Untitled 2021: A Photographic Exhibition | Call For Entries

Untitled is an annual competition and exhibition designed to showcase the best work of APA members and beyond – Images that show your unique vision, creative passion, and individualistic style, titled or untitled. This contest is open to all photographers at any level and there are no specific categories. All entries will be curated by our jurors and the top 20 images will be selected to display for exhibition and the top three (3) photos will be awarded prizes.

20% of the entry fees will be donated to Outside the LensThe mission of Outside the Lens is to empower youth to use digital media to create change within themselves, their community and their world.

We welcome this year’s jurors, Anna Goldwater Alexander, Director of Photography at WIRED and Mark Gallo, Creative Director at traina. 

You can find full details and submission guidelines here.

Deadline to enter is 11:59PM PDT October 10th, 2021.

MEET. Samantha Schwann

© Samantha Schwann

Meet underwater photographer and APA member Samantha Schwann.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
I’m not a podcaster but right now I’m trying a learn to speak Spanish one.

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
@spacex
@hiroshisugimoto
@missionblue
And a couple of dog accounts because they bring me joy 🙂 

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I can’t listen underwater, but there is nothing better than getting lost in creative flow while editing with good music. A lot of indie electronic.

What inspires you?
That we still have a shred of a chance to preserve our oceans, but it’s a global call to action.  

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
I get to invite viewers to join me in experiences, and share my passion for our ocean planet.  

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I’m deeply engulfed in a project (which is my happy place) so it’s pretty all-consuming. That being said, I love what yoga does for me mentally and physically, so I try to keep that balance.  

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
I’m a very early riser and find mornings are when I’m at my creative best. Currently it is a lot of writing and preparation for a project. Covid meant no travel, but time in quarantine allowed for concentrated work in other areas. I’m usually traveling every couple of months, so it’s a cycle of developing, preparation, and then editing.

Who were your biggest influencers?
Nick Brandt
Edward Burtynski
Laurent Ballesta

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
“Hard work beats talent any day of the week” – Joel Grimes.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Highlight is happening right now, working on my dream project. The challenges have been learning how to navigate my way to where I want to be, and in funding my work.

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was an investment advisor. It was interesting and I was ok at it but I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. I saw a lot of people who worked and saved their whole lives, for moments which never came. That stuck with me – while it’s important to plan and be responsible, I want to do things now, while I can.

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
Perhaps an oceanographer, or a submarine pilot – but I require a creative outlet. I feel I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.

What do you do when you get stuck?
I’ve learned to trust the creative process, and stopped freaking out a while ago. Step back, hit a yoga class, go for a swim or lose myself in a movie. The less I stress about it the smoother the wave.

What is your best advice for your peers?
Keep going.

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
All of the experiences you will go through, especially the difficult ones, will be catalysts for growth. Be fearless in your pursuit, observe and listen to learn as much as you can, and trust your instincts.

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I think it’s great that technology has made it easier for people to become interested in photography and take better pictures! I don’t see it as a threat, as I find it can foster a deeper appreciation. While advances have made things easier, at the end of the day you still have to put in the work if you want to pursue photography seriously. What separates a photographer from the masses is a cohesive body of work, personal style, and vision, and there are no shortcuts for that.

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Contributing to ocean conservation in a meaningful, tangible way, and ocean exploration.

To view more of Samantha’s work you can follow along here.

MEET. Amy Scott

© Amy Scott

Meet Houston based commercial and editorial photographer Amy Scott.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
Dear Art Producer by Heather Elder, Focus on Women with Traci Terrick, and I love listening to the “Daily Wellness” every day on Spotify.

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I let my clients choose, otherwise I like to constantly mix it up depending on my mood. In the afternoons when energy is a little low on set after lunch I like to pump things up with pop and R&B from the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s because they make folks laugh and sing along.

What inspires you?
People who see the world differently than I do. I love coming across artists and authors and other creators that explore the whole range of humanity through their work! Whether it be playful, heavy, or poignant, people doing work that reflects the insane, wonderful, and inspiring stories around or inside of them fill me with joy and help me think about my life and work from new perspectives.  

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Making images that really convey the feeling of a moment. Working with incredible inspirational teams to make something I could never create on my own. And problem solving! Every day is full of surprises and I love it.  

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I love cooking, travelling, wandering through forests, growing food, writing, making weird wines and vermouths.  

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
Every day that I’m not on a shoot, I work out or take a walk before I start my day. I try to make sure I start the day with a clear idea of what my goals are so I have a daily to do list and highlight the things that are essential. Each week I spend time researching and connecting with new prospective clients, planning out marking emails or social media posts, brainstorming new projects, and teaching myself new skills. I have trouble unplugging at the end of the day and will often work late, but I’ve been getting better about it and try to just work 9-6 if I’m not on a shoot.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
It was hard to get consistent assisting jobs when I was just starting out and trying to learn. I was even told once that I wouldn’t be considered for an assisting job because I was a woman. Many (male) photographers told me that I would have to prove myself because male photographers wouldn’t believe I was strong enough to do the job. I just had to persevere and continue to look for the folks who would hire me and mentor me regardless of my gender. 

One of the biggest highlights of my career so far was being awarded a grant to pursue a photo documentary project of Houston farmers. That work then led to work with a national rice brand, and many more opportunities.

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Do not give up. This is a hard business, but you will make it if you don’t give up – let everyone else be the quitters.

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was the manager of a 26 acre vegetable farm!

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I’d be a writer, an advocate for small scale farmers, or I’d pursue my weird dream of going back to school to study ancient Greek papyrology.

What do you do when you get stuck?
Take a break, get outside, try something new, do something active.

What is your best advice for your peers?
Connect with each other! I would not be where I am without the support of other photographers and I am so grateful to not feel alone in this sometimes very challenging, lonely business! Community is what makes everything worthwhile.

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
Always be yourself and make no apologies. You got this.

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I still see us as storytellers first and foremost. Anyone can take a picture, but I see us as creative partners who work alongside our clients to make their story or campaign come to life.

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
I would love to get larger grants to tell more photo documentary style stories about US farmers through stills and motion!

To view more of Amy’s work you can follow along here.

MEET. Luis Garcia

© Luis Garcia

Meet Southern California based editorial and commercial photographer and APA member Luis Garcia.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
I subscribed to some podcasts but not always listen to all of them; one of my favorite podcast is How I build this with Guy Raz on NPR.

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
I don’t have a favorite, my feed I filled with accounts from photographers, designers, travelers, cyclists. 

What 3 words describe your photography style?
Simple, honest, clean.

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
Most of my work is on location, so I don’t listen to anything but the sound of the city or nature.

What inspires you?
I’m always inspired by nature and humanity; we live in such a beautiful and wonderful world.

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Knowing new people and new places.

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I used to be an elite cyclist, now I’m just a cyclist, so I enjoy a lot going out and riding my bike.

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
I’m not set on any kind of daily routines, I need to work on that.

Who were your biggest influencers?
Too many to list them all.

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Show up and don’t fuck it up. (*mess it up) advice given to me by a photographer friend that is no longer with us.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
As an editorial photographer the highlight of my career has been being able to somewhat travel the world, I’m still waiting for that call to shoot an assignment in Africa. Challenge, making the full jump to commercial photography.

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was a photo assistant for a few years, before that I tried to become a professional athlete, did not succeed on that.

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I would be a chef, I love cooking!

What do you do when you get stuck?
I step away from that thing that I feel stuck in, I look for some type of distraction, watch a movie or go for a bike ride to clear my mind, I talk to friends and ask for advice from my peers.

What is your best advice for your peers?
Be honest to yourself, always under promise and over deliver, and show up and don’t fuck it up.

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
Be more focused.

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I think it has always been, but now more than ever; the photographer’s role in today’s day is as a problem solver. You need to work with what you have and make it work. Technology is there to make things easier and more efficient, but ultimately you have to make it happen.

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Hopefully shooting more commercial work.

To view more of Luis’s work you can follow along here.

MEET. Todd Glaser

© Todd Glaser
 

Meet Photographer, Waterman and APA | SD member, Todd Glaser.

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
@walteriooss @aspictures @burkgnar @petesouza @livefromsnacktime

What 3 words describe your photography style?
I don’t know if I would be the best person to answer that question, but if I had to describe my approach it would be to:
keep it simple

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
Depends on the mood, if I’m in the water there’s no headphones or music, but in the studio or on an outdoor shoot it’s usually whatever the vibe of the shoot is. If we need a lot of energy, something a bit more fast paced like the Stones, if it’s a bit mellower than the music will compliment that mood. Most importantly if you’re listening to your subject your intuition will guide you on what you need to hear and how to best capture them. There is always an energy to the shoot and as often times music can enhance it, it can also be a distraction.  

Always music during the edit though!

What inspires you?
Watching the light then thinking about how to tell a story or someone’s experiences through your lens. I love watching films as inspiration for cinematography and framing, but the best way to be inspired is to go out and experience new things that we can bring to our vision and subjects. Behind every great actor is a great story and we need to be able to not only have an idea, but bring ourselves into the experience with our subjects so we create something special together.

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Pre-covid I would say the travel! Now as the world is opening up, travel may be more of a reality, but because of a camera I’ve been able to meet some incredible people who are now dear friends, I’ve filled quite a few passports with countries of places I’d dreamt of going, but have also been able to share the world through my eyes which is pretty cool. Above all else, when you make an image that makes people happy, it feels good and it feels good to feel good.
 
When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
Surfing, bodysurfing, cycling, running, currently unpacking boxes since we just moved, and learning how to cook/bake as well as spending time with my wife Jenna usually doing most of the above at the same time.
 
Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
My daily routine varies quite a bit. If I’m not on site shooting, I’m usually working on a few pre-productions or edits from future or past shoots, organizing prints, shipping books, or working on a new book that I’ve been editing for during Covid. Besides that I’m usually drinking way too much coffee and trying to keep the business part of photography running smooth.  It’s a lot of work to not only shoot and edit yourself, but be responsible for the business side such as taxes, bills, maintaining gear, booking travel, etc..
 
Who were your biggest influencers?
Danny Clinch, Anton Corbijn (never met him, but he’s my favorite!), Michael Halsband, Steve Sherman, Dustin Humphrey, Scott Aichner, Grant Ellis, Thomas Campbell, Tom Servais, Ted Grambeau, Cole Barash, Kevin Zacher, Chris Burkard, Pete Taras

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Say please and thank you, have common courtesy to everyone.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Being able to turn my passion for the ocean, travelling, and photography into a career would be the biggest highlight I could ever imagine. The biggest challenge would be keeping a balance between being present at home while travelling as much as I used to.  

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I started shooting photos when I was 15 and at the time I was going to school and working at a local surf shop in San Diego. We didn’t start work until 10 on the weekends and I had Surf PE at school so whenever we shot it was always in early morning light which worked great! I didn’t know anything other than shooting at sunrise and for the film we were using at the time (Velvia 50) you didn’t want to be shooting at any other time!
 
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I’m not too sure, hopefully something where I got to think and problem solve creatively. I have a ton of admiration for Firefighters, Lifeguards, and the Coast Guard so maybe do my best to work in that area to help others?!
 
What do you do when you get stuck?
Lately I’ve been going on runs or riding a bike, or surfing. Something where I am as far away from phones and computers as possible. I used to always have a camera with me everywhere we went, but found I was using it as a crutch to belong in a way, whereas by being more actively present in spaces you’re unfamiliar with, you take those experiences with you when you take the camera out and view either your subjects or your experiences through a slightly different lens. More connected.
 
What is your best advice for your peers?
What makes your work yours is the way you choose to compose an image as well as the moment you choose to capture it. No one can take away your perspective and that is what not only shapes your work but defines your style as well. Also, if you’re considering getting into Surf Photography, make sure you go surf without the camera too!  
 
What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
I would tell myself it’s ok to say no sometimes. Listen to your gut, your instincts, those will guide you. Also, looking back I see how many major life events I’ve missed in my families and friends lives so making more time for them, which at times may lead to missing a shoot day or missing a particular shoot, but means so much to them.
 
What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
The role is the same it has always been. To tell stories and capture a time in life whether you’re telling the story of current events which will turn into history, the story of a person, group or place, or to inspire. The only big difference I have seen between now and the past is the accessibility to creating and sharing images in a quicker, more efficient way. I constantly look back at old National Geographic Magazines and Time magazines and think to myself, the photography now isn’t any better by any means even though we have so many new cameras, the principles of photography have remained the same, the only difference is there are more images that come out quicker.
 
What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Jenna and I were just talking about that and to be honest am not entirely sure. In the last 5 years I came out with my first book and had some amazing opportunities to build a broader commercial portfolio both with stills and most recently motion, so I’m thinking more of the same. I’ve been shooting for and editing a book that I’m hoping to come out in the next year or two at the most as well as storyboarded out a short film I’d like to produce and shoot as well.  Whatever or wherever we end up I’m sure there will be large bodies of water around and an early morning alarm clock to watch the sun rise :).
 
To view more of Todd’s work you can follow along here.

APA Awards 2021: Call for Entries Now Open!

APA AWARDS 2021

Our annual competition is open to all photographers at every level, worldwide – everyone from emerging photographers to established professionals.

Our Judges will select 43 APA Award Winners this year for 14 categories and one Best of Show.

APA members save on each entry. APA Leader level members save over 50% on each image.

ENTER THE 2021 APA AWARDS HERE

2020 Sports/Adventure Winner © Todd Glaser


AWARDS CATAGORIES 

Architecture / Interiors
Beauty / Fashion
Celebrity / Musicians
Conceptual / Altered
Corporate / Industrial
Created During Covid (Images created since 3/2020)
Documentary / Photojournalism
Food / Still Life
Lifestyle
Nature / Animals
Personal Projects
Portrait
Sports / Adventure
Travel / Landscape

Deadline Extended – July 20, 2021 (Noon, Pacific)

Culture & Cause: Highlighting Women in Photography

APA San Diego and MOPA invite you to join us for a special evening presentation with three photographic artists to support and celebrate these amazing women and their cause driven work.

The panel will cover topics such as diversity within the industry, share their personal stories and experiences and discuss their creative process and activism. Our guest panelists include: Cara Romero, Nitashia Johnson and Morgan DeLuna

WHEN: Thursday, May 6th, 2021 at 4 p.m. PST

WHERE: Online | Link will be sent out upon registration

COST: This event is a fundraiser to benefit three youth organizations that each artist is passionate about. Your support will help raise funds to further the goals and mission of the following organizations:

Las Fotos Project
The Smart Project
The AjA Project

Reserve your spot today click here!
Not a Member?
Our annual memberships start at $50! Join Now

© Left to Right: Morgan DeLuna, Nitashia Johnson, Cara Romero


ABOUT THE PANEL

Cara Romero is based in Santa Fe, NM, was born in Inglewood, CA and raised between the rural Chemehuevi reservation in the Mojave Desert and the urban sprawl of Houston, TX. Her identity informs her photography, which is a blend of fine art and editorial photography. Her award-winning work is included in many public and private collections internationally. Her practice is shaped by years of study, and a visceral approach to representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history, and lived experiences, from a Native American female perspective.

Donations will be made to Las Fotos Project.

Nitashia Johnson is a multimedia artist and educator from Dallas, Texas who attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She went on to become an alum of Texas Woman’s University in 2012 and the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015. She has a true passion for creating and combines her love for photography and design to help make a difference in the world. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Dallas Morning Show and she’s also the creator of The Self Publication photographic book series. In 2019, she became one of the first women selected for the Sony Alpha Female Creator-in-Residence program.

Donations will be made to The Smart Project.

Morgan DeLuna was born and raised in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and relocated to Southern California in 2004. She has a background in the performing arts and was a precursor to her visual arts practice. Using a conceptual approach she explores the human condition and liminal space. Themes around the relationship between identity, appearance, and human connection are the focus of her work.
Morgan’s work has been exhibited in spaces nationally and internationally including the San Diego Art Institute, Los Angeles Center of Photography, and FotoNostrum in Barcelona. In addition to exhibitions, her work has been in published in SHOTS Magazine and Diffusion Annual.

Donations will be made to The AjA Project.

Thank you to our sponsors:

APA-SD Sponsors George's Camera, Nelson Photo, Museum of Photographic Arts

MEET. Nitashia Johnson

© Nitashia Johnson

Meet APA | San Diego member, multimedia artist and educator from Dallas, Texas Nitashia Johnson.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
At the time my favorite podcast is the African Folk Tale on Spotify. It’s so good and full of storytelling. 

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
I would say that those people are:
@tobishinobi – Photographer
@Sidgejay – Animation and Performing Artist
@notaliyahcydonia – Painter

I’m a multimedia artist and their work inspires me so very much.

What 3 words describe your photography style?
Deep, powerful, and peaceful.

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I’m very eclectic so it ranges from r & b, rock, pop, country, jazz and so on. Music can really change your mood and push you to create. I freaking love it because it inspires me to get going.

What inspires you?
My lil big sis and the deep love she pours out to me. I’m also inspired by her and the hard work of others. The good energy found in them is really amazing. I’m inspired by all who love and support me.

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Meeting so many great people. They all matter. Another thing is I get to create peace in such a crazy world.

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I love working on creative videos, being around family, connecting with nature, and drawing. I like to enjoy the little things, that’s what life is all about.

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
Whew, busy! My days are full of creative things. I teach African American art and photography at the university level once a week. I’m also a full time graphic designer and photographer. This consists of creating for a Dallas university and shooting for news outlets such as The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, NBC and the Marshall Project. During the weekdays  I also set aside time to support my new non-profit The Smart Project and to work on my photographic book series, The Self Publication. 

More work has come to me and I’m learning how to manage my time. I’ve started to really pay attention to what I take on just to make sure I can handle it all. By doing this It gives me time to experiment with other things. I just finished a great residency which forced me to understand myself and how I should plan my time moving forward. It’s ok to be busy but it is also very important to set aside some me time. This reduces the chance of you disappointing yourself and others. Take care of you first and the rest will follow.

Who were your biggest influencers?
My teachers, those in my family who stepped up to support me during the tough years of youth, and the universe. My youth was affected by many things, my parents were not around and that can make things hard but with absence comes love and I thank the people who came in my life to help me when I felt so lost. Because of the help of others and the energy from our source of creation, I’ve grown into the artist and woman I am today. Thank you all.

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Stay focused and in due time you’ll shine like wine. 

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Confidence was a challenge. Navigating this world as the person I am, as a black person has been a challenge, a mental one. It was hard understanding who I was at first and because of that I found myself hurt from interactions or past trauma. My highlights deal with me overcoming and sticking with what I loved so much. I’ve met all kinds of people and I’m just happy that the good vibes of those who meant well of me overpowered any of the negative. I matter. 

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was acting solely as a graphic designer, grad student and teacher. everything just pretty much came together as I continued my journey. My visual art led to my graphic design work, my design work introduced me to photography, and now my images have set up my wedding with video.

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I would simply teach. Teaching is power and it is a great gift to give  the world. You can really make a positive change in someone’s life, I know the strong good teachers I had in my life did.

What do you do when you get stuck?
I go out in nature or listen to music. I rarely get stuck because my mind is always going and because of that I keep a notebook near me. Nature is my medicine
.

What is your best advice for your peers?
Never give up. There is only one you and that happened for a reason. Your purpose on this earth is different from the others around you. Love yourself, be kind to your soul. Create from the core and never compare yourself . Happiness is understanding that you matter and in your journey you are right where you are supposed to be.    

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
This too shall pass and to let go of what is hurting you. You have work to do kiddo so keep your head up and fly high. You matter in this world.

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I feel that a photographer’s role is to show the beauty in the world that can be so cold. The strong will and passion can inform many and create unity in the areas most needed.

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Running The Smart Project, loving my family (with an additional new little human), and still creating in a way that  shows others how valuable they truly are.

To view more of Nitashia’s work you can follow along here.

MEET. Patricia Fortlage

© Patricia Fortlage

Patricia Fortlage is a female empowerment photographic long-form storyteller and fine art photographer.  From her core belief that if you invest in women and girls, entire communities will be raised, Patricia has focused much of her photography career working with organizations doing just that. 

From her powerful piece covering the female-led Othakarhaka Foundation in Southern Malawi to the stereotype breaking, female empowering Wonder, girl! Project, to an ongoing project depicting the often life-long after-effects of sexual assault on women, Patricia is promoting female empowerment one project at a time.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
My favorite podcasts are meditation oriented, with my go-to being a meditation and trance podcast by Joseph Clough, a British hypnotist who lives here in San Diego. 

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
That’s easy.  I follow women that are making positive impacts on local and global communities (not just through photography):  Stephanie Sinclair @stephsinclairpix, Lynsey Addario @lynseyaddario, Korie Picket @hoosierqueenkp, Emma Fitzgerald @em.chick, Ida Puliwa @ida_puliwa, Liliana Hueso @liliana_hueso_photographer, Mandy Pursley @bethesparkcosplay and so many more!! 

What 3 words describe your photography style?
I don’t really think in terms of photography style; instead, I simply strive to convey a clear and meaningful message.  I think of myself as a storyteller and I really go for impact. 

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I’m a pretty Zen person, so if it is up to me, I like for all of my senses to be tuned into the people and the moment as the experience is unfolding, and music, because it can be so powerful in and of itself, can take away from that.  That being said, most of my work is supporting groups that are working to better the lives of women and their communities… so whatever they are listening to sets the mood for the shoot.  

What inspires you?
Making a difference.  I am just a worker bee.  I work for the cause; my contribution just happens to come in the form of photographic support. 

What can we do together to better diversify this industry?
We can lift our heads and take a look at the world around us.  There is a bigger picture.  What is it?  Who is it?  We need to pull from that larger demographic.  And we need to remember that photography is art.  There is no “one way.”  The fact that there have been ‘rules’ that get taught in schools and that there are particular aesthetics that have been rewarded again and again, it’s all nonsense.  It’s all been made up.  We all benefit from varied perspectives.  We must find them.  We must encourage those who do not look and think like us. It will make us all more creative.       

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Knowing I helped someone make a difference in this world.  Or knowing I made a difference, myself.  I recently had a young woman approach me about my Life Sentence project (Life After Sexual Assault).  She had seen the portrait I did of a woman sleeping in her closet, along with the caption that talked about how common this is for women after experiencing such a trauma.  This young woman told me that she had been sexually assaulted over a year prior and she had not told a single person about it because she thought she was strange for sleeping in her closet.  Once she learned she wasn’t alone, she reached out to a therapist and her healing journey began (she has since shared her story with a couple of friends and her now fiancé).  She had frequently thought about taking her own life before. That is a big change.  One of my photographs did that.  

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
Pastimes?  Free time?  What are these things you speak of?  In all seriousness, I am a person with a disability.  I have Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease, so my time outside of photography is focused on caring for myself and managing my disability as best I can in an effort to stay as healthy as I can.  I am very motivated to continue my art for as long as my body will allow.  

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
Pre-COVID, I was supporting locals’ programs in developing countries mostly.  I was on the road (and in the air) a fair amount and in between I would have a lot of editing to do.   

Currently, I am trying to continue with the Life Sentence project as social distancing will allow.  I am also using the down time to work with my content expert (a therapist who specializes in sexual trauma) to be sure my project plan is sound and that I am getting the experiences right.  I am also contemplating a book on Malawi.  It is an incredible place that everyone should visit. 

Who were your biggest influencers?
My biggest BIGGEST influencers are not photographers.  They are people like my father, who believes it is all our duty to help those with needs greater than our own. And some of my other influencers are not people at all, but experiences.  I have experienced my share of discrimination and trauma, and there is nothing more that I want than to protect others from those same experiences.  Although I enjoy shooting images just for the sake of photographing, I mostly do photography because of the cause, not so much because of the photography itself.  That being said, I am overwhelmingly inspired by photographer Stephanie Sinclair.  The work that she does is awe inspiring… truly, beyond words.  Definitely look her up; you will thank me. 

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Pricing.  I had the good fortune of receiving some mentoring from a very successful photographer who taught me about the psychological side of pricing. She had us both enter images in the local fair.  She entered three amazing images (that she was known for), and I entered three images of mine (remember, I was a beginner so they were very bland).  She put a price of $15 on each of her submissions and we put $250 on each of mine.  Every single one of mine won first place in it’s submitted category and each one sold for $250.  None of hers won or sold.  Her point was that many people equate value with the price tag, so if you undervalue your work, others especially will, too.   

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Highlights have been when clients contact me and tell me that they got the funding they needed because of my images, or that minds were changed, or lives were improved.  You can’t beat that.   

Many of the challenges I have faced have to do with the fact that I am female.  I am often not taken seriously by male colleagues.  It gets old being told which gear I should have, and even when they eventually see I have appropriate gear, they pivot to assuming I don’t know how to use it.  Eventually they see my work and come to understand I have a fairly successful career and they warm up to me.  It’s minor, but it is annoying.   

There can also be challenges as a solo female traveler, especially with all of my gear and with some of the countries I am entering alone.  I have learned to navigate fairly well, but it would be nice if personal safety wasn’t such an important concern at times. 

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I spent many years in the corporate world of mergers & acquisitions.  It was grueling and rewarding at the same time.  I really appreciate it now because it has made the business side of photography a snap for me. 

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
If I were to start all over again, I would go to medical school.  I have supported many medical teams as a photographer and they are absolute heroes, especially in the far reaches of the globe.  Watching a life being saved is beyond humbling, and while I love that I get to support their work, my contributions are so miniscule in the grander scheme of things.  I would like to do more.  If I wasn’t mid-career, with a disability, I would probably give it a go even now. 

What do you do when you get stuck?
When I get stuck (in anything) I tend to swing my efforts to the opposite extreme.  If something isn’t working and I keep trying and trying at it, I usually ask myself what the opposite approach would be, and I go there.  For example, in bowling, if you throw a gutter ball, conventional wisdom tells you to move a little farther away from that gutter.  But if you keep moving and moving and the ball still hits the same gutter, you best try marching right over to the offending gutter and start throwing from there.  It seems opposite of what would work, but that different perspective often changes your whole approach. 

What is your best advice for your peers?
People ask me how to break into the kind of work I do overseas, and I always recommend watching the movie “The Pirates of Somalia.” It’s a little odd in the beginning, but it really is a career gem.  I also recommend learning the business side of photography.  Do that first if you can.  And, be a person people want to work with.  Customer service is key.  Show up early, be flexible, remember who the client is. Under promise, over deliver, all that.     

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
Believe it or not, 16 years ago, I had a plan, and it worked.  I have been doing exactly what I wanted to be doing all this time.   

That being said, one thing I wish I had tried was to become a combat photographer.  As difficult as that likely would have been back then (especially being a woman), I would tell myself to put the effort in and give it a try. 

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I think it is important to remember that every industry evolves.  Technology is advancing at a breakneck speed so things will continue to change and many things will drop by the wayside.  Cameras have become so good that many people have or will stop hiring photographers.  Be ready to pivot instead of pouting. Most people don’t use a travel agent anymore. Photography is no different, so keep figuring out where the markets are and decide if photography is important enough to you to go there.  

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
In five years, I hope I will still be healthy enough to be supporting the programs that are so important to me… especially supporting the efforts of women in order to change entire communities.

To view more of Patricia’s work you can follow along here.

Shooting During a Pandemic a Virtual Roundtable

© Nick Nacca

APA | SD is hosting a virtual roundtable focused on producing and shooting during a pandemic. Photographer Nick Nacca will moderate the discussion with professional photographers, studios, and production companies and share stories from his recent shoots. We encourage you to take part in the conversation about your experiences; what worked, and what didn’t. Learn what you need to know to keep your crew and clients safe through best practices, protocols and guidelines for a safe shoot. 

WHEN: Thursday, February 11th, 2021 at 6PM PST

WHERE: Online | Link will be sent out upon registration

COST: 
APA Members FREE
Non-Members: Pay What You Can, Suggested Donation $5
Registration directly supports events and initiatives for APA | San Diego.

Reserve your spot today click here 

Not a Member? 
Our annual memberships start at $50! Join Now!