Today we’d like to introduce you to Timothy Frazier.
Timothy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I got into photography when I was 17. I was in high school and extremely bored with a lot of the general courses I was required to take. I figured, “hey, I’ll take an art class and see if that’s any fun.” I was no good at drawing and didn’t really care about sculpture or 3D making but thought that an intro to darkroom photography class might be interesting. Basically, it was the process of making a physical document (image) with light, paper, and chemical treatments that made me realize that image making was my passion and that I would do anything it takes to make a full-time career out of photography.
I started getting my work published when I was 18. My first actual publication was for a ‘photo of the day’ on letsbewild.com – which came out on my 18th birthday. Around this time I was exclusively shooting hiking/outdoor/nature landscapes. I either saw some portrait online that I really thought was shit and was like, ‘I bet I could do better’ or saw something I really liked and got some inspiration to try out portraits (probably a bit of both). I was too shy to ask any of my friends if I could take their picture. So I figured if I could convince a small clothing brand to send me some clothing to take pictures of, then I would have an excuse and have to ask someone if I could photograph them. The first clothing brand I shot for was this small outdoor/lifestyle brand based out of the United Kingdom. They sent me two hats and I sent them back way too many photographs. They interviewed me and published that and a lookbook of the photos I took for them. That really helped out my confidence. I went on to shoot for another 20+ small fashion brands worldwide before I turned 20. A lot of the work I was producing was probably shit, but it really helped me learn a lot about how the industry works and how to do things the right way vs. how to do things the wrong way. During this, I also placed in Photographer’s Forum’s 32nd and 34th annual spring photography contests and had my works published in their hardcover books, “Best of Photography 2012” and “Best of Photography 2014”. Again, this helped a lot with my confidence and made me keep pushing forward.
My time in college was rather weird, for a number of reasons. I didn’t really like the school I went too but felt a lot of pressure to go there. I was living in Upstate, New York, specifically in Aurora – about 5-6 hours outside of NYC. During my first 3 years in college I didn’t really focus too much on personal work – something I really regret to this day. Instead, I really was only shooting when I had a small commission or fashion story/editorial/lookbook I was working on. During the summer after my 3rd year in college, I landed a freelance gig with an up-and-coming fashion label in NYC as their director of photography. I was working on coordinating their runway show, I planned out the entire look of it and everything. I had all these great ideas on what we could do for presentation and was getting paid a small amount of money – things were going well. As some time went on, the designer slowly started becoming late on payments, and eventually stopped paying me and ended up pulling back on a lot of promises he had made. Right around the same time my younger brother got accepted to a golf academy in Temecula, California. I didn’t really feel any reason to stick around for another year of school at a place I didn’t even like, and I was way over the freelance gig I had in the city. I sort of had a “fuck-it” moment and moved across the country with my brother 3 or 4 days before my senior year would have started.
I’ve been in Los Angeles for just about a year now and I don’t regret anything. I’d be lying if I said that I was a full-time photographer, I’m simply not there yet. I drive for Uber part-time to help out with bills and help fund art projects. But I have a few different agents in LA that are interested in my work. So basically, I’ve just been working a whole lot on my personal work and re-networking myself all over again. But over the next few months, I am working with a few different designers to shoot fashion campaigns and editorials. I am also self-publishing my first book very soon and plan on having a pop-up gallery for the series, as well.
Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been the furthest thing from a smooth road – but that’s sort of the point. Anything at all worth doing is not going to be easy or happen overnight. I’ve had a number of setbacks over the last few years. I can’t tell you how many times people expect you to work for free for exposure as a photographer. That doesn’t really happen in any other field or industry. You would never go to your dentist and tell him/her that you need to get a cavity fixed but don’t have a budget for photography and that instead of paying them if he/she fixes your tooth you will post their work online and give him/her ‘great exposure’.
Aside from the common obstacles people face when trying to break from part-time freelancing to full-time freelancing as a photographer: my younger brother got very sick all of a sudden and lost the ability to take care of himself shortly after we moved to California. That set both of us back a whole lot. Thankfully, he is doing a bit better now and is back living with our mom until he gets things back on track.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
That’s a very subjective question that usually has a very subjective answer. But, I would say success is that feeling you get when you follow through with something that you’ve set out to accomplish and produce what you would consider great results.
So, what should we be on the lookout for, what’s next in store for you?
I’m self-publishing my first book in a few months time. The book aims to document the daily lives of strangers in Los Angeles. Essentially, I’ve been going around, following strangers who, for one reason or another seem of interest to me, and photographing them. None of the photos are posed. I also plan on putting on a gallery exhibit of the images as soon as the book is complete. Furthermore, I’m coming out with an entirely new portfolio of new works and will be releasing an updated/new website around the same time my book comes out.
- Website: http://timothy-frazier.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/timothy_frazier