Hey Wicked Hunters,
This week I’m excited to chat with Kristin Piljay, Kristin Piljay has been an internationally-published photographer for over two decades and has travelled to many places in search of knowledge, beauty, and adventure. She tends to wander off into the wilderness of the mountains, desert and forest, but she can also be found occasionally in cities.
Starting as a portrait photographer in the 1990s, she eventually became a travel photographer for Lonely Planet Images stock agency and some of her images have been published by Lonely Planet, Mountain Sobek Travel, Pearson Education, Microsoft, Condé Nast, Cengage Learning, Oprah Winfrey Network, Hearst Corporation, Aerial Dance Festival, Redbull and BBC Travel.
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All these tweets about artists saying they can finally make a living at art and artists actually making money because like the kind of the whole thing with the stock photography, where you people are paid like one centre for centre, whatever for their art or their photo or video, it was just so insulting
Hey wiki hunters Welcome back to The Art of Photography podcast, where we share artists journey and share how photography given us all purpose and happiness. And today we have somebody who I’ve met through Twitter, and it’s pretty cool. Actually, I haven’t chatted with her too much, but just going to some of her photograph coming in trade. And I want to have her here in the podcast and talk about her journey. Good morning, Kristen. Welcome to the Art of Photography podcast, or actually, it’s even in your place, isn’t it?
Well, yeah, I can say good morning, because it’s good morning. There’s always good morning in the NFT. World. That is true.
It is always good morning. That is so funny. I remember. I asked this question while back it’s like, is it GM or GM? Like how do you you know, which one do you say is like, it’s always a GM. By the way, listeners, you know, in the NFT world or in web three world, GM means Good morning, I, it took me I think about four months trying to figure that out. That was so funny. Very excited to have you here. So before we get started, just tell us a little bit about who you are and what got you into photography.
Well, um, I am mostly like a travel and nature photographer. But I’ve actually done a lot of different types of photography. But it all kind of started when I was a child. And I just I had, I’m 57. So I, you know, I remember what a pocket camera was some people in who are older will know what that is. But it was like kind of like this, like oblong kind of rectangular like little thing. And I and I had one of those. And I was an exchange student in Germany, when I was in high school. And I had an aunt that gave me he’s like, Oh, you seem to take good photos. He’s like, you can borrow my SLR camera. And so she lent me this camera. And the funny thing is that it was a it was totally manual, but the light metre was broken. And so if you can believe it, I just guessed to what to set. To set it, I actually looked at the film that I bought, and it said, you know, like, if it’s sunny than the US like 125, and then F 11. And so that’s what I would do. And I kind of just guessed, and the thing is, is like, I don’t know, I was shooting negative film. So there’s some leeway, but like, it seems like that my photos like when I would get them developed, they were like, you know, they were exposed properly. So but that, so I travel, I was in school in Germany, and I travelled around. And then when I came back and showed people my photos, they were like, Oh, you have a good eye for photography. And so when I graduated from high school, I asked my parents to, I said, I would like to have like my own camera, because I had given that one back to my aunt. So then they got me a canon. And that’s when I started, you know, I don’t know, just kind of experimenting. And when I would travel, I kind of mostly would shoot whenever I would travel. And then eventually, I couple years after that, like in my early 20s, I started taking photography classes. So I learned how to develop film, like black and white photography, and then developing it in the dark room and everything. And that was like a lot of fun. And just doing the assignments that I was given. But early on, I actually started photographing when I was doing black and white, I photographed food. And I did all these kinds of interesting, like kind of still lifes with food. And my parents don’t have some of those, like on their walls. Some of them were like milk and cookies, that kind of an or like milk and eggs and that sort of thing. And and I guess I started when I moved to San Francisco in the early 90s, I started shooting more portraits and I still was taking photography classes and I was working in an office and somebody asked me if they if I could take photos of them and their boyfriend and so I started doing portraits and then like kind of word spreads. And so then I started photographing people’s kids and then like even somebody’s wedding, a wedding or two and that sort of thing. So I and after headshots and I kind of started that’s how I started doing, like more professional photography. And so I did kind of start out more with portraiture, but then when I would travel then I would just photograph and I would travel. And I guess I started doing travelling Like more travel, travel photography, like, around the year 2000 2001. And I started shooting slides, and I actually was accepted by a stock agency. And that started, like my experience with stock agencies, which I’m sure is most people know, are really like, it’s really kind of horrible right now. But like back then, it was a little bit different. And it was all like slides, and even the agency, I went in person in San Francisco, and would like to deliver my slides. And, and I had some sales. I mean, it wasn’t anything huge. But then I swear it was super quick. Even just like a few years after that, like the sales decreased and the prices decreased. I don’t know, it seemed like when it started with digital photography, because like I was excited about digital photography, and I switched to digital in 2004. But once it became, it seemed like it became easier and more accessible. And people started shooting more photos. Because like when I used to shoot slides, I used to like, look through my slides like on it, I would look through my slide with a loop, and also look at the exposures because you had a bracket your exposures, and I would sit at a table and I have a light box. And then I would just toss the ones on the floor that were bad like that I was gonna throw away, which seems like such a horrible waste. So I’m kind of glad that I’m not doing that sort of thing anymore. That threw away like all this film all that like chemicals and developing and just throwing like all these slides away. So that’s kind of how I got into that sort of photography. And then later on, I actually worked as a photo researcher in textbook publishing. And that actually was supposed to be a part time job. And then I wanted to basically be a full time photographer. But I was never very good at marketing myself. And so I kind of stuck with the stock photography thing. But through my work in working for a publisher, as a photo researcher, sometimes they needed photos to be photographed specifically for some of the science textbooks I was working on. And so they started hiring me as a photographer, so I started shooting for the textbook publisher. But like professional photography was always like a part time job for me. So I always had like another main job. And unfortunately, like I kind of wanted like that just to be a part time job, the photo research and, and to be mainly be a photographer, but I ended up it ended up being reversed. And I got more and more work as a photo researcher, and, and not as much work as a photographer. And then just because of the way the business changed with textbook publishing, and also stock photography, I started doing less and less photography, and I didn’t shoot for the publisher anymore. And even the photo research was going to overseas. So I, I kind of, I’m at the point now where I work as a project manager and textbook publishing, and, and then I work for slike doing social media marketing on mostly on Twitter. And then there’s still the photography, which started I started making more money finally, again, on photography because of NF T’s. Because I mean, like the stock photography, you can actually if you look at my sales, and the stock agencies that I’m in, the price is just getting lower and lower and lower. And recently, I actually had some sales. And they gave me one cent like the agency, two cents, and they gave me one cent. And I’m like, Are you kidding me?
No, 100% You know, like seeing the market kind of move that way? I mean, you know, I think I, it took me a while to understand that, you know, that’s not how you make money to stock photography. And it I only know this when I was talking to Paul, this guy, actually the one on the first person that I interviewed in, in this podcast, and I asked him about, you know, stock photography, is it worth it? And you know, the way he approached it is the way you approach it back then it’s not it’s not going to the stock size sites, but actually going direct to the consumer, the people that are looking for it, you know, whether it’s an agency or the actual company, and that’s how it’s being valued a lot more compared to stock photos. But you’re right, you know, and nowadays it’s so hard because iPhone, take a great photo, right? Yeah. So then it’s not necessarily I mean, we all know that in order to be a good photographer. It’s not just the camera but you know, from that the mindset kind of shift, you know the value kinetic Freeze. So from someone who been shooting all the way back from the film era, you know, to the digital era, and now I could say to the mobile phone era, how do you see the value shifted along this years? And what do you think about that?
Well, it’s really actually disappointing that the value shifted. And I mean, it depends on the type of photography to so like travel photography, I mean, I mean, just kind of, if you do photography, where you’re using models, and you’re doing setups, that’s actually a totally different thing. But if you’re actually shooting things like, lens, you know, kind of landscapes of travel, not kind of really complicated landscape, but the kind of there’s also just the really, like, Oh, this is a nice landscape to show a place you might want to travel to, or, I mean, that was the kind of photography that I did. I mean, I did other things on my own. That was kind of separate, like, kind of more artistic and stuff, but like, the main thing, I mean, like when I first started doing travel photography, sorry, photography, that wasn’t also travel. I mean, anatomy, I, some of my most popular images were like a bowl of potato chips, you know, so I actually kind of was like, sort of a little bit upset about that, and like, like my beautiful landscapes and sell, but like this bowl of potato chips keeps like being sold. Although recently my most common on Alamy, that is, has been sold in the past, like two years is this photo of a tree growing in a rock what’s called root root wedging. So I’ve worked on I was working on science textbooks and finding political science textbooks. And I needed to find a photo of root wedging, it was so difficult to find it. And then I went on a hike and I saw the perfect root wedge in photo. And so I took a photo of that. And then now people are using my photo probably in geology textbooks or other things to deal with that to illustrate it. So I mean, there’s lots of photography that’s like that, where you’re illustrating something for like a textbook, or they just need a photo on an apple or something like that. But I mean, like, I mean, I just can’t imagine if I could take like a better Apple than, like a lot of other people have already photographed in apple. But, you know, at some point, like, it was kind of new, and there wasn’t as many, but there’s more and more people in that. And as for equipment, I mean, I can take actually really nice photos on my iPhone. And so, and people can actually have the same phone and take like crappy photos too. So I mean, like, there it is, has, to me, it’s more, I mean, there is like a certain quality, if you want to enlarge something. Yeah. Or if you want to make a lot of the do a lot of editing to it, and that sort of thing. I mean, there is like that quality that is not quite the same, but I mean, like they’re getting better and better. I mean, like, when I was doing a shoot of some light themes in the Redwood Forest recently, I would actually test the scene with my phone. And then I would shoot with my camera, and my camera had looked really awful like in the viewfinder, because like the phone was like processing it. And then also when I would get the raw photos they was I’m like, oh my god, I have to make this look like my phone.
That is funny. And you’re right, like, you know, the phone are incredible nowadays, right. And it’s with the AI and the processing, you know, it helps a lot, even though it has a small camera. And I feel like that’s what and the other thing that you said was also 100% Right? You know, just because you have a good camera doesn’t make you a better photographer. Just because you have a an iPhone camera doesn’t make you a bad photographer, it’s a lot to do with who you are as a photographer and the way you interpret the scene. But I think people kind of mindset with that, that with people with everyone being able to take a photo nowadays instead of you know, doing all the settings that kind of take away a lot of the value, the precede value, I suppose. So that was really interesting. You know, I love hearing your story that you know, you started all the way from the film trying to figure it out and we’ll do it your digital digital. So you can share you know how you got started in photography and you know, some of the things that you have photography of photograph over the this years. But what I want to hear about your excitement, why what type of photography make you really excited or what, what makes you got into photography in the first place that you know make you stay there on to a point that you want to go to school in photography and learn more about it.
You know, it’s kind of this odd thing, but it’s almost like a compulsion. Like some people say it’s a passion for them, but for me like I feel like I really want to, like if I see something, I want to capture it, like, I can’t just be like, Oh, that’s cool. Like I have, I feel like this, this urge to like to preserve it. And I don’t even know if it’s like to show other people or just like to have it for myself, maybe it’s both. But like, for instance, I also another thing that I did in the past was I, I did, I used to be an aerial dancer. So I did like kind of trapeze and circus stuff, and like, aerial silks. And I have some friends in Seattle that have an aerial dance company, and I used to photograph their shows. And and the thing is, is like, when I photographed the show, I felt like I can’t, couldn’t really watch it, because I was so focused on the photography. So then when I started on doing started doing was I would go and visit them, and then I would shoot, I would, I would just watch once a watch a show. And then I would do a second watch a second show where I would do the photography. And I thought, Well, that’s good, because I’ll prepare for it. But then the show that I was watching and not shooting, I just felt like oh my god, I’m missing all these like shots. Like all these moments, even though I knew that, like I was gonna like watch it like the second day, like I just like, if I if I actually just watched the show and wasn’t shooting it for some reason. I would just be like, I like missing out somehow, you know, like that. Anything. And just recently I was in Portland, I took a it was like an aerial tram there. And there was like, it was beautiful, clear day. And you could see Mount Hood. And I took a photo with my phone, because that’s my phone. This was a camera that I have with me all the time because I don’t carry like my equipment around all the time. So I was there for another reason. And so I was like, Oh, that looks great. And I took a photo of it in the background, but with like the foreground of a tree with like autumn leaves on it. So then whenever I was going back, it was sunset. And I was like in the tram, and I’m looking at the sunset and the lighting on Mount Hood. And like, oh my god, I was just like, I couldn’t like wait, I was like Fran was gonna miss it, you know. But I mean, the thing is, is like I could have just enjoyed it and looked at it, I couldn’t really photograph it from the tram. Because there, there were things in the way. And also the windows were dirty. So I was just like, chomping at the bit to like, get up to the top so that I could run out and like go and take a photo, which I did get it. But it was just on the verge of almost being too late, you know, a little bit too dark, it would have been better if I was there just a few minutes early, but it’s just like, I don’t know, I just I guess I always feel it’s just like a compulsion of wanting to capture a visual moment, I guess.
Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. I also felt like that at times, and the, you know, what you just mentioned about, you know, take having the phone with you. And taking a phone with taking a photo with a phone is a good example how, you know, the best camera that you could own is the one that was the one yourself, yeah, that you have. And that is such a good example of that saying, and going back to what you say about the compulsion about experience, and it’s really cool to hear how you approach that photography with the aerial dance and you know, performances where you want to experience it, but you also want to take a little bit and you combine the two by doing different things. And it’s, I find that it’s interesting. I want to ask you, how do you balance between, uh, trying to just enjoy the moment right to just being there and let your eyes and your your body enjoy the experience, whatever it is that you have, versus taking your camera out and actually enjoying it to your camera, because at the end of the day, they’re two different experience but what you said earlier was 100% True. It’s it’s, it’s not easy to be able to have a connection with nature, for example, or the Milky Way for my case, and you know, continuously taking photo there has to be a balance so how do you do that when you go out there for example, for your travel photography or from some of your other photography
Yeah, that’s it’s kind of Yeah, I agree with you and sometimes I think to myself, maybe I should just like take photos less and not do that. I just can’t I just can’t just do it without like I you know, I’ll just be carrying a bunch of like equipment because especially like in landscape photography, you know, like I end up like climbing like a mountain or something because I like to do that sort of thing. And it would be easier to like not bring like photo equipment with and admittedly when I go backpacking, I don’t bring a tripod like I’m kind of focused I’m just like the trip. But I do bring my camera I try to bring something as live as possible. It’s one of the reasons I switched to mirrorless because I was tired of lugging my Canon gear around. And I actually didn’t go for full frame. I have a Fuji fuji film, I went for the crop sensor because it had smaller lenses. So I was like, I don’t want to have a tiny camera with a giant lens, just like my old lenses. I have my Canon, you know? So. But I mean, yeah, I mean, I torture myself for photography, like dragging tripods around. I even went into this, like tiny this, like the slot canyon that you can barely walk through with a tripod monopod would have been better, honestly. But like, so yeah, but I just wanted, I wanted the shots. And so I wanted to it’s I guess it’s not it’s the compulsion to capture a moment, but to create something out of the moment. You know, what, like, it is I don’t know, if it’s a compulsion for others. Have you heard other people say that, that it feels like that, like, you just have to do it.
I mean, I felt the same, you know, ie, I used to do that. And when I first probably the first two years of my photography, I was I was like that, you know, every single moment, I want to capture it. I literally have my camera, which I have a five d mark for so it’s really heavy, right? Massive camera, and I would take it everywhere, even just for for a dinner or for lunch. But I decided that I want to, you know, it separate myself from the people and the actual experience. So I started to step back a little bit. And yeah, it’s interesting that you mentioned that, because I haven’t heard people mentioning that. But I know that, you know, it is in us, you know, we love photography. And photography is about moment, right? So when there is good moment for power, it’s only natural that we want to capture it. It’s in our blood.
What if there’s people in that moment, actually taking photos actually changes the moment to I feel like that it does. And although I kind of I used to take the photos, more people, and then I kind of It wasn’t intentional that I kind of veered away from that. And then until I was hardly photographing people anymore, like when I was doing travel photography, I always had a lot of people photos in there. And then I kind of shifted and then it became like more of nature and animals and and I kind of actually kind of missed that. And I kind of feel like maybe I shouldn’t like, and I forget to do snapshots. Like like when I was travelling in Iceland, I travelled a bit with two friends that live in Europe. And and both of them if it wasn’t for them, it I probably would never I wouldn’t have any pictures of us or them. I mean, maybe I might take a picture of them. Like if they were kind of like a person in the landscape. Like my one friend had a red jacket. It was awesome. And so she was like my red jacket person and all these like landscapes. But like I wouldn’t think of like doing like a selfie or asking someone, hey, take a picture of us together. Like, it’s not that I don’t want that I actually nice to have it like when it’s over. But like, I don’t even think about it. Like I’m always like thinking about like creating like a scene rather than just like taking a picture of us.
You know, I know exactly how that feel. I think about a couple years back, you know, someone asked me it’s like, Hey, can you send me your your portrait or a photo of you and I was like trying to think I don’t have one. Like literally, I went through all of my photo, I don’t have a good photo of me looking at the camera. Every one of them is from my back. So I know exactly how you feel. And yeah, it’s interesting to be you know, a landscape, or you know, a travel photographer, because most of the time you’re in the back of the camera. So it’s really cool hearing your story, really hearing how you transition across, you know, from the film to digital, you actually learn everything, you know, the settings, you actually get thrown into the settings because the Otomo Diem work on your favourite first camera or your camera at that time. And I find that really cool. Now, when it comes to doing photography as a way to make a living, is that something you always wanted to do? Or do you always try? You always you only want to do that part time to preserve the experience of being a photographer itself?
Well, that’s interesting question because yes, I my dream job was as many people have the same dream job of like being like a National Geographic photographer, like Travelling the world and having like assignments and like doing something really super interesting. And that was kind of always in my mind and like, I know that I could create kind of, even just for myself have like an idea and do a shoot like that. But it’s, I just kind of, I don’t know, I just kind of never have done it, I guess I kind of was afraid. I know, that was one thing that I didn’t take a lot of risks, and always had like a backup job, and never tried just to be a photographer. And I did work in photography, because I was like, as a photo researcher, and then I was doing a lot of photography within that job also. But to just be a freelance photographer and try to make money and I actually never I tried to be a commercial photographer. I never had the guts to see like, say, like, I want to be a fine art photographer. I just felt like that was just like, so unattainable. I mean, but I know there are people that do that, but I just didn’t have it in me to try for that. So and I have gone through periods of time where I was shooting, I was trying to shoot for stock, or I was just shooting for like the textbook, you know, I shot food. One thing that I really one of the best jobs that I’ve ever had. The super interesting was I was for the textbook publisher, I photographed the dissection of two cadavers for an anatomy textbook. And that was really interesting. And I often will say that that was one of the best jobs I ever had, because it was just so fascinating. And it was very lucrative too. And I, I even thought to myself, maybe I should be a Cadabra photographer. But I don’t know if I always want to do that. And be around all the familiar formaldehyde. And I don’t think there’s that many calls. I mean, only for like, kind of like textbooks and that sort of thing, like medical books or something. But, but it was a super cool experience. And so I did have some interesting things. But if you only start to it, and somebody that I met recently, actually is a photographer in that, and I said, What kind of photography do you do? And he says, I do photography that people will pay me if somebody pays him and he photographs and he doesn’t photograph in any other way. And I’m like, I mean, that’s fine. Like, if you have a technical skill, you can do that. And like and I actually had gotten to a certain point, probably about like, maybe nine years ago, where I just felt burned out because I was just I would photograph and people pay me like the textbook publisher, or sometimes I did. I actually photographed marijuana for like a dispensary like America where that was interesting too. Or like products I did like products and stuff like that. But I kind of got burned out a little bit because I just was shooting just to make just because someone was paying me or I would think that I might make money like just doing the stock photography. And so then I started doing some long exposure photography. Just like for myself, I did some self portraits with long exposure where I was a ghost accom is that my ghost photos. And I really love my ghost photos are some of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. Although I feel like other people don’t like them as much as me. I mean, like some people, my friends seem to really like them. Like people that know me. But other people are seemed kind of lukewarm about, like ghost photos, but so, but those kind of were photos for me and I kind of like sparked like, kind of some creativity. Like I was just shooting photography. I was just shooting just to create something to be creative. Not like because I someone was paying me.
Yeah, that’s incredible. So is that how you got out of your burnout? That’s how I got off my burger. Oh, that’s fantastic. And that’s, that’s really interesting, right? Um, we I haven’t heard anyone who got into photography because they want to make a lot of money. Right? Even the people who decide to do photography as a profession, they started it because they enjoy photography, you know, they and they just want to do more of it. But over time, the money aspect cannot hit you and you know, you become burnout because you you stop creating for yourself and so forth. So when you had this burnout, and then you find a way to get out of it. What did you learn? Like how did you stop? Stop it from happening again so that you don’t get the same burnout you know, in a year two years or five years and so forth.
Well actually, that kind of stopped because I stopped I stopped getting paying jobs like doing photography for the textbook publisher, and I kind of just didn’t, I just didn’t do that anymore. And then I just basically then just was, that’s when I kind of veered more into landscape photography, because that’s what I just felt I just did what I felt like doing. And then I put those in stock agencies and if they sold and that was fine. So I kind of stopped pursuing kind of more of a commercial photography, and just shot what I felt like shooting. And yeah, I also didn’t make that much money from it either. So and then, of course, the stock was just putting in the stock agency. So
yeah, that’s fantastic. Yeah. So you basically just, you know, do photography more for yourself. And stop, start, you know, doing it for everyone else. And
I mean, it goes through phases, it’s like, if something like for instance, I’m going to Florida next week to visit my parents, but I love to photograph the birds when I go to Florida. So I feel I’ll feel excited. Like, I haven’t been shooting since I got back from Iceland. Well, I have like 1700 photos, I need to like, you know, go through and process. So like, that’s time consuming. But I’m kind of like in a resting phase right now. And I’m not, I haven’t been with only been like, a little over a month since I was back. But I think that like, you know, when I go to Florida, I’ll I’ll do some photography of birds, because I always like, like to photograph the birds there. Oh, that’s fantastic.
Yeah, it’s really interesting. You know, it’s, it’s funny how it kind of worked that way with photography and careers. And sometimes you can hit the wall because you stop creating and being genuine about what you want from your photography. So thanks a lot for sharing that. So one thing that I’m curious, he told us that you are part of the soyka team, you know, doing their marketing. But in the beginning, you told us that you weren’t very good at marketing. And now you gotta jump into marketing, right. And I know that as an artist, like I was, I was struggling with marketing law, I think I am still struggling, but I am much better, you know, at least I kind of know what I’m doing. But it’s just like, you know, the struggle with myself, doing marketing is just very difficult, because I’m more a creative person, you know, a sailing sort of person. Now, how do you transition across, because we know that if you do want to make if you don’t want to sell your photography, if you do want to make money from your photography, you need to be able to market your photography, your art out there. And we have seen this over and over again, where people who have incredible images, but not a good marketing skills, aren’t able to sell their photograph versus people who have, you know, a decent photograph. They’re like, nothing crazy, but it’s, it’s, it’s good. It’s not superb or excellent or, you know, crazy beautiful, but they are able to sell. So what have you learned from this experience, so that the listeners can take, you know, pieces away from that and apply it to their own journey?
Well, I think for one thing, it’s easier to market somebody else’s art than your own. And that’s like kind of known. And so that’s why the NFT space on Twitter is so nice, because people are always like, are helping each other. And when I first entered the NFT space, I only had like 68 followers on Twitter. And if I would tweet something like nobody would see it or comment or anything. And, and I was able to, like early November, to basically like January 1 To go from 68 to 800 followers. I basically build up my followers and kind of just jumped right into the NFT space. And I kind of I don’t know, I became good at Twitter, basically. But all I did was I just interact, I was really excited. And I was excited by like, everyone’s photos that I was seeing on there. And so I was kind of very hyper tweeting. I tweeted like crazy. I like retweeted everybody’s work and was excited and like said all that I just kind of interacted with so many people that it’s just and then I started doing those like art threads where I remember the first one I did was on New Year’s Eve and I thought oh, probably because I saw other people do them. And I thought well, maybe I’ll get more followers and more like, you know, interaction by by doing that, and I did it. I put a photo of a lone tree that was my own and I said share your loan trees with me. And I thought oh, it’s New Year’s Eve. There’s no one’s no one’s didn’t even respond. It was huge. I mean, there was like, I mean, I think that there was like, I don’t know how many retweets but like eight 100 likes and like, it just exploded. And I was like, whoa. And so then I kept doing that. But the thing is, is like, whenever I was doing those, I was kind of trying to save something and retweet on almost every photo that somebody put there. And there was a lot of there was like hundreds and hundreds of them. And it was very time consuming. So basically, I got to that point from, by being on Twitter, almost like 16 hours a day or something. I was basic on Twitter, like almost an entire day, because my work is slow in the winter with my textbook publishing. And so it was kind of like, you know, like, November, December, and I was just kind of on Twitter, like a lot, and interacting with a lot of people. And I was kind of successful at building my own Twitter following. And so with sloka, I took silica from 2500 I, whenever they were hiring somebody, I applied for the job. And then they decided to give me a chance. And then I think at the end of January, I think there’s like 2500 followers. And then by maturity, we hit 17,000. But we hit 17,000 In September, but I think it was in the first few months that it got to like 10,000 pretty fast, probably within like two or three months. So I kind of just did the same thing for Flickr that I did. So my job for them, the marketing is kind of just like operates mostly just operating the Twitter. And yeah,
so yeah, that’s cool. That’s really cool. And I
think the key is to interact, it’s just said, it’s very time consuming. I mean, for me in the NFT space, it was being in being, it was very helpful to be in a collective, because I was involved in being a collective in like May. And I got to know like a lot of photographers in that collective like really like more so than just kind of in the space. And also in like chat groups. And it being in spaces is important too. But like that’s like, so time consuming. And I often will try to do that and then work at the same time. And it kind of doesn’t really work because I don’t pay attention to the space. And I don’t pay attention to my work. But I have done that I tried to be doing that like many times, but so it was kind of a little bit frustrating. But it was basically just another thing. That was important. When I first started entering the space, like when I was a beginner, I felt like lost. And I kind of like dug around and found information even just what like Good morning means and friends. And like all this kind of like lingo that people used. I kind of had to figure out on my own and I could ask people but nobody offered, no one came up and say, Oh, you’re new here, like, let me help you. And the thing is, like once I was kind of got used to it and learned it myself, I actually when new people would come in the space, I would actually help them. And I discovered I really liked doing that. And, and I kept doing it. And that’s how it was like kind of I mean, I don’t know when you entered the NFT world on Twitter, but like, it was kind of so many people and just kind of wild in like November, December, January, February. Yeah. Last year, beginning of this year, so, but yeah, 100 So that wasn’t necessarily I learned that I learned that I really I enjoyed helping people, it made me feel like I had a purpose because I’m kind of some sometimes I’m struggling with that, like feeling like kind of having a strong purpose in life.
Cool, thanks a lot for sharing that. Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s, that’s, that’s really cool, you know, just trying to figure it out. And I know, NFT is really difficult space to get into a lot of people, it’s a difficult concept to learn and to understand as well. So, you know, you figuring it out and to helping the people who can jump in there and onboarding, I think that’s a really cool thing to do. Yeah, you know, thanks a lot for doing that because that’s really helps open up the world. NFT now, we starting to get into the NFT world here and you know, the listeners out there might have heard of it might not have heard of it. But there are a lot of scepticism behind the NFT right. Is it real? Is it a scam? Like what is this? So I’m quite interesting interested to hear what who you are into the NFT world and what do you think about NFT?
Well, I’m glad you asked me that question because what pulled me into it like when I entered this went on I found this little community I found the community on Twitter what pulled me in was in like to hear these like success stories. That is what pulled me in. And I was like I want to be part of this because I want to be part of some One thing that is going to change this because I really felt like I wanted it to change, it just seemed unfair. And, and so just, it was basically people’s stories that and I was just excited, like I, I saw a lot of, there’s a lot of astrophotography that I saw in the very beginning, like the Milky Way photography, and I was just like, so wild by that. And I was like, ah, you know, and I kind of was just seeing everyone’s beautiful work, it’s just kind of was exciting. And there was like this kind of, I mean, I as since we’re in a bear market, as you know, like, it’s not the same anymore, but, but there’s people still excited about it. And, and still excited about photography, because I mean, you can’t just put photography only in NF T’s I mean, I actually made some some money, like a hell of a lot more than I did whatever I was, you know, from stock photography. So I mean, that’s like, kind of, and it also inspired me to try new things like I got a drone this summer, and I flew my drone in Iceland, and I actually really love love that. And I really want to explore that. And I also, I photographed the Milky Way for the first time, this like summer also. And I still haven’t processed it. I mean, I kind of started but I kind of felt like a little bit lost. So I, but I’ll see, you know how it goes and then figure out how to do it properly. But it was a crater lake.
Beautiful. Alright, to lations on your first meal QA will go on. I mean, I’m an astro photographer, and I teach Astro photography as well. So when whenever people say I just take my first Astro photography, I got really excited. But how is that experience? I know he kind of I’ll bring it back to NFT. But I just don’t know, how is that experience being able to capture the Milky Way for the very first time?
Well, what was interesting is like when I we, I’ve seen, of course, I’ve seen the Milky Way, but not actually not I’ve not been in situations where I’ve seen it that often. And so I have this memory of it, but I didn’t photograph it. And it looks. It was a beautiful night, very clear at Crater Lake. But it’s not as distinct as it is in the photos. It’s kind of like the roar Borealis, it’s the same like you can see it with your eye, but it’s not. And I did see that in Iceland on two different trips and photographed that. And it looks it’s more dramatic whenever you actually photograph it than it is when you actually just look at it. And so that’s how I feel like it is with like the Milky Way photos. And I actually met somebody that I met off Twitter. And we actually photographed together because she was travelling to Crater Lake. And she mentioned it and she’s actually experienced with it’s r1 I don’t know if you know r1 But like, yeah, so she, I kind of learned like a bit from her kind of watching what what she did also, so but I do want to try it again. But it is feel like that it’s it’s it’s rather complicated. Just I think the postprocessing even more than the shooting part. But if it wasn’t for her like so it was kind of amazing. But it was also like really uncomfortable, because it was a wind picked up. And it was like really freezing. There was still snow. It was June but there was still snow, where we were and it wasn’t cold actually like temperature wise where we were at the parking lot. But when we went to the area where we needed to shoot it from, it was just the wind picked up and it was just like freezing. So it was kind of my first experience was like kind of uncomfortable physically, because then you have to keep waiting and like doing these really long exposures. So and she did really super long, she did some that were like five minutes disabused, like these ones that were super long. And then, you know, shooting like, several photos to later piece together as a panorama.
Panorama. Yeah, that’s really cool. It’s actually not complicated at all. And I could you know, once you know, the ins and outs, it’s not complicated at all. And, you know, that’s, that’s why I teach the astrophotography because a lot of people are thinking it’s complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple once you know the step by step process. So yeah, we can, you know, if you have time, I’m happy or you know, we can do it some other time. I’m happy to help you with the post processing or whatever question you have. Sorry, I just got excited. That
is exciting. I wanted to I didn’t, I was interested in that and wanted to, like, try to do it myself. So I guess that kind of like makes me feel like, okay, I should make go back and try to process those photos that I that I took, I can’t
wait to see it, I can’t wait to see, it will be great. So when you get into the coming back to the NFT, right? You got there because you felt like there are more value to your photography, instead of people paying three cents for your photograph, you actually get something that worthwhile, right, something of value. And we know that money is important. But as an artist, I think there’s something more important behind that the fact that our art is being valued for what it is, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. And that was, you know, how I felt. Now, when you when you come into the NFT world, and you know, what we have right now? Do you have? How does your expectation, you know, or you know, what you imagine it to be versus the reality, what was some of the goods and Bad’s within the space that we need to improve upon, you know, because we want to bring more people in this space, but there’s so many, I suppose, scepticism negative talk around it. So, I’d like to hear a little bit from your perspective, especially working from one of the platform, right, you will get a lot of exposure to this, in terms of, you know, people saying this or that and, you know, different people opinion, what are some of the things that you see are a good point, and they are some of the things that we could improve upon in this space?
Well, I mean, What initially attracted me to it was also that like, there’s a problem with a caste Samar addressed this in one of her early NF T’s where she liked the Hawaii photo where she released that because people kept stealing it, you know, because, as a photo researcher, a lot of times authors of textbooks think, and I think just people in general, they think that because something on the internet, like you can just use it like, oh, yeah, it’s like everywhere, like, you know, but I mean, that’s not true. I mean, there’s like, you know, you have to get permission to use it, unless the person specifically says that anybody can use it. And, and so people will just steal things off the internet, and just use them as they wish. And so, I mean, she sold that NFT for like, I don’t know, like 100 Aetherium. I don’t know what that would have been at the time, like a huge amount of money. Like, I don’t know, like $300,000 or something like that. But she released it to the world that anybody could use it, although she wanted to be credited. And I kind of was really, like, inspired by that. I was actually very inspired by her because I heard her story, I watched a video of how she came into the NFT world, and, and how she had no work because of COVID because of like, she wasn’t able to do like the photography workshops. So I think just kind of like solidifying ownership, like saying, okay, like it’s kind of like this mark like this is I am the creator of this piece of digital art, like, you know, I think that is good about NF Ts. And also, I think in the future too, like, if you purchase when I first started in selling NF Ts, I was selling photos, my first things I sold photos of were went redwood forest, and if someone bought an NF t then I would donate money to save the redwoods organisation. And that is I see someone recently that has, like there’s other and other other people that have fundraisers where if you purchase an NF t like 100% of it will go to like as a donation. I mean, you can just ask for donations but I mean it’s actually common if you do donation sometimes if you do some donations to something you can times get like a physical product or some kind of product in return for that like as a thank you and NF Ts can be also used for something like that. And I think that there in the future there can be a lot of various uses for it not just for art and I am not very involved in the kind of like the profile picture you know, like the apes and punks and all that like I I’m not really involved in that so I don’t really have much knowledge about about that aspect of it. And I think that’s what most people who aren’t involved in it that’s what they think about because that’s what’s like in the in the media because those are the ones that are have gotten, you know, for so much money and people hear about so that’s what they think NF T’s are that they’re only that. Yeah, that’s a really good
point. You know, I saw, I know what you’re talking about with Cassie Mart, early campaign, and it was I think it was one of her. I think one of the biggest one that she had I know she, you know, she had a crazy sales even before that. I mean, she said she’s phenomenal photographer, and just so inspiring. But yeah, for the listener who kind of don’t know, the context, basically, that Hawaii photo has been stolen over and over again, where it’s been reposted, and been used as a licence item without her getting paid. And she would show this crazy list of, you know, disputes against them. And, you know, at the end of the day, she say, put that as an NFT. And she got, probably, you know, all her all the worth of that whole photo over the lifetime of it and even more, right, and I think that’s, that’s so empowering, that is just so empowering to the artists, you know, the fact that we need to share our photograph out there, but most of the time, when we share our photographs in the internet, it would get stolen. And nothing is solved some of that problem. I know, it’s not 100% there yet, but we’re still early. And like you say, you know, with the donations and charities, you know, I see going forward where we, you know, it all just happens seamlessly through the smart contract without people being there. And that kind of cow cut a lot of corruption. And, you know, basically people stealing away from it, because it goes directly to the people. Of course, at the end of the day, you know, people aren’t one behind it. So there’s always a chance, but it cut a lot of that down. So that’s, that’s what’s really cool about it. And I love that you brought that up. Well, thank you very much for being here in person. And it’s, it’s great to have the conversation with you, you know, hearing your photography journey, also, how you got into the NFT. And a little bit about the NF t as well. Now, one thing that I always ask my guests on every single podcast is that if there is an advice, one advice, whether it’s a life advice, photography, advice, whatever advice, it could be, that you could tell either your younger self or someone else in the space in the social media in your community, what would that advice be?
Well, I would say to myself and others also is, well, I wish I would have taken more risk in trying to pursue photography. Now not just as like, say, like an artist, but as kind of like my dream, kind of National Geographic photographer. I mean, not specifically just for National Geographic, but that style of story, like kind of a photo story, but just just doing basically not settling for just any job. And just because it was more secure. You know, I mean, I guess I was actually lucky that I had a job that was related to photography. And and now with silica that’s still my textbook job is not really is related to photography anymore. It’s project management. But it used to be more photography and photography was involved in it. So, but I feel like I wish I and it’s not like I’m still around. So I mean, I can still change. And I have been inspired recently by all of the, you know, like the Twitter photography community, I feel inspired to try new things. I’m actually interested in trying like more like I always have done very realistic photography, and I actually want to try kind of changing things. I mean, it’s just art then I mean, I mean, it’s art, it’s photography and art, like digital art combined, or even even learning even learning like 3d. If I can, I don’t know, just to kind of experiment with things. Because I always was like shooting something as it was real, very real. That’s how I’ve always like, done it. But yeah, I think like, at least try try more. I mean, try. Take, I mean, not unreasonable risks, but I feel like I wish I would have taken more risks in trying to pursue like my dream career.
Fantastic. That’s such a great advice. I know how that feel. And you know, I’ve been there I used to be an engineer and you know, literally drop everything to become a photographer. So I know exactly how that feel and seems like you’re in that journey. And I know a lot of other people who are in the journey as well, to get there. And like you say, right, it’s it’s important to, to get out of to get out of your comfort zone and to change to do something that makes you happy. Whatever it is. I think that is our big purpose in life so thank you very much for sharing that advice. That is so beautiful. Now for the listeners out there who I know that you have an NFT project on Slaker as well like a collection there and you know you have beautiful photograph as well. So for the people who and listeners who want to see more of your work who want to get in touch with you and connect with you, what would be the best way to connect with you?
Um, I would say probably like on Twitter or like my website like I have a website, wander wander less photos.com And so I can be contacted through my website or on Twitter or Instagram like any of those or Facebook even, like all the usual places
fantastic. Yeah, we’ll include that in in the description below. So if you want to check out more of her work, you know, she what, what she’s doing in any of these spaces as well as in a photography space, and all this beautiful photograph or from her travel, you know, I encourage you to give her a visit and say hi in social media. But thank you very much for being here. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you. I enjoyed you know, having that conversation and listening to your to your journey. I really do appreciate having you in the podcast.