Trisha Zemp | Photo Native Featured Instructor
Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix?
I think I am a mix. I think you have to be to survive in a rapidly transforming industry. You need to be creative to come up with new ideas and techniques. You also have to be a bit business savvy to then market those ideas.
Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now?
I think the biggest challenge photographers face right now is also our biggest asset. There is so much technology that everyone can call themselves a photographer, and rightfully so! But, there is also this HUGE need for "content." People don’t just want the yearly family photo. That is the past. Now, people want wedding photos, bridals, groomals, first looks, pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, birth photos, photos of the new baby a week after birth. Senior photos, missionary photos, photos with their pets. Family photos with all events- graduations, family reunions, first birthday’s, school photos etc.. the list is endless! With social media, everyone needs content to share. With the growing number of photographers, there is also this rapidly growing NEED for photographers.
Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful?
Specifically with stop motion, one of this biggest problems is finding resources to learn. There aren’t a whole lot of stop motion tutorials out in the world. To initially learn how to animate was a massive undertaking. I think I have learned to be successful with it through ingenuity. I really had to invent techniques to achieve my video ideas. I think an imagination is key. So is realizing that there isn’t a right or a wrong way to animate something. There are many ways, and as long as you can achieve a successful end result, it doesn’t matter the path you choose.
Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?
That’s really tricky. Right now there is so much visual content we consume every day. I try to keep my content consumption to a limit. I know its not healthy to spend an entire day looking over Pinterest or Instagram. By doing so I always feel after that my images will never be good enough. But, by limiting my content, and actually creating, (not just viewing what others create) is the best way for me to be motivated in the creative process. I think also in the world of social media we are experiencing many instances of “multiple discovery.” Way before the internet, or mass communication, there were plenty of instances of “multiple discovery” in the scientific fields. Now, in visual content creation many people are coming up with the same ideas at the same time. People aren’t necessarily copying, but the waves of visual imagery are pushing our tastes in the same direction. I think this is inevitable. So, instead of worrying that someone is out there doing the same thing, just go for it! Create what you are driven to create!
Q: If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?
I would tell myself that “you can do it!” In all honesty, I never thought I would be successful in the world of photography. I didn’t think that it would ever become my family’s main source of income. It wasn’t until I found stop motion that I realized, I could be successful in photography. I was so bogged down by the idea that I have to shoot what all the other photographers were shooting in order to make a living as a photographer. I didn’t realize that there were other avenues to be a photographer. Now, with social media, you can really shoot whatever the heck you want! People who want the same things will find, and hire you! You can spend your life taking photos of meticulously organized objects, and there are companies that will flip their lids over your work!
Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business? Be unique. I know it sounds cliché and annoying. I used to get so bugged at my professors when they would say, “find your niche.” It would make my blood boil. I wanted to scream, “I have NO NICHE!” I started taking tons and tons of photos, and started to develop my own style. I only found it, because I was working really hard, and creating a lot of crappy images. When I started adding motion to my work, that is when things really clicked.
Q: Now, what does this have to do with business?
In Utah if you are a wedding photographer people have a fixed price in their minds about what you are allowed to charge. If you are new maybe $500. If you are really really good maybe $3500. If you are insanely talented, you can charge more than that. BUT, if there is something unique about your work, or the way you shoot, nobody can pin a price tag on you. With stop motion, nobody can tell me what to charge. That is because no one truly understands the ins and outs of my unique work. Because of that I get to determine MY WORTH. It is not determined by the pricing structures of everyone around me, or what the public thinks I am worth.
Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?
I think, let your self be burned out. Take time for yourself. Don’t try to pressure yourself into magically feeling creative again. Do something totally different. I have a dear photographer friend who took a year off. She had experienced significant burn out. Now, she is back at it, and her imagery is better than ever. She is also feeling more fulfilled by what she created than she ever has in the past. Take time to heal.
This year my husband and I took up pottery together. Neither of us is phenomenal at it, but its nice to have a creative outlet that isn’t paying the bills.
Q: How do you stay true to your art while taking care of your business?
I don’t think that either of these needs to suffer at the hand of the other. Being a business person is an incredibly creative endeavor. I grew up with an entrepreneur for a father. I have realized his whole career has been incredibly creative. He has created businesses from the ground up. If that isn’t creativity/art, I don’t know what is. That is how we must approach the business side of what we do. It is another creative outlet. It is just being manifested in a different way. Our art doesn’t need to suffer because we are taking care of our businesses.
Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do?
I love that I get to dictate my own schedule. It takes discipline to work hard when no one is watching. But, I love that I am free to do what I want with my time. If I want to take an hour long bath in the morning before answering emails.. I totally can! Or, I can answer them in the tub! Of course, I don’t have kids yet. Our first is on his way! So, that freedom will probably change. :) I can say yes to clients I want to work with, and no to clients that I think will be a headache. I get to determine how I spend my time, and what I create. I also love that I am creating something I can be proud of. Something with MY name on it. I have shot on location for large companies. I have worked with their in house marketing/content teams. I noticed that those people were working themselves so hard.. But for what? In the end, the work they created at the company was not theirs. It was shared by a bunch of people, and the ownership was that of the company. I love that when I create something, it is mine. The flip side of that is when I create something crappy, I did that. I have to take responsibility for the great, and the crappy things I create.
Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?
I charge a lot of money.
Q: If money was no question, what project would you pursue?
I have always felt that if I really wanted to pursue something, that I should just do it. Money isn’t a question. We have so many resources at our disposal, especially in 2017! People are even willing to give artists money! Money should not be a factor holding us back from what we want to create. That being said, all my passion projects are currently in the books. When I come up with a new project I really want to work on, I try and schedule it in.