Finding consistent professional work as a photographer can be stressful at times, but that’s part of what 32-year-old Joshua McVeity loves about the job. Find out how the Alberta College of Art and Design grad got his big break just two months after graduation and how he balances times when there’s too much work with times when there’s not enough
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am a photographer. My subjects are mostly people – portraits, fashion editorials – but I also enjoy shooting events and places. I have found it best to be diverse and open to trying new things. I am a creative person that is driven by my passion of photography. I have been fortunate in the short time I have settled in Vancouver to be contributing to several of the city’s finest publications. I am continually looking to build my portfolio and my networks.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I have always loved magazines, particularly the photos inside. I wanted this to be my career. I started as a photographer’s assistant in Toronto. He believed in me and told me I should pursue an education in photography. ACAD is the only school in North America that offers a design degree in photography. That is what brought me to Calgary. Since graduating in 2009, I have been hard at work building my business.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is when I am out shooting. I love that part of the process. The most challenging part would have to be finding new and consistent work. There are a lot of photographers out there and one has to work hard to have their work stand out and be seen.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I think like most artists I want to be in my own studio. Vancouver is an expensive city so at the moment I rent a studio space when it is required. I want to be so busy that I can choose the projects that are most exciting to me. I want my “cup to run over” so I then have the means to give more to others.
What does success look like to you?
Success is having people in your life that you love and who love you back. Success is being able to focus more on creating something special and less worrying about paying the bills.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Having my first photo editorial published in France with ten pages profiling my work. It literally happened two months after graduation. It was a big boost to my confidence.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be passionate and persistent. For many, success as a full-time photographer will not happen all at once. I love what I do and will never stop doing it. I had a fan of my photography (whom I had never met) offer to fly me to New York. I had absolutely no money but I had to go. It was something I just had to do. I managed to find accommodations and literally lived off $10 a day for a week. Additionally, while I was there, I was able to set up three photo shoots for Major Models, one of the world’s top modelling agencies. It was an amazing opportunity and I was glad I was able to make it work.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support wherever I can. Sometimes just by offering to help photograph a fundraiser to raise awareness for a cause or charity. There are so many great charities in this city. One that stands out for me is CampOut. A 4-day summer camp, LGBT youth aged 14-21 come from all over the province to have the opportunity to develop leadership skills, build self-esteem, inspire each other, foster hope and resilience, and connect with resources and one another. As important, they have the opportunity to simply “be themselves.” Sponsored by UBC, it is an empowering summer camping experience for BC’s queer and allied youth. Most who attend are from smaller communities in BC where maybe the youth might not know a single other queer person. It provides them with a whole new network of support that wasn’t there for me when I grew up. Other than the registration fee the camp is completely paid for by the charity’s donors.
What is Notable to you?
Honesty. I appreciate people being up front, and bluntly honest, with me, even if it’s hard to hear. I try my best to be honest with others, perhaps not as blunt as I’d like to hear it. I find humour helps.
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