Eric De Juan
One thing I know for sure that separates photographer Eric Dejuan from others within his medium, is his highly respectful regard towards his craft, artistic moral and others. Eric and I are old colleagues and on the work front is where I discovered his quietly kept expertise. Once upon a time when I was a practicing spoken word artist; I took some “professional’ photos for marketing and promotional purposes. Although my experience in the field of photography was then, finite, and my judgment, naïve; I was very pleased with the quality of the photos. So pleased, that my excitement led me to share my shots with a few like minded individuals at my job. When I got around to Eric, he gave me insight and opinion that was contrary to the remarks of others.
Being the respectful guy that he is, he did not demean my photos or belittle the work of the photographer. He started by acknowledging how photogenic, I appeared to be. Complimented various aspects of the pictures; but went on to tell me what he would have had me do differently as the model, and what he would have done differently as the photographer. From lighting choices, to the switching of lenses, to the entire artistic concept of the shoot; Eric Dejuan had a different spin. Now…if I were a close minded individual, I could have been insulted by his unsolicited critique. However, I’m smarter than that. I know how to take a little advice; digest what speaks to me, and discard the rest. Yet in this case, it was all music to my ears and I immediately tried to solicit his services! I wanted him to edit one of the very shots, he’d critiqued. But noooooo, Mr. Dejuan would hear of no such thing! (LoL’s) This was several years ago, but I remember him saying something close to, not being one who touches other peoples work, and that it’s disrespectful. He also said that if I wanted him to edit any shots of me, they would be shots he took himself. Respecting his gangster, I went on to book a shoot with him, and it changed my views on professional photography forever!
With Eric, I shot my first on location shoot at the Tutwiler Hotel, here in Birmingham, AL. The shots were absolutely beautiful, and the experience; amazing! E. Dejuan was every bit the professional. No womanizing lustful eye, prompt, courteous, patient, grade -A industry level equipment, and the artistic eye of a painter. And in post production, he introduced me to the vastness of photo shop. Very intriguing! ;)
Since then, Eric Dejuan’s business and brand has grown exponentially, and he is one of Birmingham’s most sought after photographers. Multi faceted in his field, he now specializes in commercial marketing and advertising, sports and fitness ads, and composite photography (compositing is the combining of visual elements from separate sources, into single images.). He is a proud father, a newlywed husband, and balances a steady workflow in Atlanta, GA, and his native city of Birmingham. He is also a two time published photographer in B-Metro. One of which was his entire vision and story and spread.
Eric Dejuan states – “Five years ago, I made the decision to pursue this business full time. I wasn’t born a photographer, but over the course of a few years I began to eat, sleep, and breathe this art. My dreams and aspirations began to expand and I began researching the true business end of this craft. I started shopping pricing and earning potential in the many markets of this industry. I studied business 101, learned the difference between branding and marketing. I invested more into myself and expertise. I bought new programs, upgraded my equipment (again), took courses, and really took the time to add to my knowledge base. I got a studio space, further developed my craft, and learned my worth. I’ve always been a lover of the saying quality over quantity; but I began to see the significance and weight of those words, as time went on.”
I’ve followed Eric’s career over social networks for several years now and I have watched him transform into a master of his field. He was talented and above the status quo in 2009 when I shot with him; but now he’s even more distinguished and quite the teacher and the expert. He offers webinars on new programs and techniques, and shoots big budget ad campaigns
Here are a few Q&A’s
L.C.P.: I remember when you were the go to guy for up and coming artists’ and aspiring models. Now, it is very evident that your clientele has evolved. What were some of the game changers that switched up your brand?
Eric. D: In the beginning when I was just trying to get my name out there, I would accept crappy pay and different trades for services, figuring I’d make up for it in experience and exposure. But the more I allowed that to happen, the more over worked and under-appreciated I felt. It’s funny how things and people play out… It seemed the people who I would give fantastic deals to, would be the people who would try and demand the most from me. But the people who respected the business end, my craft and their own, equally…paid more, and were much more pleasurable to work with. So what did that tell me? It told me it was time to evolve, change my brand, and up my pricing. Which actually weeded out a lot of the nonsense, for me and I chose a specialty. (he laughs, we laugh )The people who contact me for my services now, are people who are serious about their own branding, are investing in themselves, and see why they should invest in me. We all win!” (We both laugh in agreement)
L.C.P.: What has been the most challenging aspect of being your own boss?
Eric. D: That would have to be, getting exposed to the bigger companies, and people with larger budgets. Also developing a consistent workflow, that’s well balanced. When you go into business for yourself, you put in a lot more time and effort, because your livelihood and quality of life depends on it. With that being the bulk of your ambition, it’s easy to work too much and fall out of balance with the other important things in your life. Finding my own rhythm and keeping it consistent was a great challenge.”
L.C.P.: What has been most rewarding, in doing what you love, full time?
Eric. D: The flexibility is hands down, one of the greatest perks. You schedule yourself; only take the jobs that you want, and being the determining factor of your income and earning potential.
L.C.P.: What detail of photography are you most passionate about?
Eric. D: Composite photography. I love the challenge it gives, and I love that everyone can’t do it! (he laughs) Compositing is a specialty, and if you haven’t spent countless hours researching and learning to make the digital conversion seamless, it will look that way and the photos will speak the truth. Compositing is not something that you can wake up one morning and decide “I do this”. It is an investment of time, programming and dedication to enhancing the skill.”
L.C.P: What is the greatest degree of separation between you and other photographers?
Eric. D: I’ll have to go with the composite photography answer again. It is mastery, in a lane all by itself.
L.C.P.: What drives you most in this business?
Eric. D: The endless possibilities of advancement. When I watch movies, my eye is looking at the lighting choices, making the calls that the Director of Photography makes on set. I’m getting into some of that now, but the dream is a big budget blockbuster film, one day!” (he says, with much enthusiasm)
L.C.P.: Eric this interview has been very inspiring and informational. Are there any last remarks and advice you’d like to leave for people pursuing their dreams and going into business for themselves?
Eric. D : With being your own boss, comes a lot of weight and responsibility. You have to be ready and willing to go the extra miles that working for yourself requires. Research the pro’s and con’s to your endeavor, and depending on what your craft is, practice it as a hobby for a few years before you go into full time business. Fall and make your beginners mistakes, learn your market, know your worth or your products worth, and build a Clientele; then go into full time business. You should love whatever it is that you’re doing enough, to be committed to it through the hard times. Be dedicated enough to commit to excellence and be the best or at least one of the best at what you do. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they’re all learning tools. I’ve been taken advantage of, done wrong and cheated in this business by a lot of people. And I don’t regret any of it or take it personally. I take it as a lesson learned, and go and tighten up my contract, to prevent that or anything like it, from happening again.”
L.C.P: Very profound last words Eric Dejuan, thank you so much for the interview. Life.Culture.People. appreciates you!