The meeting was with a huge, global ad agency and its top art director. I won’t say his name but this guy is at the top of the top. 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 work 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 changed everything for me… my work, my brand, my website…
Are you hiding behind your portfolio? Are you afraid to show who you really are?
I’ve learned over time that it’s far more rewarding to put yourself out there and show yourself, your heart, and your ideas.
Show YOU. Come out from behind that camera.
@jeremycowart thanks for sharing this, Jeremy. Truly inspired by your words here. Your passion definitely comes through in your work.
@jeremycowart great message!
@jeremycowart That's exactly right! I've talked with agencies here in PDX ( W+K, Sandstrom... ) and that's exactly what they say.
@jeremycowart thank you, great story. Now I just have to find who 'me' is :)
This makes my heart beat faster thinking about both the risks and rewards and what this kind of thinking could make possible.
Whoa..the truth is real..thanks for the reminder to quit hiding behind our portfolio it is a representation of our works which in truth can be like dirty rags compared to the heart of ourselves.
Perfect Jeremy... Sometimes, the light inside our heads is more brilliant than the one we can express on our shots!!
@jeremycowart Brilliant! I needed to read this.
@jeremycowart Congrats! Being who you are takes courage. I'm glad there's hope for us "idea people"!
@jeremycowart appreciate you putting yourself out there.
@jeremycowart thanks for sharing this. What a great eye opening thing. I totally agree!
@jeremycowart wow. wow. wow. glad I looked at TWT today. Thanks!
@jeremycowart Excellent advice
@jeremycowart Mind blown, head racing, heart lightened by this post. Thank you for the inspiration!! ❤
@jeremycowart you as an art director is what I want to learn from your teaching. I can get lighting & photoshop training from others
@jeremycowart retweeting your awesome article. Thanks for sharing!
@jeremycowart man. That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing what’s worked for you.
@jeremycowart this is so inspiring!
@jeremycowart great post!
@Amykatebrown your ideas and mind have made me a better thinker, thankful for the time I had working with you, friend.
Interesting that you discovered this early in your career. Your "other work" is deeply revealing, particularly your "Help Portrait" work. As a buyer, after screening contractors for technical competence, I often chose to work with people I like and can help me create a better product or service.
Your story confirms that you are a really gifted photographer.
If others do the same, the results won't be as sweet as Jeremy's.
Come out from behind the camera, then probably he/she will be
rejected even more... Unfortunately this is the truth.
Ungifted persons (photographers) will not achieve at high level as Jeremy does.
Jeremy is a different.
I will adapt what Jeremy is really trying to say, to my life,
not just to photography, though.
It's not easy show your best with comissioned work. Be creative with personal work is the way. That story tells me to not to be lazy. Awesome. Thanks for that.
@danvolkens NICE! TAKE HEED.
@causeascenenash Means a lot, thank you.
@DougTurney True. Thanks for the feedback.
@darrentyler Is that your quote?! It's beautiful!
@darrentyler Awesome, would love that. And congrats!!