by Douglas Gordon Published 01/11/2010
Societies-Why did you become a photographer? How long have you been in the business?
DOUG- It is a funny story. I am a failed baseball player. I was blessed with a gift to throw a baseball exceptionally fast. As a sophomore in High School I was already being scouted by colleges and MLB teams. My average fastball at that time was between 96-98 mph. That is incredibly hard for a major league pitcher. As a 15 year old it was crazy. With that being said I wasn’t a great student. I didn’t think I needed to be. I graduated High School with a GPA of 74 and scored 880 on the SAT of which 800 was for signing my name. I love the game of baseball and really thought I was set. With all that going on my parents worked a lot and I didn't get to see them often . My dad worked 2 jobs, plus shot weddings on the weekend. The only time I got to see him was when I would go and assist him. I was 11 years old, had no idea what I was doing, but I made $40 a day.
That part was awesome. I loved being with my dad and little did I know how much I was learning about photography and more importantly life. So my life at that point was baseball and weddings. It was great. I never thought I could make a living as a wedding photographer. I was a baseball player. At the age of 16 my parents opened their first storefront. I would work their during my free time while they worked their day jobs. It was always my goal to get them their full time. I didn’t like watching them being so tired. I actually started as a salesperson. At 16, imagine that. Still no thoughts to shoot though. Then my life changed one day. It was Thursday July 25 1990 and a bride and groom come in crying. I am panicked. We have been open only 3 weeks, what could we have done wrong already. They were crying because their wedding photographers had ran out on them and they’re was nobody available anywhere..
My dad happened to be at the studio in between his jobs and heard the commotion. When they told him the story, he said this is my son. I think he can do it. I was like what. He told them he wouldn’t charge them until the photos came back. Well that was the beginning of the hook. On July 27, 1990 at the young age of 16 I shot my first wedding which my mom had to drive me to. It was awesome. They even tipped me $100 which was double what I was making being assistant. I loved it, It was like being on stage. I was loud and in control. Although I still didn’t see myself being a wedding photographer. I now found something besides baseball I loved. Little did I know that was preparation for 18 months later when I ripped my rotator cuff in my throwing shoulder. I had that fall back thing I never knew I was prepared for.
Societies- Who or what inspires you as an artist?
DOUG - Everything inspires me. I look for inspiration. My wife makes fun of me. Every movie I see , song I hear , I think is about me. I love to look at things differently. I am inspired by oddity’s I am inspired by always wanting more. It is never enough for me.I love seeing ordinary things and finding a way to make them extraordinary
SOCIETIES- If we needed a photographer today why would we book you?
What makes you unique?
DOUG - Believe it or not, people hire me because of my consistency. I live by systems and being able to get the job done under any situation. I always have a plan and know what I need to accomplish. Too many photographers wait for the moment to happen. I make the moment. I believe that it’s what happens in the pose that makes it natural. I believe in feeling the moment and seeing more. People remember their lives through eyes, my feelings, my emotions , everything I am as a person I write the story and remember that when I started I was considered a glorified storyteller/ paper salesperson. I would never want to change that
SOCIETIES_Is there a certain type of photography you consider to be your specialty? Why did you choose this area?
DOUG- I love all types of photography, but really love weddings and portraits. Especially weddings. I am a crazy romantic. I love being involved. I am a sap. I cry more often then I would like to admit at weddings. The connections, the love, the , the dream. I honestly just love feeling romance and what better place to do it then a wedding. Even after 21 years of doing this, it still doesn't feel
SOCIETIES-What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments as a photographer?
DOUG-That's a tough one. Most people believe it would be my awards, or success as a lecturer. It's not. My biggest accomplishment is the fact that I have been able to keep my staff together . I pride myself on the fact that I have never had an employee leave me for the 21 years I have been doing this. I love that I have created an enviorment that people thrive and enjoy being in. The best part is through this deep dark economic time. We have all stayed together and no cuts anywhere have had to be made. It is business as usual, just better because we all appreciate how lucky we are. for our 20th anniversary 5 years ago, I got to do the best thing, I probably will ever do in my life. My wife Vim and I took our entire staff and their families on an all expense 5 day paid vacation to Walt Disney World. There was no better feeling then seeing how happy this made over 90 people. I never felt so loved. That to me is the best accomplishment I have ever had.
SOCIETIES- What are some of the challenges your business faces? How do you overcome them?
DOUG- The biggest challenge we face is standing by our morals. That is not just us, that is everybody. In our world of photography, there are many new comers who are happy just making money giving their files away. I have stayed the course and am happy I have. We do over a 1000 weddings a year without giving our files. That is by far our toughest challenge. If I had more time I would explain how we do it. But the easiest way to explain is it. We are doing things other studios don't
SOCIETIES -What do you think are the most important lessons in your coursesthat photographers will take home?
The power of posing, The power of systems and most importantly shooting from the heart. There are a lot of things in life that will catch your eye, but very few that capture your heart. Those are the things I will teach to capture. In todays world , where everybody is picking up a camera and saying I am a photographer. i am going to shoot on P for professional and ttl whatever that means and I am on my way. I am going to take you back and teach you how to create the romance. Show that what happens in the pose is what creates the naturalness of the moment.
SOCIETIES *What a typical work day like for you?*
Doug- I like to foster a loose enviorment. I am very free. I like to be open and for at least an hour a day do something or create something I have never done before. The rest of my day and is just making sure things run smoothly. Managing 32 employees can be quite challenging
SOCIETIES-What’s one thing you will always splurge on?*
DOUG-Education, these conventions are crucial to success in this industry.
SOCIETIES-If not a photographer, you would have considered being?*
DOUG-That's easy I would be a baseball player
SOCIETIES- *What the strongest and weakest part of your business?* DOUG-Our strongest part of our business is our staff and our referral base. Our clients love us. Our weakest part is being understaffed. We turn down more business then we should because of staffing issues
SOCIETIES-What’s in your camera bag?*
DOUG- Canon 1d Mark IV
4 Quantum 5td Flashes
4- free wire slaves
4 hoodman 16 GB cards
2 Adorama 1328 tripods with Jiffy Grip heads
3 -Doug Gordon Torch Lights
2- Doug Gordon Just Rite Camera Brackets
2- Tamrac Rolling Strong Box
SOCIETIES-What your best advice for an up & coming photographer?*
DOUG-Be open Minded, Be a sponge and most importantly be flexible
SOCIETIES-List 3 blogs you frequent and are inspired by?*
Kevin Kubota Blog
SOCIETIES-What’s your most favorite product in the industry?*
I am embarrassed to say my torch light. I couldn't live without it. It saves me so much time on the shooting and editing
SOCIETIES-What’s playing on your iPod currently?*
DOUG- Please don't laugh The Wicked Soundtrack, Lionel Richie and The Aida Soundtrack and yes I am married to a woman in case it comes up in conversation
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