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Meet James Lott of James Michael Photography in Ontario

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

James, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I first got interested in photography in Jr. high. I only had a cheap Instamatic camera and the pictures we pretty bad. Later I moved up to a 35mm camera and took it all over the world with me. I have been to 5 of the 7 continents and my camera was with me on every trip. That is when I really fell in love with photography.

Around 2007 I got my first digital camera. It was great. I could take as many pictures as I wanted and did not have to worry about paying for the film to be developed. My daughter was involved in sports and I practiced my photography skills at her games. The camera was not the best, but it worked as I developed my skills.

In 2013, I wanted to see if I could take it to the next level. I purchased a Canon 5D Mark III and started my business. With every one having a camera in their pocket, it was a challenge. I am not the best at self-promotion, but I am very computer literate.

Shortly after starting my business, I meet Katie Daryl from AXS TV. She is the host of the World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Season 2 of the show was being shot at the Roxy in Hollywood. I was able to shoot for the show. It opened several doors for me and I meet several interesting people that I continue to work with today. Concert photography is an interesting business. Most print magazines are gone and the online magazines are struggling to make ends meet.

There are two ways to market a business, pay for ads or networking. I am trying to keep my cost down and put most of my money back into the business I have mostly put my effort into networking. I have joined both the Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga Chambers of Commerce. I also try to meet as many people as I can when I am at an event. Again, that is not my forte and that is some I need to work on.

When you can pick up a Canon Rebel or Nikon D3400 for less than $600.00 everyone is a photographer. It is a tough business to get started in and to keep alive. I love photography and enjoy shooting as often I can.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Photography is always a struggle. Everybody is a photographer these days. Why should you pay a good wage to someone when you have a phone in your pocket that will take a good picture for free? I don’t recommend this business as a sole way to support yourself in the beginning.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
When I first started thinking about becoming a professional photographer, I wanted to shoot landscapes. At that time, I was not traveling as much and when I did, it was not to places that were that photogenic. I love shooting concerts and I could be doing that full time if I want too, but I would be living under a freeway overpass.

I did not think I would be very good shooting portraits and everyone told me weddings were a nightmare. I love shoot weddings and portraits have become my favorite.

I think what set me apart from other photographers is I am always looking for a different angle. different lighting and just something to be different. For the last two seasons of the World’s Greatest Tributes Bands. I have been shooting portraits of Katie Daryl before the show. I have about 15 minutes to set up and take the pictures each week. The Whisky A Go Go is a small place and not that many places to shoot. For 10 weeks each season, I have been able to come up with something different each week.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was painfully shy. I was good in sports and played football and baseball. I was always outside and event thought about becoming a forest ranger. I knew all the cool people, but I did not hang out with them much. And when I did, I never felt comfortable. When I got older, I got into computers. They always made sense to me. I guess my brain works that way.

I have always had a creative side. I don’t think there are too many computer geeks that are creative. I think the geeks side of me has helped with using Photoshop and Lightroom.


  • Head shots start at $125.00
  • Portraits start at $200.00
  • Weddings start at $1500.00

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
James Lott

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