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Stop Hiding: Show YOU and You Won’t be ‘Just Another Photographer with Pretty Images’

cowart

In the world of photography, we typically hide behind our cameras and our images. Many of us are shy and would prefer to stay behind the camera, not in front of it. And then that starts to extend into our online brand as well.

I can relate. I’ve done this for a long time. But I recently had a meeting that changed everything.

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.

From Voices of Haiti. The sign reads "The Earth Can Shake But Haiti Remains In My Heart."

From Voices of Haiti. The sign reads “The Earth Can Shake But Haiti Remains In My Heart.”

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.

From Voices of Reconciliation. Anasta Kasieri (Pictured right), 45, survived the genocide by hiding in a banana tree while his entire family was chased by a mob into the lake (pictured here) and drowned. Jean Claude Nshizirungu (pictured left), 29, is the son of the leader of that mob. Although the father fled the country in fear, Jean Claude begged Anasta for forgiveness during the Gacaca trial, and Anasta, out of his Christian faith, forgave them all. The sign reads "Forgiveness releases fear."

From Voices of Reconciliation. Anasta Kasieri (right) pictured with Jean Claude Nshizirungu (left), the son of the leader of a mob that drowned Anasta’s family in the lake behind them. Although the father fled the country in fear, Jean Claude begged Anasta for forgiveness during the Gacaca trial, and Anasta, out of his Christian faith, forgave them all. The sign reads “Forgiveness releases fear.”

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.”

Whoah.

My nice images are just nice images. But my mind, my heart and my ideas are another force altogether 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.


About the author: Jeremy is a Celebrity Photographer, Entrepreneur and a Humanitarian. He founded a global photography movement called Help-Portrait and recently launched an iPhone App/Social Network called OKDOTHIS. His goal in life is to use his platform, ideas and creativity to inspire and help others in need. You follow him and see more of his work on his website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and OKDOTHIS. This article was originally published here.