Earlier in the week up we caught up with the brilliant Luke Curtis catching up on all things Luke and whats going on with him. Its all been very exciting and he deserves absolutely all of it, and we know he’s name is only going to grow and grow.
We thank Luke for his time in speaking with us and you can here about his exciting career to date so far as well as a recipe for working efficiently within the photography industry.
What would you say was the main influencer in you making the big jump into the world of photography? Were you always sure of it being a success?
The main influence was falling in love with Photography and not being able to get enough of it, at the time I was winding down my career at Sony and wasn’t sure what was next for me and it felt like the right thing to do – the old cliche thing of following your heart. I was never sure it would be successful, I had no idea it would go as far as it has!! but I am very glad I made the decision.
Has there ever been a time where you’ve considered heading back to full time work? Especially with having a family to support?
In the early days I was doing some awful full time jobs and fitting my photography around it to pay the bills, but as you grow you get busier and busier so couldn’t balance the time so had to commit to just shooting. My advice would be to build your network, portfolio and pipeline before making the move – all things I failed to do initially.
We have seen that you have worked with some absolutely amazing artists over the past few years, but what would you say has been your best memory to date?
Thanks its been a bit mad at times, a few stories to tell for sure. For me the highlight of my career was shooting carl cox for DJ mag at the top of a hill in a ridiculous villa! It was the first time be played on the island since closing space the year before so was a really special moment. I got to take my best mates and partner so was a really spiritual moment, one that will stay with me forever.
As a photographer, people dont often think, but that also means that we have to look after our finances, marketing, development and the most important, sales. With Luke having a previous career in sales this is certainly an area which is a huge element of being a full time photographer.
Photography is so much more than just pressing a button you need to get such a good grip of business and all areas, money, services, legal, marketing…. its really challenging! you can be the best tog in the world but if you can’t manage a busy you will sink. I always say I am a better marketeer than I am a photographer and that has helped me get the exposure I have which as got me noticed by some of the brands I have and continue to work with.
What would you say are the key elements which are included in trying to sell our services as photographers?
I live by a real simple saying – If they can’t see it … you can’t sell it… you need to get your work into peoples faces, you can work with accountants to manage money but I think you have to own your own marketing as its your brand and people want to work with you … you an agency – unless you grow to that later in your career.
As mentioned earlier on, we know that you are always happy to support other photographers and enhancing their careers, your youtube channel is brilliant, with the posts always giving the viewer into the kit you use and the processes. A lot of what you talk about it linked to methodology not just in the shoot but in getting noticed. Are these practices you have developed through your role within sales?
Yes as mentioned above a lot of what I do is designed to get me noticed and I make good use of social media to draw attention to my work, starting the youtube channel is designed to help me stand out as an educator/expert which again helps marketing yourself and allows you to charge a premium for your expertise. the same in many industries you pay for wisdom and establishing your self as educator facilities moving towards earning what you should.
What would you say is your current recipe for your business workflow
When you first start your workflow is soo long! Over time you start to refine things and this gives you more time to be shooting an earning cash as opposed to being stuck in front of a computer screen. I would say shooting – 30%, sales marking – 50% development – 20% but I would combine sales, marketing and development into one as they go hand in hand.
You have worked with some really big names both in the corporate world and music industry, with sponsorships and representations from companies like Capture One, Peli and many more. Are these companies who have approached you or have you reached out to these companies?
It’s an even split, some I have approached and others have approached me, but all have been solutions I use and the opportunities have evolved naturally. When you get a sponsor its not just a case of getting free kit… you’ve got to sell for me – produce content, promote them and keep selling them at every opportunity – thats why its key you use the kit as part of your workflow. So many togs get it wrong and approach because they want free gear… use the gear, buy into it they approach the manufacturer and pitch for sponsorship.
One of the biggest landmarks your career to date has come recently, with your talk at The Photography Show, NEC Birmingham. Tell us what this was like and what this means for you on a personal level?
Had to re-read that a few times as its just unreal!!! It went really well – the demos weren’t as good as I would have wanted them to be, its so hard to recreate a club in a exhibition hall. What it means to me on a personal level is so hard to put into context for a few reasons, I never started out expecting it to get to this point and as a dyslexic I always under performed as a kid so to be able to stand up and talk about my passions is unreal and was the first time a dance music photographer has spoken live at the show… I am really proud that I have shown dance music photographers can produce work that is good enough to be noticed on this scale and allowed to talk about.
So things are evidently booming for you at the moment and rightly so, but what is next for ‘Luke Curtis’ is there anything exciting in the pipeline?
Opening my own studio is next – had a slight delay on this but it will happen in 2018.
Where do you see the future of music photography in general going? Is there anything you feel photographers can be doing to keep the industry sustainable?
Music photography is a great entry point for photographers and as music is so broad there are entry points for any genre – it used to be all rock and pop music but now with dance music growing the way it has togs like me can break into the mainstream and then move between genres to build their portfolios. in terms of keeping it sustainable for al of us I would say – once you have portfolio start charging as this keeps value in what we do, you can work for free as you change the direction of your work or work on personal projects but don’t keep giving away something so precious for free – learn about copy right and help keep the value in what we do.
And there we have it! Any insight into the life and methodology of Luke Curtis! A man driven by getting his work out there but also helping others achieve greatness through various channels.
We encourage any photographer to visit his youtube channel, its a great place to find little tips on workflow, kit he uses and ways to get your work notices. You can head straight across to it by clicking here.
We look forward to hearing and seeing more or Lukes great work and business mindset. But until then, you can see his work on the following links.