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Photography Makes for a Fairy Tale Career - PPA Today

Photography Makes for a Fairy Tale Career

damo head shot.jpgDamon Tucci, Cr.Photog., was shooting weddings before shooting weddings was cool, he says. And it began because he needed a "real job" to supplement the career he was trying to jumpstart in cinematography. "I went to school to be a cinematographer and was working for Walt Disney World as a still photographer in the early '90s when I got relegated to shoot weddings," Tucci says with a laugh at how he felt at the time.

"Destination weddings were just starting to catch on, but we were still doing a lot of the traditional, very formal wedding photography." Tucci recalls being summoned to the boss' office more than once for a chat about propriety. "What's funny is that most of the stuff I was doing--camera tilts and unexpected juxtaposition--are all the things brides actually want today."

Damon says that as the styles started to change, brides began to request more and more of the photojournalistic styles that are so prevalent today. But Tucci isn't naive enough to think it'll stay this way forever. "Styles are constantly evolving--if you want to make a career in photography for the long term, you have to continually strive to take risks and differentiate yourself," he notes.

Visual Pimping at the PPA Tour
Tucci_0053.JPGTucci says one of the best ways to do that is to push yourself to keep learning and take advantage of educational opportunities like the PPA Tour. He'll be featured as a guest speaker during this tour in Newark, N.J., on May 10, and he'll share his presentation, "Visual Pimping."

And before you invest too much brain power in trying to figure that one out, Tucci says it's just a catchy title that summarizes his techniques for time management and gaining efficiencies with wedding shoots. "Weddings are huge events and time is always an issue," he explains. "'Visual Pimping' is a very simple method of pre-visualizing shots and utilizing posing and lighting in the most efficient ways to minimize the need for lots of equipment and complications at the scene."

Tucci believes weddings are one of the most challenging specialties for photographers because you can never predict with any accuracy what the conditions will be like and you have minimal time for set up. "The moments that make weddings so meaningful are just flashes, and if you're trying to set up to capture them, you're going to miss the best shots," he says. "You have to be able to go with the flow. You're never going to have 30 minutes to plan the perfect shot, so that's what our presentation is all about--helping photographers capture those moments on the fly."

Getting Down to Business
Tucci_436.JPGDamon's version of time management has spawned two books: "Step-by-Step Wedding Photography" and the "The Business of Photography." In fact, Tucci says that as much as artistic talent is important, being a smart business person is even more critical.

"Photographers have to be really wise about investing their resources. The first step is understanding what your business assets are--time being one of the most critical." Tucci also encourages photographers to invest in people. "Focus on the people who partner with you--the ones who enhance your business and help you grow," he explains.

PPA's Indemnification Trust: Worth the Price of Membership
Tucci_0077.JPGOne of the business partnerships he highly recommends is membership in PPA. "The Indemnification Trust alone is worth the price of membership," says Tucci. "Why anyone would take the risk of shooting weddings without the backing of the Indemnification Trust is beyond me. You never know what's going to happen, and you risk your business and your reputation if you shoot without it."

PPA's Indemnification Trust helps protect U.S. and Canadian PPA members from the impact of a lawsuit if unforeseen problems arise in the course of delivering a product or service, such as a digital image data loss, technology failure, equipment malfunction, schedule errors, or other mishaps that are generally considered the photographer's responsibility.

Sound Mechanics are Essential to Quality
Tucci also says PPA's educational programs help members hone their skills and embrace their craft. "Professional photographers have to develop a distinguishable style and be consistent with client service. PPA provides all kinds of educational resources to help members develop the wide variety of skills they need to operate successful studios."

One of the other PPA programs that Tucci touts is photographic competition. "The competition process teaches you about the mechanics of excellent photography. It helps you evolve as an artist," Tucci explains.

"Regardless of what the style of the day is, some portrait techniques are timeless--they are just as important and just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago," he adds. "You can spend a couple thousand dollars and call yourself a photographer, but unless you learn the basics of portraiture, you're never going to get the mechanics of photography and you won't be able to consistently deliver a high-quality product."

Tucci_475.jpgTo learn more of Damon's wedding photography techniques, join him in Newark, N.J., for the PPA Tour, or visit his website ( for more information about other seminars and his books. Speaking of books, look for Damon's latest, Step-by-Step Wedding Photography, now available in stores and at his website.

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This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on May 4, 2010 5:06 PM.

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