We’ve all opened up Instagram and in a bored daze gone to the discovery tab, scrolling past posts of expensive cars, food, and Instagram models. Continue scrolling until something catches our eye. It’s an amazing landscape of the beach, mountains, the city…whatever it is it’s awe inspiring. Double tap to like it, maybe even look through the other posts by the user. In this first installment of Mild Exposure we’ll be zooming in on one of those users that can’t help but catch eyes across the app.
Originally from the Philadelphia area, he is now based in Charlotte, NC. Over the past 2 ½ years he’s created a niche in the photography community for himself, attracting attention from Instagram and Facebook users and other Instagram photographers alike. As well as having the opportunity to work with outlets such as the Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Panthers, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Men’s Basketball team. Here is our conversation with up and coming Instagram photographer @unclejut.
How long have you been posting photography on social media and why?
I started posting my photos on social media (mostly Instagram) about 2.5 years ago. It started as a hobby, and I started posting so that I could gain exposure and also see my work improve over time, as well as gain feedback from my followers
About when did you see things start to pick up?
Things started to pick up for me pretty quickly, just a couple of months into it.
What have you learned/done on your own and how?
I’ve learned and did everything on my own. Just started taking photos (a lot of bad ones) and by just messing around with my camera I was able to figure out what I needed to do to correct the bad.
What would you say sets you apart from others? Any particular style or tone?
I think the thing that separates me is my style, but most importantly my passion and drive. My style is a very urban/dark style, I like to use a lot of dark but colorful tones, a lot of nighttime style shots.
How did you break out through social media?
I still don’t think I’ve broken out through social media yet, but the consistency and quality is what has helped me gain a following. I’m posting quality photos at least every other day. I’ve also been able to work with some of the more popular brands in my market which has helped me make a name for myself.
How has using social media like Instagram and Facebook help promote your work and gain exposure?
Social Media has been my only source of exposure and promotion. Posting just one photo gives me the chance to reach thousands of people throughout the world which is mind-blowing.
Do you think posting photography online has changed the market for photography?
Yes, in fact I’d be interested to see the spike in camera sales since the inception of Instagram. When I first started just 3 years ago there were only a few photographers in Charlotte, now it seems like everyone is buying DSLR cameras and becoming an Instagram photographer.
Are there any drawbacks from posting online?
Oh yeah, the first drawback is theft. People can easily steal your photos and post them as their own. It happens too often. Also, people see your photos, they may like it but then they continue browsing their feed. They don’t stop to appreciate the photo or take them time to research our other works.
How have you turned a hobby into a career/how do you balance between the two?
Again, it comes down to consistency and my drive. I love taking photos, and that is obvious when I meet people. Take photographs that people want to see or use for their business, but more importantly be a person that people want to be around and hire for their business. Give quality work and be easy to work with. It can be challenging at times to balance things, but when you love what you do, you figure out how to make it work.
Did you envision this type of career trajectory when you were attending college?
No, although I wish I had. I didn’t even own a camera in college and it wasn’t until my 30th birthday before I even thought about purchasing one.
How have your experiences in college and outside affected who you’ve become as a photographer?
Hard to say really. There are so many experiences we all have, both good and bad, that help mold or build who we are this very moment. The easy answer is no because I didn’t go to school for photography, however those years helped make me the person I am today and I’m sure in one way or another help motivate or inspire a moment I may be taking a photograph.
What advice/tips would you give to an aspiring photographer?
The most important piece of advice I can offer is that if you truly love it, invest as much time into as you can. Don’t give up after a few bad photos, those bad photos will help you figure out how to create the good ones. Don’t limit yourself to a certain genre of photography either. There are beautiful moments in every situation and in every setting, it’s your job as the photographer to capture them. Last, you can’t do it alone. Meet and collaborate with other artists, you’ll be better because of it.
I’d like to thank @unclejut for taking the time and speaking with me about his work. Please give him a follow, trust me you will not be disappointed.
“Find what you you love and let it kill you.” -Bukowski