Meet The Photographers Who Write For Digital Photography School ~ James Maher

You’ve been reading their articles for months or years, have you ever wondered “Who are the photographers who write for dPS”? We thought it would be a good time to introduce them to you through a series of interviews.

Today meet James Maher, New York City based photographer and author of The Essentials Of Street Photography.

1. How long have you been shooting?

James Maher

I became interested in photography in 2002 and enrolled in photography courses in 2003.  I assisted for a commercial photographer in 2005 and 2006 and started my business soon after that.

2. Do you have a full time job or are you a full time photographer?

I’ve been on my own as a full time photographer since late 2006.  The first couple of years were fairly lean times, but I’ve steadily grown a clientele since then and business has begun to take off over the last four years.  Because of the rent here in Manhattan, I operate my ‘studio’ out of my apartment, which has a lot of benefits and a lot of downfalls – the biggest downfall being that our refrigerator is about 20 feet from where I work.  It would be nice to have more space for portraiture, but I make do.  And honestly, the beautiful streets outside of my apartment make for stunning backgrounds with so many unique colors and textures.

3. If you had to limit yourself to one genre of photography, what would it be and why?

I’m not sure I could do that to be honest.  I have the most fun with street photography, where I get to walk around and explore.  That’s how I got started with photography in the first place, because I had so much fun walking around and seeking out interesting places and people.  I love to people watch.  However, I love portraiture as well and connecting with people and learning about them.  I guess if I have to pick one, it would be any type of photography that has to do with meeting or observing interesting people.

4. When did you start writing for dPS and why?

I wrote my first article for DPS in November of 2010, titled 14 Tips to be a Successful Freelance Photographer.  I generally try to write for myself and then hope that other people connect with it.  That article was a personal reminder of all the mistakes I’ve made and things I’ve learned to help me from falling back into the traps that I used to fall into.  I find each article to be a learning experience.  I’ve always loved to write and when I first found DPS I knew that I wanted to work with them.  I can’t believe it’s been that long since the first article.

5. What do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II.  My three primary lenses are the Canon 24-70mm, the Canon 70-200mm, and the Canon 28mm prime.  I love them all, but I couldn’t live without the light 28mm.  That’s my street photography lens and it’s so light and easy to use and 28mm is one of my favorite focal lengths.  It’s not what I will use on most paid photo jobs, but it’s my everyday walk around lens.

6. What would be your number one tip to any new photographer?

Wow, only one tip – that’s tough.  I guess it would be to spend a lot of time looking at photography and art.  You need to develop your eye.  Educate yourself.  Go to galleries, hang out in bookstores or go to the library, and search through photographer portfolios on the web.  Spend a lot of time doing this and maybe even make a digital scrapbook of your favorite photos to come back to over time.  Also, this is a second tip, but don’t be afraid of failing or people not liking your work.  Most good artists take criticism pretty hard but they’re not afraid of putting themselves in a position where they might fail.  It can take years of failure to become a success.

7. What’s your next big project?

Last year’s big project was writing a book, so I’m a little burned out on big projects at the moment.  I want to buckle down and allocate more time for shooting and writing.  But I guess my next big project will be to focus myself to do more of my own portraits, where I control the outcome.  When you become a photographer, your portraiture tends to only be done for clients who want to look as good and happy as possible.  When you do portraiture for yourself, you can do whatever you want.  So I guess my next big project is to spend more time and resources on this.  I stopped doing this over the last five years as I focused on building a business.

8. Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

Everything is on my website. You can view my street photography, my urban landscape and travel work, my portraiture and commercial work, join my mailing list, and learn more about my book.  And if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email.


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