Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesse Watrous.
Jesse, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I always loved photography since I was 12 years old. Throughout my school years, I took photos of what made me happy, whether its people or objects, but it never occurred to me to turn it into a career. It was just something that I loved to do.
From my 20’s to mid 30’s, I worked in corporate and was in that world until my last position as Director of Operations for a private medical firm. The skills that I learned over the years helped me grow businesses and garner them more success. Towards the end of my corporate life, I realized that I was tired of making other people money when I was tirelessly doing it without any huge rewards in return.
I decided to leave and pursue my love of photography. I started as a food photographer, slowly making a name for myself in the culinary industry when a different opportunity presented itself in the form of networking with people in the entertainment business. I didn’t jump at it but was curious. You never know when something fortuitous comes your way. That one night of networking changed the course of my career because two weeks later, I was offered a position as a Still Photographer for a short film by a Director, whom I’ve since been happy to call my friend.
Since 2016, I learned new skills which have allowed me the privilege of competing with my fellow photographers who are now my colleagues, and it’s been quite a ride with no regrets. Along with my corporate skills, I was able to advance my photography and media business much more quickly than I had anticipated. But I would not have been able to appreciate my success without the help from my family, business partner Sam Moszkowicz, friends, and colleagues. Finding my purpose in life took quite some time, but perhaps my purpose found me when the time was right. I first had to find the right people to show me the way, not the least of whom was my late mentor and Pulitzer Prize winner Anacleto Rapping, who always used to say, “Every time a photograph is taken, that moment becomes part of our history.” I love preserving our history and I’m honored that I am able to do it.
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?
When venturing into a new career or anything that takes time, money, and passion, it will always be a bumpy road. I’ve known this since I was 19 because that’s when I realized I was an Entrepreneur. I was not satisfied being a follower but I had to start from the ground up in order to learn to be a good leader and not just a boss.
I started my business with my Canon Rebel T3 and my Apple iPhone 4s. I clumsily started learning how to use both so I could take quality food photos and grow my portfolio to attract clients. A year later, my business partner decided to invest in my company and gave me the finances to grow, which started with new equipment. This was also perfect timing since it helped me begin my new career in the entertainment business.
Learning new skills and getting to know my competition was a constant struggle. Not knowing where I excelled the most, I tried a little bit of everything. In 2019, I finally realized which specialties gave me acknowledgment, but also larger compensation. This field of photography is male-dominated, but I have always faced such challenges head-on, and am proud to be a minority woman who has earned her place as well as the respect of her predominately male peers.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Photography and Media is my specialty, which broadly includes: celebrity, still, portrait, events, films, tv shows, commercials, as well as press/media related events.
I am an accredited photojournalist, photographer and film producer. I have worked with several online and print media companies, produced an award-winning short film, and have several projects next year as a still photographer and producer. I am currently working with Easily Amused Group productions – www.EasilyAmusedGroup.com for film projects and working on my foodie brand called Dine.Savor.Repeat. – www.DineSavorRepeat.com. I am very proud that my work has been acknowledged and grateful for the quality of people that I have within my network. I have been fortunate to come across a lot of talented indie artists including but not limited to models, actors, and filmmakers.
How do I set myself apart from my competitors? One word – NETWORKING. I’ve met a lot of photographers (and indie artists in general) who struggle with their businesses, in large part because they lack the ability or drive to reach out and make connections whenever possible. They miss important opportunities to promote themselves in person, hoping that their work will be sufficient when potential clients see it. I’ve been down that road, which has taught me that networking efficiently is what helped my business fast forward like nothing else I’ve done. As Wayne Gretzky said “You miss the 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”
What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
I don’t believe in luck, but rather that the universe has a plan for us if we take it. We may not see it right away but if people are open to believing and having faith in themselves, I trust wonderful things will happen.
I was taught to be logical, make the right decisions, but also be patient and persistent. I ventured into my photography and media career with fear, doubt and insecurity, and guess what? NOTHING happened – at first. That changed when my business partner took a chance on me, invested in my business, and told me to follow my dreams. What did I have to lose? The worst that can happen was that I go back to square one and start over. That was common with my corporate career.
So with both feet in, I jumped into the unknown – along with fear, doubt, insecurity, and ultimately FAITH.
I’ve never looked back.
- Website: www.JesseWatrous.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/JesseWatrousCom
- Facebook: facebook.com/JesseWatrousCom
- Twitter: twitter.com/JesseWatrousCom
- Other: www.DineSavorRepeat.com
Jesse Watrous Photography and Media