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Meet Peter Konerko, Photographer in Eagle Rock

Today we’d like to introduce you to Peter Konerko.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Peter. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was living in New York. It was 2003. I had a come to Jesus moment and was like, “What can I do to make some money while I figure out if I am going to go to business school or something…” I was toying with the idea of shooting portraits for actors because I was broke. I knew actors and had some connections so I figured I could make some cash here and there. Meanwhile, the digital revolution was about to hit. I had no idea this was happening. To me a camera had film and that was that. Well, at the time in New York portraits were done mostly, if not all, in black and white. So, I picked up a digital camera and a couple of lenses. I was one of the few people shooting actors with a digital camera and in color. That was so blasphemous at the time because the quality was not that of film. Digital was looked down upon as not having the depth or cheap compared to film. Especially, in New York where everything is so “real”. Digital color shots for actors was an “LA thing”. Well, I shot in color and would offer the client a color and black and white option. Luck (or timing) plays into the story because I was one of the only photographers doing this in New York for actors. See, New York is a theatre town and LA is film town. New York follows LA when it comes to trends in the film/TV world. I saw that color had hit LA and was headed to New York. I was lucky and smart enough to push back against clients and give them more than what they thought they needed. I was at the right place at the right time and I was smart enough to take advantage of it. I believe had I not done that and just played it like everyone else, I would not be working as a photographer today. No doubt. That was a choice and defining moment. That’s how I got my start.

Has it been a smooth road?
I never really thought I would be making my living as a photographer. I played with Polaroid cameras growing up and I was always fascinated by looking at photography. It was not like it is today. A picture was an “object” that was “made”, not “taken”. It took a bit of work. So, access to a good camera, lenses and film was easy, but expensive. It is how you view your process and your work. I would have to say that my path has been pretty smooth. Now, that does not mean that I did not work 16 hour days for at least 6-7 years to get it off the ground. Retouching into all hours of the night, setting up test shoots to build my book, learning all the new software and digital technology that comes along is a beast. However, that is the process and the work of building something. If it is worth it, it will take time. I guess some look at that as a struggle, maybe it was. I never felt that. It was the process of learning and growing.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Peter Konerko, Photographer story. Tell us more about the business.
Technically, I specialize in portraits for professionals and creatives, but underneath I help a client bring forth a sense of truth and honesty. That is scary for most people. Especially, today in our image based society. You have to look amazing (whatever that means) every moment. Post only photos that make you and your life fantastic. We have gotten so far from honesty and by extension, reality. I really do love to celebrate the person that is in front of me. The beauty that comes with life and all of its flaws. We can always retouch away some lines here and there, but you cannot retouch authenticity. I am most proud that I never lie with my camera. I tell my clients that all the time. If you want truth then I’m your guy. I take pride in that. However, I am most proud that I am able to have a full life with my wife and daughter. I have made some really great pictures, but I am a freelance artist with ability to have all the other stuff that I thought I would have to sacrifice “for my art”. I was really smart about my approach, my wife did everything in her power to support me and in return I made sure that my priority was my family and my responsibilities to give us what we needed. Every dime I earn comes through the lens of my camera. I have amazing clients that are willing to pay me and that is such an incredible feeling. When you are broke and start shooting for free to build your book and end up making a life for yourself that is an awesome feeling as an artist. I guess I am shocked and proud at the same time.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think there is going to be a strong push back to analog film and older techniques. I think we are starting to crave simplicity. We are overwhelmed with technology and screen time. We need to interface with tangible objects and make things. I think in the personal photography world we are going to see a revival of time spent on making photographs. Making something “fast” will not be a factor. It will never hit the commercial world because that is driven by money and speed. We will see a huge gap between the two worlds. I am looking forward to that.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Peter Konerko

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