September 23, 2013 by Christina Hamlett
Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution. – Ansel Adams
This week’s feature story takes you behind the lens of talented professional photographer Devin Ford whom I had the pleasure of including as a guest contributor to Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve. One has to admire Devin’s whirling dervishness of late: not only does she have a full plate of projects but she’s also in the midst of planning her November nuptials, an event we’re already certain will be picture-perfect!
Q: Who or what inspired your journey to become a professional photographer?
A: When I was five my Mother took a photo class and I loved helping her. I loved the way it made her feel and the way it makes me feel when I’m photographing.
Q: What was the first picture you ever took and what kind of camera did you use?
I don’t remember the very first photo that I took, but the first photo that I made for a class was of Forte Conde, in Mobile, Alabama. I used a Vivitar film camera and printed it in the darkroom.
Q: Did you go to photography school to hone your craft?
I started out at Pensacola Junior College to make sure it was what I really wanted and that I had talent before paying for an expensive school. I chose Brooks Institute of Photography to get my photography degree because they specialize in commercial and portrait photography versus fine arts. I wanted to be able to make money with my degree!
Q: What’s your area of specialization and why did you choose it?
A: Commercial/Advertising. I love finding ways to help people improve their business. It stays exciting because it offers a wide variety of assignments; people, products, and architecture.
Q: What’s the most fun assignment you’ve had so far?
Whenever a client offers me the chance to be creative and wants something a little edgy, it makes it more fun. One of my favorite assignments was directing a book trailer because we were extremely creative with lighting, set design, and costuming.
Q: The advances in technology and the development of photo editing software have made it much easier for people to become snap-happy shutterbugs. For what occasions, though, should they consider hiring a professional photographer?
A: I have lost jobs to people who owned their own camera, but they almost always end up back hiring a professional anyway. If you care about your branding and the message that you are sending, then you should hire a professional.
Q: What are some of the things they should consider in choosing the right photographer for their particular needs?
A: Look at who their clients have been, their education and/or training, but most importantly look at their work. If you like their work and feel they can meet your needs, go for it.
Q: How much should a good photographer cost?
A: It depends on the assignment and the area you live in.
Q: Have you ever been asked to work for free? If so, what’s your response to this?
A: In the beginning I often fell for the “it will be great exposure.” and “it will look great in your portfolio.” tricks. I have NEVER had a free assignment that led to a paid assignment. It only leads to more free work! Also, the work in my portfolio that I’m paid for looks great. If you are a student, you may want to shoot a few freebies to build your book, but if you are a pro, always say NO!
Q: So who owns the rights to a picture – the person who took it or the person who paid for the picture to be taken?
A: The photographer always owns the rights to the picture. Even if you pay to have the photos made, you can only use the for the agreed upon use and can never sell them. The photographer can sell them, however, unless you put that in your contract. Most of the time a photographer does need a model and/or property release to sell images.
Q: If hypothetically you could travel back in time and take the photograph of anyone in history, who would it be?
A: Susan B. Anthony because she was an amazing feminist and equal rights advocate.
Q: How do you find your clients…or do they find you?
A: Most of my clients come from word of mouth. I never advertise, but I do a lot of networking.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Music, art. and artist friendships.
Q: What is a typical day like for you as a professional photographer?
A: Emailing, Editing photos, Photoshopping, emailing some more, and taking photos. I spend more time on the computer than behind the camera. I wish it were the reverse!
Q: What’s your best insider advice to someone who wants to go into this field?
A: Get an internship!
Q: What would people be most surprised to learn about you or your work?
A: My personal project that I’ve been working off and on for about 10 years is about an African American Transgender Drag Queen from my hometime in Alabama. When I lived in Los Angeles, people were often shocked that we had gay people in our town, much less gay bars and drag queens. In fact, Ms. Venus is doing my make-up for my wedding and is one of my dearest friends.
Q: On a final note, you recently became engaged. Congratulations! With a wedding on the horizon, inquiring minds want to know who will be taking the pictures of it?
A: My wonderfully talented friend, Liz Grove, will be doing our photos!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I love what I do and you can see that in my work.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you?
A: You can go to my website and my Facebook page!