Learn to Say No, You Don’t Have to Accept Every Job - Deb Clark

Deb Clark

The very best piece of advice I was given when I started was to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Every click of the camera teaches you something. Be patient. Good things take time. Find some people who inspire you and follow them. 

1. Tell us about your background and journey. 

My background is in the creative industries where art, design, and fashion meet. It’s a people-orientated industry and although I love it, I think part of why I got into landscape photography is for the solitude it brings. 

Maybe opposites attract! When you’re out shooting you are completely in the moment and there’s no time to be thinking of anything else. It is incredibly good for the soul. 

I was given an old crop sensor camera. It was very basic and made me have to work hard to get a good image. This introduction was invaluable as it turns out. There was so much to learn and remember but it was a good solid basis in which to move forward. 

I have worked with many tourism providers and other companies to promote destinations, services, and products. Every job brings its challenges and rewards. 

I have been incredibly lucky to gain support from industry companies and I am now very firmly a Nikon shooter thanks to Nikon NZ. My camera of choice is the Nikon Z7. 

It’s a full-frame, mirrorless, reasonably light camera which is essential for me as weight is an issue when you hike up mountains and for long periods of time. 

I am also an ambassador for Nisi Filters New Zealand who provides me with those essential pieces of wonderful glass that allow me to specialize in long exposures. I am also an ambassador for F-stop Gear and use their Kashmir Bag which is specially designed for my smaller frame. 

2. How and when did you realize your passion for photography? 

I am a relative newcomer and picked up a camera for the very first time just over four years ago. I was hooked right from the start. I was lucky in that my partner is also a photographer. He gave me a basic long exposure setting and I was away. We shoot together a lot, exploring and capturing the beauty of nature. 

We have developed very diverse styles. Interesting that you can shoot side by side with someone and get completely different images. This comes with developing your own style. Makes it a whole lot of fun too. 

The excitement that I feel when I arrive at a location is what gets me out of bed at ridiculous hours to chase that gorgeous light. You never quite know what you will get. Will the sky light up? Will clouds provide that much sought-after mood or drama? These are some of the things I’m constantly searching for. 

I am inspired by the incredible diversity nature has to offer. The location, time of day, and seasons offer up a uniqueness that is our privilege to capture. 

Photography teaches patience. I have a clear picture in my head of the image I want and will return time and again to a location until I get it. I am not at all concerned about how long it takes. The journey I go through to get the final image is part of the magic of the experience. 

Occasionally I add a human element to help tell the story, explain the scale, and when a pop of color is needed but it is not something I consciously think about. What I do think about is chasing light and shadow. 

The hour before sunrise and after sunset is a favorite time. There is something extra special and mysterious about the light at these times. 

3. What are some tips you would like to share with amateur photographers? 

The very best piece of advice I was given when I started was to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Every click of the camera teaches you something. Be patient. Good things take time. Find some people who inspire you and follow them. 

Save images you can refer to. Research where you are going. What is the best composition, how will you get there and what time of day will work best? Where do the sunrise and set? 

Compositions, light, shadow, and editing are key. Research techniques, and just get out there and try them. Be open to other ways of doing things. If you stop being open to learning …. You may as well stop. 

I also think it’s incredibly important to shoot and talk with other photographers on occasion. Understand why they do the things they do. 

4. What are the important skills one should have to be a successful photographer?  

Be prepared to invest huge amounts of time in perfecting your craft. I believe you can learn and work hard in order to do something well. However, nothing replaces natural talent, and this is critical to producing images that stand out from the rest. 

Shoot everything to start with until you find out what inspires you. Practise, practice, practice. Taking an image from good to exceptional is not luck. It’s the result of hard work. 

5. What are various opportunities available for aspiring photographers? 

This depends on what you want to do. Gone are the days of specializing in one area in order to make a living. The type of photography you love to do may not be the one that pays the bills so get experience in other areas. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Put together a well-targeted portfolio and make it accessible to potential clients. Get your name out there by entering competitions and submitting to media. 

To start with, offering a small service or image for free can be your opportunity to build relationships. After that though, charge professionally every time. 

Social media is critical these days so be active often. Post regularly and at the same time of day and stick to a theme. 

6. What has been the biggest learning from your experience? 

Learn to say no. You don’t have to accept every job. Think it through. Is this going to help you towards your goal of being accepted as a professional? I get offered many opportunities to promote products and services. 

They must fit with the vision I have for where my work is going. If they don’t, I turn them down. I have to believe in what I am selling, if I don’t then more harm than good could be the result. 

7. Which is your favorite book and why? 

The Nisi Fine Art Photography Book. It is packed with incredible images from photographers from all over the world. I look at it often. For pleasure and for research. 

Instagram ID - @debc_nz 

Deb Clark

Deb Clark 

Deb Clark Photography NZ 
NZ Ambassador: @Nisifiltersaustralia

Interviewed By - Sandeep Virothu 

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