EWW: James, what emotions or feelings do you hope people will walk away with when they have finished viewing your work?
James: As a Fine Art photographer, the eye/brain/heart connection is so important. I am always looking to evoke an “Oooh” or an “Aaah” or the occasional “Wow!”. “Wow!”s are the best. To have someone look at a piece and smile is great. For them to walk away and still be smiling is fantastic. If the piece is an abstract, the one thing I aim for is the viewer thinking, “What in the world is that?… Oh, now I see it.”
EWW: I am curious to know, if someone were asked to make a comment about your work as a whole, what do you think they would say?
James: I have heard it said that I have an excellent grasp of composition. Others have written comments about my work that are most flattering. I think it would be inappropriate for me to repeat them here, but as a summary, they like my work.
I think it would be great, after viewing my work, to hear a comment like, “That was the best 30 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.”
EWW: What would be your comments about your work, as a whole?
James: I would like that the whole of my work would be seen as an eclectic collection of excellent images. My Google+ tagline states, “Images that are beautiful, colorful, artistic, pleasing, touching, sensitive, peaceful, and inspired.”
EWW: If I were to walk into a room which included works of yours as well as others, would I immediately know which ones were yours and why?
James: My work has a Pop to it, a bit of Pizazz. If it grabs your eye and it won’t let go, it might be a work of mine.
Click on an image to enlarge it
EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there any themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?
James: I don’t think so. If there is, it’s purely a coincidence or I just don’t see it myself. That comes from walking around with a camera and looking for whatever makes a good image, no matter what or where it is. I do believe that it helps to have a target or a goal in mind when I go out to shoot. It’s not impossible to just walk around with a camera and get a good image, but good images are a whole lot easier to get when there is an image, or a hint of one, already in my mind.
EWW: Your work seems to cover a wide variety of subject matter and styles. If subject matter isn’t the determining factor in your work, what factors do you take into account when deciding to work with an image?
James: I like to dazzle the eyes. I start by looking for composition mostly, is it something that someone else might enjoy seeing, and am I able to bring what I see to the image. I look to see how the eye will travel through an image. It’s just something that I am able to recognize; a part of who I am as an artist.
EWW: James, I notice that you also do some black and white. How do you determine what shot or image will be black/white versus color?
James: It’s not often that I will do an image in B&W only. Most of the time if it works well with B&W, it will work well in Color, and I’ll create both. If everything else that makes a good image is present, I focus on contrast and lines. A good monochrome image has both of these qualities. Since B&W already has the element of surrealism, a sharp contrast and vivid texture and/or lines help to stimulate the eyes.
EWW: Marketing these days seems to be quite a challenge to many photographers and digital artists. What do you see as the biggest challenges for a photographer or digital artist?
It helps a great deal to identify and recognize your market(s). Everyone likes to look at Art. Very few will want to buy it. We are all artists, not marketing professionals. Understand where your particular art/images will fit in, where they will be appreciated, where they will be welcome. Regularly set aside some time to do some self-promotion. It doesn’t need to be much, but some is better than none.
Click on an image to enlarge it
EWW: How are you dealing with these challenges?
James: It took a while for me to see through all the distractions of marketing and find the segment that I really feel comfortable with. I focus on marketing to the Interior Design community.
When I was a lad, I went door-to-door selling newspaper subscriptions, and was fairly successful. I learned that selling is a quest to find the person who will say “Yes”, and do not waste your time with those who say “No”. The goal is to sell, not to change someone’s mind.
Today I use the telephone and email to contact clients and make connections and I don’t send an email unless I have first spoken with the client. It’s like going door-to-door, only with a cellphone and a headset.
EWW: What role do you see social media playing in your marketing efforts?
James: In my mind the thing most lacking in social media marketing is that it is not social enough. It helps a great deal to meet your clients face to face, or at least speak with them on the telephone and establish a connection. This is particularly true when you are first starting out. I find that clients and prospective clients are very happy to talk and share ideas. The Internet is a terrific place to get sales leads, but you can’t just post photos and do media ads. It takes a physical effort to establish connections and sales.
EWW: James, just to wrap up the interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work, that you think would be important for others to know about?
James: I would urge everyone to experiment. It doesn’t need to be “off the wall” or “way out there”, but that works, too. Try something new or do things a little differently and look at the results. One last note: I’ve learned so much from so many others, from Ansel Adams and Edward Weston when I was starting out in photography, to Trey Ratcliff and Vincent Versace today. To everyone who has shared their thoughts, those I’ve mentioned and the many others I haven’t, a huge “Thank You!”