Over the last few years I have been narrowing down what I shoot. For me, it has been a system of refinement. Experience over the years has helped me say, in my head, "Okay, I like shooting this. I love shooting this. I hate shooting this. Shooting these things are boring. Shooting this is ho-hum", etc. This helps me refine my niche; my specialties that I excel in. These are the things I market myself at. These are what I want to be known as a photographer of.
One of these things, music, has been there since I was a teenager, but I only recently realized that. Sometimes it takes a long journey to help you see what is right in front of your face.
When I was a teenager in high school I collected music. Back then I was purchasing albums on cassette tapes. I would save my lunch money all week, and every Friday after school I would walk down to the local mom-and-pop record store and thumb through the weeks new releases and head home with something new blasting in my walkman. By the time I got out of primary school, I had around 900 albums; rock, pop, new age, jazz, folk, indie - all kinds of different genres and styles.
Throughout my 20's I worked at various record stores. Music is a passion. I could never play an instrument and never got the hang of reading notes, but I collected music. Lacking the drive or understanding to actually play, my role was as a music appreciator. All of my life there has been a soundtrack that went with everything I did. Even now, decades later, certain songs help me remember exact moments in time; frozen with the help of a song. Something was always playing in the background no matter what I was doing.
The strongest parts of my photography have always been attracted to photographing creative individuals; not just getting them in front of the camera, but sharing their stories and learning their histories.
A few years back, I was shooting some musician head shots for a friend who played the flute, and her friends started calling about needing head shots as well. One of those flutists was Elise McDonald, who has since opened Studio 99 - a music listening room that is gaining attention with the fantastic jazz, singer-songwriters and folk acts that are starting to fill her venue.
Instantly it all clicked inside of me. Now was the perfect chance to advance my simple music appreciator role into something that allows me to work along side the musicians and help them craft images that they can use to help promote themselves. I don't have to simply sit back and listen any longer, now I can be involved and help them reach the successes they deserve. Creatives, just like me, forging their way ahead in life by trying to make a living doing what they love through their craft.
I want to be able to help musicians climb up the ladder of progression. Musicians, just like me, are looking for ways to market themselves; for ways to get their name and their music out there. They need good photography. They need compelling images that they can use for cd covers, for marketing, for press and promo photographs, for press releases and for bookings. For me, it gives me a chance to work with talented individuals and learn their stories. It helps me develop friendships with subjects that I want to shoot. It helps me to no longer be someone sitting down at watching, but actively standing up alongside them, and through mutual admiration for each others work, help advance each others careers and doing what we are passionate about to help sustain our lives.
Of course, judging by my library of films, I think its obvious what the next step in the ladder is going to be ;)