Welcome to the first edition of Five Quick Questions with (insert Awesome Person here). Because I am a creative person and I like creative people, I’ve decided to write about those in creative professions and shed a little light on them, their work, and why I think you need to know about them. The Awesome People are chosen by me because I respect their work and I am not compensated in any way, shape, or form. Here we go…
His name is Ben Marcum and he’s a photographer. A pretty darn good one, if you ask me. I had the pleasure of working with him last week on another Awesome Person’s creative project. Upon entering his studio at the Heyburn Building on 3rd St. (across from The Brown Hotel), I was immediately put at ease. He’s a big ol’ tall teddy bear with a good eye for angles and light, and a quirky-ish sense of humor that will elicit the most genuine of smiles in the most constructed of spaces. I had seen his work before and now I understood why his product was so good. It’s about him. And here he is:
- What is the most creative thing about what you do?
Finding a way to connect with every person that I photograph so that I can capture images of them that show them at their best. Very few people think they are photogenic.
In reality, it is not your job to be photogenic. It is my job to create amazing images of you.
For that to happen, I have to find a way to connect with you. I really love that part of the job. It is so rewarding.
- When did you know that photography was the right thing for you?
As soon as I picked up a camera again. I shot film back in high school, but I was also training to become a sound designer for theatre, which was the path I took. I had a great career in theatre that I’m very proud of. As that part of my journey was wrapping up, (and I was trying to make a totally different business work) I picked up a camera again. It was like reconnecting with an old friend. Once I was able to start figuring out what I wanted to do with it, and how really great portraits of someone could mean so much to them…I knew there was no turning back.
- What is the biggest misconception about your industry or creative endeavor?
In headshot land, it’s that “Well, it’s just a photo of someone’s head and shoulders. How hard can that be?” Honestly, I thought the same thing when I first started. I found out very quickly that it is extremely difficult.
To get a great headshot, you have to be able to work with people to get real expressions. You have to be able to make them look confident and approachable.
You have to get a range of emotions out of people. All of that while keeping an eye on their clothes, hair, makeup and so on. I studied with world famous headshot photographer Peter Hurley to hone my craft and am Kentucky’s first and only associate photographer and mentor in his training program, The Headshot Crew.
With portraits, I think many people don’t think they deserve to take the time for themselves and/or they don’t know what they would do with images of themselves. Truth of it is, people should absolutely start taking time for themselves. A portrait session is really all about you. In my studio, I provide the hair and makeup artist, I guide you the entire time…You get to enjoy the experience of being photographed however you like and afterward you have amazing images of yourself that you can simply enjoy forever. You can do it alone, with you and then we add your family, or with a group of friends. It is so much more than what I think people remember from the mall photos from the 90’s. Think of it as your own Vanity Fair photoshoot.
4. What is your greatest obstacle in trying to balance creativity and business?
I have never really thought of it as a balancing act. For me, everything is so intertwined. I don’t think I separate it. If anything, I would so much rather be photographing people than writing blogs, doing the administrative work, etc. I did get a bookkeeper this year which has been such a blessing.
5. What’s the next big CREATIVE thing for you or your business?
I am really starting to push the “Vanity Fair” portraits which I am screamingly excited about. I am in the planning stages for a couple of portrait series; one that’s inspired by historical art, the other by my time at Actors Theatre of Louisville. I am going to New York in October for a large convention and to hang out with the amazing people from the Headshot Crew…and I may be going out west early next year to do some teaching.
His images are beautiful, thoughtful, and genuine; all things that a creative person should aspire to. I didn’t really want to see my photos that day (because of my own negative inner dialogue, but that’s another blog post), but I am certainly glad that I did. I saw myself a little differently. I saw a hint of who I remember being there and the woman I hope I am evolving into. And if you have the chance to experience that kind of moment for yourself, I believe you should.
Please, visit www.benmarcum.com to learn more about Ben and to schedule a consult or session. You can find him on Facebook HERE. You can find ME on Facebook HERE. His super-groovy Instagram page is HERE. While you’re at it, you can follow ME on Instagram HERE.