Time to make the jump to full time shooter… the 80′s


Part One

Part Two

Part Three
Now look, I don’t recommend anyone lie their way into a position anywhere. Unless of course you need to and no one will die if you screw up. (Personally I think a lot of the ‘resume’ process is highly over rated and not very interesting to me.)

For me, it worked.

I was a junior AD in a small graphic design company in the Southbeach area of LA. I had a cubicle. I had marker pens. I had a job.

The guy I was working with, the senior guy, had a nice touch with marker comps, and I worked with him on a few gigs before they threw me a bone to work on.

Auto parts brochure.

I sketched and drew and sketched some more. I threw away paper like a congressional aide before the day of the hearing.

The client loved it.

I called in books to choose the photographer. That was an incredible experience for me. To see how photographers showed their work in order to get a gig. We were very explicit with our RFP’s at the time, so it was a very interesting to see what was presented. By pros.

I saw 6 books for that first gig. They were all excellent, and I went with the one who had the nicest product work, at the best price and time frame. The agency never expected the low price to win, but if it wasn’t the lowest price, they did expect some reasons as to why the choice was made.

I learned so much about this business working there.

The shoot day came, and the studio was immaculate. Small and in an industrial park near Long Beach, we got started. The photographer did a wonderful job and gave me a lot of info as to why he was doing what he was doing. He didn’t know I was a photographer, so it was interesting to listen to his commentary.

Over the next two years, I did probably two shoots a month with that agency. Since I had so much experience in the photography end of things, I was able to push and prod the photographers to go a little tighter, a little wider, add more of this and less of that.

And then I would go back to my little garage studio and recreate what we had done.

It came time for me to leave. The job was great, but it was time for me to move into full time photography. I spoke with my boss, and showed him my book. He agreed that I should take the opportunity.

That agency hired me for at least a shoot or two a month until they were acquired by a larger agency and the art department disbanded.

I was shooting models for Elite and Ford, food for ad agencies, and lots and lots of what I call ‘stuff’ for agencies and designers all over the LA area. If I wasn’t shooting, I was driving the book somewhere to be seen. Long days, long nights and a hel of a time.

And then it became important to move back to Phoenix. For reasons that are quite personal, California was not the place for us to stay. Phoenix was home, and I had enough gigs in LA to keep us going through the move. (For the next 3 years, I put nearly 70K miles per year on my autos driving back and forth.)

After a brief stint as a photography teacher at a local private school, I was ready again to build a studio.

The opportunities in Phoenix were not the same as LA. No fashion, and not that much food. I became a generalist and built a nice studio over time. It was big enough to shoot a 25foot Ryder truck in, and the full 45′ cyc was a blast.

The studio was busy nearly every day. I practically lived in the studio. I would bet that I could count only a handful of days a year that I went on location. From towels and millinery to garage door openers to catalogs to models for local agencies.

For the gear folks, let me break that down:
Mamiya 6×7 kit with 6 lenses
Toyo 4×5 with 4 lenses.
Toyo 5×7 with 4 lenses.
Deardorff 8×10 with 2 lenses
Nikon F3′s (3) with 20, 21, 24, 28, 35, 35PC, 50, 85, 105, 180, 200, 300 lenses. Yeah… a 20 AND a 21… you know, for when the damn 20 is just thaaaaat much too wide.
Norman and Balcar strobes, 14 heads in total.

And a full kitchen, for food prep, a graphic design area for creating designs and working with layouts and a state of the art darkroom with 3 enlargers (one color).

The 80′s to mid 90′s were a blur of shooting shooting shooting.

And traveling back and forth to Chicago and New York. I had a studio in Chicago (co-op) and an apartment that I had access to in NY. And… the incredible red-eye flights we could get to La Guardia and back. Half filled planes and very very cheap.

Two weeks in Phoenix, two weeks in Chicago/NY. Long distance bills that would choke a pig, and then I got a cell phone. Roaming charges were about the same as a mortgage… and carrying that brick – oh my.

Yeah, it was a lot of fun and totally crazy.

More to come in a few…

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About 

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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