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September 3, 2009

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER INTERVIEW: Scott Bourne

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Written by: Lawrence
PAST

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: Wow that’s a broad series of questions. I didn’t work on
the yearbook. I lived in Indianapolis and was inspired by a local
photojournalist who happened to be my high school girlfriend’s father.
He took me to the Indy 500 and gave me a camera to play with while we
were there. I was hooked. I don’t think beginners need to worry about
specialization – they need to find out what they like and they can’t
do that unless they try lots of things. That’s the path I took. I
started out from that day at the Indy 500 to getting a job as a
stringer at the race working for the Associated Press. From there I
freelanced around the Formula 1 circuit in Europe and then eventually
had a few staff jobs shooting motor sports. But in between then and
now, I tried fashion photography, weddings, portraits and
nature/outdoor work.

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: The only photo I have from the old days was the first
picture I got published. It was Tom Sneva crashing at the Indy 500. I
don’t have it online. It’s a bad scan and small. But I do have it on
my computer and look at it once in a while. It was nothing special.
But it got me paid. I do look at my old “portfolio” sometimes and
cringe, thinking to myself how bad it was. But that’s the normal
progression. You start out bad – then you practice and you get good.
Works that way with pretty much everything in life. Today, young
people think they have to start out as a rock star. They don’t. It’s
okay to first be a roadie.

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.

SCOTT BOURNE: I didn’t read any photo books starting out. I did rely
on Life and Look Magazine as inspiration. I looked at all the great
photos they published and thought that someday I’d be able to do that.
I studied what these folks shot, how they did it, studied the light
angles and tried my best to duplicate it.

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: My first job came as a result of connections – which is
how many people break into professional photography. My brother-in-law
was the sports editor at the Bloomington, Indiana newspaper. He got me
a press pass for the Indy 500 in return for some photos. When I got to
the track, I talked my way into the vacant AP stringer slot they had
available. They should have never hired me because I had no clue what
I was doing. But they saw the press pass and thought I was legit.
Lucky for me I was big for a teenager 🙂 It was two years between that
first paying gig and the next one. But after sticking with it – jobs
flowed much more easily for the next six years – although the pay was
about equal to that of a bus boy at the local Pizza Hut. I did have an
agent for a year when I was working in New York on fashion stuff. But
agents need photographers who are working at high levels and I really
wasn’t. I was still too inexperienced to be great. I was happy with
being good. Frankly, I started making more money when I acted as my
own agent and focused more of my time selling rather than shooting.

PRESENT

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.

SCOTT BOURNE: I believe that serious photographers who want to make a
living need to become professional marketers. I spend 80% of my time
selling and 20% shooting. And in today’s super competitive environment
– you have to do everything and be everywhere. You need a blog, a
podcast, an active Twitter account, a Flickr account, a portfolio
site, a membership in one or more professional photography
associations, you need to teach, to speak at seminars, write books,
the whole nine yards. I personally have found blogs, podcasts and
Twitter to be vital components of my current marketing efforts.
They’re responsible for most of my business these days.

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: You sure you want this list? I have attached a list that
is pretty complete minus some studio stuff.

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.

SCOTT BOURNE: Here’s a link to the image and the story
http://photofocus.com/2008/12/02/pre-visualization-and-patience-can-pay-off-twip/

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: It’s NOT essential to have your own studio space –
especially when you’re just starting out. It’s MUCH more important to
have a sales room or small office where you meet clients. This shows
that you are IN BUSINESS not just a weekend warrior. When you do it
right, the sales room generates enough cash to warrant renting and
building the studio. I have both a studio and a sales office.

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: I shoot for text books, do some editorial with past
clients but not trying for any new ones. I do a great deal of art type
sales, licenses and leases. The best advice that I can give to someone
is to find a niche and own it. I mean totally own it. Then you’re only
competing for that niche, not the entire photographic world.

FUTURE

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?

SCOTT BOURNE:  I have written and had published four books on
photography and three training videos over at lynda.com. I am working
on another book and updating my out of print series called 88 Secrets
to Selling & Publishing Your Photography. Books should come only after
you have a real sense of something to say. If you have a real need to
communicate, a book may be right for you. Most people try to do a book
too early in their career. It’s almost always a mistake in my opinion.
Develop your own sense of style first. Also know that getting a book
deal these days is harder than ever. And you usually don’t make much
off a book deal just so you know.

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?

SCOTT BOURNE: I’ve led more than 150 photo workshops in my career. I
am slowing down a bit but here’s the list so far of what’s coming up.
http://photofocus.com/workshops/

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?

SCOTT BOURNE:  I think that video will play a large part in the future
of imaging but that there will always be a place for the still image.
I am trying to learn as much as I can about the video side and have
some significant experience with it, but to be honest, I just don’t
enjoy it that much because I am not good at video post, nor do I have
a desire to be. With still photography, I am a master at post and
prefer the creative control I get by running the project from start to
finish.

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?

SCOTT BOURNE:  You have to market, market, market. And to stay on top,
you can’t be content with owning a big piece of the pie. You have to
go out and create more pie. That’s the biggest mistake I see in young
pros. They think they have to compete in established niches when in
fact what they should be doing is creating and owning new ones.

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.

SCOTT BOURNE:  Just keep shooting. Show the work if you want to sell
it. Shoot and sell every day. Keep at it. If you give up, someone WILL
take your place. So don’t – give up that is.

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About the Author

Lawrence
Lawrence Atienza is a Jack of all Trades and Master of ALL. Whether it be in the realm of Advertising/Advertising operations with over 10+ years of experience to dabbling in the creative realm of photography and founding/writing for http://www.PhotographySILO.com, Lawrence Atienza gives his all. You can find him on Google+,Twitter and the major social media outlets.




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