December 2013

December Featured Member – Tim Coburn

Coburn_byGetubig

Portrait and Interview by Lawrence Getubig

 

Our October Featured Member, Lawrence Getubig, recently met up with fellow APA member, Tim Coburn for a portrait shoot and interview. Tim is a fashion, portrait and advertising photographer with a studio in Fairfax, Virginia and whose clients have run the gamut from Ann Taylor LOFT to the Washington Redskins.

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One hopes we are not boiled down to categorical archetypes. Nonetheless are you introverted or extroverted? 

I don’t see any reason you can not be both.  That’s how I would describe myself. Some days I thrive on being around people while other days I can’t even stand to be around my cat.

In your website, you describe how you came about settling into a professional photographer as a career. Can you briefly reiterate how you came about this path? Include, if you could,  how one draws a path  from DJing/radio talk show host to professional photographer?

I had always been shooting for fun.  One day my best friends’ mom gave me a Nikon D100 as a gift and said to me: “You are talented and you need to be doing this.” I knew that her faith in me was enough to have me believe in myself.  I put myself on Craigslist and advertised myself to shoot anything for $50. I shot pets, children, the most miserable family portraits. And I mean miserable! One family portrait was shot with all members wearing black on a black background using one light and stern facial expressions. Each job taught me how to get better. One job led to another and I found myself working 80 hours a week between radio and photography. Then the moment happened. I jumped into the deep end (scared to death).

 

Did you ever do assisting, if so, who with? Can you share one of the most valuable lessons from that particular studio(s)?

Not really. But I really wish I had. I felt like my growth as a photographer could have been accelerated had I reached out to other photographers for help. I was kind of stupid, in that I thought, I could teach myself. But I ran into many obstacles that could have been avoided if I had assisted.

Because of that experience, I always welcome young photographers into my studio, regardless of their formal training or experience.

 

You are Model Mayhem #212723. You joined around 2006, around the time you decided to fully commit to your professional photography business. Can you share with us  the decision process of why you joined this community and help us rookies understand how this network has helped you (and if you would recommend it)?

 I wanted to get more into fashion but I didn’t think I was good enough to reach out to local agencies and use their models. I did a few test shoots from the site and the models were very good. Overall, I found ModelMayhem to be a good way to explore and learn. At times though, it does lack the professionalism and can become hit or miss.

 

How have the following helped you to where you are now:

1) Facebook  and other social media? (you have 10k+ followers, did you know?)

I like to showcase my work on FB but it does not help me get jobs.  Instagram is my preferred social media channel for expression. 

 2) Networking (events  & behind the curtain deftly nurtured contacts)?

I am the worst networker in the world. When it comes to events and gatherings I can be socially awkward. I think it’s one of my weaknesses. (the introvert shines!!)

3) Apprenticing?

N/A

4) Marketing?

I do mostly online marketing and a lot of organic SEO.

 5) Your talent?

Talent may have gotten me here far more than I realize. When I evaluate how much time I spend actively marketing myself versus how many clients arrive to me based on testaments of my work alone, that’s talent? ….Right? …or is that called luck?

 

Tell us a little more about your studio and Softbox Studios and the community it galvanizes. 

I started Softbox Studios in 2011. I find this space attracts new amateur to semi-professional photographers. It’s a beautiful 950 square-foot space with a 30-foot ceiling, but it’s not quite equipped for big commercial shoots. I wouldn’t suggest driving an SUV into Softbox Studio. I rent the studio out on monthly contracts, based on the number of hours the photographer wants to use it. Recently, the space has attracted a lot of photographers interested in fashion. You can see what the photographers are shooting on the website: www.thesoftboxstudio.com

 

Your attention to highlights is impeccably detailed. Your retouching is also pretty impressive. Who does your retouching for you?

A magician never reveals his secrets.

 

Any networking and/or marketing tips for the APA website readers?

Just get yourself out there. Tell people who you are and what you do. Do the exact opposite of what I do.

 

Please comment on the DC vs NYC conversation. In appears your business practice doesn’t even seem to find that conversation relevant, but in case it does, can you share your opinions and insights? Your clients range from local institutions such as the Washington Nationals to Target, Facebook and Chanel. How do manage to work in DC yet maintain a pan-professional photographer practice? 

 Yes, you’re right. It’s not a really relevant question for my business. But all the work I do is local for those companies listed. Most of the clients I deal with are located out of DC.

 

Dream gig?

 Tyra Banks’ triumphant return to the cover of VOGUE.

 

You can see more of Tim’s work at his website, www.timcoburnphoto.com: