Next to last “I’m a Photographer: Discussions on the life of a Photographer” series.  Again, if you aren’t sure whats going on here – or are lacking in the big picture, check this out.

Today I was stoked to read through what Philip Thomas at Novo Studios had to say about his life as a photographer.  He has some really smart things to say about always learning and not getting in over your head financially – plus his photography is killer.  Having that kind of wisdom can make or break a photographers career.

Check out his work here and here and at the bottom of the post.  As always, remember to follow his work on twitter.

Quickly describe your life as a photographer.

I am a full time Graphic Designer/Photographer and I just opened a small studio.

Tell us what you shoot, your style and what the perfect day of photography would look like.

I would describe my style as eclectic/photojournalistic/fine artsy fartsy. I love details, I love expressions and I love stark color and contrast. I was formally trained in Graphic Design and that definitely influences my photography. I love playing with interesting compositions and I try and crop as much as I can within the camera. I like to move around. A LOT. Sometimes, that gets me into trouble…like with wedding coordinators or property owners who don’t like trespassers. But I’m nice too so I can usually talk myself out of it.

The perfect day of photography for me would be any one of the following scenarios: Exploring, learning the history of and photographing various abandoned buildings, towns or structures, taking a model to various abandoned buildings, towns or structures or chasing severe weather.

Where did the photographic bug come from?  Why do you suspect it hasn’t faded away?  At what point did you decide this is something you wanted to go for?

I got the bug from a few different places and up until 3 years ago, it was sort of an on and off thing. As a kid, I always thought it would be neat to be a photographer and travel but I didn’t take it seriously. I picked up a camera in college because my graphic design professor at the time told us all that we had to learn how to draw to be successful in this vocation. I couldn’t draw so I decided I should build up another skill set.

During my first job as an in-house designer for a company, I purchased my first DSLR. I started photo blogging and my photos got a bit of attention…enough for people to want me to photograph their families. I shadowed a wedding photographer and when I got burned out on my design job, my wife and I discussed the possibility of me quitting my job and starting my own business. Her support and my frustration with my job at the time were instrumental in my decision to give it a go.

Three years later, I can tell you exactly why the bug hasn’t faded away….because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I’m an artist and I’m blessed to have found a profession that let’s me exercise my creativity, build relationships, and have fun in the process. My wife still supports me and works with me so that only adds to the fun and fulfillment.

What do you think is the hardest part of where you are as a photographer right now?

The hardest part about where I am right now is juggling. A new studio opens up lots of possibilities for offering services and marketing a business. Our area is super-saturated with photographers and having been a home-based business for 3 years, we have little or no ‘brand’ presence in the community. But the fun part of my job has always been learning new things and furthering my creativity and skill. So I don’t want to get so overwhelmed with marketing and business stuff that I don’t make time to play and learn and grow. I’m going to have to find that delicate balance.

Whats the best part and the worst part of putting yourself out there with a new studio?

We’ve been looking at studio space for about a year now and for many reasons. The main reasons though are 1. We were kind of bursting at the seams with ideas and no way to carry them out. We felt this move was a necessary ‘next step’ to try and expand and to attract more business. And 2. We felt that the personality and nature of our brand would be more effective if it were applied to a public storefront.

The best part about it is the newness and freshness of having a space and doing business differently. But alongside that, it is overwhelming and there’s definitely more pressure. Our space isn’t huge so we’ve also had some challenges in configuring everything to where it would fit, flow, and function. But we’re designers so we had fun doing that.

What’s the next big step for you photographically?  What are you working towards?  What steps to you take to realize those goals?  What steps should ANYONE take to realize those goals?

The next step for me is taking my creativity and applying it to a confined studio space. I know that I have a lot learn about studio lighting and posing. I really want to push myself and learn how to manipulate the light and space I have to work with. I feel like that’s the next BIG thing for me to pursue.

With anything you want to learn or perfect, sometimes the best way to learn stuff is to just dive in and learn with what you can get your hands on. Since our space is small, it’s easy for me to gravitate from my computer over to where the studio is setup and work on some ideas. I’m going to be playing around a lot and taking notes on what I come up with. I’m also planning on attending some workshops and seminars. I’ll read books or articles online.

There are a few people who’s work I admire and look at occasionally but for the most part, I stay away from other photographer?s websites….especially the locals. I think it’s important for me to focus on finding my own creative vision and style. I think that’s good advice for anyone else wanting to pursue this field too. Shadow someone and learn the flow of a wedding and use the experience to help you shape your own style and personality for photographing a wedding on your own.

What keeps you going?  What motivates you to keep doing this?

What else am I going to do?

What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation as you?

Be smart. This is an expensive profession and you can get into money problems if you’re not careful. Our studio space is small for a reason…it’s everything we NEED and nothing we don’t. Get advice and opinions from other people regarding marketing ideas and photo edits and…well everything. Canon or Nikon…pick them both up, try them and pick one. They’re both good and they both have pro’s and con’s. Which ever one you choose, you’re going to invest A LOT of money so be smart about it.

Unless you majored in accounting and have a knack for it, have someone else do your book keeping for you. We JUST hired someone to take over our’s and it’s amazing. And this is cliche, but for reals, have fun. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me things like “Hey, you should shoot sports stuff…my son is in little league and you could make A TON of money doing team photos.”

While I appreciate the gesture, I know deep down that doing something “just for the money” will burn me out. I know what I like to shoot and I focus on pushing my creative vision in those directions. Focus on the type of photography you can pour your heart and soul into. In my opinion, that’s a sure way to be successful.