Imagine spending the day looking out into the pristine, blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean from one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. Sound like the perfect vacation? For photographer Jeff Herron, it's just another day at work.
"What I enjoy most about my career has been the ability to travel and see places I probably wouldn't have been able to otherwise," Herron said. "Being based in Florida has been a great launching pad for the entire Caribbean and the hotel and travel industries. My passion with photography lies mostly in architectural work, but I've also expanded into lifestyle and working with talent...
"One of my greatest accomplishments has simply been being able to do what I love for a living. I have to constantly remind myself of how fortunate I am."
As the owner of his own business, Jeff Herron Photography, Herron has worked with several clients in Florida and beyond, including UBS Bank, Sotheby's, CBT Architects, PGA Resort & Spa, OPL Hotels, Lloyd Loom, Marriott, Bluegreen, Couples Resorts and Theorie among others. His work has appeared in Home Magazine, Tropics Magazine and 20/20 Magazine. Recently, Herron was hired to shoot for the rebranding of four existing resorts in Jamaica.
"It was an entire month of shooting with different models flying in on different days, moving to different locations and so forth," he explained. "It was both an exhausting and exhilarating experience! The constant coordination of people and locations really tested my creative abilities."
In addition to the creative aspects of his work, Herron also manages the business-side of his company. While his career has been a dream come true, the reality is that it has taken a lot of hard work.
"Like most creatives who choose a commercial path, I've discovered that compromise and negotiation skills are essential in this industry," said Herron. "Every shoot I do usually involves an education process with the client; being direct and up-front with clients about exactly what is needed to make a shot happen correctly has proven essential...
"The process involves a lot of hard work and long hours, but, in the end, the finished work will speak for itself. You may come off as demanding, but you need to keep in mind that three to five years later, if the shot is great, nobody will remember what it took to make the shot happen. If ends up being a terrible shot, you're not getting hired again."
Herron, who graduated in 2002, recommends that students interested in photography take advantage of every opportunity to gain experience--starting now! "Find a photographer whose work you love and try to assist for them," said Herron. "I was fortunate to work with a great photographer early in my career whose work I admired. Be relentless. Work for free if you have to. Just get real-life experience. Be a sponge on set. Pay attention to interactions with clients and talent. Be available and punctual. It will be noticed.
"It's also important that you immerse yourself in the business end of photography. Learn how to properly word usage rights and put together an estimate that is not only fair, but protects you as a creative professional. I've run into a lot of new photographers who are giving away their work. You have a value. Don't undercut yourself or other photographers. It only weakens our industry and makes it more difficult to make a living. The creative will come and evolve. The business end needs structure."
Herron's long term goals are to expand his network of client connections. He has also been experimenting with the new video and moving image capabilities of digital technology.
"I think there's a lot of potential there," he said. "And having the visual foundation of photography could prove a benefit."
To view more of Herron's work, check out http://www.jeffherron.com/.