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Meet Downtown Photographer: James Bianchi

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Bianchi.

James, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After spending most of my childhood growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, I moved to LA to attend USC. I studied film and business for 4 years, spent 2 years trying my hand in the film industry, and eventually got fed up and started freelancing so I could start doing my own work. I have been freelancing for over 2 years now, doing everything from studio fashion photography to video commercials.

Has it been a smooth road?
When I was 18, my world was flipped upside-down after the loss of a family member. It sticks with me to this day, but there is no doubt in my mind that it has changed my approach to life for the better. That experience gives me a level of intrinsic motivation and perspective that I rely on every day in my career.

Of course, there is no such thing as a smooth road with these things for 99% of people. My first year of freelancing was chalk-full of naivety, expectations, and learning experiences, some of which were not pleasant to deal with. But hard work has been my biggest focus and strength throughout this journey…I have learned to find positives in negative situations and to always focus on getting better with each shoot I do. The balance of time and money is a tough one to get a handle on, but it’s something I’m grasping more and more with each day.

What are some of the influences that have played the biggest role in your journey so far?
I’ve always had role models and heroes growing up, and I still do, but the obvious answer is the correct one here – without the unconditional support and love from my parents, my career wouldn’t exist as it does. You can have all the tools on your own to make it as a creative in this world, but I don’t think there is as clear a path to success without your loved ones believing in your abilities and taste. My family has been through a lot together, and I genuinely feel compelled to progress in my field largely because I want to make them happy. That sort of intrinsic motivation is hard to come by, and I relish its existence in my life. I don’t mean to say it’s impossible to achieve something completely on your own, but seeing the way their support helps my work ethic and focus, it’s clear that nothing is as important to me.

Do you have a favorite type of client or project?
I enjoy shooting a huge range of things, but I am very attracted to the genuine nature of shooting “street” photography. There is an emotional depth that a human subject adds to a photo that is irreplaceable, and capturing candid photos of people in their element is as educational and eye-opening to me as it is unpredictable and uncertain. I travel a lot, and have been lucky to experience a litany of cultures across the globe; I am enthralled by the opportunity to showcase these places and cultures as they are, and as they will be. Street photography is an anthropological study, a peek into a foreign land, a connection to people you may never meet but can begin to understand because you’ve been transported to their world. Maybe not all street photography gets to that point, but the good stuff does…and that is the challenge that will get me out of bed the easiest. Any work that I do that has a larger scope and significance will always be the most exciting and important to me.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It’s hard to answer this because my “mistakes” have all contributed to my work ethic, or desire to prepare, or sense of perseverance when things get tough. That’s how it works, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I guess I haven’t made many catastrophic errors since becoming a photographer, but I’ve made plenty of mistakes that a young, inexperienced person makes when trying to get up to speed with the professional world. But would I be in my current situation if I hadn’t learned from those things? I’m not so sure. If I had to start over, I’d go back to college and party less… My appreciation for weekend mornings is a fairly recent development.

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