20 Questions

Jamie Beck (4)

Jamie Beck (2)

For the past few years, we have been incredibly lucky to not only do what we love, but also to have such wonderful peers here to share our work with. We appreciate so deeply all the sweet things that are sent to us, whether it’s a comment on the site, a message via our social media pages, or art inspired by what we do.

With that in mind, today’s post is about you! We rounded up some of the most popular questions asked and attempted to answer as truthfully and eloquently as possible. Hope you enjoy…


1. How did you get to where you are now in your career?

Shooting as much as possible. After I graduated from college, I worked for almost two years for free, shooting non-stop, building up my contacts and clients. Eventually the clients and opportunities became a career where I could sustain a living and start investing back into my work by buying new equipment and things like that. It is also really important to get your work out there. Everything changed when I started my tumblr back in 2009 as a place to share old photographs I had taken.

2. How did your education prepare you for the future?

I studied fashion photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology back when it was all on film. College taught me a lot about lighting, producing shoots, and how to execute your vision, which I was already doing naturally since I started shooting at an early age. Mostly, college got me to New York City, which was where I wanted to be and around the people I wanted to be working with.

3. What person has been your inspiration in life? Who is your hero?

On a personal level, I think we all know how important my Grandmother is to me. On a professional level I idolize Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon.

4. Do you feel like you’ve met your goals and are successful?

Of course not! Every day I’m looking toward the future: the next photograph I will take. How I can make my images stronger. Who I want to shoot for. I’m constantly setting new goals and the only way I relate to success is if I feel a photograph has achieved what I was trying to create. And then I start the process all over again.

5. How have things changed for you since the invention of the Cinemagraph?

Our life changed completely. Pioneering a new form of photography, creating the term and pushing it forward from a technical stand point was something I never anticipated happening and has been a creative journey and challenge everyday.  So many hard decisions goes into our relationship with this aspect of our work. How much we invest from a technical stand point, how much we legally protect it, where we want it to be in the future and our dreams for how it can be displayed.

6. If you had to do it over again, what would you change?

I am not big into regrets, but I guess if I knew then what I know now, I would have spent my entire 20s traveling and photographing around the world before settling in New York. I am a very goal-oriented and ambitious person, so I feel like I have worked my entire life instead of just exploring and seeing. I also wish I would have worked for one of my idols before setting out on my own. There are so many things I had to learn the hard way and sometimes I think it would have been nice to have a mentor to talk to about the business of photography.

7. What advice would you give someone who is young and wants to have a position such as yours one day?

Shoot all the time. Don’t get caught up in all the gear, really all you need is a camera and a lens; the rest will come in time. Be prepared to work hard. Know that people will take your work, not credit you, copy you, and take your ideas. Just stay focused on taking the photographs you see in your mind. Know there are a lot of different routes to achieve your dreams. Know you will have a lot of lessons along the way. Surround yourself with people who believe in your work and your vision. Our managers are our champions.

8. How do you stay inspired?

I get offline and go to art museums, travel to a new place, watch the light dance throughout the day, watch documentaries on my idol photographers, read books, watch movies. There’s inspiration in everything if you know how to look.

9. What photography related things do you recommend?

How to read a photograph / THIS podcast is THE BEST. / Capture series by Mark Seliger / This blog is great / This museum / Click / PDN is a must read / Inspiring Documentary / Visionary documentary / there is always B&H / At Work / Start a TUMBLR / APERTURE / they made the impossible – possible

10. What is the hardest part about your position?

So much of having a studio is running a business. We produce many of our shoots, so we are always paying contractors, photo labs, rental houses, insurance companies, assistants, etc., etc. It’s a lot of office work. There are also business taxes, payroll, investments, trademark lawyers, and accountants to work with…it’s not the most fun part of having a photo studio, but it is absolutely part of the job.

11. What is the best part about your position?

When I have a camera in my hands and I am shooting. It’s the high I live for everyday. It is truly what makes me the most happy.  I love taking pictures. It doesn’t stop on-set, it’s every day, it’s my life.

12. When you go out on a shoot, what’s in your bag? What gear do you prefer to use on a shoot?

It depends. First you start with a vision. How do I want the shots to look in the end? Then I match the equipment list to my desired outcome. Yesterday we shot a cinemagraph of Donna Karan for a gallery exhibit on the RED Epic with a 24-70mm & 70-200mm lens. The day before that, we shot an editorial for LoveGold on a Canon 5D Mark III. Last week I did two shoots, all on film, one with Dannijo in Armani and the next coming out soon with a medium format Pentax 67. The week before that, I worked on a personal series on flowers using a 4×5 view camera with color film. We’ve used digital Hasselblads for things like this and sometimes I just walk around the city with the first camera I ever owned, the camera my mom taught me how to use when I was 13, a 35m Honeywell Pentax and a roll of B&W film. And of course, I’ve done a lot of work with a 50mm lens and a Canon 5D Mark II.

Other camera bag staples – 32GB Cards, gum, extra batteries, film, card reader, pen, light meter (I have a sick hobby of liking to guess what the correct light exposure is and then testing myself… the sunny 16 rule), hand strap, lens options, lens magnifier for a quick macro adaptation, iPhone charger, business cards.

13. You still shoot in film sometimes, what labs do you like in New York?

LTI is my go-to lab. This guy likes CRC. I love going to Boston to work in this darkroom. Color Services is also amazing.

14. Do you need an assistant?

We have a full time in house assistant (Carly Piersol) at the moment, but thank you! Follow us on Facebook and if we ever need additional help, we will post about it there.

15. What is your post-processing workflow like?

I work closely with my assistant on post-production. All our computers at the studio are networked together so that we can pass projects seamlessly back and forth and we stay organized with tasks through Basecamp. Our assistant will make first round selects for me, then I’ll go through and edit it down to just the files we will work on. Typically I’ll do the color corrections to get the image where I envisioned it and then our assistant will do any beauty retouch before I make a final pass. Everything we shoot we back up a multitude of times. If it’s a client project we deliver the imagery through Dropbox in high res (for print) and web res (for easy viewing, emailing or social media). If it’s personal imagery, we prep the files for our photo licensing agency Trunk Archive. Then we work on the social media part of our studio with editing the photos for online, prep blog posts, tumblr drafts, text captions, and links…this alone can take a day or even more!

16. What would be your dream shoot?

Couture gowns, in France, natural light, film, Natalia Vodianova for a  print magazine with a series of Cinemagraphs to go in the digital editions.

17. What was your first shoot?

 I was 13. I put my best friend in an evening gown, I gave her a makeover and we went into the backyard and did a fashion shoot which (at the time) I thought was SO VOGUE. And that was it… I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

18. What has been your favorite brand collaboration?

I am so honored and thrilled with the work we are doing for Chopard this year.

19. What’s the shoot you are most proud of?

The one I just finished for MAIYET coming out this fall.

20. And finally…what is that enchanting lipstick you wear?

NARS Cruella

Is there anything left you want to know? Ask me below! 

66 thoughts on “20 Questions

  1. No questions, I just think you both are amazing. Not only in terms of talent but also so generous with information like this. It shows a gracious and giant spirit and I appreciate it and learn so much.

  2. I really loved this post! It was very inspiring and intersting to read. I really love your work and I find peace only to watch your work. I do a lot of photographing as well and when I read your post and watch your work I get more inspired.
    I have two questions to you that I hope you could answer.
    What was your first work for a brand, and which brand was it? Was it easy to contact the brands you wanted to work for?
    About your Fashionphotostudies, how long was the education and how much did it cost?
    Much love!

    1. I started shooting a lot for a handbag companies as my first brand work which was for Hype, Adrienne Vittadini, London Fog, things like that which taught me a lot about shooting mailers, advertisements, catalogs and marketing pieces.
      Brands love to hear that you WANT to work for them. That you are a fan and that you have a vision for what you would do for them, what it would look like and why you are a good match. The hardest step is the first one and then it becomes very easy if you are nice, honest and have good intentions which is to take beautiful photographs! Find the places, people, blogs, magazines, brands that fit your personal style and taste and you’ll be fine!

  3. Loved this! Thank you so much for willingly letting us in on what inspires you and all of the business side aspects of running a studio… it sounds like a lot but I’m sure it’s well-worth it! The cover is a beautiful shot of you as well!

    1. Thanks so much and a huge thank you to all the wonderful comments and support you have given us here, so appreciated!
      As far as your question goes, find some smaller magazines and reach out to shooting for them. Reach out to blogs like Cup of Jo and offer to shoot content for their site for whatever stories they are working on for free. Find places, blogs, magazines, that your style fits into and start with an email. Follow them on social. It will go from there! Xx

  4. Jaime- this was wonderful to read. Felt like we were having a cup of coffee and visiting. You made my very stressful workday end on a happy note. I am now going to go home and start playing with my camera.
    Happy Labor Day Weekend – your fan in Houston, Tx

  5. Thanks for this! So inspiring and real. You guys put so much hard work into your art and that is just exactly what it takes…really in any field to be successful. Wishing you all the best!

      1. 🙂 by the way…I feel like you could turn around and look right at the camera at any point in this photo of you. maybe it’s because i’m always so excited when a picture starts moving that I’ve come to almost expect it. such a cool feeling!

    1. Post at least once a day. Even if it is one photo. Use the tags. Find other people making original content you like and follow them, reach out to them. It’s a community and amazing for artist like us to grow and share our work.

  6. Let’s make your dream shoot happen, Universe and/or Anna Wintour! (Possibly one and the same.) Natalia is one of my favorite models, too; I’d LOVE to see her captured in a Cinemagraph (maybe with those adorable kids of hers??). It’ll happen, I’m sure of it.

  7. Love this! This is why I put you on my “Inspiration & Great Distractions” page. You, yourself, are an inspiration to those aspiring creatives, and your work is such a great and inspiring distraction! Thank you so much for all that you do and share with us! Do you ever think you’ll publish a book with your photographs / e-book with cinemagraphs? If you ever do, just know I would be one of the first to purchase that book. ;0)

    1. You are so sweet and thank you so much for all the wonderful comments and support you have given us over the time we have spent here on the blog. BTW, did you send a letter in the mail ? I got an envelope which looked like your name but it had sat out in the rain and all the ink was almost completely gone as well as what was inside the envelope!
      To answer your question, I hope to have many books in the future 🙂 Xx

  8. thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you for this helpful information and inspiration. i would love to know more about your photography education. do you think it was crucial and taught you the skills you needed to photograph professionally? would non-professional/online classes give me enough skills and knowledge or do you think it’s necessary to get a degree?

    1. Hi Katie- I do not think it’s necessary to get a degree. There are many incredible photographers who never ‘studied’ it. All the information is out there if you are passionate enough to teach yourself. Being in school gives a nice structure and someone to ask questions to but by no means is the only path. Good luck in your photography! X

  9. Long ago I asked you about the photo below you took from this amazing shoot…

    Two years later, the fiance proposed, the wedding is set for October
    and the dress is being made. Thanks to that photo and that dress (I
    spoke to Ashley Cheeks too — unfortunately too hard to have her do
    it w/me in SF & her in NYC), my custom designed dress is sure to be
    a hit – vintage dress pin included. I’ll be sure to send over a photo
    once it is finished 🙂

    Cheers and continue to do your inspiring work with love and laughter!

    xo, Courtney

  10. You already know how inspired I am by you and Kevin. This just makes me hope even more that our paths cross someday. I have been an artist my entire life (my parents like to tell people stories about how others didn’t believe them when they said I created the drawings and paintings they were sharing). First and foremost I am an illustrator but when I became ill in 2009, I picked up a camera and fell in love. I would love to merge my two loves. My husband and I are taking a little trip at the end of the month across the pond and I’m hoping it will spark my new venture…

    1. You truly have an artistic eye which translates through all the mediums you work in. I can’t express enough how much your comments and kind support of our work has meant especially coming from a fellow artist and beautiful person inside and out.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your advice. You are my constant inspiration! Thank you for mentioning and linking the artwork. Doing this for you was a pure pleasure 🙂 I wish you all the best and may your dream of Natalia Vodianova couture gowns shoot in France come true!
    Karolina Kierat

  12. I loved this post! I am beginning to dabble in photography and am slowly discovering that I have a true passion for it. I was wondering…do you edit most of your pictures? And if so, what techniques do you use in post production?

    I look forward to your next post. You’re such an inspiration!

    1. I do a lot of the post production myself and also have trained our assistant in my editing style to help with work flow. I use Bridge to organize and make selects, run batches. I use photoshop raw for all my color correcting and photoshop for retouching such as with beauty. I need to dabble with lightroom which people also love to edit with.

  13. This post was so inspiring Jamie! I’m so glad you are not flowery and said things like how you worked for free for almost 2 years. Those are the things that drive people down, but knowing someone at your position has done that too… shows you’re human. Thank you!

  14. Oh Jamie, I’ve already read this twice, so inspirational! Thank you for sharing. As a person who is discovering her curiosity on photography, I’m so glad to know about you more. I’d also like to know if you think it is crucial to get an education on photography or something similar. Can one be self-taught (I’d like to know if you know some people who followed this path). Thanks again Jamie!


    1. Of course you can be self taught! It’s easier to have someone show you the way but you learn by doing. All the information is out there if you have the passion to learn on your own. Some of the greatest photographers in the world never went to school for it, then of course there are the ones who did. Good luck with your journey!

  15. Thank you for the article! I wanted to know if you and your team have ever thought about hosting a workshop? I would certainly be interested in attending if you guys ever decided to host one!

  16. What a great interview. You’re such an inspiration! I love your work and have been following you since your photoblog on Tumbler! I have been recently photographing with a Canon DSLR T3i and I am looking to get a new lens specifically a prime lens. I know you have you expressed your love for the 50mm f1.4, but I’m torn between this one and the 85mm f1.8. I know it’s all relevant to what you’re shooting, but do you have a preference over the other? I’m looking to make this my primary lens. Thanks so much!

  17. I gotta say this I love all your shoots, are so perfect you actually are the reason of why I’m taking photos, thanks to you I think I finally found whoo I am, thank you you inspire people, (sorry for my english) like I said beautiful shoot like always.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing, Jamie. I’m pouring over the resources you shared and can’t wait to learn more about what has inspired you. I am very interested in the creation of Cinemagraphs after seeing the gorgeous images on your blog. Do you have any other resources that teach people how to create them? Thanks for all your inspiration and authenticity. If you ever have workshops or classes I’d be the first to sign up 😉

  19. (what I am about to say seems to be a reoccurring them in the comments below) But I absolutely enjoyed reading this. The best piece of advice is to SHOOT. Shoot, shoot and shoot more. I’ve gotten away from it in the last 6 months and it honestly feels like something is missing out of my life. As Ira Glass wisely stated, “It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” I liked your other piece of advice to shoot and worry about gear later. There is always an excuse to wait!

  20. Loved reading this!
    Re Natalia Vodianova… She’s truly a dream to shoot and to be in the presence of, and I can totally relate to your dream shoot.
    I don’t know if you know anything about the Naked Heart Foundation (it’s Natalia’s charity dedicated to building children’s playgrounds in Russia), but every year they hold a charity ball. And each year they unite unique designer’s pieces with other unique lots to be auctioned off, but first of all they usually get to be publicised in the media a lot, especially digitally.
    So my point is that if you were to contact Natalia (you can do that on her Facebook page) or the Naked Heart Foundation itself, with the portfolio you’ve gathered, I really think she could be interested, especially in the cinemagraphs. Of course, it isn’t directly a print shoot of your dreams for a magazine, but given the gowns are definitely provided and N. is the model herself (perhaps while even in France 😉 it could easily become THE dream photoshoot!

    Hope I’m not rambling too much, but speaking from experience: she’s very responsive and considerate.

    All the best,

  21. I loved reading this Jamie- your work is exceptional because it is distinct, and your work ethic is so admirable. I am curious though, didn’t you used to work for a magazine in NYC, was it Working Class Magazine? Did you do a lot of freelance work and that was a way for you to connect with other people and pursue photography in the direction you wanted?

  22. Jamie, this is literally the best 20 answers I’ve ever read! Thank you so much for sharing. It’s amazing that you’ve come along so far in your journey as a photographer. How inspiring you (both) are to me. I feel like there’s always so much to learn and that I will never know enough. The business end of things is scary, so thanks for admitting that it’s not easy and that there is office work. For me, it’s the hardest part. Would you say it’s a good idea to market yourself by yourself for a while or to seek representation? When I researched this, I found that most companies won’t represent you until you can represent yourself well, first. Is this true? And how did you get out from the ‘working for free’ zone into ‘working for fee” zone? I’ve noticed people don’t value photography if they think you are a ‘blogger’ vs a ‘photographer’. They think if you’re going to blog about it, you must be free. Did you find it hard to be taken seriously as a photographer?

    Sorry for rambling! Thanks so much for being candid! xo

  23. Dear Jamie, you are a great photographer one of those who can inspire me to get out of my place and go to take photos. Thank you for your art!
    P.s For some reason you remind me of Melanie Doutey (visually) 🙂

  24. Hi Jamie!
    I love your work so much! You are one of my favorite fashion photographers! And thank you so much for posting this. As you’ve probably heard before, I’m also very interested in photography. I am currently an undergraduate student with a passion to work with photography in Manhattan. Is there any chance you could have an intern(s) over the summer? I’m a big fan of your photos and would love to get to work with you! 🙂

  25. Hi Jamie – I truly love your photography, sense of fashion, and ambitious lifestyle! I am currently a college student in New York and wondering if you need/will need an intern! I’d love to help out in any way I can with the amazing work you do 🙂

  26. Hi Jamie,

    Love your website and the beautiful content you share with us. My question to you is about organizing photos on your computer. I try to organize my pictures, however, sometimes after I’ve loaded my pictures to my computer, I get a little distracted and the next time I look at them, my folders have become quite cluttered. What is your advice on keeping a neat and organized routine to filing pictures?

    Thank you

  27. Can you please pretty please either develop an application to create high quality cinemagraphs for better, produce an advanced tutorial on your page (I don’t care if it’s free or fee!) I hate the GIF standard! Please!!!!!!!!

  28. Basecamp is one of the first and most popular Project Management tools that exist, although there are also other new and more complete solutions in terms of PM that can offer much more than a simple PM software. One of them is Comidor ( https://www.comidor.com) which is based on cloud and is a full package for every small- medium business

  29. Hi Jamie, I am from Brasil. I discovery and falin in love in your work since frommetoyou! And now I am a photographer and I work for a fashion store, doing some basic pictures, but you inspired me to do a cinemgraph of this photos. But I can do it a gif in high resolution. Can you give me a tip??!! Thanks a lot!

Leave a Reply