Posted April 1, 2014 by Devani Janssen
The SmartShoot Creative Community is packed with talent and passion and we love sharing that with the world. This week we’re featuring Keith B Dixon, an ambitious photographer, lively entrepreneur and fellow San Franciscan.
Tell us about yourself, Keith.
I’m a commercial photographer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. My primary focus is corporate event photography and executive portraiture on site and in studio. I’ve photographed over 5,000 individual portraits since 2007 and am known for photographing large groups of people (100 or more) in broad daylight with speed lights. My client list is long and includes Genentech Vacaville, IEEE, The US Appellate Court Judges, The Pet Industry Association, IBM and a host of well-known advertising and PR agencies.
This year I launched Keith B Dixon Architectural Photography on the advice of some trusted resources. I’ve never considered myself an architectural photographer, and honestly, I didn’t know if I was good enough. For years I was a closet shooter and photographed any and every property I could get. As I did, more and more people called. At the end of the day, I am a person who makes portraits of people, places and things.
How did you get started as a photographer?
When I was a kid my uncle bought us cameras and we always made pictures of everything. Later on I started shooting film and traveled to Europe shooting 20-30 rolls of film on every trip. After a few trips I thought I was good enough so I took on a job for this café, bombed on the images and quit. It was all bad!
When I graduated from college my brother bought me a Sony digital camera and that got me shooting again. In 2006 I was working as an operations manager for a residential inspection company and was laid off. I borrowed $15k from my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, put in another $15k of my own money, bought equipment, and opened a studio.
Within 9 months I had made that money back and that’s when I knew this was the career for me. This was the first thing I had done in my life that came easy. I found that “do what you love thing”.
Why do you do what you do?
There’s something about photography that drives my soul and I would feel empty without it. I’m not sure why but that’s the way it is. I’m still trying to figure that part out. Know that I am a people person, I love helping, and I love the fact that photography allows to me bridge the gap to other cultures that I might not have been able to reach.
I have a saying. Don’t make me chose between my wife and photography. I love them both so dearly. If I had to pick, I rather die.
Best advice you would give to a new professional?
First and foremost, photography is a business. Be organized and tracking-oriented in your business workflows so that when you are overwhelmed with creating images you can click a button and know where you are in your business. You have to know where you are in your business at all times in order to make good decisions about the types of jobs you’ll be taking on.
Find vendors who integrate into your workflow seamlessly and pay them to help you manage your workflows. Remember 90% of photographers will fail in the first 10 years. Most artists will fail because they lack business talent.
Why do you work with SmartShoot?
I just launch a new brand and I want to expose my service to as many clients as possible. SmartShoot’s business model is a perfect fit for my brands placement into circles I may not have been ordinarily able to reach. It’s like working with an agency!