds funny, but if you don’t take time for yourself, your thoughts may seem concise and plotted at the time but just wait until you see them in the morning! You need time for your brain to really process everything you’re planning so you can see any holes you may have missed.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Meeting people, hands down. I love meeting new people and making art for them. It’s the most enjoyable thing I can do in life, not just the job itself.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
That depends on how hard you’re willing to work, and to be blunt, if you’re any good! I see people working for peanuts, and in the same field I see people making thousands of dollars per shoot. There’s really no set number, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Talent and hard work dictates your paycheck.
How do you move up in your field?
Be yourself, and be confident. Be willing to put 100% of yourself into your work and be willing to be vulnerable. It also helps to have a sense for business and marketing. It’s 2016, and there’s people still trying to market themselves in the daily newspaper. That should tell you just how out of touch some people are these days. You will succeed if you’re willing to think outside of the box, bust your ass and be original.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Just go out and shoot. Photograph the local band at the bar, photograph your friends, photograph your dogs and cats even. Learn the craft and really get in touch with your style and how you work as an artist and as a person. Once you really get to know yourself, you can begin to get to know other people, and those people you get to know may lead to some great opportunities.