#33… check {Hang a John Michael Cooper Print}

33. Hang a John Michael Cooper print on my wall.
I’ve admired John Michael Cooper for years. He’s my photo hero, a mentor for business, art, and life. And I’ve always wanted to hang a print of his on my wall, especially his signature personal work. He and I both share a passion for photographing cars. So when he posted his Bonneville Speed Week 2012 images on his blog, I knew I found the one:
I often use a portion of my proceeds and figure out how support another artist that inspires me. That’s important because I know what it is like to hang an show and have loyal fans purchase work they love. Honestly, it’s the best compliment to any artist to support what they do.

John took immaculate care in mounting the 30” x 40” metallic print included a special hand-written note. He signed and numbered it, “Hellcat” 1/100. Badass. Which reminds me of the importance as an artist to sign our work (note to self). He also called me and we spoke for about 15 minutes on his approach and he shared a few technical tips with me… again, amazing.
I took John’s print to a local shop and had it framed with a substantial thick frame with simplicity and picked it up today. I gotta say, it looks stunning in person and I truly love it. I’ll look at it each day I work in the office. will mount a special tracking light hopefully this weekend to give it the light it deserves. As I was figuring out how to light his picture, I created a little self-portrait… in the helm of my race car I call my office (reflected in the glass):

To my fellow blog readers, I share five lessons John has instilled in me over the years:

1. Find a mentor.
Everyone needs a mentor of some kind. A parent. A boss. A religious figure. And in the creative industry, having one or two people you can align yourself with over the years helps to season out creative struggles.

I first learned of John on Simple Photo Minute in 2006. His forum name was Alt-f. He did a few episodes on creating your own album and also light painting. He’s helped so many photographers out over the years, including me. I took his workshop at Image X ’08 and can say it was the best photography workshop of my life… and still use lessons today he spoke about, especially finding inspiration outside of the industry. For example, John ripped a page out of a W magazine (left) and we had a limited amount of time to execute the idea and push ourself to come up with our own take on it. My image (right).

2. Be different.
John also encouraged me not to take just pretty pictures, but pictures that are unique and different. This concept challenges many new photographers today that gravitate towards “copy-cats” or “wannabe rock star photographers.” A typical New Orleans bridal portrait (left) contrasted with Queen of Hearts (right)… taken 10 minutes apart. Love or hate, it’s different and makes for hard to compare with other photographers. On my pricing menu, the first line item includes “unique kern-photo style,” something John taught me.

No matter what, if a potential client comes to me with another photographer’s proposal, there’s no comparison.

3. You learn 90% what you teach.
After taking John’s workshop, I honed my approach and shared with my local photography community, Mile High Photographers, during a collaborative “Trash the Dress” shoot and blogged tips to “single flash, multiple exposure” technique. It’s a cool technique I incorporate on almost all my shoots.

4. Be a puddle jumper.
While critics revere Henri Cartier Bresson’s ”Man Jumping Over Puddle” as the “decisive moment” captured, John felt he missed the shot. The excitement of a splash frozen in time would turn the puddle jumping movement upside down. It caused me to really re-think, too. Nearing the end of a bridal shoot in the wet streets of New Orleans, I asked for a bride’s trust to jump into the puddle. Without haste, she agreed. The neon lights of Bourbon Street filtering through the puddle inspired a bridal detail in action.wpid-jmc-inspiration-4-2012-10-31-18-53.jpg
5. Go to Burning Man.
I’ve been wanting to connect with John at Burning Man since 2010, as well as Dalisa “My Favorite Farmville friend” Cooper. Alsa, we both missed each other. However, John helped me prepare my first trip to Burning Man when I was going through some rough times. That experience helped shape who I am today.

Last year, JMC shot the group camp photo, which took top prize among our peers as the best of the best. I love these guys:
This year, I initiated our growing “Freaks” camp photo, donning my Boy Scout uniform with such an amazing group of individuals!
John, keep shooting things your own damnway! I look forward to seeing what the next year brings.

5 Responses to “#33… check {Hang a John Michael Cooper Print}”

  1. Pingback: 101 goals in 1,001 days: v 2.0 | Kern-Photo

  2. Eoghan Kavanagh — November 20, 2012 @ 5:13 pm (#)

    Hi , I can see some pic of Ireland in that photo to

  3. Pingback: The Hit List: 33 Photo Tips & Tutorials from 2012 | Kern-Photo

  4. Pingback: Going Pro pt 7: Choose Effective Mentors » Kern-Photo - Kern-Photo

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