Q&A with an economics-sciences student trying to be a pro photographer

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I have a real passion for photography and would love to do it as a career, but I’m not sure how possible that is for me.

There is an over-saturation of people trying to make it as photographers right now and, from what I’ve seen, many of them aren’t very good.

I don’t really know how to get myself in there without taking a huge risk, so for the time being at least, I am on the fence.

But the same is not true of Jeff Jewiss.  He’s a photographer and designer who has captured some pretty impressive  artists (Jonas Brothers, IllScarlett, the Weakerthans, and Dallas Green)  and organizations as a photographer.

Jewiss’ work focuses primarily on portraiture, promotional and concert photography, but he has also done some work in other areas, such as shooting sports events.  In addition to working as a photographer, he attends McMaster University where he is completing a bachelor of economics degree, with the possibility of simultaneously finishing  a physical sciences degree.

I interviewed Jeff recently about his work and education while we were people-watching on campus in between classes.

Q. Why did you decide to go to university for science?

A. At the high school I went to that’s what they pushed, mostly the sciences in general.  Our school was known for sending kids off to Queen’s, U of T and [McMaster].

We were told to put our time in at high school, get one of these degrees, and get a good job at the end of it all.  I applied to those kind of schools, but I have family here [in Hamilton] so here I am.

Q. How did you get started in photography?

A. I worked finance full-time for one and a half years.  If you’ve ever worked a job like that, you’d understand there is a lot of downtime.  It’s against the corporate culture to talk about it, but there is.  So I’d look at photography websites and photos when I had the chance. One day I just walked into a Henry’s and bought a camera.

I’ve always had a love of music, so I’d go to shows and take pictures.  I started making friends with people in bands who’d appreciate what I was doing.  So I started doing promotional shots, parties, etc., for different bands.

Like anything artistic, you need to continue what you are doing no matter how discouraged you get.  You’ll think your stuff sucks, but others will appreciate what you’re doing, and pushing forward and keeping your head up will give you access to bigger and better things.  You also have to be realistic.

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