Making It All Happen As a Photographer

by Tyler Drake | September 2, 2020
Paige Windus
Nashville, TN
Undergraduate Certificates in Digital Photography

Q: How are you managing during the Coronavirus crisis?

I’m doing well! Nashville has started opening back up, so while using precautions, my friends and I have been able to get out and about. I struggle with anxiety a bit, so being able to be out more has been helpful.

Q: Some of your work has included doing shoots for musicians which have been featured on the Spotify music platform. How did that experience come about?

Living in Nashville, as I’m sure you could have guessed, I am surrounded by the music industry and an abundance of creatives. Many of my friends and their families are in the music business as well.

Two local musicians that I’m friends with wrote a song together back in January. Last month, as they were getting things together for the release, they reached out to me with their vision for the cover picture and asked if I would be interested in working with them.

Working with artists is one of my main focuses in photography, so I was super excited to be asked! Not only is one of the pictures from the shoot the cover for their single on every streaming platform, but they also both changed their profile pictures on Spotify to a picture I took, and one of them added some of the other pictures I have taken of her to her page as well!

Q: What brought you to Sessions to study digital photography? How did enrolling in this program enhance your experience and marketability?

I’ve been self taught for years, and early this year I decided to search for an online photography program. I came across Sessions, and I loved the fact that I could focus on photography courses without having to take classes that didn’t pertain.

When people know that you’re studying your craft, they’re more likely to take you seriously. It has taught me so much in such a short amount of time, and I’ve been able to apply that to my work!

Q: Which course(s) have been most challenging, fun, or rewarding. Why?

Color Theory has probably been the most fun class so far! I made my friends listen to me talk about it every time we hung out, because it’s so interesting to me.

I have two friends who are going to cosmetology school soon and another friend who is going to art school. Because they knew how much I enjoyed the course, they told me they would also be taking a color theory class in their studies. I told them they have to tell me all about it, because I want to see how it is applied to different fields.

Another class I’ve really enjoyed is Photoshop I. I’ve always been interested in learning more about Photoshop and graphic design. After taking this course, I have decided to continue learning more about the world of graphic design to eventually be able to offer that alongside photography and videography.

Q: How has the flexibility of online study helped you pursue your education and fit it into your life? How about during these unusual days during the Coronavirus?

Online school has allowed me to be able to have a flexible schedule for my clients, and schedule shoots whenever I need to. It has also allowed me to work as an assistant on video shoots that take place during the day. If I were physically attending classes, I would not be able to be as flexible or take as many assistant/apprentice jobs.

Q: Based on your experience as a photographer working in the industry, what tips for success can you give to those seeking an education in photography?

The first tip I have is to be confident in your abilities. It’s easy to doubt yourself and feel like you aren’t good enough for this career, even when others are encouraging you and pointing out your strengths. It’s important to listen to those uplifting people, because what they’re telling you is more than likely true. Remember that you’re learning and growing your skills as a photographer, and you are your own biggest critic. I’ve been blessed with some amazing friends who remind me of these things and remind me that I’m talented.

The second tip I have is to manage your time wisely. This career comes with a lot of hard work. If you put it off, it will build up and begin to overwhelm you. I like to make small goals for each day and focus on one at a time until I get them all done. Don’t let it stress you out, devote the appropriate amount of time to each task, and have fun doing it!

My third and final tip is to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I am still learning how to do this myself. Ask about that assistant job, or say yes to the shoot that seems intimidating. You are capable of doing whatever you set your mind to if you want it bad enough. To grow as a photographer, you have to be able to step out and try new things, and, more often than not, you’ll realize it was not as scary as it seemed, and you’ll be glad you went for it!

For more information about Digital Photography programs at Sessions College, visit our Photography Majors page or speak to an Admissions representative.

Tyler Drake is the Senior Director of Student Services at Sessions College. Tyler earned a Masters Degree in Sports Leadership at Concordia University Chicago. He is passionate about sports, movies, music, family, and the benefits of a quality education.