Well, if you haven’t noticed already, I launched a new website. This site reflects so many things that I’ve learned about websites over the years but especially over the last year. I used to be a full-time web designer but that’s pretty much irrelevant considering how fast the internet is changing these days. So I still find myself learning all the time.
One of those lessons was in the form of a recent business meeting. This meeting changed everything in terms of how I see myself and my own “brand” if you will. The meeting was with a huge ad agency and its top art director. I won’t say his name but this guy is the creative director for a global, well-recognized brand. He’s the type of guy that sees the best photography in the world on a daily basis. It takes a lot to impress a guy like this.
So I walk in at the end of the day and I can tell he’s already wiped out and is secretly wishing that I would leave. Again, I’m just one of hundreds of photographers he talks to a year. Nothing special at all. But he sits down anyway and we start doing the traditional portfolio review.
As he’s flipping through my portfolio, I could see the words on his face. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, nice lighting, nice retouching but big deal. I see this every day.” It was obvious. He just wasn’t impressed.
So at that point, I could have easily followed the usual script, wrapped it up, shaken his hand and went on my defeated way.
But I decided to gamble and show him who I really am.
I said, “I know you’re busy but can I show you some other stuff?” Thankfully he agreed.
So I sat down and spent another 30 minutes walking him through my other work. The work that I’m more passionate about. I showed him my “Voices of Haiti” project. Then I showed him my “Voices of Reconciliation” project. Then I showed him a few of my crazy art videos. Then at the end I told him all about Help-Portrait and how we (the photography community) were making a difference across the world with our cameras.
At the end of this second presentation, I could tell that he was genuinely moved and even a tad shocked. He was so moved that he walked out of the room and brought back in some of his co-workers. He said “This is Jeremy Cowart. He’s an idea guy. He thinks like an art director and he’s not just another photographer with pretty images. I want to work with him.”
My nice images are just nice images. But my mind, my heart and my ideas are another force all together that are infinitely more powerful than a pretty portfolio.
That line of thinking changes everything for me… my work, my brand, my website…
So the question is: Can a photographers website be more than just a nice portfolio?
Yes. It can.
I’m more than just a photographer. And so are you.
This spoke to me. Very loudly. Thanks for sharing & seriously... props to you for being bold & showing him your other work!
Jeremy, you're an awesome photographer. Your images shows how big you are, but your projects shows how human you are too. thank you for share this experience with us, you're such a great inspiration for us.
A story never soon forgotten for the mind and our imagination always creates - great to hear that your's always inspires --
Thank you SO much Jeremy! I am just now developing my website (terrible splashpage as of now), buisness plan and development slate for a new (ad)venture the Lord has me on and you just helped me to think differently about what I am doing. I love that!
I think" photographer" as a standalone concept is losing its significance. Everyone's a photographer. Everyone can stand back and wait for others to come to them with ideas and commissions. I don't think that's how it works any more.. You were described as an ideas man. In other words, someone who can contribute solutions, someone who can be involved in the process of creation from the start, rather than someone who waits for a call after the decisions have been made. our new mantra should be: "don't call me, I'll call you" Thanks jeremy.
Wonderful Jeremy! Congrats with your evolution and future endeavors. You're a true inspiration and one heck of a good guy. Keep rockin n Rollin brotha!
Nice! Love that you practice what you preach. That stuck with me pretty hard at your LFTour also. These clients aren't hiring you for your images. They are hiring someone they can work with, someone they can like, someone who is more than just pretty photos in This day and age where where anyone with enough money can buy a great camera as produce "pretty pictures". We have to make sure We are on point and stand out of the crowd with "all the other stuff" that make us who we are. Love this Jeremy! Kinda weird side note...I didn't want to say because it's just something you don't like to admit...but I had a dream we were at a bar celebrating something. Maybe this was it. Crazy. Congrats! I'm so stoked for you. ;)
you are such an inspiration! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST! EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON IN MY MIND TOO...EXCEPT I DON'T DEAL WITH HUGE ART DIRECTORS ;) I'D LOVE TO THOUGH! MAYBE ONE DAY. anyway, the site looks great!!!
I couldn't agree more with your philosophy about giving back Jeremy. I have long believed in giving back and paying forward. We can all make a difference if we just make the effort. big or small, it all makes a difference. Thanks for inspiring all of us to try!
so nice to hear that even at your create level you are still learning and growing and facing challenges head on with strength and perseverance. thanks for the inspiration.
Wow, thanks guys. I’ve read every word and will continue to do so. Seriously, means a lot. May we all continue to tell stories with not just our work, but our lives as well.
Jeremy, as a long time lurker on your website, I'm thrilled to finally feel like I've got a comment worthy of posting. It's going to sound really silly to some, but I know you'll get it. I'm so proud for you and of you. I will redouble my efforts to try to figure out how to spend some time learning from you. Prov 22:1-5
first...congrats to you! second...wow! thank you for the reminder to continue thinking outside the box and to be authentic and continue to push.
thank you man for your realness. in God your family and business. i know you dont know me but i do have respect for you as a man ( obviously i dont know you) but from what i see i feel connected man. God bless. and keep shining the light in darkness
Excellent insight. THe fact is that our images are only as interesting as we present them to be, and that includes your self image as well as the one created in the camera! I love this story.
THIS IS AWESOME, AND TOTALLY MAKES ME RETHINK MYSELF AND HOW I REPRESENT MY WORK IN FRONT OF CLIENTS. ALSO, I THINK MY WEBSITE NEEDS AN OVERHAUL AFTER READING THIS POST. PERSPECTIVE = ALTERED. MIND = BLOWN. SUCH A SIMPLE IDEA TO BE YOURSELF AND NOT WHAT THE CLIENT "EXPECTS," BUT EVERYONE IS SCARED TO DO IT, MYSELF INCLUDED.
That's an excellent example of how perseverance, dedication, and an overwhelming need to do something good will open doors for people. Time and time again we hear about people stepping on others to get to the top, but rarely hear the stories of artists like yourself that are dedicated to change bits and pieces of the world, even if it's a daunting task. Keep up the great work. Especially, on the projects you are working on outside of just your photography.
Thank you for this insight Jeremy! Always an inspiration! I felt the opposite when I met you at Photoshop World in Vegas last year. I didn’t have an ounce of work on me or even a way to show it to you when you asked about it. You said, “ Man you should always have your work with you, even if it is on your phone.” Since that conversation, I always have my best of my portfolio on my smart phone. Thanks again Jeremy!
Awesome! Glad you took that extra step to show him that there's more to you than just being a Photographer! Very inspiring!
just one more reason that you are a true hero, and someone i really admire the heck out of. Keep it going!!
THIS IS THE BIGGEST LESSON I WALKED AWAY WITH FROM YOUR LIFE FINDER TOUR. IN FACT, I WAS AT THE ONE IN LA AND I WANTED TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THIS STUFF AND LESS ABOUT YOUR PHOTOS...HAHA! MOSTLY BECAUSE, LIKE YOU SAID, AS PEOPLE WE ARE INDIVIDUALS, BUT AS PHOTOGRAPHERS, A BUNCH OF NICE IMAGES BECOME LESS AND LESS IMPRESSIVE. I HAVE FIGURED THIS OUT TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, BUT AGREE, IT IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. WE WILL NEVER BE FINISHED...THANKS FOR SHARING!
Congratulations! That is huge jeremy! My daughter works in the number crunching department for gatorade in chi and with the athletes that work with gatorade, it's huge! well deserved! looking forward to seeing your work with them!
Thanks for sharing... I always think of myself as more than a photographer, but it is easy to fall back in the trap of just going for those same old images instead of pursuing what drew me to photography in the first place. Thanks for the reminder :)