Meet John Covington, Photographer – Musician

JOHN COVINGTON: PHOTOGRAPHER

MEET JOHN COVINGTON

I had interviewed and had lunch with John early in June of 2016. We met at his studio which is built in his backyard in a wonderful little neighborhood full of trees and greenery. I have been aware of John for a few years, but this was the first time we sat down to have some conversation. Lunch was at Tokyo Express, and their California rolls are just as I remembered them.

John is a busy photographer these days. He was in the middle of a product shoot for one of his clients and waiting for info on a shoot. He showed me his classic Cadillac, new Victory bike, and a real find – one of his old Steed bikes that he purchased for his girlfriend. Now that is cool.

John’s bio quickly:
Studied industrial design and Art Center.
Began designing restaurants.
He also plays drums professionally in his off restaurant design times.
His love of motorcycles led him to build custom bikes, designing the framework and the brand.
His need of better photographs of his bikes led him to photography.
His love of photography is what he is following now.

He started full-time photography in 2007, right in the middle of the financial meltdown. This was one of the worst times for starting a small business, and a ‘terrible time’ for photographers. Just ask all the photographers that lived through that time and expected to be able to do this business without working at it. Everyone will tell you it was a horrible time to start a photography business.

BUT…

John knew how to work. He had built businesses from the ground up, and he knew it took ambition, commitment, careful planning and a strong work ethic. He just made it happen.

He built a studio in his backyard in 2009, and clients love coming to him for his no-nonsense approach to making the shots, doing them right, and getting them delivered. From automotive, to motorcycles, to portraiture and tabletop, John stays true to his style, and elegant use of light.

John’s studio:

John doesn’t usually work with ad agencies. He prefers direct client work, and has an impressive list of clients locally, regionally and nationally that he works for. The studio is busy with a couple of studio shoots a week, and he does location work as well.

John is not a ‘bargain budget’ photographer and gets commission rates commensurate with any photographer in the southwest. He has developed his own, exceptional list of customers, and watched that list grow year after year.

Even during the financial crisis.
Even during the ‘terrible times’ for photographers.
Even through the downturn in advertising.

You see, John Covington has a plan.

His plan is simple. Find clients, service clients, get paid, and bring the client back for more.

So while we read blogs and FB posts about how terrible this business is, and how nobody is making money, and oh whoa is us, John is out doing his thing, shooting for clients, playing drums in his own recording studio, and riding his new Victory custom motorcycle when he has a little down time.

John has a very small social media presence, a small circle of FB friends, and does all of his contacts the old-fashioned way… with a plan. (His plan and my system are a perfect fit, so another glimpse of how it really works.)

Stop listening to the negativity, begin investing in your own future – and for goodness sake when someone starts whining about how terrible everything is, remember John. And know that he isn’t listening to that crap.

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John’s Photography Website
John’s Drumming Website
Steed Motorcycles

Thanks John, keep doing what you’re doing, man.

Oh… and a little something to play us out…

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BOUNDLESS

John’s book boundless is still for sale. I have a copy and to say it is unique is a total understatement. The book is bound with a supercool finish, and the design of the book both from an aesthetic and product definition is incredible.

BOUNDLESS LIMITED FIRST EDITION
50 numbered units, large vertical format (11″ X 17″) handsome coffee-table book with numbered certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, including 50 deluxe framable prints. More info on the book and a link for purchase here.

Let’s Uncheck Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

Let's Uncheck The Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

Sooner Rather Than Later

Let’s Uncheck Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

I recently listened to a speaker talk about unchecking the boxes he had that put an artificial hold on his career, and how that had helped him in his pursuit of sports excellence.

I realized how many boxes we photographers have checked that keep us from reaching our peak creativity as well. Perhaps it is human habit that makes us take inventory of all the things that we don’t have, or can’t possibly get, or “need” in order to succeed.

I wonder why we don’t take the same type of assessment on what we have, what we can accomplish, and why we should create more? Lots more.

But that assessment is for another time, for now I want to focus on the boxes we already have checked in our minds – and uncheck a bunch of them.

The “I Am Too Old” checkbox.
No, you’re not. You have checked that box because so many others in society have checked it and we are all expected to follow suit. Starting a business is not age related, nor is being creative, ethical, or smart with money. In fact, a bit of age gives you advantages over being youthful.

For one, you recognize the value of time. You know it goes by quickly, and you take advantage of every moment. Young people have their own advantages to starting a business, and one is they have not checked this box.

Time is an asset and a motivator. I will turn 67 somewhere near Lake Louise in British Columbia on a motorcycle heading to Alaska. I am also starting another business. I know how time works, and I know how precious it is, and I know I am not going to waste any of it with pre-conceived notions of failure. Far too many people have told me that they think I am crazy to do this at “my age”. I think I am crazy not to do it. Asset. Motivator.

Gary Vaynerchuk on “Age” – Watch.
Gary Vaynerchuk on “Turning 50” – Watch.

The “I Don’t Have the Right Gear” checkbox.
This affects photographers more than some other businesses, but I hear it all the time as well.

The “photographic community” has decided that there is a level of gear you MUST have in order to take a professional photograph. But in the world of clients, that simply isn’t so. (Yes, we have heard of the NY AD’s insisting on Hasselblad and Broncolor… but that is an anomaly, not a rule.) I don’t think it is possible to buy a camera that cannot make professional level images for most, and I mean MOST clients.

I shot for major clients with a Rebel and a 5D. I know a photographer selling fine art prints and he shot for years on a 40D. Photographer Jens Lennartsson travels super light, with only one small camera, and great assignments. An entry level camera and “kit lens” can make extraordinary photographs with a good photographer at the controls. The key is knowing what you can do, and focusing on clients who are more interested in the work than the gear. And that is MOST of them.

Petapixel: My Camera Gear Sucks
Petapixle: Which Pro Camera Do You Really Need to Shoot Like a Pro?

The “It’s The Economy” checkbox.
You see – here’s the thing. It’s always the economy. It is either hot or cold, heating up or cooling down. And businesses keep opening no matter what. We are led to believe that there is a ‘right time’ to start a business, and we better wait for it.

And we will wait and wait and wait. There is never going to be a ‘right time’ to start a business in photography. I can save you that waiting.

But there are strategies, models, and systems that make it easier, more accessible, and definitely within reach. We are not victims of the world, we are participants in it – and participants can aggressively create their own paths.

We start by making sure we know all about the business we are starting, pay attention to finances, create multiple channels of income, and forge new and exciting alliances as often as we can.

We participate. We engage. We follow through with actions designed to keep us participating.

A Photo Editor: The Personal Project. (Keep scrolling…)
Forbes: Why Now is a Good Time to Start a Business
Entrepreneur: 7 Myths About Starting a Business That I Used to Believe

Recommended Reading:
Choose Yourself by James Altucher
The Hundred Dollar Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin

There are more checkboxes for sure, but these are the most common three I see being checked before they are thought through. Let’s uncheck them, and get moving on the creative life we deserve.

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We started the next session of Find Photo Clients Now on Saturday, June 11. I still have a few openings if you are interested. The summer is a great time to focus on getting your system up, and building your list. This is the enrollment page for more information. Join us for a great class, and get your photography business moving.


Header image courtesy Unsplash

2016 P52 Roadtrip Book: FREE PDF

2015 PROJECT 52 ROAD TRIP BOOK

PDF FREE FOR READERS OF LIGHTING ESSENTIALS

Every year we go on a roadtrip and all of the Project 52 members can come along. It is not a workshop, although we do photography nearly all the time. There is no charge for it, members simply pay their own way and their portion of van rentals. We spend a week in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, and we have a blast.

Here is the book of this year’s trip in PDF form. All images are copyright by the photographers who took them, but you are welcome to download the book and enjoy the imagery.

PROJECT 52 ROAD TRIP 2016

The Art of Still Life: June 2016 Edition

The Art of Still Life: June 2016 Edition

PROJECT-52-2016Examples from the Still Life Class here at Lighting Essentials.

Finished photos and the BTS shots of the lighting used.

(cover image by Carla McMahon)

A big shout out to the students for such wonderful work. And the BTS shots.

Photographer: Doris Rudd

Photographer: Lavanya Reddy

Photographer: Rachael Switalski

Photographer: Paul Brousseau

Photographer: Katherine Gooding

Photographer: Helen Svensson

Photographer: Barbara Schweighauser

The Porto Photography Experience

The Porto Photography Experience

From Anna at the Porto Photography Experience:

“As photographers living in Porto, Portugal, we feel privileged: the UNESCO World Heritage area backdrops to shoot in, the kind of sights all photographers dream of; amazing food; great weather for most of the year; gorgeous models we love to work with – all of this at our fingertips.

 

Late last year, we had a lightbulb moment – why not share this with like-minded people?

 

After months of excited preparations (which you’ve probably read about in our monthly “Behind the Scenes”), we asked a group of sensational photographers whose work we have admired for years if they would like to join us to test our idea – much to our delight, they said yes!”

Read the whole thing… and start planning for the next Porto Photography Experience. I will be going next time for sure.

(IMAGE BY CARMEN BLIKE)