Lincoln Barbour

Starting Out as a Photographer

Around this time of year, I get a lot of emails from photo students about to graduate. I think part of their curriculum is to go out and ask photographers they like how they got their start.

So, when Andrew Torres emailed me a few weeks ago, I decided to make a blog post out of it. Hopefully this answers his questions about how to start out as a photographer. At least it tells my story and I can reference it again the next time a photo student emails me.

AT: How did you get started in photography and what education/training did you receive?

LB: I learned the basics of photography in high school and did it as a hobby for a number of years. In 2001, I quit my web design job and started working as a studio manager/1st assistant for an architectural photographer by the name of Philip Beaurline. I knew some Photoshop from my design days, but I know nothing about professional photography. Everything I know today I learned by working for him.

It was a very lucky time to make the shift into photography. He was still shooting film and he was shooting with a view camera primarily. I learned to load film, label shot rolls, and how to set up a view camera. After the shoot, the film workflow became my responsibility. I took it to the lab, made selects on a light table, drum scanned the selects, cleaned it up in Photoshop, made prints and CDs, and then delivered the job to the client. So not only did I learn all the nuances of film and the look of film, but I also learned all the digital post production side of things, how to interact with clients, and to know how to properly deliver a photo shoot. It was really an amazing experience and I don’t think I would have learned as much had I just freelanced as a photo assistant.

AT: Would you recommend internships or assisting before starting your own business?

LB: Absolutely. I think internships are good place to start. It gets your foot in the door and there’s not a big commitment on either part. Once you move into assisting, make sure you assist a photographer who you admire or for someone who shoots the subject you’re interested in. If you like architecture photography, assist an architectural photographer. If you like food photography, assist a food photographer. If you like travel photography, assist a travel photographer. If you like all three, you can assist me.

AT: Are you a member of any professional organizations and would you recommend joining?

LB: Definitely start by joining ASMP. The main things you get from it are tons of business materials ranging from estimates, to copyrights, to legal documents; a national network of photographers that you can reach out to for help or advice; and amazing discounts on everything from computers to business Insurance. After that, if you want to shoot editorial, I definitely recommend joining Editorial Photographers (EP). The member forum has helped me so much throughout my career as a photographer. If you want to go more commercial, APA is a good place to be as well. They have a great find an assistant listing program as well as invaluable information and discounts.

AT: What piece of equipment could you not live without for your type of photography?

LB: Besides a computer, Lightroom and Photoshop, I could not live without the Canon 24mm TS-E II and the Canon 17mm TS-E. The TS means Tilt-Shift and these lenses allow me to shoot architecture almost as well as if I had shot it with a view camera. Architecture photography is all about perspective control. These lenses allow me to keep my camera level, yet rise and shift the lens to compose the without getting keystone distortion. Not only that, but these lenses are incredibly sharp and show very little (if any) chromatic aberration.  I just hope Canon release new editions of the 45mm TS-E and the 90mm TS-E. Nice lenses, but not sharp enough with for a 20MP digital SLR.

For digital, I’d say your lenses are more important than you camera. For film, they’re both important.

AT: What are the advantages/disadvantages of working out of a larger area like Portland?

LB: Portland (and Oregon) is fortunate to have all the support you need to pull off a really big production. Everything from an international airport to professional camera and lighting rental can be found here. Plus there are some amazing rental studios and great locations all over town. There are some great stylists living here as well. There’s a strong creative vibe here and I feel lucky to be a part of it. The downside of working here is the cost of living is pretty low and there are A LOT of photographers and assistants moving here all the time. With this much competition, you really have to work hard to make yourself stand out. I would not want to start my career here. Start someplace smaller and build up your portfolio. Then move to a medium sized market like Portland.

AT: What have you found to be the most effective ways to market yourself?

LB: You just can’t do one thing and expect it to be effective. You have to market everywhere and it has to be consistent of what you shoot (your brand). You must have an easy to use and fast loading website, a carefully edited portfolio, email marketing campaign, direct mail marketing campaign, social marketing network, all of it. It’s not cheap and it takes up a lot of your time. So you have to build it into your cost of doing business. Also, word of mouth is so important, so make sure you do a good job, deliver on time, and work well with others.

AT: Any other words of wisdom you would offer a photography student nearing graduation?

Being a working professional photographer is a job. It’s not romantic, it’s not glamorous, and you’re probably not going to make a living at it for about 5 years. But it’s a fun job and it can be very rewarding personally and emotionally. So, if you don’t have any business skills, start getting some. You’re going to need it.

Also, do your cost of doing business every year. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know the real costs of running a photography business.


PhotoForce Exhibition to Support Oregon Food Bank – January 21, 2010

It’s my pleasure to announce to you a new photographic collaborative that I’ve helped form entitled PhotoForce. Our mission is to be a creative force for hire as well as a creative force for doing good with our photography. The current roster of photographers includes Daniel Root, Brian Lee, Steven Scardina, Stuart Mullenberg, and myself; Lincoln Barbour.

Over the past year, the five of us set out to document and illustrate the cycle of food at the Oregon Food Bank, a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating hunger in Oregon. Each of us took a different approach photographically and literally went from farm to table to highlight every aspect of where the food comes from and where it goes. The body of work that we’ve created will be donated to the Oregon Food Bank to be used in their marketing and promotional materials.

25 selected photographs from the project will be on display as large-format prints for one night only on January 21, 2010 at Venue Pearl. Details below:

When: Thursday, January 21, 2010 from 5:00-10:00pm
Where:
Venue Pearl – 323 NW 13th Avenue Portland, OR 97209

I would like to personally invite you to come to this special exhibition. Please feel free to bring a guest and pass on this email. The event is free and open to the public. Music and refreshments will be provided. You’re encouraged to bring a canned good donation for the Oregon Food Bank.

I’d also like to thank our sponsors, Pro Photo Supply, Venue Pearl, House Spirits, Pushdot Studio, and Rogue Brewery. Collectively, they are providing prints, rental, refreshments, and a space for the event. Without them, we would not have been able to put on such a wonderful event.

For more information, visit http://www.photo-force.com/

For a sneak peak of the photographs, go to http://www.photo-force.com/2009/12/oregon-food-bank-preview/

Also, Click here for a PDF flyer to print off and put up in your office or school.

Hope to see you there!

Parliament Interiors

LRB_090714_4243

Back in my early web design days, I worked in this tiny 800 square foot office with five other guys whose ages ranged from 21 to 60. Our wood laminate desks were back to back in rows, so you felt isolated even though you were two feet away. We had a white drop ceiling with fluorescent lighting and two windows that didn’t open. It was also in a loud industrial park for a phone company. Needless to say, it was a miserable place to work, but it was my first “real” job, so what did I know.

Fast forward 11 years when I go to meet Chris Erickson at his top notch design firm’s office in the OMCC Building. My jaw just dropped. Parliament is an amazing space and I was just blown away by how cool it was. If my office looked this good back then, I would never have quit.

The space is true a reflection of Parliament’s aesthetic of quality, clean design, and superb execution. A lot of thought went behind every detail in the spaces all spearheaded by Chris’s great design sense and collaboration with master carpenter Kyle Sharp. Everything from the slat walls to the pizza oven work table was crafted with amazing amount of care and effort. I really had a great time shooting the interiors and think we got some really good stuff. Check it out:

[Read more…] about Parliament Interiors

Glamorous Four-Square

Here’s a recent project I shot for Jessica Helgerson’s portfolio. This beautiful remodel of a turn-of-the-century Southeast Portland four-square blurs the lines between modern hip and classic bungalow. The whole house was filled with eye candy furnishings, which is always fun to photograph. I loved the bubble chandelier, the Egyptian tin shades, and the blown glass sculptures by Portland-based glass artist Andy Paiko. A great project to photograph and I’m really happy with how the shots turned out.

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We are Agents of the Free

I signed up for a twitter account this week and have been playing around with it. It’s fun. It feels kind of like texting yourself. Which would be good for me, because I often find or see things I want to remember and this is a great way to do it. I’ll try not to spitter (spam twitter) too much, but I’m just getting going. If you want to follow me, visit www.twitter.com/LincolnBarbour.

Speaking of, as I was setting up the page design today, I kept humming a lyric from R.E.M.’s song “Orange Crush”. You know, the part that goes “Follow me, don’t follow me I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush” Well, I looked up the lyrics and “We are agents of the free” is in the first verse. How appropiate for all this social media stuff.

    follow me on Twitter


    Welcome to LB Photo v9.0

    Welcome to my latest and greatest website. I’m really excited to show of some great new features, a new look and feel, and also a new logo!

    One of my favorite features is how the images are displayed. Click on the thumbnail below:

    Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

    Neat huh? What else is cool… at the bottom of every page is a link that says ShareThis. Click it to send any page on my site to your favorite networking site, group bookmarking, or even email it to someone.

    Under the hood is really where a lot of the magic happens. By using the power of WordPress, I’m able to update this site anywhere from any web capable device. So, while on a shoot, we could post working images to a private page just for the client to see. Or if I find a cool location, I can upload a photo of it right to the blog. I can even update my portfolio from anywhere. Also, any redesign in the future will be a snap. I’ll just have to change the template.

    Another reason for the redesign was to help me set a goal to post every job I shoot this year. Like my old photoblog, I want to keep a visual journal of my progress through the year and see what it looks like all together. Plus, it’ll keep you up to date with what I’ve been doing lately.

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the new format and design. Have a great and prosperous 2009!