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Meet Jim Darling

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jim Darling.

Jim, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After almost 20 years in graphic design, a lay-off in 2008 propelled me into following my life-long passion for photography towards a second career. The previous year, using my very first digital camera – a 5MP point & shoot – I started posting my photos to Flickr and not long after that I joined a local (Washington, DC) meet-up group. I really enjoyed being a part of the growing arts community and cherished the friendships that developed over our love of photography. Over the next two years, now armed with a DSLR and my first iPhone, I focused my attention on street portraiture and collected photographs and stories of over 100 strangers along the way. It was this project that helped me further develop my photography skills and gain the attention of my peers.

At this point, I had been DC for many years so my personal network of creative professionals and designer friends was quite large. And soon they started hiring me for photography projects. Like most photographers starting out, I shot a few small weddings and bar mitzvahs and the occasional headshot. During this time I joined the local APA (American Photographic Artists) chapter and began to assist other photographers and learn from more seasoned professionals.

With three years as a full-time freelance photographer under my belt, my wife and I left DC for Colorado to be closer to our families. Since arriving in Denver in late 2015, I’ve slowly built up a new network of friends, photographers, and creative professionals and have been focusing on commercial & corporate portraits and event photography.

Has it been a smooth road?
A smooth road only gets that way from very hard work and if I’m completely honest, it’s something I’ve struggled with. Starting over in a brand new state, while still learning my profession, has been very challenging. But I’ve used my skills in networking and my ability to make personal connections to slowly build my business in Denver and I’ve seen it grow each year.

Being new in a city where art buyers and creative agencies already know the photographers they like to work with, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. For example, two weeks after arriving in Colorado I happened to meet the Editorial Director of a very popular local magazine at a social event. And after an e-mail introduction to their photo editor the following week I thought I was in. Unfortunately, that never materialized and I admit I gave up after a few more attempts to make contact because I didn’t want to come off as annoying. (I’m still re-thinking that strategy.)

One the positive side, I can attribute much of my success the past few years to two organizations and the people I’ve met through them: The Colorado chapter of ASMP, a national photography association, and CreativeMornings Denver; an international breakfast lecture series for the creative community.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
One of my first social media bios simply said “Photographer. Connector. People-Person”. And I think that succinctly describes both me and my business. I specialize in commercial and editorial portraits, corporate headshots and events. What I like most about portrait photography is the connection I can make with the subject, most often in a very short period of time. For many people, having their photo taken is very emotional and nerve-racking, so it’s my job to make them feel comfortable, capture their true self, and maybe even have them walk away having enjoyed the experience. Events are interactive and social and require a variety of skills from documentary, portrait and lifestyle photography. It’s not often that I leave an event assignment without having made a personal connection or two.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Everyone knows Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and as it continues to grow in population, I’m hopeful its need for creative professionals (artists, photographers, designers, etc.) will grow along with it. I feel a strong arts culture in this city and am fortunate to be a part of its growth. We’re never going to be Los Angeles or New York, but I think we have a lot of talent in Denver and I would never tell someone not to give it a shot here.

For me personally, I have found the already-established photographers that I’ve met to be incredibly supportive. When we support each other, we strengthen our shared profession and make sure its value is recognized. So let’s go make something! The more, the merrier.

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Image credit for photo under headline: Brian Schmittgens

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1 Comment

  1. Mark

    May 6, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    I liked him before he became a great photographer, and I like him still. And not just because he’s my brother.

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