5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos, With Page Gordon
I had the pleasure to interview Page Gordon, founder of CCP Photos. He is a Brand Ambassador for Foap. Page is a military veteran who has traveled all around the world. Page’s images has been published by Getty Images over 100 times with clients such as Bank of America, Garmin, IHG Hotels, Hyatt, Nivea, Dunkin Donuts and many more.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It all started years ago when after taking casual photos for both a wedding and my uncle’s 50th anniversary. Both events hired professional photographers but I discovered that my family and friends only posted and used the photos that I took. From there I gained the confidence I needed, and started working with Foap, and I was amazed to see big companies buying my photography. Those 3 milestones showed me that I could make a career as a photographer.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
As a professional courtesy, I want to protect my clients as I value everyone that invests in my craft. However, one interesting situation involved me working with a reality TV star while they were making their now historic mark on the White House. I’m going to stop right there, however :)
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
This wasn’t so much of a funny mistake but really more of a life lesson.
I used to have a very elaborate Photo Booth setup when I first started and there were so many points of failure from the physical setup to the software. I was in Virginia Beach expecting a windfall of customers from an event that should have had 2000 patrons at a festival, however, the event was rained out and there were only about four customers that came to the booth. Ultimately, I spent over a $1,000 in preparation and lost it all. On the ride home I was so upset and I remember praying to have money to pay the rent! I was a bit of a nervous wreck. The next day, my assistant and I were traveling back home and I realized, the sky is still blue and the birds are still chirping. Life has millions of beautiful opportunities waiting for me to experience, so why get stuck on this one bad situation? We stopped at Busch Gardens, free with my military discount, and had an absolute blast until we were rained out again. In that moment, I learned a great lesson about resilience and how we have way more light guiding us in life than the darkness that makes up our current hardships. Miraculously, the exact amount I needed for rent and necessities was met and I made it through that experience with a bigger appreciation for being positive and having faith that there will always be a silver lining.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
A big thing that stands out about my company and Foap are the authenticity of our content, our core beliefs and the opportunities we bring to minority models and business owners. The biggest value is that I “Photograph Hope.” I stay away from salacious material and always strive to portray my subjects with dignity. It’s so easy nowadays to find negative and stereotypical imagery of minorities and people of color. As someone who purposely works with many minority models and companies, I know that’s not the world I live in. Being in Washington DC I see a kaleidoscope of ethnicities making this country operate at its best. Most of my models and customers are college educated women of color. I love bringing their world to the masses and normalizing their reality through photography and video; expelling stereotypes and tapping into a major growing market of empowered women that are only now being recognized. With the help of my personal business and Foap, I can showcase the world the way I see it opposed to how others tend to view it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Shoot your passion and take a break from using your skill to solely make money. When your photography becomes a job you will take on projects and deal with people that can burn you out fairly quickly. To counter that, never go too far into the hole and forget why you are shooting. This may mean you have to take a break from shooting commercially and instead shoot for yourself. Also, meet people. It’s so easy to lose connections with people because most photographers are introverts (myself included). Use your ability to make meaningful connections with people via meet ups and other venues that you share mutual interests in. After that, network. Networking will create new opportunities and keep things fresh.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are sooo many! The Foap team has given me wonderful opportunities with sharing my photography and I really appreciate them having me as their Brand Ambassador and allowing me to be as authentic as possible. They have a great team! Pivotal people in my life include the very talented, educated, entrepreneurship-minded individuals in my community of faith. In fact, 90 percent of my models and customers are from my church community. Through my church, Life Ticket in Herndon VA, I also found that there is a vibrant group of millennials who I am grateful for as they are smart, community-focused and just so happen to be great model material.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
In a couple weeks, I will be travelling to Haiti to do photojournalism and shoot a documentary about the effects of natural disasters and economic challenges. I’m raising money now via GoFundme to help pay for gear and miscellaneous items. The organization hiring me, Rebuild Haiti, is fronting a lot for the trip but I would rather raise the difference on my end rather than have one child go hungry paying my usual salary. It’s my hope that my images will help raise awareness on the story of the Haitian people and the issues they are currently dealing with.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve focused my efforts moving away from stereotypes and changing the image of minority communities with an initiative to always depict the best of people, photographing them with dignity and hope. With my photography, I showcase minorities being just like everyone else, marginalizing stereotypes and using the visual arts to break down barriers and boxes. I also rebate my services for military veterans and ministries. This allows me to move in their purpose and be the best version of their aspirations. Whether it’s a vet getting a headshot and jumping back into the civilian workforce, or a ministry that is trying reach a community that is suffering. My goal is to use my success and skill to empower my community and the world.
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.
● Storytelling. Always try to find and depict an interesting story in your photography and video. In each photo, there should be something interesting, different and or contain some type of narrative. Study symbology, facial expressions, juxtaposition, tone etc. Each picture should stand on its own in a narrative. Follow great storytellers in media like Presidential photographer Peter Souza and others.
● Go above and beyond to get the shot. Do whatever you have to do (within reason) to capture fleeting moments and important shots. This may mean waking up early for the perfect sunrise, getting closer to the stage or to a celebrity, or waiting at a site for hours only for your subject to go by for just a few seconds.
● Listen to your clients. Every client has a general idea of what they want and the story they want to convey. Ask thorough questions to determine what they like and sit down with them to identify their requirements. For example, a photographer may shoot have extensive background in the clients in the specific industry, but it is extremely important to understand each client is different and to what that individual client wants. As such, always get clarification. If a company wants photos of a couple sitting during a sunset, ask questions that will help provide more insight on what or why they may want this shot. You may find out that it’s not specifically the couple they want, they just liked the fact the couple was at a beach. Or perhaps they just liked it was an older or younger couple, they liked the lens flare in the shot, etc.. You never know so ask what your client likes about a shot.
● Network to gain diversity. Work hard to establish connections. Many photographers are introverted, (myself included), however, it’s essential to have connections and meet and engage with new people. For example, you can meet people that could be potential models or a new friend may have great access to a perfect shooting location or other clients you can add to your rolodex. You only know so much so connecting with other people will only enhance your photography and help your career development. Knowing and connecting with people can also bring more diversity to all aspects of the photo from the model to the locations.
● Learn your gear. I know a lot of photographers that have the eye but don’t understand how to use their gear. As a professional, you should be able to take a good shot in almost any environment in about 4–8 seconds. It is also just as important to be prepared to shoot at your location through research and setup and you know how to shoot with your gear. Get out and shoot as much as possible and challenge yourself with interesting shoots so you can capture fleeting moments, especially in event photography.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Take every gift God gave you and multiply it until you’ve fed everyone around you.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’m way better with people and fortune 500 companies than I am with social media, but check me out on IG: CCP_Photos