Freelance photojournalist Robert Stolarik has been covering New York City…
Here at PhotoShelter, we believe in the products and services we build. We love what we develop. We love what we design. We love what we market and we love to help you learn how to make it all work for your needs.
That’s why using our own products is so important to us. Our newest blog series gives you the chance to get to know members of the PhotoShelter staff — what we do here, why we love photography, and how we’re using Beam, the portfolio website platform we’ve all helped to create.
Full time lover of all things “photo”, Marketing Associate Sarah Jacobs tells us a little bit about her role here at PhotoShelter, her history as a photographer, and why she jumped at the chance to start using Beam to display her work.
So you work on the marketing team at PhotoShelter. What does that mean, exactly?
My position on the marketing team mainly focuses on customer engagement – which means I get to interact with our members a lot. It’s all about making sure they love and use PhotoShelter just as much as I do. And I love photography, so naturally, I love photographers too! I have a background in marketing, photography, and photo editing, so my role here really allows me to blend my passions.
Everyone at PhotoShelter knows you consider yourself to be “photography-obsessed”. Can you talk a bit about your love for photography and how that all came about?
Well, I think I started like most, by taking a darkroom class when I was in high school. I wasn’t very good, but for some reason that didn’t stop me. I began documenting my close knit group of high school friends, and I brought my camera with me everywhere, photographing every single thing we did.
I continued in college, taking alternative darkroom method classes, live theater photography classes, PhotoShop classes, more darkroom classes, you name it – I was enrolled. I had really amazing professors that pushed me creatively and technically. I remember coming into my first critique, proud of my beautiful darkroom print of a milkshake, and my teacher just destroyed me:
“I want to know why you took this. Why do you think this could possibly be good? It’s just a drink.”
While he wasn’t totally right – I mean, I still have love for a perfectly toned milkshake print! – after that critique I became a whole lot more critical and less wasteful of my 35mm film.
Throughout my “photographic career”, I can distinctly think of 5 images I’ve shot that have taken me by surprise and pushed me to keep photographing. There’s always that one image you capture that you didn’t realize you could take, when your skills and creative vision come perfectly together, and it pushes you to keep creating. If I lined those 5 images up, plus all the ones I took in between, you’d see a distinct progression of my style and technical skill, how one photograph led me to the next. Because, it doesn’t just happen overnight. You need to take a lot of crappy pictures to make a good one, no matter where you are in your career.
Let’s move on to Beam. Have you been able to translate your photography and photo editing experience into your marketing of the new platform?
Absolutely. Recently I’ve been working intensely with our in-house designer to source images for our Beam print advertisements. We wanted the photography in the ads to be as impactful, bold, and beautiful as Beam itself, and we also wanted to strictly use only true PhotoShelter members’ work.
Not only have I discovered some amazing PhotoShelter talent out there during my hunt, but I’ve also been able to deliver some very good news to the photographers whose images we’ve selected. It’s been really great to have the freedom to sort of channel all of the things I love into my marketing, and what I’m doing with Beam is a prime example of that.
Tell us about why / how you are using Beam yourself.
I like to keep my site pretty basic so visitors aren’t overwhelmed with content, and I keep a really tight edit on my images. So when I saw what the designers were doing with the Element template, which was the last to come out during the private beta period, I knew right away that was it. I chose Element because I love the “bare-bones” design. It’s just so simple, and it has sort of a DIY feel, which I really love. I’ve integrated my Instagram account to my site, and let’s be honest – I know it’s owned by Facebook, but it’s much more hip than its parent. I’ve also created a link in my navigation to an online magazine I make with a couple of amazing friends, The Landing.
I mean, the designs are all so beautiful. For a little while I was using Shuffle, which I also love. It’s the responsiveness and slick design that really drew me to Beam right away, of course, but the ease of being able to do things like manipulating my nav and integrating outside content is just such an added bonus.
What’s next on your plate at PhotoShelter?
Lauren Margolis, another member of our marketing team – most people probably recognize her name from all over the PhotoShelter blog! – has been killin’ it getting great photographers on our Instagram account. I’m hopping on the train with her and we’ll be creating a fun contest for our followers who are using Beam, allowing them to… well, I don’t want to give it all away now.
And what’s next for you as a photographer?
I’m actually hoping to get into video a little bit more! Honestly, I realize it’s kind of a cop out, but Instagram’s video capabilities have really inspired me to try my hand at the moving image. This fall I’ll also be shooting some events, an engagement (my first!), and some more food shoots here in NYC.