Name: Tim LaDuke
Field of Study: Photography
Year of Graduation: 2004
Current Position: Owner of LaDuke Studios, Grand Rapids, Mich.
What was the most important thing you learned about your field while at Kendall?
One the most important things I learned while at Kendall College was how to think conceptually. I learned a lot about pushing an idea or concept. I learned to tell a story, or create one in the eyes of the audience through the advances in digital technology, prior to it being offered at Kendall. I saw an opportunity to push the envelope and prove to my fellow photographers, other students and the faculty that digital photography had arrived at the quality that artists deserve. It was not without difficulty and not without some exciting and painful critiques, however, all very rewarding.
What was your most shocking realization about your field after graduation?
I believe that the value placed on an image has shifted greatly since graduation. Digital has made creating images "easier" than before, and the technology advances have come down in cost, which is great for most; however, the value of the image has declined. The market and artists alike do not value their time, or the effort of the education, when it comes to pricing work they create. Artist/photographers need to realize that it is not the 125th of a second of a shutter and the click of a mouse that you are paid for, it is everything that goes into the job.
Give us your best interview tip.
Come into every meeting with a smile, a handshake and a "?Hey, how are you doing?" More importantly, be sincere about it. If you don't really care about what's about to take place, then you shouldn't be there. Also, as artists, it's important that we "look" and "act" the part–but so many of us try to be so over-the-top creative that we forget about the professional aspects. Let your creativity come out naturally in better ways, like verbal communication about the potential job. Not only that, sometimes a client wants a creative thinker but not always the most creative thing you've done. Let them decide how creative you are. You will get a lot further ahead that way.
List three ways you network in your field.
- Business cards: Pass out two at a time: One for them, and one for whomever else they want to give it to. Most people like to share, especially if they have extras.
- When meeting new people, ask what they do. It will inevitably lead to them asking you what you do, then see No. 1.
- The general idea is getting people to like you and the work you do, then they network for you. It's great. After that, I do a lot of e-mail communications, about two a month during peak seasons. Remind the customer base you are still around and working. I also work with schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations–staying in front of them can be very important, because they tend to call the first person they think of.
What was the worst interview moment you've experienced?
I had a client visit my website, so they already had a good idea about the work I created and the type of person I was. So having hooked the client already through the work that was presented to them, I went through a rather lengthy question-and-answer session with them, only to realize at the end that I wasn't available when they needed the work done. Needless to say, no matter how professional you represent yourself, follow-through is key. The client went away disappointed, because I didn't establish my availability in the first place.
List three interview "don'ts."
Early on, when I would get called about a potential job, I was so excited about being the creative person that I would tell the would-be client all my ideas and thoughts. However, that would-be client didn't need all the creative powers I offered, nor did they necessarily know the vocabulary I was using. So needless to say, don't come on too strong, let it out gradually. And like your mom always told you, listen more then you speak.
List three résumé "do's."
- Pay attention to detail, which is a hard thing for artists to do. When we create we know what we are trying to say, others might not. Get a proofreader–it helps.
- Portfolios are to be diverse, yet consistent. You are trying to communicate that you can do the job. Having motifs that carry throughout the body of work will help your cause. However, you need to find the balance for your own style of work. Best advice here when all else fails: Show what you want to sell.
- Having a professional website is crucial to business. Just because you are out of school now does not mean you know what you are doing creating your own website; get your website critiqued. A great website is worth the investment.
Name the most essential skill, tool or software program relative to your field.
Communication is critical. There is not a field in the world that does not rely upon the ability to communicate. Whether it's business or art, strong emphasis needs to be placed on what your goals and skill set are for a particular field or client. If you struggle with communication skills, it's ok. But make finding someone to do it for you a priority.