When Jason Niedle bought himself a digital Rebel three years ago to take travel photos and shoot pictures of beautiful, young women, he assumed that having a decent camera would make creating those photographs a lot easier.
It could have been the camera. But it could just as easily have been Jason’s eye for a good picture because the result of sharing those images was an offer of $200 from a friend to shoot an event.
“Something switched in my head,” Jason said in an email interview when asked about that first commission. “I thought ‘I’m a photographer.’”
In fact though, Jason doesn’t usually describe himself as simply a photographer, preferring to say that he’s an entrepreneur — or at a stretch, a photographer and business owner. He’s just finished his term as the President of a local chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and has started several businesses with little or no links to photography.
But it’s not just because of his business interests that Jason doesn’t call himself a photographer. Although he points out that a shoot that appears dull can suddenly look a lot more interesting when it comes with a big check, Jason has strict criteria for choosing commissions… and they don’t include the fee. He only agrees to do shoots that involve travel, are artistic and have either a cool experience or “a beautiful human component.”
“I shot a wedding, not for the money (that helped, of course), but because I’d just seen ‘Wedding Crashers’ and wanted to be, in a way, a wedding crasher,” Jason explained. “And I shot the Grammy Party a few months back not for the small payment, but because it sounded fun (and it was!)
“And I still turn down models who want to pay (because of their attitude or whatever), yet often shoot fun, beautiful models for free.”
If that doesn’t sound enjoyable enough, Jason has also toured the coast shooting the Muscle Car 1000 luxury rally, and was recently offered his ideal gig: an all-expenses paid VIP trip overseas.
Most of Jason’s bookings come through contacts but asked what he would do to get bookings, he answers as a business owner: “I’d probably create several websites, each serving a specific tight niche, such as luxury trip photographer,” he says. “Then I’d buy a ton of Google AdWords, do some targeted post-card mailings and work the ‘word of mouth’ circuit. I’d also consider hiring a sales rep to contact all the niche market prospects, and pay that person a large commission to get me bookings.”
But if he did that, of course, he’d be a photographer.
Photo of Jason by Marcia Napoli. Photos of interior by Jason Niedle.
[tags] jason niedle, photopreneur [/tags]