Speakers' Corner - David Montizambert - part 1 of 1 2

by David Montizambert Published


Tell us a little about your background, your first camera and photographic experience and your subsequent emergence as a pro.

Why photography?
I’m a visual person and have to do something creative, photography fits in with that.

Film or digital? Is there still a place for silver halide?
The first 15 years of my career were film, I had no choice. I’d never go back to film, as digital gives so much more freedom… But I’m glad I started in film, it forced me to really learn my craft, whereas digital you can kind of get away without understanding what you are doing, or at least you can at a certain level. I think there is a place for silver halide, for traditionalists, the curious, and for exploration into different looks.

Which camera?
My first camera was a Kodak 110 instamatic. My first pro camera was a Nikon F2 with an 8 AA motor drive—it was an 8 pound beast but good in a fight!

Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing. Why (as a customer) would I choose you?
At the height of my studio we employed 9 people had 4000 open pillar-free square feet in downtown Vancouver. My work no longer requires a city presence; now I’m out in the country at the ocean in a 100 year old school house with the main classroom (900 Square Feet open space) as my shooting space, employ only 2 people and enjoy way less stress. Ad agencies and design firms used us because we were considered lighting gods (lots of careful marketing and branding there on our part).

The problem with professional photographers today is…
The majority of pro and semi-pro photographers have less training than 20 years ago.


What’s the worst commercial error you have made to date?
This may sound funny, but it was I worked way too hard and really damaged my health. Less effort and more planning is my hindsight on this.

How did you rectify the mistake?
Put the emphasis on health and started planning way in advance.

The lessons learnt?
Working hard doesn’t guarantee success, those days are gone. Now you have to work hard, work smart and take uncomfortable but calculated risks to succeed.

Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?
I think it is harder because photography is so available to everyone and for this reason it has been devalued.

How do you stay ahead of the game?
Convince clients of your worth, I did it by subtlety convincing clients that I was an artist not a photographer.

How do organisations such as The Societies of Photographers help?

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