We love our local photographers. Their accomplishments never cease to impress us. They are proof that Columbus is a great city for photographers. Hometown Heroes highlights a Columbus photographer that we think is doing amazing work.
MPEX: When did you start taking photos? What made you want to get into photography?
Jeremy Kester: I kind of just jumped in the pool in 2005 and started photographing weddings with my wife for people who couldn’t afford a pro. They were happy with the work, but looking back at the images… oh my.
How long was it until you opened your own studio? What were the challenges you faced in starting your own business?
I was paid (very little) when I first started, so I guess right from the beginning. We were called “A-Team Productions”. What a train wreck, haha! But back then it mattered where your listing was in the phone book (man, I’m getting old!). I think the early challenges were all about the work. You are constantly being told about clever ways to run your business and it can be distracting from the fact that we need to take great photographs. I wish I would have stopped marketing and starting practicing sooner.
Your business has evolved over the years. You’re currently moving into a different phase, one that revolves around “Stories.” What do you mean by “Stories”? How important is storytelling to you and your photography?
I have been called a “generalist” for years because I shoot all kinds of subject matter. I like to shoot video and photographs. I love to write and to create. But in our industry, that is often viewed as lacking purpose and direction since niche-ing is so hip. This has been a very introspective year in which I have really tried to understand why I do what I do. And I found that, to me, the medium I use to capture stories doesn’t matter to me and the type of story doesn’t matter either. So I have decided I will tell any great story in any way, as long as it is a great story. My mission is to tell stories that, even if they are never told again, we are better for telling.
We profiled H.H. Boogie a little while back. Since then, you’ve designed a really snazzy new website. How responsive have other photographers been to H.H. Boogie? What made you want to offer that kind of specialized service?
H.H. Boogie is a part of how I tell stories and really came out of the presentation and preservation of those stories. I made my products available to photographers nationally and there has been an awesome response. It’s a labor of love at this point and has turned into a really amazing community. We’ve sold a couple hundred (even to the UK, Australia and Canada!) and I’m very excited to see where it goes.
What advice would you give to a new photographer, in both an artistic sense and from a business standpoint?
There is such a focus these days on what and how we shoot. The noise can be overwhelming. I would advise people to focus on why they want to do what they do. It will bring about all kinds of clarity. Also, please please please: shoot. We are professional photographers and it’s so easy to get caught up thinking, talking, blogging and witnessing shooting. And though those are great recourses, it is vital that you get out and shoot like your life depends on it. Look at your images and find ways to improve them. Throw yourself into difficult situations and shoot your way out of them. If Jeremy Kester of A-Team Productions can do it (hahaha), you can do it. I promise. Oh, and side bar! Don’t get sucked into crazy debt. To this day I still rent much of my gear at Midwest Photo Exchange and cluster my shoots together. Debt brings a pressure you don’t want to have. Oh, and! . . . Just kidding, that’s it for now.
What does Columbus offer you as a photographer and a business owner? Would you consider Columbus a good city for creative professionals?
I think any city is a good city if you really work at it. But I’ve been happy to call this region my home and it’s been good to me.