Justin Hackworth | Photo Native Featured Instructor
Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?
I love collecting photographers' monographs and am building a solid library of photography books from some of my favorite photographers like Lee Friedlander, Garry Winnogrand, Ryan McGinley, Elliott Erwitt, Richard Avedon, Alec Soth, Larry Fink and on and on. And whenever I'm in another city I look at what's showing at whatever museum is in town. There's something powerful about seeing the work in person. To maintain my own voice, it's important for me to fill my head with images that resonate with the kind of photographer I want to be.
Q:If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?
Oh my gosh, there's a million things I would love to tell that naive, early version of me. Maybe this would be the biggest eye-opener. If you are going to do photography as a business, it's important to know that you will only be spending about 10% of your time taking pictures, and the rest of your time will be spent running the business--delivering what you promise, marketing your business, billing, editing, returning emails, continued education, drumming up the next job, bla bla bla. If you can agree to that, then proceed, tiger.
Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business?
Instead of asking "How can I make more money" ask, "How can I increase my service to my clients?" If you ask yourself that every morning, chances are you'll come up with a lot of crappy answers. But you'll also come up with a solid gold nugget from time to time, and then if you act on that idea, you'll have a great business, and the money will follow.
Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?
Traveling, taking pictures in a new town just for fun, has always been valuable and invigorating. When I return home and get back to work, I do so with fresh eyes. It doesn't matter what place I visit, either. I like the quote by Robert Adams, "No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film."
Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do?
Being a photographer give you access to situations, people, and places that you might not see otherwise. I've been to amazing locations and met remarkable people on account of this job. Thanks, photography!
Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?
The load makes the donkey go. I don't really have a choice. This is my job, so I've got to make it work because I have high standards in my life, such as, buying food and paying the electric bill on time. Plus, I hate the idea of a starving artist. What a stupid idea. Lots of artists make money. Why not be one of those?
Q: If money was no question, what project would you pursue?
I would love to go to every Utah town that has a population of 100 people or less, and make a portrait of every person in the town.
Q: Who are creative entrepreneurs that you look up to?
Kevin Auernig, from Sodalicious. Allison Faulkner, from the Allison Show. Susan Peterson, from Freshly Picked. I've watched all three of them from the very beginning of their businesses and their drive, inventiveness, sheer will is downright impressive. They have incredible businesses, but I've seen how hard they work to get there. They aren't smarter than everyone else. They just work harder and don't shy away from failure as a teacher. I could go on and on about all they ways they kick ass but I'll just say, those three really impress me.
Q: Have you ever felt that running the business side of things mentally overwhelms you? How did you overcome that?
Oh my gosh, yes. Being a business owner is a 24/7 endeavor. I don't know how to overcome it, honestly. But one workaround for me is to make sure I'm having fun at work. I want to align myself with people I love to be around. I want to shoot jobs that scratch a creative itch of resonate with the kind of person I want to be or the kind of artist I want to be. Here's an example of having fun at work. A few years ago, I'd see all the kids on Halloween walking around downtown near my studio and I thought, someone ought to be photographing all these adorable costumes. And then I thought, well why isn't that person me? So for the last three years, we've invited our friends and clients to bring their kids to the studio in their Halloween costumes a few days before Halloween and I would, for FREE, photograph the kids, then send the parents all the digital files some time before Halloween, so they could brag on Facebook and Instagram how adorable and delightful their Little Red Riding Hood or Thor looked that day. I don't make any money on that and I have no idea if it will result in a booked job. But I love it. It's so much fun. I makes my job fun, which means I feel less overwhelmed about everything else.
How did you find your style? (editing, mood, lighting, etc)
I have looked at a lot of photography/photographers and have tried a lot of different things. Over time, a style started to emerge.