I was recently interviewed by Chantel Ellerington with 10 Minutes with the Founder, a new monthly publication dedicated to featuring local entrepreneurs and creators in the Denver area. The interview is in the current issue which is free and can be found all over Denver at places like Tattored Cover, Crema, Taxi, Slifer, Smith & Frampton, etc.. Here is the text from the interview. The digital version of 10 Minutes with a Founder is: 10minuteswiththefounder.com
"As a creative person, there is a constant discontent that further drives my dedication to the craft."
A conversation with JC Buck, an Architectural and Interior Photographer.
Share with us why you started JC Buck Studios?
I wanted to marry my passion for photography and architecture. I’ve always loved photography, ever since my first dark room class back in high school. However, for me photography is not just about making pretty images. It’s about telling a story. Teaching. Sharing. Communicating. I use photography as a tool to share, specifically in my case, the work of architects, and mainly those who have designed buildings here in Denver. I have always found architecture to be fascinating. I was the kid that played with Legos, would sketch my house, and would be in total awe of the towering sky scrapers in our city. I was more interested in art, drawing, building things, opposed to team sports. I was a very independent kid. As I got older, especially when it came time to declare a major in college, I chose to study business marketing and following graduation spent a decade in the healthcare sector working in various sales and marketing roles. During that time I went back to school to earn my MBA with a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from University of Colorado Denver. With that experience, I realized I wanted to create something, be an entrepreneur. Build my own business. Though an exercise of soul searching and very supportive friends and family, I decided to pursue my longtime passion for photography as a business. I love how it has brought me back full cir- cle to the things I naturally loved as a kid. It’s become a healthy obsession that has led to a rewarding new career.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Time. Everything takes longer than one would expect. I invest a lot of time in my photo shoots and there are two things I worry about: the light and the amount of time I have. We live in a fast paced, demanding world and architecture photography is the exact opposite. It’s about waiting, observing, being patient and a lot of trial and error. For me, I have to take a slow methodical approach to capturing architecture. The more time I spend working a specific shot or on site in general, the better my photo- graphs will be. It’s a very technical trade, much more than many realize when it comes to the on-site capture, adding in supplemental lighting if necessary, and post-production work on the computer.
“I am a teacher, and a marketer at my core. When I see my photographs being used to market my clients work, it’s very rewarding.”
— JC Buck, on sharing the most rewarding aspect of his work
When you look back on your career is there one client that made you think you had “made it?”
Architecture photography is a second career for me. I started my first career following college in the corporate healthcare sector, working in various sales and market- ing roles. After a decade and relocating to three different states, I decided to risk everything and create my own business following my passion. It’s been three years now that I have been specializing in architecture and interior photography. I got my start shooting real estate MLS listing photos. That business ramped up fast, but I quickly pivoted realizing I was less interested in real estate and wanted to focus on architecture. Given I am very much a newbie in this field, I don’t feel like I’ve “made it” and not sure, to be honest, I ever will. As a creative person, there is a constant discontent that further drives my dedication to the craft. I wouldn’t say there is one client, but when my marketing started to work, and the type of clients I desired to work with, were coming to me, that’s when I knew I was on my path.
What are you currently inspired by?
Right now, I am inspired by the power of imagery in photo journalism. Much of architectural photography is too slick and overly retouched often looking fake or like a 3Drendering instead of a photo. This has been a visual trend in the industry for a while now. Renderings are begin- ning to look more like photos and photos are beginning to look more like renderings. I am inspired most by the imagery that is influenced by mobile photography, the freestyle documentary approach. The images that bring a humanitarian aspect out of the architecture. Images that string together and tell a narrative. One of my greatest sources of inspiration is a Dutch photographer named Iwan Baan. Unlike many of our peers, he documents architecture from a human approach, often placing the architecture in the background with people as the main focal point. My work is not there yet, but it’s what is inspiring me most lately and I am working on offering architecture imagery that is more social. It’s not enough now days to only have a few super polished images of your work. Content is king and as marketers we need fresh authentic content on an on-going basis to tell our story.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m not sure if this advice was given to me, or where I picked up on it, but I realized prior to even starting that I needed to specialize. Far too many aspiring photographers will shoot everything, take on every type of job from portraits to weddings to food for example. Now days, nearly every industry and certainly photography, there is a lot of competition and the space is saturated. One is best served by specializing and becoming really good at one thing. For me, it was easy to pick a subject. I already had a deep curiosity in architecture. Furthermore, what you shoot today, is what you will become tomorrow. Make sure to take on jobs that will lead you towards the direction you want to go. Lastly, always commit to personal work. It’s my personal work, more than anything else, that has landed me my most exciting projects.
What does it mean to be part of the Denver community?
I’ve been in Denver for nine years. I moved here from South Florida. To be honest, I did not care for it when I first arrived. It was February, brown, dirty and compared to South Florida I felt the town was a bit of a sleeper. Wow, has that changed. Now, more than any other city I have lived in, and I have lived in several, I do feel a deep connection to Denver. From an architecture perspective, for a very small city, we have works from some of the world’s most influential architects. My social media accounts, Instagram specifically, has become a documentation of Denver landmarks. As I photograph the built environment here, I try to learn and share something about each building. I get a lot of feedback from people who love learning little facts about Denver via my photography. It’s little social media interactions like that where I feel I have a voice in the community.
Give us a visual of your most favorite project you’ve been part of?
I have been very fortunate in a short amount of time to photograph some amazing architecture from Charles Deaton’s Sculptured House (AKA Sleeper House) to the iconic Stahl House in Los Angeles. One of my personal favorites has been The Triangle Building. I’ve been working on a long term documentation project for AndersonMasonDale Architects and East West Partners. The project started with shooting the surrounding buildings from the top of The Triangle’s construction crane, to every floor of The Triangle Building when it was nothing but a shell, to photograph the building’s all glass exterior. It’s become an instant landmark here in Denver and I think AndersonMasonDale did a great job with the design.
What does a typical day look like for you behind the scenes?
The interesting thing about this business, is it varies significantly. I don’t have a routine or typical day. Every job I take on is different. Every week is different than the last. If I am in the field shooting my days can start very early and go past sunset. There can be very long days and I mostly work alone. I prefer that in most cases. If I am shooting a difficult interior space where I need to bring in lighting, it can be a lot of time setting up with a great deal of trial and error to get the lighting to where I want it. I also spend a fair amount of time at my computer. Post production is a significant part of the job.
I am working on some new ways of shooting architecture, that will be more social, more human, a more free- style approach, providing a strong narrative. The images go together in a photographic essay, but will also be able to stand on their own. I am experimenting with new cam- era technologies, camera’s capable of medium format resolution and tonality, but in mobile phone size form factors. Some of the most creative photography today is from the mobile community. I’ve been inspired by social photography and am looking to combine the high resolution architecture photos with the story and documentary approach to social media photography.