March 2014 Featured Member – Jim Darling

Darling, Jim for the APA 2/27/2014

March 2014′s featured photographer Jim Darling, is one of APA|DC’s newest members. A DC-based portrait, interior and wedding shooter, Jim comes to the photo industry with seventeen years of graphic design experience, including stints on both the board of DC’s AIGA chapter and the Art Director’s Club. Aside from his professional work, he has developed a reputation for his mobile phone photography and is a founding member of the International Mobile Photo Group, InstantDC, and has lectured on the subject locally and at the Apple Store in New York City. Jim sat down with February Featured Member Jon Goell recently to talk about the transition from design to photography and much more.




Interview by Jon Goell

Edited by Matthew Rakola


You got your start in graphic design – Where did you study?

I went to school at SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York and graduated in December of ’91. My sister and her boyfriend had just moved down to Maryland from New York so I followed them down here February of ’92 – just days after the Redskins won their last Super Bowl, actually, so it’s been a long time. But I didn’t get a design job for a couple of months.  I basically drove up and down from Gaithersburg to Rockville and Bethesda looking at graphics places and walking in.  That’s how I got my first design job but I don’t recommend that as a strategy anymore.



So what led to the switch to photography?

 I got a digital SLR in 2008 after joining Flickr in late 2007.   I had point-and-shoot for a couple of years before that and I was starting to really fall in love with photography again. I just always had this in my head that I was going to be a graphic designer even though I felt like I really liked photography and I was really good at it.  Ever since I first picked up a camera, I was drawn to taking portraits.  So, it was always something in the back of my mind, but I think photography changed so much from ’92 to ’08, and I went a long time without even having a camera.  But it was 2008 where I started to notice sort of a new passion arising.

 When I was laid off at the Mortgage Bankers Association in March of 2008 I started a personal project, shooting street portraits of strangers. I was still working as a designer and had a series of short-term contracts and freelance jobs over the next two years, but all the while my photography was getting better and starting to get noticed within the local community.  By the end of 2009 I noticed the imbalance between my passion for design versus photography – and photography was winning. I landed a part-time design job at the start of 2010 which allowed me the flexibility to also pursue work in photography, while still having the stability of a regular paycheck. The job ended last April and since then photography has been my only source of income. The relationships I had built with the design community over many years, as well as some exposure in local gallery exhibits, were integral in getting my foot in the door, especially with the designers that were now hiring me as a photographer.


So your connections came through? How did you build that network?

 When I got into graphic design, I joined the local AIGA chapter where I ended up being a Board Member for 5 years. Then I was on the board of the Art Directors Club of Metro Washington, which now, sadly, is defunct. But having those connections in the graphic design community really helped with doing photography and getting jobs by word-of-mouth.   But I didn’t really know about APA or ASMP or anything.  I joined a social group on Flickr and got to know other photographers, hobbyists and professionals.


You started through Flickr?

I guess you could say that, yeah. I realized very quickly that there was a social aspect to it. I noticed local photographers going out on photo walks, doing happy hours, and putting on shows.  I remember, after one of the DCist Exposed photo shows in the spring of ’08, sitting at the computer thinking, “Wow, I wonder if I could do that?”  “I wonder how they got into a photo show; that sounds amazing.”  Through Flickr I reached out to Kai Harth, one of the photographers I started following early on, and I asked him how I could get involved. He directed me to the ‘DC Social’ group and I went on my first meet-up with them in June of 2008.  Some of those people are my best friends to this day.”


And a lot of this was also mobile phone photography…

I didn’t start until 2010, but quickly became involved with the mobile photography/iPhone photography genre when it was first coming up  I was asked to join an international collective, the Mobile Photo Group, and I think that Flickr and Twitter got my iPhone work noticed. James Campbell, founder of InstantDC, actually tracked me down on Flickr because I was the only one shooting portraits on my iPhone in the area and that’s how our friendship started  We put on a show and through that first show I met Greg Schmigel who was the founder of MPG, (Mobile Photo Group). I’ve been profiled on Mashable and done two talks at the Apple Store in New York City– all on mobile photography.


In those years, when you were starting to make the switch, did you do any photo workshops or get any training?  Or are you mostly self-taught?

I guess you could say self-taught, or left over from high school and college. I learned 35mm and twin lens reflex and shot for my high school and college year books. I also studied some 4×5 view camera in college which I really enjoyed


That’s great.  I want to backtrack a little.  During any of these years that you were in design, either independently or working for other outfits, did you ever work with outside photographers?

I did.  When I was at the Mortgage Bankers Association we had a photographer come in to shoot a stock library for us, using our staff.  He did head shots and business lifestyle stuff and he probably shot over three days. Later, I worked with Thomas Arledge on an ad campaign that the MBA was doing. I learned the process of location and talent scouting, and was on the shoots with him and watched him light and art direct.  Little did I know that I was going to go down that road. But working with him helped me learn that there was so much more to it than just buying pictures.  That was really good. I’ve worked with him since and he remains a friend and mentor.


So, do you feel that your design background has a strong influence on your photography? If so, how?

I see my design influence in the way I compose a photo. Especially with environmental portraits, the space that the person is in and where they are in that space is very important to me. With fine art or landscape photography I’m constantly looking for interesting combinations of shape, color and texture.


Looking at your portraits now, you show a wide diversity of people in your personal work and an underlying feeling of sincerity and trust. How do you go about approaching a stranger on the street to photograph them?

I feel that one of my strengths is my sense of humor and my ability to connect with people, which is why I have always sought out portrait photography. [When approaching someone] I meet on the street, often times there is a brief interaction with the individual where I can quickly assess whether or not they’d be into having their picture taken. Even if there is hesitation in their approval you can usually tell that they are flattered at the same time. I’ll explain to them what it is I see in them that I think would make a great portrait. And I always give them a business card.. When I schedule ahead with the subject, like with corporate clients, they have time to prepare for the shoot mentally and I think that can make a difference. I do my best to explain my vision or scope and how long I think it will take. More creative shots, with people I know, we can be a lot more flexible and we take the time to try new things or just experiment with light, etc. And I can get their feedback while we’re shooting.


Who are some of the photographers, commercial or otherwise, who you admire and why?

 I love Noah Kalina’s work. His environmental portraits are moody, mysterious, and beautifully lit.  They have a Edward Hopper feel to them but can also evoke a slight sense of humor.

Also NY/San Francisco designer-turned-photographer Michael O’Neal. His work dispels any feeling that Instagram isn’t a place for real photographers.


How has the APA been helpful to you?  What have you learned?

It’s been helpful to create relationships. Sometimes just the emotional support that comes with belonging to a group of photographers, even though I am new at this.  I’ve learned a lot from different members, because they are open to helping me with questions that I have.  I can call Matt Rakola; I can call Jason Hornick.  Jason assisted me on a photo shoot with one of the Washington Redskins and that was really good.  He was basically my lighting guy and that helped me focus on communicating with the subject.  I’ve gone to them with questions about bidding and things like that. I think I learned through my involvement with AIGA and Art Directors Club that by belonging to a club you are supporting your industry, and that’s important to me.  I’ve always been an advocate for personal connections.  Even though you have followers on Twitter and Facebook, personal connections are still the most valuable to me.

So as you’re developing your own style you have to be thinking, at least a little bit, on where you want to take your photography. So the age-old question- “If you could get paid to shoot anything, anywhere what would it be?” 

I would love to get paid travel to new places and spend time with the people that live there and photograph them and their environment. I think I could deliver a nice combination of portraits and landscape photos that tell a story. Basically be sent somewhere and be told, OK, find some street/stranger portraits here and come back in a week.  Oh, And I’d like to photograph Tina Fey and come up with something hilarious but beautiful, like her.


Jim’s work can be found at and you can also find him on twitter, instagram, and Flickr. 

He’s always open to learning more and is available to assist.

Brown Bag Series: Lighten Your Load – March 27



On March 27th, APA|DC is happy to reintroduce everyone’s favorite educational series- the Brown Bag. For the uninitiated, the Brown Bag is a small informal evening focusing on a single photo-related topic. It’s a relaxed way to learn a little something new, meet some folks, and enjoy the photography community. This month’s BB features APA|DC Chair, Matthew Rakola, talking about compact location-lighting kits…

Photographers are frequently asked to complete editorial assignments that require multiple locations in a short amount of time– often without a budget line for an assistant. The key to making, well-crafted images in this environment is the ability to work quickly, flexibly and efficiently. Better low-light camera sensors and fast lenses allow the photographer to work with the ambient light, not against it. Add to this some new  technologies and a handful of good-old fashioned tricks of the trade and a compact kit can be incredibly versatile. This is not a presentation about how to shoot a job on the cheap, but an overview of some of the new sophisticated equipment available today and a few lessons learned the hard way. While there is no single way to pack for a shoot, this evening is about swapping ideas and strategies and re-imagining the tools at your disposal.

Some things we’ll hit on:

    • Ideas on packing with an emphasis on portability and flexibility and speed;
    • Getting the most out of every piece of equipment in your kit;
    • Canon radio-controlled Speedlites, Elinchrom Quadra Ranger, “dumb” strobes, and other battery-powered lighting options;
    • LEDs and other alternative light sources;
    • Grip and modifier options and hacks;
    • Manfrotto QSS (Stacker) stands and other space saving light support;
    • shooting wirelessly to an iPad with CamRanger.



Thursday, March 27th
6:30- 8:30 pm. (Presentation starts at 7:00 pm)


The studio of Renée Comet
2141 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007


Free for APA members/ $10 for the general public. No reservations required.

Light food and drinks will be provided.


Matthew Rakola is a DC-based photographer specializing in “real people” editorial, educational and institutional projects. More hustle than bustle, he believes that camera gear should never get in between the photographer and the subject. He’s spent the better part of 13 years figuring out how to bring the most amount of gear to a shoot with the least amount of sweat. His clients include corporations such as Fidelity Investments, publishing companies including National Geographic, non-profits such as the USO, and various universities around the country. His work can be found at and



A to Z: Video Interviews with HDSLR

A to Z: Shooting Video Interviews with HDSLR

March 8, 2014 | 9:30-5:00 | Calumet Photographic at Tysons Corner

SOLD OUT! (email to be added to a waiting list.)

Do you want to add video to your skill set for your clients? Interested in honing your HDSLR video skills? Need more than just the basics? Then join us for a one-day workshop exclusively created for APA-DC by Momenta Workshops on March 8, 2014 from 9:30-5:00pm at the Tyson’s Corner Calumet Store.

Momenta proudly created this customized itinerary for our members with instructor John W. Poole from NPR’s multimedia team. Joining John is award-winning documentarian Gaston Lacombe to support the demonstrations and software lectures. This schedule of learning was created to help you learn the structure and set-up of a quality interview from A to Z. By focusing exclusively on filming an interview, students should expect to leave the session with a clear understanding of the skills necessary to produce their own 2-3 minute interviews. As a special bonus, we will take the last hour of the program to cover the process of estimating, bidding, and billing a small video production.

The morning session will walk you through how to conduct a DSLR interview in the field, with a special emphasis on various audio recording techniques. We will be hosted in a private demo studio using available rental gear from Calumet so you can recreate this shooting environment again. During lunch the footage will be made available to everyone. The afternoon session will focus on downloading, editing and exporting tips with Adobe Premiere CC, which is fast becoming the industry standard for multimedia production.


Saturday, March 8th, 9:30 am – 5 pm.


Calumet Photographic – Tyson’s
8357 Leesburg Pike,
Vienna, VA 22182


Current APA members – $135 SOLD OUT
(registration begins February 11th at 2 pm)
General Public – $175 SOLD OUT
(registration begins February 17th at 8 am)


APA Members get first priority and discount pricing for this event. (Unfortunately we can’t extend this discount to other professional organizations for this event.)






This program is designed for working photographers who have already mastered the basic aspects of professional still photography but are being asked by their clients to shoot video as well. All students are expected to know their cameras, and basic photo production, inside and out. The program will not entail learning how to use your camera, except for the purpose of producing videos.



Workshop Schedule

9:30-10:00      Orientation
10:00-12:30    Studio Lighting, Audio & Camera Hands-On Training
12:00-1:00       Lunch Break 
1:00-3:45          Tips & Tricks for Adobe Premiere CC Video Editing 
3:45-4:00         Break 
4:00-5:00        Panel Discussion: Pricing Video for Clients


What to bring: your laptop computer with Premiere***, a pen and notepad, and lots of questions for the Momenta team!


***Premiere CC is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud and available for a trail basis download at:



About the Instructors

Momenta’s Lead Instructor John W. Poole is a video producer for NPR. He makes documentary films and multimedia presentations for the web and digital platforms, extending the reach and power of traditional photojournalism with moving pictures and sound.

In 2007, Poole came to NPR to help develop a visual media strategy, combining the organization’s audio storytelling strength with still and motion photography. His work has led to two national Emmy nominations for the NPR Music series ‘Project Song’ and one for an investigative series on traumatic brain injury. Over his 15-year career, Poole has covered a range of subjects, including national elections in South Africa and the United States, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and their aftermath, the effects of global climate change, and conservation issues in Peru and Namibia. Poole was part of a small team of visual journalists who developed the documentary video department at The Washington Post in 1998. That work was recognized with the first-ever Edward R. Murrow award for multimedia journalism in 2004. His work on a feature story about violinist Joshua Bell contributed to a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. The White House News Photographers Association has honored Poole with more than 20 awards for his work, including the 2005 Video Editor of the Year. His film, “The Sheriff of Gay Washington,” produced for The Washington Post, screened in festivals across the country and was optioned by HBO Documentary Films in 2006.

Momenta’s Supporting Instructor Gaston Lacombe is an award-wining photographer and filmmaker specializing in documentary narrative. Born in Canada but lived all over the world, he now calls Washington, D.C. home.

Gaston studied at the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. levels in History and holds a degree in Photography from Boston University CDIA, D.C. campus. His work has been featured in PDN Magazine Wired Magazine, Burn Magazine, the Washington Post, the UK’s Daily Mail, Germany’s Die Welt, Italy’s Il Focus, and many others.  Most notably, his photos series “Captive,” which looks at the living conditions of animals in zoos around the world, has attracted international attention. “Captive” was also a featured exhibit at Photoville in New York City in 2013. He is currently working with Smithsonian Institution on production of a film about reviving Native-American languages. His short film from his experience in Antarctica, “Living Esperanza,” has been shown worldwide and was an official film selection for the WiLD 10 World Wilderness Congress. He serves as the Communication Coordinator at the International League of Conservation Photographers, where he works with many of the world’s top photographers on projects and expeditions to help save the planet’s endangered places, animals and cultures.


About Momenta Workshops 

Momenta_FinalLogoMomenta was founded by three passionate media professionals who were all working for top tier photography companies. As the media struggled with cutbacks and diminishing budgets, each founder saw the need for change in the industry and the way stories were told to the public. Their goal: find like-minded photographers around the world and encourage social change with powerful images. Our workshops are not a “travel with a camera” experience. We seek to show our student’s new ways to witness the world, meet new people and explore new ways of storytelling. It is challenging. It is motivating. It is rewarding. And it is a helluva lot of fun. Trust us when we say this: these workshops will change your life. Learn more at



About Our Host


Calumet Photographic has made this event possible through the generous loan of their facilities and rental equipment. Most or all of the equipment shown in the demo will be available as a rental package. APA|DC members get a 20% off discount of rentals from Calumet.

Show them some love today.



PNY_LOGO_BLACK_200pxAnd a special thanks to PNY and Momenta Workshops for providing 32GB thumb drives for each attendee to take the footage home with.

February 2014 Featured Member – Jonathon Goell

A Portrait of Jonathon Goell, photographer and instructor at MonJon Goell has been teaching photography at Montgomery College in Maryland since 2000. Before that he was a commercial, editorial and advertising photographer in Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. His clients have included The Boston Globe (where he also served as photo critic), Business Week, Fidelity Investments, and Polaroid. He holds an undergraduate degree from Boston University and an MFA from George Mason University. He currently has a 50-year retrospective showing at Montgomery College through February 21, which includes work from Paris, Italy, Turkey, and the United States. There will be an opening reception on Wednesday, February 12th.

Interview and Portraits by
Matthew Rakola




So the first images that appear on your website and in your current one man show at Montgomery College are images from Paris from when you were studying abroad while at Boston University. What really struck me is that they felt very familiar. The specific places and faces are different, but I could see echoes of my semester abroad in London. I also see similarities in subject matter and approach between your work and what young shooters, almost fifty years your junior are shooting today. 

 Photographers are born opportunists. I was studying in Paris and I had some friends who were familiar with the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, who had been shooting street stuff since the 1940′s. Doisneau’s work was sort of funny and offbeat and HCB was, of course doing composition for movement. I was just blown away by the books of these two photographers. It just hit something that I can barely describe– it was extremely deep. The trip coincided with the time that my father left me his black 1935 Leica around December of 1963. At the same I was traveling around Europe on vacations a little bit and everything was brand new. It was as if the fog had been peeled from my eyes, and this camera was my way of experiencing it. I was aware of the photographs I was looking at by others and I was also unconsciously aware of the compositional training I was using in art school and just started snapping away as much as I could afford. I was absolutely in love with it. By the time I got back to Boston University in 1964 the writing was on the wall so I knew that I would eventually switch. I started shooting for the Boston Globe while I was still in school (it was easy back then) and I never looked back. All I wanted to do was shoot. I was like a dog with a rubber ball and that’s all I wanted to do.


I agree, I think photography is born both of opportunity (HCB‘s “decisive moment”, for example) and the physical barriers inherent to the existing technology of the day. It’s unlike painting, for example, where you can really just make it up after the fact.

 For the first thirty (plus) years of photography, photographers were extremely influenced by painters– by the composition, by the use of light,  by the way you had people facing in group portraits. All of this came out of painting, and a lot of early photographers were very aware of the painting of their time. In fact, Louis Daguerre was a painter.


And you started off as a painter as well if I remember correctly…

I had already started off taking the history of art, art studio, and had already gone through a year of art training at Boston University in the early sixties, but I had been drawing all my life and my mother was an artist as well. So I knew a lot even then about design, depth, and the use of light.So, when my dad gave me that Leica, which was ancient even then, I was able to take it and run with it.

And once you began shooting professionally, how did your photography change?

 For the first ten years I couldn’t not shoot. Ironically, it was when I started getting busy professionally that I didn’t shoot as much because I didn’t have as much time to wander the streets. but I always did, and always do, have a camera with me, even if it’s just my iPhone.


When I was studying photography in college it was still a very step-by-step oriented program, especially when shooting 4×5. Loading the film holders in pitch black closets, composing upside down and backwards, mastering camera movements, checking focus, processing B&W, C-41, or E-6, printing, etc. It was a very tactile (and often smelly) experience. How do students think about and learn about photography today?

Very few student know how to learn by reading anything now. Too many don’t understand how to get the knowledge by reading a chapter. Going back to the 1840′s, cameras were functionally mechanical devices, with three major controls: focus, shutter speed, and aperture. It didn’t take too long to get into what those those three controls were and not only how they controlled the technical aspects of photography but also how they allowed you to do creative things with your pictures. It wasn’t too hard to get that from reading a book.

 In modern life everything is digital. It’s meant that a lot of younger people coming up- almost anyone under 35- really don’t have a sense for mechanical things. Not just cameras- everything. It’s all little buttons now– you learn what you need to do, but if it’s a physical thing you don’t know how it works because your mind was never trained to think in that way. I hate to be one of those, “well when I was a kid” people, but I will. As a teenager in high school I was like anyone else. I’d pull the carburetor out of the car and put it on the kitchen table to repair it. It wasn’t that big a deal and I was no genius, but I did understand how to use tools and how mechanical things worked together and how to listen for the right sound versus the wrong sound. It made it easy to learn the basic mechanics of photography- not so much processing film and printing it well- but you could learn it. 

I feel badly for the younger students in my classes now who are struggling so hard and love photography but don’t know how to do it any other way but through digital devices and usually with a fully automatic pocket camera. That doesn’t make their images less valuable, or less well composed, because some of them are just brilliant at that because those rules still apply. But the mechanics of dealing with capturing– “capturing”, because that’s what it’s called now– has changed and it’s a huge mindset that’s changed not just with photography but with all devices of any kind.  

I accept this because I have to and because, frankly, people looked at my generation when I was a kid and said “I can’t believe it, you guys are just never going to manage, you’re never going to succeed…”


And the larger format shooters said, “35mm… that’s so small. How can you ever work with a negative that small???”

The very limitations and deficiencies of film contribute to it’s beauty.


So what do you think about the computer and smartphone apps that emulate film? It’s like they’re reintroducing limitations and deficiencies, but sometimes only after the initial image has been captured. Do you think that that takes some of the magic out of it?

I understand why they’re doing it and for some people it will be a really good thing. In another way it’s phony and it’s theatrical. You’re asking one process to imitate another process, and my tendency as an old-fashioned guy is to say that you might as well go back to the original process. 

Look, everybody in every generation has their tricks that the former generation will say sucks. Take Paul Strand– I knew Strand. He did stuff that people before him would think was insane. Take for example his famous street shots that he did with a 5×7 camera and glass plates. He didn’t point the camera directly at the blind lady or the other folks in the street in 1914. He had a little right angle mirror attached to his camera so he could pretend to be pointing it down the street when he was really shooting ninety degrees to his left at something four feet away. So in a sense that was cheating also. But, photographers are opportunists, like I said, so anything they can find that will help them get the results that they want is legitimate. So, it’s going to happen whether the previous generation likes it or not.


So do you think using a device like that [90 degree finder] was a way of avoiding human contact?

It was a way to avoid confrontation with another human being that he was were trying to take a picture of. Remember, in those days there was no sense of privacy like there is now, at least in this situation. Strand was looking for a certain kind of picture that would be a shocker to the audience. The picture of the blind woman at close-up range, street survivors, the guy with the bowler hat, etc. (Alfred) Stieglitz absolutely loved them, and he had been doing similar things in the 1890′s but on a tripod. They were both about making pictures of life in the raw but in their own ways, based on the technology that they had available. Strand didn’t consider it cheating, he considered it a way to show the world a different kind of image of life on the street. He wasn’t doing it long by the way. 1914 to 1916 maybe, and after that he was doing different kinds of work.


Three years- that’s like three different generations of iPhone and a dozen different photo apps. You mean he actually stuck to the same tool for that long?

[Laughing.] You know I exchanged letters and phone calls with him in the late 60′s when I was a grad student in Arizona. (I called him on a dare.) I later interviewed him twice in ’73 and ’74 when I was serving as the photo critic for the Boston Globe. He and his wife were very cordial. I had lunch with them and he gave me a tour of his home in Orgeval, France. He still had those 5×7 cameras, but I looked in his darkroom and he also had all of the latest gear in there. So he was up on whatever was new.

I’ll tell you something else I admire about Strand– he shot right up to the day he died. He was in his garden shooting a picture with his Rolleiflex and keeled over right there and died.


To this day my favorite camera is my old Rolleicord. I had another Type E with the Planar lens, but the smaller one just felt better in my hands and the shutter makes just the sweetest little whisper. Do you think younger photographers still have the same loyalty to the actual camera as perhaps some older shooters do?

I think they really do have a loyalty towards photography, as we all do, but I think the digital revolution has gotten us all used to the idea that every eighteen months something really new will come along that will make their photography better. What they are committed to, I think, is getting better and sharper pictures with bigger files. And whether the camera is this particular Nikon or Canon is less important to them than the idea that the camera with the higher resolution, and lower noise allows them to get the kinds of pictures that they want more easily than they could a year or two ago. 


I think that what we’re talking about is a shift between photography being based on a physical thing- a negative, a print, a mechanical camera- to being more conceptual. You never really hold your original image in the same way that you did with a negative. When you’re working with images in a database program like Lightroom, you’re never actually altering the original image, you’re basically just giving it instructions for what to do when you export it. How do you see this shift?

 I actually enjoy that aspect of it and I have no conceptual problem with that being the norm today… with one exception. My preference as an older photographer in the digital age is to still do as much as I can in-camera, because you can get lazy, assuming that you can fix it later in Photoshop. I like the simplicity of that [doing the work in-camera], but to someone now it is not necessarily how it’s done. It’s simpler for them to plan on getting it done later and just capturing the picture (or pictures) now. It’s like capturing words and assembling the sentence later. That’s the current ethic and the people who learned that way are comfortable with it and do it well. In twenty years they’ll look at a younger group of photo students and gripe about how they don’t do it their way. I see this as a continuum that will never, ever, ever change.



When a younger photographer comes up to me and wants me to look at their work, one of the first things I always ask is, why do you want to make pictures for a living? Photography is something you can do as a hobby. (I know many hobbyists who are better than a lot of pros out there.) Everyone has their own reason.  What made you want to choose this for a living? What’s your motivation?

 I couldn’t have answered that question at that age either. I am an opportunist without planning. I’ll carry a small camera, something will come up, there will be non-sequitur moments, and I’ll whip out the camera and I’ll shoot it. Occasionally some of those things will show up in a show like this. Looking back it’s always been a way of experiencing the world and preserving what that experience was. I also came out of an art background so I had a basis in design, composition, lighting, etc. and it was just really interesting to try with the camera. I also loved using that ancient pre-war Leica that my father gave me. The very mechanics of it were fun, the sound of the “click” was fun, taking pictures of people without them knowing was fun. I couldn’t have told you why if you asked me at the time, except that I was absolutely taken by it.


All work © Jonathon Goell

Visit his website, for more images.


Magic Hour|Happy Hour – February 12, James Hoban’s in Dupont Circle




Well you’ve asked for it, and we’re bringing it back! Coming February 12th to a bar near you (if you happen to live in Dupont Circle)– the return of the Magic Hour | Happy Hour! Yes, that special time of day when the last golden rays of the sun rake long shadows across the landscape, we’ll be spending indoors with a beer in our hands. This is the time recap some harrowing holiday happenings, catch up with friends, and maybe even meet that special someone a mere 48 hours before Valentine’s Day.


The When

Wednesday, February 12th, from 6pm to whenever we decide to leave

The Where

James Hoban’s
1 Dupont Circle
Washington, DC 20036

The Why

It takes a village to raise a photographer.

Members-Only Mullet Holiday Party


Please join us on Monday, January 27, at the Argonaut on H Street for the marriage of both business and pleasure. At this free members-only (+ guest) event, we’ll be taking the opportunity to both celebrate the accomplishments of 2013 and chart the course for your local chapter in 2014 and beyond.

Of course, being a mullet party*, it’s all business up front. We’ll begin with an informal chapter meeting so members can meet the board and discuss ideas for upcoming events and opportunities, air bah-humbugs from the past year, and work out how best to move the chapter forward in 2014. This is your chance to volunteer (or be coerced) to be on a committee or the board, suggest an event, or share any other ideas that will help us help you be the most successful photographer you can be. This is your chance to make this the chapter you deserve.

After that we let our hair down and it’s party party party. We’ll have free drink tickets, free food and a few giveaways. Catch up with old friends and let loose at a more traditional (albeit late) holiday party. The event is scheduled until 8:30 but we expect it to continue on into the night.


Monday, January 27th, from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. (meeting starts at 7 pm.)


The Argonaut
1433 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

There is ample parking on the side streets and meters shut off after 6:30.


Make this the chapter you deserve.

RSVP via email to


* This is NOT a costume party, however, anyone showing up with a mullet automatically becomes the new chapter chair.

FotoWeekDC Regional Focus Awards – Sponsored by APA|DC

Congratulations to all of our winners and a huge thank you to everyone who entered.

The first place winner of the Professional division, Edgar Artiga, takes home a consulting package courtesy of Wonderful Machine.

Richard Mallory Allnut, the winner of the Amateur division, takes home a year of Squarespace.

All of the winners and honorable mentions will be showing at National Geographic headquarters during the month of November at a special outdoors exhibition. Stop by to see these, and many other amazing images, up close and personal.

Connecting With Potential Clients: A Personalized Approach with Suzanne Sease

SEASEeventflyer-potentialclientsIn this ever-changing market there is no single “magic bullet” method to reach your target audience. The days of massive e-promos are over, with so many photo editors, art directors and art buyers opting out of the giant list services. Print pieces find their way into the trash as often as not, and face-to-face meetings are increasingly difficult as potential clients just don’t have the time to talk. So how do you get yourself in front of the right people?  This program, designed specifically for the DC market, will help you find the right clients while making sure the right clients find you.

Suzanne Sease is an industry-respected consultant and branding expert who has spent the last decade working with many of the country’s top photographers to help them achieve their goals. Before striking out on her own, she established the art buying department at The Martin Agency and has also worked with Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, and Best Buy. She is published in the British Journal of Photography, Photo District News, Resource Magazine, and is a regular contributing writer on

This program is designed for photographers who need help matching themselves up with their ideal clients. In the first half of the program Suzanne will cover ways to identify and reach out to the right people who will hire you in a personal, brand-based marketing approach. The audience  will also get insights and anecdotes from art buyers about what photographers should and should not do when reaching out to them.

The second part of the program addresses the age-old question- how can you make sure the right people find you?  As a case study, Suzanne will use a recent art buying experience with a large corporation who was looking for photographers in the DC/VA/MD area.  She’ll share what she discovered and discuss how it can help you make sure you are found for the right projects.


November 7th, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm


The West Penthouse
1301 K Street NW
Washington, DC 
Closest METROs: Farragut North on the RED Line; McPherson Square on the ORANGE and BLUE lines.

APA/ASMP/ASPP/NPPA/WPOW member + students : $10 online/$20 at the door.  General Public : $15 online/$25 at the door

RSVP via Eventbrite HERE



HUGE THANKS to Rob Haggart of aPhotoFolio (and for sponsoring this event.



Frank Meo – October 10


Frank Meo, the founder of, will share his insights on the various elements of project bidding. This seminar will breakdown, in detail, the process by which an estimate is put together. By sharing insights on the various elements of bidding from preparation, pricing, estimating, negotiating, producing, billing and follow-up, Meo will expose the entire process by which jobs are awarded. He will delve into the details of being awarded projects.

Attendees will learn the process of creating a buttoned-up, successful bid. Most importantly, Meo will discuss how to separate yourself from the competition and secure projects by bidding in a creative way. He calls this process ‘creative separation’. Creative separation is the space in which you truly connect with your client as well as their subject and/or product . This overlooked, misunderstood, and non-appreciated area is where jobs are awarded and lost. Using real-life case studies Meo will show photographers how to be a part of the creative solution.


October 10th, 6:30-8:30 pm


1301 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20005



May Featured Member Timothy R Lowery

May 2013 - Lowery

 Photo and Interview by Mike Morgan

Timothy R Lowery is an APA|DC member based in Washington, DC who photographs fashion for editorial publications both here and abroad. He was interviewed by our April Featured Member, Mike Morgan at the end of April.




Mike Morgan: So, let’s start at the beginning. Tell me how you got started with photography?

 Timothy R Lowery: I started my journey with photography when I was fifteen, actually. I bought my first camera…a Canon AE-1.


M: My first camera as well!

 T: My older brother had bought a Canon AE-1 while he was stationed inVietnam, and when he came home he was taking lots of pictures; and you know, I looked up to my big brother and I wanted a camera like his. So I worked for a year and a half after school and did whatever I could do to earn what I could earn, and I finally saved up enough money and bought the Canon.



M: Sure.

T: I immediately felt a connection to photography. I was hooked the first time I pressed the shutter release button! Soon after purchasing my camera, I started taking photographs for my high school newspaper and annual. I took advantage of any opportunity to shoot.  Back in those days, it seemed as if I were neglecting something essential if a day went by without me doing something related to photography. Toward the end of high school I was looking at enrolling in the Art Institute of Atlanta and pursuing a career as a professional photographer.  But I was dissuaded by members of my family who felt like a more prudent decision would be to get a business degree at an in-state university, so that is what I wound up doing. Even while in college, I continued to shoot as much as I could. . but by the time I graduated so much was going on: becoming an adult, trying to get a job, all that stuff; and over time I stopped taking pictures and for many many years I did not pick up a camera except maybe a “point and shoot” camera while on vacation. For twenty-years after college I was very focused  on my commercial real estate career, leading successful projects throughout the country.



M: So how did you get back into photography?

 T: In 2010 I was feeling a need for a creative outlet. . .and at the same time a really close friend of mine was going to Aveda Institute. As part of the learning process, local photographers would come to my friend’s school and shoot portfolio sessions for them.  I flippantly said one time to my friend “I could shoot better images than what you are showing me”.  My friend said, “Well, why don’t you do it?”. . .and that’s really how it all started. I went and bought a new camera and I bought some constant lights (I didn’t have strobes back in those days) and I started shooting hair shots. That’s really how it started. Eventually I started shooting once a month for Aveda, shooting all of their students’ portfolio work.  So my progression was very organic: nothing was planned, nothing was strategic, nothing was really thought out. It was more responsive than proactive.


M: So how did you get from that point to shooting these very involved fashion editorials, in such a short span of time?

 T: The next level for me was working with a local fashion designer who had seen my work and asked me to shoot her look book.  Accordingly, I evolved from hair to fashion to editorial, and again it was very organic. Just to fast-forward, two years later my most recent editorial is coming out in Zink Magazine in June, and at the same time I’ve negotiated rights for Velvet Magazine in the UAE to have the exclusive Middle-Eastern rights, so there’s been a lot that’s happened in two years.  One thing has led to another thing. . .and eventually better models, better clothes, better stylists, better equipment has been the result.


M: That’s amazing, so in that short of a period of time?

 T: Yes, two years!


M: That’s incredible, meteoric. 

 T: Well, meteoric is going from obscurity to Vogue. So I don’t feel like it has been meteoric…but it has been an amazing journey in a short period of time.


M: You’re in a very interesting space in your career right now with your successful commercial real estate career and the success of your editorial photography.

 T: It’s a very interesting space, and you know I’m constantly asked: Would you want to be a photographer full-time? And I always say I would love to, but I’m not 20-something years old any more and I’m not at that point in life where you just drop everything and go, “Oh, I’m just going to go and live out of a suitcase and shoot pictures.”  But I do have a passion for photography and I love what I am doing.  I’m learning something new every day.


M: I think it’s a very unique story, and I think most people who have the financial means or money from some other source and decide that they’re interested in photography, they’re dabblers you know? They’re just going to do a little bit here and there, there not going to commit to building a talented team around them and then actually producing truly impressive, very detailed work, and if they’re shooting fashion they’re not shooting it with such technical precision and the type of forethought that you’re obviously putting into it.

 T: I really do put a lot of forethought into every editorial that I shoot…and as far as technical precision, the last two years have taught me so much about the technical aspects of fashion editorial photography. . . from good composition to lighting!


M: I think your work is pretty amazing. I’ll be honest with you, when they told me I’d be photographing and interviewing you I was not familiar with your work. I went to your website, and I said who is this guy and what is he doing in DC?

T: From a fashion photography standpoint, it’s a great question!


M: You know when photography students come to me and say they want to shoot fashion I tell them, “Pack your bags, go to New York or LA, you’re not going to be able to build a career here.” So I think you’re in a really unique position, and an enviable position. For most photographers it’s the financial burden of running the business and having access to capital that stalemates their creativity and wears them out.  

T: I’m deeply sympathetic because I know that’s many photographer’s plight, and so when I look back on my life in hindsight, I kind of owe my family a debt of gratitude in one regard; because my business career has created this vehicle that now allows me to financially shoot what I want to shoot.


M: So having said all that, tell me a little bit about where you draw your inspiration from and, even when you were starting, how did you determine what your end goal was, and how did you decide what kind of images you wanted to create in the first place? 

T: When you ask that question, I immediately think back to the end of 2010, and I was shooting the look book that I referenced a bit ago, and I remember saying I want to devote 2011 to just learning how to shoot fashion editorials. What I loved about editorial was the story, and I wasn’t sure how you tell a story in pictures when it’s all fashion? So some talented friends and I started brainstorming about some stories we wanted to shoot.  The first editorial I shot, Center of Attention, I didn’t even know what to call it, to be honest with you. I came down to a furniture store in Georgetown and told them I needed some furniture for a photo shoot, and believe it or not they loaned it to me.  I had a local model, not even agency represented. . .and I found a local stylist.  We put all this together and that was my first experience with editorial.  Truthfully, we didn’t even have a “story”. . .we created the story after we shot the images.  So I learned it is much better to go into the shoot with a story rather than vice versa.


M: How did developing a storyline change things on your shoots?

T: Soon after that first editorial shoot, I decided I wanted to do an editorial inside an office space about a group of people who work together. . .I named the editorial “Taking Care Of Business”. This time I went into the shoot with a whole storyline and I knew the characters and how I wanted to shoot them. It made doing the shot list so much easier!


M: When you’re developing your story, and say it’s an editorial client, do you run your storylines by your editor and do they ever contribute to it? Or is it just a private conversation that goes on with your team and crew?

T: It goes both ways, because if it’s for submission you have total control, but if you’re shooting for a magazine they have certain parameters you must follow. You know a lot of times they want to approve the talent, they want to approve the stylist, and many art directors want to be right there viewing every shot.  Thankfully most of the magazines that I have worked with and worked for, have just allowed me to be me and use my own creativity rather than imposing their vision for the editorial.


M: I have to say, it’s an enviable position to be in, when you’re just going out there and you’re making the art you want to make, and along the way you’re getting work published. 

T: That’s exactly it, from my perspective it’s like painting a beautiful painting. You know many of the great painters were dead long before their paintings were ever appreciated; imagine the rejection in that. And you know, we’ve all dealt with some rejection.  But I never take it personally because at the end of the day this is my art. I want everyone to love it, but if you happen to hate it, it doesn’t degrade the fact that it’s art in my opinion, and that’s really how I see photography.  Even in portraiture or architectural photography. . .it is art!


M: One thing that I think makes this so unique is your talent level, I mean there are so many people who just have an interest in photography, but the key is not just your influence in business but the fact that people can look at your work and say, “Ok, wow, this guy really knows what he’s doing, he’s coming here to actually do something – he’s not just some hobbyist using up our time.” 

T: Well, I’m very serious about my photography. . .but let’s be honest, everything is about aesthetics in photography. So either you have an eye for it or you don’t.  I personally believe that it is a god given talent or universe given talent, however you want to say it. I didn’t ask for it, but I’ve always had it…and I am very appreciative for whatever level of talent that I have been given.


M: Tell me a little more about working with a team, and what that’s like in terms of the genesis of coming up with a storyline to how you game plan.

T: It all begins with a concept, and to be honest with you the team brainstorms, so it’s not always my idea.  But usually it’s an idea and then the first thing we do is a mood board: you go to the internet and you pull images that are inspirations, that have the same feel, the same mood, the same setting, some commonality and we create a mood board and then the mood board is circulated amongst the team and we start talking about what kind of clothes we want to shoot, what resources do we need, what fashion houses can we pull from, etc. Then that leads to talking about the hair, the makeup and the location where we are going to shoot the editorial.  I then reach out to the modeling agencies once we decide what kind of model we want.  And I have to say that I am very thankful that we have been able to have models come from New York to DC to be featured in our editorials.


M: I think you’re the reason why they’re willing to come to DC.

T: Well, thank you. . .I always take good care of the models and try to make their experience on set as good as I can make it.


M: This is a fascinating story, it’s so different from the path of most working photographers. So I did have one last question for you: what is does the future hold for your photography, what do you hope to eventually accomplish with this second career?

T: That’s such a difficult question for me, it really is. I want to keep taking photographs, and I want to keep telling stories, and I want to keep creating my art.  I’ve made a conscious decision that I’m not going to put my camera down again. So that’s where it begins for me.  I’d love one day to be able to work with certain magazines, and hopefully continue to grow, and have them say “Hey, we’ve got this amazing project we want to shoot, and we think your aesthetic would be right for this.” However, I don’t have a crystal ball, and have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I hope that I get to one day be able to spend a good portion of my time doing what I have a passion for.


M: Well, it sounds like you’re making it happen.  It’s pretty nice to be in a position to write your own destiny and do it the way you want to do it. 

T: It’s getting easier and thankfully, I have more options these days. . .and I appreciate all that is currently happening with my photography.  As I said before, it’s been an amazing journey!