We had the good fortune of connecting with James Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had a background in corporate meetings and events. When I graduated from Rocky Mountain School of Photography in 2012, I knew that I could hopefully utilize the contacts that I had in that industry to begin shooting those events as a photographer. It took a few months but I got my first corporate events job as a photographer in May of 2013, and it sort of steamrolled from there. I also do nature and wildlife photography, and one of my images was chosen to be displayed for a year in the Smithsonian Museum in the “Nature’s Best Photography” exhibition. This became a great selling point, and I was able to build my business based on that reference. Once I had a portfolio that I could share from several events, combined with a reputation of being easy to work with, I was off to the races.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I really believe that the best thing that you can do besides having a strong portfolio is to be an artist that is easy for a client to work with. Be professional, always be kind to everyone, and over deliver. One thing that I learned shooting events is to really try to get the images correct right out of camera. Some photographers use the “spray and pray” method, where you just shoot way too many images and then just pick the ones that are best. That’s a fine approach, I guess, but then you have to go through all of those images before you deliver to a client, and that can be VERY time consuming. I learned to trust what I was doing and just be ready for anything. I carry the same camera bodies for primary and backup, the same flashes and the same memory cards, so that you aren’t fumbling over details or using different cameras whose control systems all work differently. Consistency and peace of mind is key!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love a lot of the restaurants up in the Avalon area, but a lot of those have seen better days pre-pandemic. The North Georgia mountains are great, and Helen Georgia is a blast. I’m a huge fan of the Fernbank Museum, and I enjoy the Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta very much. The food truck parks are also a blast.
Old Town Roswell has some great restaurants! “Salt Factory Pub” and “Roux on Canton”, as well as “1920 Tavern” and “Le Bistro at Roswell Provisions” are all fantastic. Afterwards, you can shop for vinyl records at “Mojo Vinyl Records.” For great BBQ and wings, check out “Smokejack BBQ” in downtown Alpharetta, as well as great Italian at “Santino’s” and “Vincenza’s”. The best crab cakes that I ever had were at “Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar” in Marietta. So many great places, please support them! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Rocky Mountain School of Photography, Nature’s Best Photography, Mary O’Connor and Company