This is a reprint from American Photo on Campus, February 2013. I did it because I feel it is very important to understand what Ms. Leuchter is saying.
“Reluctantly, Some Advice”
We don’t usually offer much advice in American Photo on Campus, hoping to teach more by example than by prescription. But I couldn’t resist asking three of the photographers profiled in this issue to share their suggestions for students looking to launch a career in photography.
Matt Eich, who fuels his photojournalism and fine-art projects with commercial assignments (see “Triple Threat,” page 38), turned pro just a few years ago while still an undergrad at Ohio University. “It is strange to start working while you’re still a student,” he told me when I asked about what that was like. “I feel like ‘school’ really only began after I graduated – I was still in a bit of a bubble until then. The best thing I did when I was in school was to pursue personal work and put it out into the world in its best possible form, then to go back and keep improving it. That is how I first started getting work and exposure.”
And that personal work should be truly personal, says Marc Asnin, who started his seminal project Uncle Charlie when he was at the School of Visual Arts in the 1980s. “Whatever you go to produce, it has to be something you really believe in – don’t let the marketplace affect your own vision,” he told writer Lori Fredrickson for her story “Document of the Lifetime” (page 16).
That’s not to say that the work you get hired to do isn’t important. In fact, it will do more for you than just help pay the bills. Asnin urges students to think of every job not as a stepping stone to something bigger but as an opportunity to lean. His own internship at the Village Voice toughened him up for future work: “Getting thrown down a set of stairs the night of a state election and being chased down the street by a member of the Genovese crime family taught me to be fearless.”
Artist, teacher, and writer Tema Stauffer emphasizes the importance of participation in the community of photographers both in person and online. As an emerging pro, she wrote to artists and writers whose work she admired, in the process developing lasting relationships with many of them. We asked her to record a conversation with one of these mentors, Victoria Sambunaris, which you can read in “On the Road,” page 8.
One last piece of advice from the trenches: “The sooner you can start treating photography as a business, the better,” says Eich. “Don’t rely on one client; diversify your sources of income. It’s not enough to be talented or creative – you also have to be creative with how you manage your business.” Echoing a mentor of his own, he adds, “As one of my college professors, Julie Elman, would always say, ‘Dare to suck.’”
Miriam Leuchter, Editor-in-ChiefFebruary 2013
The entire issue is interesting and informative so you should check it out if you can. And this is a photograph I liked that I took last year. It has nothing to do with the above article outside of being a photograph.