Aug 21, 2019
How I Made A Lucrative Career Out Of Portrait Photography

The year was 2006. My brother met his fiance and planned his wedding for that fall. The location was in Montreal, Canada. Being the youngest of 10, my family is quite large and so we split up and half of us took a train and the other half drove up the border from New York City. It was my first time outside of the United States and everything seemed awesome and just super cool. We arrived on a Wednesday and the wedding was scheduled for Sunday. We spent the first day in Montreal just getting to know the local area, parks, shopping centers, etc and pretty much just hanging out.  On the second day we traveled to Ottawa and visited the National Ballet of Canada. You see, my great aunt founded the National Ballet of Canada. She was still alive at the time and so we visited her home and she told us a great deal about her life in the 1930s in Europe. It was a visit I'll never forget! 

Fast forward to Sunday. Wedding day! My entire family is fretting about, stressed out and quite frankly yelling matches ensued. It was basically a party with Cardi. When I was back in New York I had made sure to purchase a simple point-and-shoot camera as I had intended on shooting my brothers wedding for mine own enjoyment. As the day progressed we made our way to the wedding hall and the procession started. The time is 3 o' clock. The wedding had just begun. I whip out my point and shoot and start snapping and snapping and snapping. I probably took around 6-700 portraits. Being a 7 year old child, I was thoroughly exhausted by the time the festivities died down which was a long while from 3pm. As we made our way back to the hotel we were staying at... I turned my camera on and went to the media section so I can view the images I captured. To my own horror, I realized that I had forgotten to insert the SD Card the previous morning. I just stood still for what seemd about 5 minutes and then walked off and went straight to bed upon our arrival in the room. 

A long time has passed since then and call it trauma, or whatever you want (haha) but now, as a professional photographer I have 10 SD Cards and I check the slot every. single. time. that I go out on a shoot. The reason why I am telling you this story is not to bore you with my incredibly boring and horribly written life details, but rather to show you that most creatives in the industry have always had a thing for the craft that they end up pursuing and it is an art. 

Around two and half years ago. I had just gotten out of High School and I did not know what the hell I wanted to do with my life. You could say I was in a rut. I was watching films and tv series' literally all day. I'm not going to say I regret wasting my time because it was some of the most enjoyable time of my life but it was a waste of time and I can never get it back. I woke up one day and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in Photography. I had no idea what type of photography I wanted to get into though. I scoured the internet looking at every type of photography there is... wedding photography, event photography, newborn.. pet.. well, you get the idea, until finally I decided on doing still portraiture. Now the question arose: How do I go about starting a career in photography? How to perfect my craft? How do I up my ante and become a professional??? I was at a loss. I realized that I was friends with a photographer who is not only super talented, but also great with people and so I asked her for any advice on what equipment should I buy for a "professional" and she explained to me how its the lens you want to spend the big bucks on and not the camera, as you need a quality glass to capture sharp imagery etc, and the camera must be quality true, but because they are constantly coming out with newer models and updates, its the lens which I should really invest in. I ended up purchasing a Sony and I've never looked back. She really helped me figure out what style of photography I wanted to get in to, and I must say, if not for her I would never be where I am today! I'm very thankful! Another thing which helped me immensely was Youtube tutorials. I purchased Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and anyone who has a ever opened Photoshop knows just how hard it is to operate and so tutorials were really the way to go...  

I went around for a few months and shot my friends, family and pretty much anyone who would be willing to step in front of the camera for free. I knew that in order to gain experience and perfect my craft I needed to shoot at least one model daily to grow. If you aren't growing, you are stagnant and knee deep in a pool of stagnation and it isn't pleasant... One day I met a friend of my brother in-law, he was a filmmaker from Brazil and he invited me to attend Tribeca Film Festival in New York City which occurs every year in Spring. Naturally, I was really very excited to attend a "movie" premiere style event for the first time and when the day came, I got a haircut, donned my suit and took a train uptown to 14th st. Once I arrived, I was nervous and had no social skills so I feigned confidence and and legitimately just handed out the business cards that I had made the day before to everyone I met. 

I gave A-list actors Evan Peters, Emma Roberts and Paul Weiser my business cards without a second thought. I'm not sure if it was a good or bad thing that I had such brazen confidence back then but it turned out in my favor. Sadly, Emma Roberts never contacted me, but I did make friends with one extremely nice actor who I'm actually friends with until this DAY. 

A few weeks later we met up for a photoshoot and I asked him for referrals and the rest is history...   I daresay that networking is one of the most important things you need to do as a photographer in this industry. I ended up making several trips to Los Angeles and I shot with a slew of various actors, musicians, businesses and I even got to partake in the making of two movies!! I never would've dreamed that a career like this yet here I am. 

Thank G-d, I really am blessed to have a really good support system with my family especially my cousin Mir Goldin Interiors who is a phenomenal Interior Designer who is helping me out so much, as well as having a few close friends : J.J, Avi, Mendel and Dovber whom with which I can talk to about anything which really helps your psyche. I didn't write this up to brag about myself or get a kudos from you by any means. I meant that genuinely. When I first started out, Everyday I thought I would quit. It is terrifying because it's so inconsistent and you really need to hustle and work your A$$ off. I still have lows and highs and days when I'm so sick of the industry that I say that's it. I'm going back to college, but I don't. I pick my head up. Put on some Disturbed and get to work. I wrote this article with hopes to inspire you to go, RUN! and achieve your dreams and goals because I know you can. You are capable. You are brilliant! The human mind is so intricate and complex and powerful and wonderful. If you only knew your potential you'd have already exited this article and started RIGHT NOW to do something proactive to achieve your goals. It only takes baby Steps. You. Can. Do. It! 

Z



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