Jeff Noble is a commercial and real people photographer based in Phoenix. Throughout his career, he’s been called on to photograph everyone and everything from celebrities and athletes to everyday people and innovative new products. Clients include H.J. Heinz Corporation, The Quaker Oats Company and AT&T. He’s also the man behind Creativa, a collaborative effort to connect professional photographers with the art and creative directors in various communities. You can find more information on NobleStock.com and NobleStudio.net.
My first camera was…
It was a Canon! But I don’t remember the model.
I got started in photography…
During my senior year of high school, I got really interested in the print making process. Well, I was actually obsessed with it. After high school, I went on to get my degree in photography from The Art Center College of Design.
I wanted to become a photographer because…
I realized the magnitude of how many photo opportunities are out there – billboards, magazines, television and newspapers. Photography is everywhere. I am a pretty shy person by nature so it was initially a good way to break out of my shell. When I learned how to develop photos, it gave me an identity and a passion. Then it morphed into the reality of, I can do this as a career. I can find a niche and have freedom that I never had before. There’s also an element of problem solving in the process of taking photos that really intrigues me.
My first paying photography job was…
A shoot with Muhammad Ali at his home in Hancock Park near Los Angeles. I was hired by his interior designer to take advertising photos for the company. I shot architecture for the job and also was able to snap a few of Mr. Ali.
My first BIG paying photography job was…
I just got out of school. An industrial design instructor at my college had a wealthy client who made big machines that cut metal. He wanted photos of them so we shot two 20-hour days in a row. I had to drive to the instructor’s house a few days later to collect payment and hand over the transparencies. Essentially, he refused to write the check and pay me. I told him I couldn’t hand over the photos before then and, long story short; I had to sue him just to get paid. And he was a professor at the college from where I just graduated! I guess the moral here is: stand up for yourself, no matter who your client. This is your job and you deserve to get paid.
I would describe my style or shooting philosophy as…
My career has organically morphed into people photography. I take photos of real people. I try to carve out a piece of somebody’s soul when I run a shoot with them. If you look at my pictures, I think you’ll see why I call myself “a real people photographer.”
Tell us about your side project, Creativa.
The Creativa idea evolved from my constantly being upset by the local buying market in Phoenix. Advertising agencies and art directors were constantly hiring photographers from other markets for the most profitable jobs and local photographers were kind of left with the scraps. I have a lot of pride in my work and the level of talent that is in Phoenix. So, I decided to come up with a platform that could help steer the local market photographer to the local buyers of photography. It’s a way to illustrate we have awesome talent here and you don’t need to go somewhere else to get a nice ad campaign.
The thing I really like about Creativa is it’s an even platform. If you place an ad on our website or in our book, your work is going head-to-head with other photographers in your market. So, if you place mediocre photos, then your work is going to look mediocre compared to your competition. It’s a great way to get photographers to think critically about their work. It encourages them to always look for ways to evolve and improve. Besides Phoenix, we’re also in Colorado, Southern California, Texas, Georgia, and in the northwest in Portland and Seattle.
What is one of the biggest challenges you see when it comes to photographers marketing their work? And do you have any marketing tips for other photographers?
Well, the first thing I notice is we, as photographers, aren’t always objective about our work. We don’t always pick our best shots to put forward. We tend to make a lot of decisions on our own without asking for feedback. I think it is important to ask for objective feedback when it comes to choosing your portfolio photos you’ll use as marketing tools. And, friendly competition is a good thing. Challenge yourself to be better than your neighbor. I am also a big believer in resource book advertising because it actually puts your work in the hands of people who might buy it.
What are some of your favorite educational resources that you would recommend to other photographers?
I think Photo District News is a great business tool; I go to their Photo East conference every year. Workbook.com is also a good resource because it offers a lot of promotional tools that are easy to use.