LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: In your early years of high school, were you involved in the yearbook ? What sparked your interest in photography? Do you recommend all the weekend photographers out there to initially stick with the subjects they know and build from there? Do you have any suggestions on how to build that progression? How did you progress to where you are today in photography?
PETER PLACE: I never did anything with the year book during high school. I did take as many classes as I could about photography because I was always fascinated with light and how it enables us to capture a moment in time. The main thing that got me into photography was the photos that I saw in my favorite skate and automotive magazines. I loved the lighting and how interested each and every photo was. I would look at them for hours to try to figure out how they created that shot. I would recommend to all the weekend photographers to try out all different kinds of photography. I originally purchased my camera with intentions to just shoot automotive and some skate here and there, but now I’ve found myself doing promotional photography for bands and musical groups. I’ve found shooting people to be a whole lot more fun for me. But, I do also enjoy shooting vehicles. The way I’ve built up my progression is spending a lot of time looking at the photos from some of my favorite band and automotive photographers. Each and every person has their own style and I like to see how each one incorporates lighting into their shots. The more photos and styles I could expose myself to, the better. I could take those styles and develop my own personal style. Believe it or not, I progressed by trial and error. I found out what did and did not work. I read up on things online and talked with other photogs then applied them to my shoots to see what kind of results I would get. The times when I learned the most was when I was out on a shoot. Experience is key. You can read about photography all you want but it’s not till you’re out there, actually pressing the shutter, that you’ll begin to see how light works as it relates to photography.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Do you still have photos taken from the early years when it all started? What were your subjects? Are the pictures online to share with everyone to compare with your work today?
PETER PLACE: I do still have some photos in my office. I even have a couple rolls of film that I never developed, taken when I’d go out skating. I have a couple photos online of when I first got my camera that you could see by going to my myspace. I think I have my first band promo I ever did, up on one of my myspace photo albums. I had no idea what I was doing, hah. Most of my subjects were either cars, some bands and skaters.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What books did you read at the beginning of your photography career that helped you prepare for today? Title of book, author and price of book please…just messing around, the title of the books should be fine thanks to google search. Do you recall any other resources that you referred to heavily to help you prepare for the photography business? We want to know what the must have resources are to fully equip ourselves when and if we ever plan to take that leap of faith.
PETER PLACE: I did the most of my reading of photography online. I already understood the relation between shutter speed, f/stop, ISO and exposure from earlier experiences. I would watch any and all video’s on the strobist site, as well as any YouTube videos on photography that I could find. Other than that, I did a lot of chatting and assisting with the photographers that I looked up to. Business wise, I did a bunch of google searches to find articles on it. I don’t remember what their names were, at the moment.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What was your very first professional photography job? Was this purely out of luck that you were at the right place at the right time? Was there a hidden plan to penetrate the market from within? Would you recommend it to new photographers trying to break into the market and that are having difficulty breaking in? Once you had your first job under your belt was it difficult to get another gig? What did you do to acquire more work besides providing awesome images? Have you ever considered being agency represented? If you are agency represented how did you attract a photography agent?
PETER PLACE: My first professional photography job was back in October ’08. It was my first time shooting a musical group with any type of lighting gear. Since then, I believe I have progressed a lot and learned even more. I have been able to create a niche in the area that I’m from. Not many photographers around here do the type of work that I do so I’ve been able to create a nice clientele with local and distant bands/musical groups. Once I got that first job going and was able to show the band the kind of work that I could produce, other bands noticed their photos and came directly to me to have their promotional work done. When I’m not working on websites or editing photos, I’m constantly networking. I think word of mouth is the best kind of advertising a photographer can get. I’m always staying in contact with as many bands and musical groups that I can. I started off by going to local shows and doing live photos. More often than not, if they liked my live shots, I showed them some of my promotional work and that helped me gain more business. I would recommend to new photographers trying to get into this market of photography, is to expose yourself to what is out there for music photography. See what is out there and begin to think of ways to put your own spin on it. This is really where you need to think outside the box and produce eye catching, interesting photos. Take what is already out there, and make it even better and put your own style into it. Make it yours. When people look at your photos, you’ll want them to think…They looks like <insert your name here> kind of work. Develop your own style and work. Like I said before, networking and word of mouth is amazingly helpful. Gain a good clientele and reputation/relationship with people and they’ll want you to do more work for them.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: After your first job, What was the next photography gig you obtained and how did you go about your execution? Did you apply all that you’ve learned in all the books you’ve read ? Did you buy more books or accessed any more resources to help you jump to your next big step in the game of photography? What tools do you recommend that are a must have that helped you get to where you are present day?
PETER PLACE: After my first job, I quickly gained another gig just because other musical groups loved the kind of photos I was able to produce. As I have previously stated, I was able to create a niche that the other photographers in the area have yet to create. I learned a lot from my first shoot so I applied what I learned to the next one to make the next shoot even better. Each additional shoot was where I applied lessons learned from trial and error. I think the best tools that helped me was just time spent looking at lighting set-ups and talking with other photographers about off camera flash. Figuring out what worked and why, as well as what didn’t work and why.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What keeps the money rolling? Your brand is possibly a huge factor to your longevity? Am i right? Do you have any recommendations on brand building for weekend photographers and/or Photographers in general.
PETER PLACE: Another major part of a business is branding. Logos, logos, logos. Look at Nike, Adidas, Sears, Wal-mart. We can just see their logo and know immediately what company it is. I’m also into graphic design so I created a logo that would be eye catching (or at least so I think) and easily recognizable by people who saw my photos. Brand building is all about networking. Getting your name out there and also just being a good person. It’s not just your photos that should impress people, but also your people and relational skills. My earlier work usually had my tag on it, so that people would know who took the photo. Now, I don’t do too much tagging any more, as people will recognize my photos when they see them.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What is currently in your photography bag? Please be as detailed as possible for those starting out photographers that want to be just like you. From your photography equipment arsenal, what do you bring most of the time for your commercial shoots?
PETER PLACE: This is what I have in my “photography bag”:
3 AlienBees B800 Professional Studio Strobes
AlienBees HD 13’ stands
AlienBees Boom Arm
AlienBees Cybersync wireless flash triggers
AlienBees 22” Beauty Dish
AlienBees Large Octabox
AlienBees Large Softbox
AlienBees Vagabond II
(2) 50’ extension cords and power strip
Canon 400D w/ BG-E3 Vertical Battery Grip
Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon 50mm f/1.8II
CP and ND filters
Every shoot I do, I bring all of this gear with me. I never know what I’m going to use till I arrive on location.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What is your favorite image in your current portfolio and why? How did you approach the execution? Give us a glimpse on how you construct an image from scratch.
PETER PLACE: My favorite image so far is from the Exiting The Fall Promotional photo shoot where we shot at this estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Everything was just perfect, from the wind, the clouds and sky and especially the mansion in the background. I loved the location and the pose from the band. Even though it was windy, that really helped put some motion in the photo. I’m able to walk up to the location and produce the photo in my mind. From there I just position my key light and add in fill or rim lighting where I see fit. I see the shot before the shutter clicks. This is where I’m able to use my creativity to create the kind of photos myself and the bands are looking for.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Is having your own studio space essential for any commercial photographer. Do you have a photography studio of your own? If so, what do you look for in a photography studio?
PETER PLACE: I don’t have any sort of studio space as of now. The world is my studio. I do like seamless background photos but, I love shooting on location. I think there are a lot of interesting things in this world that can really help make a great photograph.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What types of commercial gigs are you currently involved in now and how did they surface? What are your recommendations on how we photographers diversify their product offering from Commercial and stock in today’s marketplace?
PETER PLACE: Right now, I’m mainly photographing musical groups and alternative (not your average) senior portraits. I just got done a weekend of doing band promotional work. I’m beginning to book this upcoming week and a good portion of the month of May. I would recommend and say (if you do this type of shooting) don’t be afraid to try different lighting set ups. Once you get comfortable and master a certain set up, time to try new ones. Don’t let all your photos look the same. Be different, try new things, be creative.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What are your immediate goals as a photographer and artist? Are you planning on releasing any how-to books? What are your recommendations to people thinking about starting a photography book?
PETER PLACE: My immediate goals are to continue to get my name and photographic work out there. Right now I have my blog running which includes lighting set up’s of mine as well as gear reviews, and additional photographs from recent shoots, etc. If I were to start a photography book, I think it would be on group photography and how all of that works – From lighting to positioning, to the location of the sun while being on location, as well as a look into my editing.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: A lot of professional photographers are starting to run workshops. Will you start offering workshops in the future? I know TIME is not your friend, but there are ways to get around that maybe offering internship opportunities to intern with you for a small fee during one of your paid shoots. Or maybe provide an opportunity to be a spectator for one of your weekend shoots?
PETER PLACE: I think if I have some time, I just might start doing some work shops. I always need assistance with my shoots so if any local photographers want to assist, I gladly accept. It’s always a good time while doing a shoot.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: I am sure you’ve read many articles discussing how in the future videography and photography will be one? What are your thoughts on that and how will you evolve to the new morphed medium?
PETER PLACE: I think it’s very interesting how some recent DSLR’s have come out with HD capabilities. I think that’ll open the door to even more possibilities. Now, photographers can not only provide photos, but I’m sure they’ll offer video packages as well. I’m starting to get into video more and more. I’ve been reading up on video editing and looking to add Behind The Scenes videos to my site, in efforts to let people in on some of my shoots and help photographers looking to get into this kind of shooting.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Ok so thinking about the future and how it is very important in any endeavor especially the photography business. What do you suggest photographers do in the future to solidify their presence in the industry? What will you do to ensure that you remain on top, not taking into account your photography niche?
PETER PLACE: Develop your own style. You can have 10 different people take a photo of the same subject and you’ll just get 10 photos of the same thing. Make your photos unique and different. Set yours apart from everyone else’s out there. Throw your own style into the mix. On to of branding, networking, advertising and marketing, make your images speak to the viewers. A picture is worth a thousand words; make yours worth a million, if not more. Make it a goal that your photos speak something specific to your viewers. Photos do not have to be silent.
LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Thank you again for your time and giving back. What would you like to leave for us photographers to think about when moving forward with photography for the future? If you have any words of wisdom will be appreciated.
PETER PLACE: Photography is constantly progressing. Don’t ever give up being creative. Keep your mind going and don’t settle for mediocre. Keep shooting till you’re happy with the photos. Don’t ever let it become a chore. Don’t ever stop creating. If you feel like you’ve hit a mental photo block…take a step back, forget what you’ve done in the past and create something new. Why play it safe when taking a chance could reap a great reward. Take pictures, take a lot of pictures. Be humble, give back to the photography community. Never forget the days of small beginnings. We all had to start somewhere.