Photographer Spotlight: My First Years - Adrian Farr

We are excited to welcome Adrian Farr of  Adrian Farr Photography and AFashion Portrait to the Photographer Depot blog today.  Take a moment to learn more about Adrian, and visit his websites.  Thank you so much Adrian for taking the time to share your work with us today.


When did your interest in photography begin?

Photography has always been an important part my life, since a very young age. Unfortunately, unlike many photographers, photography did not come to me as a hobby, as inspiration from anybody else or as an interest that I grew into. Photography came to me out of necessity. I had a very poor upbringing and not so pleasant childhood, I endured a lot of bad things at a very young age, which the average person would have to go an entire lifetime to experience. The one thing I did have in my childhood was a camera.

Photography became a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings, even at such a young age. It was a way for me to escape the harsh reality that I was living in. Photography became essential to my survival through some very dark times, it allowed me to imagine and conjure up a different reality to live in. It helped me become the person I am today and without it, I probably wouldn’t be here.

It wasn’t until my life improved and I tried to put down the camera and forget my past, where I realized that I couldn’t live without photography, it was always going to be part of my life, no matter what I tried to do instead.

When did you decide to make photography your profession?

I practiced photography in my spare time for many years, but I would always hate upon myself when I couldn’t create new masterpieces. That feeling of not being good enough kept getting in the way, discouraging me from taking things further with my passion.

Money was always an issue and I never thought I could be the photographer I wanted to become without it. I always knew photography was going to be part of my professional life, but I imagined it would be later on when I was older, when people would start taking me more seriously.

I tried a variety of different career paths that I thought I was interested in. I was always left unsatisfied, uninspired, wishing for something more, something more meaningful. A real purpose. I chased after money for so long and never felt happy. It took me many years to realize my path had already been carved out. My destiny was to become a professional photographer, there was nothing else.

Like many aspiring photographers trying to find their creative way, I wandered alone in the darkness of the great abyss for a long time, trying to figure out what I loved most about photography, what genre I wanted to pursue, how I could make it work, how I would get paid, and how I could go from amateur to professional.

I soon after discovered a photographer called Kirsty Mitchell, and her wonderland project helped me realize the answer to my questions were already there. Her work inspired me to start chasing after my dreams. Because of my life experiences, I had the ability to imagine new worlds I would never live in, and create characters I would never meet. That was my unique skill, which would help set me apart from others.

I saw fashion as a way to express myself artistically and a way to create pseudo realities that would go on to inspire others. In 2012, I finally decided to jump head first into the deep end and started pursing my career as a fashion photographer. I took a year out learning about business and started rebuilding my portfolio. I have also recently launched my second photography business, A Fashion Portrait, in order to earn money, so that I may invest back into my fashion career as a storyteller.

What were your biggest hurdles when you started your photography business?

My biggest hurdle when starting my professional career a year ago, which is still my biggest hurdle today, is getting noticed and paid for what I do. Everyone always knew that I loved photography, but they would only ever dismiss it as a hobby. For many years before going professional, I did not value my own work. Unlike many photographers, I would shoot for free because I felt like I had to master my craft before I could have the audacity to ask anyone for any significant payment.

After discovering creativeLIVE, I realized my potential and what I was worth and then finally started putting a professional price on my work. So to go from a talented amateur photographer who always shot for free, to a professional photographer who now needs to make a living from photography, was a big change for people to understand and accept. I had to shout every day from the rooftops that photography was now my job, so that people would start taking me more seriously. Even now I still get a lot of people expecting me to work for free.

I saw the fashion week in my city as an opportunity to get my foot in the door of the fashion industry, however I had to be persistent as they ignored my requests for over six months. I finally got involved and shot editorials to promote them for a year with no remuneration. Unfortunately I had to detach myself from that because it was going nowhere.

I am now in the process of getting my images into more magazines and featured on more websites in order to try and get noticed by the right people, so that I can work on better projects. I have now launched my portrait business to help ease the financial pressures, whilst I pursue my fashion career, but this is still very new and budgets are low, so getting in front of the right people is certainly a challenge with that too. However, I have just had my first ever sale.

What is the the best advice you received when you were starting out?

A career in photography is like having a career as a secret agent ninja spy. Everything is so secretive and nobody likes to share anything of any value without being paid for it. It’s the whole chicken and egg thing. You want to learn and find ways to pursue your photography career and eventually make good money from it, whilst getting in front of the right people.  But in order to get access to that valuable information, you need to have money in the first place and need to know where to look. A career in fashion photography is even more secretive. Because I was forced into full time work from a very young age, I did not have the opportunity to go to University to study business or photography, and there is only so much you can learn from books and magazines. That is why I love creativeLIVE so much. They have shown me how to find and open many doors that were once before invisible.

So far I have found that my professional career as a photographer and business owner, is like a jigsaw puzzle, only you do not know what the image on the box is, and you do not yet have all the pieces of the puzzle. Whilst I strive on that challenge, it would have been nice to get an insight to see how more established photographers built their businesses from the ground up, or at least to see how they run them now.

The one thing I do find with creativeLIVE, is that you only get a glimpse of part of the big picture, so you are still left guessing. You have now have the building blocks, but no mortar. However, the one best piece of advice I have received so far is, ‘if you give up too easily on your dreams, you will always live in a nightmare’. I know this to be true, because I have been living my whole in life in that nightmare, wondering if my dreams would ever come true. Now I believe with enough hard work and determination, they will. That advice allowed me to understand that if you chase after money you will never get, but if you do nothing but chase after your dreams, then eventually, the money will come.

Are you full time or part time right now?

I am now fully invested in both of my photography businesses. But because I am still very new in business and figuring out how to make all the cogs turn, I am honestly spending about 15 hours every day, working full time on pursuing my photography career, ironing out all the kinks and getting things to start running smoothly, and finding ways to get my name and work out there. I am overwhelmed with how much work there is to do even when I have no clients and I am not shooting. That is scary to think how I will manage my time, once clients do start walking through the door more regularly, but I am determined to make it happen, I have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I have a wonderful girlfriend who fully supports my ideas and dreams and without her, I would not be able to pursue this full time. I am considering reaching out to more established photography studios for paid assisting work or retouching, in order to help ease the financial pressures and to learn more skills, but I know many photographers prefer not to pay their assistants.

Do you shoot natural light or studio light and why?

I am going to say mostly natural light, but only because I have never had access to a studio, or lighting equipment. Nor do I have the funds to hire decent lighting equipment that would make my images any better. I have used cheaper versions and different variations of studio light many times, but I find the quality is not so good, and I can achieve better results manipulating the natural light I have available. Because I do not have a studio, I shoot mostly on location. Natural light is free, readily available and doesn’t need to be plugged in or carried around.

I have forced myself to learn how to make the best out of what I have available and have figured out make shift ways to achieve the results I am looking for. I have started using off camera flash with multiple speed lights grouped together to achieve the same studio look on location, but I cannot wait until I can start using better lighting equipment, as this will really take my work to the next level.

What changes would you like to see in your business over the next year?

As I mentioned before, everything about my businesses at the moment are a little chaotic because they are so new. I am doing absolutely everything myself and working around the clock to get things off the ground. When things start running more smoothly, I will be able to afford to outsource many tasks which will give me more time for marketing and shooting.

My goal for the next year, is to get things in order and to iron out all the problems, to manage my time better and to start getting paying clients through the door, whilst finding a balance between my fashion work and my portrait work, so that neither loses momentum and focus.

What software do you use to edit your images? And what do you like most about it?

I use Lightroom to organize and archive my images, and for basic image correction. I use Photoshop for creative edits and image enhancement. I love how easy it is to organize images in Lightroom and moved over from Aperture a few years ago. Photoshop gives me the ability to take a beautiful image and transform it into a piece of art, allowing me to add my own creative flair that will make my images unique to everyone else. I spend at least 3 hours every week learning and trying new techniques in Photoshop, but like my favorite director Christopher Nolan, I would prefer to create the magic in camera rather than in post production, so I try to create more fantasy based fashion images straight out of the camera, without needing to add things later with retouching.

My friends are always amazed when they realize the effects in my images were created at the time of capture and not in Photoshop. My image with the two models surrounded in colored smoke is a great example of this, and no one believes it is real until I show them the unedited image. My friends have even started helping out with my shoots, just so they can see how I do it. However, I am still a long way from creating the magic I eventually want to create in camera, like Kirsty Mitchell does with her amazing outfits she has created herself.

What motivates you each day to pick up your camera and shoot?

Many things... The deep desire to fulfill my dreams. The passion to inspire others. The hunger for success and to leave behind a legacy. To prove people wrong. To make people look and feel amazing about themselves when they see their images for the first time. To be known and celebrated for something that I committed my entire life to. I want my future children to be proud of my achievements and to be encouraged by my drive and determination, so that they too will pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles stand in their way.

I have spent my entire life listening to people telling me that I couldn’t do something or that my dreams were ridiculous and would never come about. That in itself is enough motivation to dedicate every ounce of energy that I have in this life, to chase after the things that really matter to me. But ultimately, after much deliberation and questioning of my own identity as an artist over the past few months, the reason I do what I do, the reason I create, is because I am fueled by my desire to tell visual stories that are a vivid interpretation of my own life and the experiences I have gone through.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I have been fortunate in gaining some exposure for my work and being acknowledged as an emerging talent. I have already connected with many very well known established artists and my ambitions have grabbed their attention, even though I am still only at the beginning of my professional career. My goal is take to that further and to continue creating stunning imagery that will inspire many, and hopefully go on to define my very existence in this life. I always strive to be better at absolutely everything that I do, there is nothing that I have more passion for than photography. I do not settle for the status quo. I do not shy from taking the road less traveled. I am not afraid of trying new things and pushing boundaries.

I like to think that in five years, I will be well on my way to pursuing a successful career as a fashion photographer/conceptual storyteller; being featured regularly in magazines and at exhibitions with my work, and that my portrait business will also be a sought after brand in the UK. I want people to choose me to be their photographer because they know that I will not only tick all of their boxes, but I will go out of my way to create new boxes they had not even thought of yet and tick them too. I am a photographer. I am an artist. My job is to create beautiful stand alone images that will immerse viewers into a different world, and I will gratefully accept payment for that skill.


About the Artist: Adrian Farr is a conceptual fashion photographer currently based in Norwich, in the UK, with two photography businesses. His photography is a vivid interpretation of his life and an alternative version of the world as he chooses to see it. He is a visual storyteller with huge career aspirations and a real hunger to transform the smallest spark of inspiration into visually stunning pieces of art. He wants to give his clients the opportunity to be photographed however they want to be and to become whoever they want, with no limits. You can see more of Adrian's Fashion work on his Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram.  You can also view his Portrait work on his Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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