Focus on a GRPPster: Chris Kogut
How did you know you were successful?
That thought occurred to me when I had 7 PPA print merits my first year of competition (out of a possible 8). That gave me the confidence that the images I produce can be up there with the best of them.
How did you get into photography?
I left my nursing career and planted a garden. I picked up my husband’s camera and took pictures of the flowers. I wrote a lot of letters in those days so I made my own note cards with the images. I approached a local garden store with the idea of carrying them and they said “‘yes”! My art card business was launched one store at a time and the rest followed—weddings, portraits and then travel. The fine art images resulted from the travel. I took my first trip to Provence in 2000 with a group of photographers and I have not stopped since. There is so much to see and learn about and so many ways you can touch people and give back with your work. It is very satisfying.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
I’d like to be Involved in a major humanitarian effort with my work.
Do you have any formal education?
I assume you mean in photography. No, I do not. I have learned everything I know about photography from workshops, mentors and fellow photographers.
What has been your greatest achievement?
My 45 image ’A Leap of Faith’ exhibit which tells a bit of the story of Burma was a highlight of my career. It raised thousands of dollars for the refugees in our community. It is available by the way, on loan, at no charge to other organizations wanting to aid the people’s democracy efforts in Burma or to assist the refugees in their communities. Please get the word out!
How do you stay fresh and creative?
I attend workshops regularly and I make a point to photograph something every day. I try to not do the same thing over and over but to think out of the box—forcing myself to try a new technique or composition.
What is the best piece of gear in your camera bag?
My Nikkor 105 mm. 2.8 macro lens. It is so sharp. It’s great for the florals and the portraits.
What do you wish you knew when you began?
I wish I understood the importance of buying the best equipment from the start and not just moving up as you could afford it. If you are serious about photography, buy the best camera and just one versatile sharp, fast lens and use it all the time.
Worst day on the job and what you learned?
Of course it had to be a wedding—-something you can’t reshoot. For key shots I used a broken lens and I didn’t know it. It overexposed everything. From that dreadful experience I learned many things: always test your equipment before a shoot; pay attention to the +/- scale in your camera- it really is there for a reason; never shoot a wedding solo and always shoot in RAW.
Best day on the job and what you learned?
Oh gosh, I guess I learned to turn around. There are images in every direction and not just the one in first view. My best day had to be when I caught ‘A Leap of Faith’ (see home page of www.chriskogut.com) by looking behind me while we were focused on shooting something else.
3 favorite non-photo hobbies?
They all involve photography! Sailing (I shoot a national regatta every year),grandchildren and their sports (I’m never there without a camera) and travel..
Best piece of software?
What is the best business tip you have been given?
Don’t undercut yourself—charge what you are worth. It’s better to sell/work less while being comfortable with the price you asked. It’s a terrible feeling to give your work away for a song and then spend hours at the retouching etc. and regretting how little you’ve charged. I’ve learned this many times over.