Elmar | From banker to fashion photographer
By Stephania Karathanasi
I studied Business Administration and was set to enter the world of international banking. On the brink of starting my traineeship at a renowned bank, I realised this was all wrong. The thought of working at a bank for the rest of my life made me deeply unhappy and I called the whole thing off.
5 THINGS ABOUT
UNFINISHED UNI DEGREE | EASILY BORED | SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER | LOVES YELLOW | FASCINATED BY WAR
LEAP OF FAITH
My friend’s brother was a photographer and he agreed to let me work as his assistant. In exchange he taught me everything he knew. A lot of people said I was crazy to give up a promising career in finance for the uncertain prospect of photography, but my parents supported me and I knew this was what I wanted. I never regretted my choice for photography, not for a second. Going back to the bank was never my plan B.
ELMAR KROP PHOTOGRAPHY
While assisting various senior photographers I got to try a lot of different genres and do my own projects on the side. I did everything, from event photography to advertising to journalism photography. The last 5 years my focus has become fashion photography, that’s where my heart lies. I love the interaction with the team and traveling to beautiful places.
It takes time to establish yourself in the market. My agent has been a huge help. She is great at selling my work, something I really dislike.
After two months of working as a photographer’s assistant, I felt I had learned more than during four years at university. Finally I was learning skills I was hungry for and seeing real results.
My big break came when the photographer I was working for at the time was suddenly double booked, and I found myself in charge of a shoot with a crew of 25 people, an A-list celebrity and some very fancy camera’s. That day I discovered that when I’m holding a camera, I have no trouble taking control. I’m a very shy person, except when I’m holding a camera. The shoot was a success, a few photo’s even made it onto highway billboards.
The first year I worked in bars in the evenings and weekends to supplement my photographer assistent's salary. Being a photographer is expensive! Cameras, lights and post-production software are all pricey gadgets.
Only a select few can pick and choose their assignments, the rest of us have to take on less “sexy” jobs to help pay the bills.
THE TOUGH TIMES
The photography industry can be cut-throat. You have to work hard, really hard. There’s always some young newcomer waiting to do the job for half your rate. You just have to be consistently better than they are, and never stop perfecting your craft.
Running your own business comes with its share of stress. I have a girlfriend, a mortgage and my work is not always steady so I’ve learned to be smart about saving.
I do what I love but that doesn’t mean I love everything I do. There are sleepless nights worrying whether there is enough work coming in and years without holidays. Taking on shitty jobs to pay the rent and sometimes working with people you can’t stand.
5 INSIDER TIPS
If you have a “day job”, keep doing your own projects on the side to continue developing your craft.
Being arrogant is not cool.
To really make it in the photography industry, you have to spend some time in London or New York. I regret I never did.
Work hard, don’t complain.
Don’t wait for the right time. Just do it.
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