Spread the love, join a PUG. Pictage User Groups are designed to facilitate communication and education among professional photographers on a regional level around the nation. There are over 55 PUGs located across the United States and in Canada. PUG meetings are open to both Pictage and non-Pictage members and are a great resource for professional photographers to network and grow.
In our attempt to get photographers connected to local PUGs, we are featuring Pictage User Group Spotlights. In each spotlight post we will get to know the PUG through the PUG leader.
We would like you to meet Brian Friedman of B-Freed Photography, Pictage User Group (PUG) leader in New York City. Hear from Brian himself, what he loves about being a photographer and what his goals are for the New York PUG.
I’m a born and raised NY’er, and have always had a strong interest in the arts. I’ve been playing the drums since age 6 which has made a huge impact on my life in so many ways. I always wanted to be a drummer but as I grew older I worried that the lifestyle would not be the right fit for what I wanted in my life. When I got to college (Binghamton University, in upstate NY), I played a lot of drums, but I also met the University Photographer who was a really cool guy. He had one of the first digital SLR’s, a Kodak, and I thought it was the greatest thing! I began studying with him and really got into photography. We still shot on film and developed in the darkroom, but the digital stuff really piqued my interest. During my senior semester I was fortunate enough to get hired to go on the road with the great jazz drummer Roy Haynes, as his road manager. I took my camera with me and shot a bunch of black and white film on each date. I still had very little technical understanding of f/stops and whatnot, but I just loved doing it because I’d come home with a tangible memory of my travels. I always attribute my love of photography to the fact that through photography you can really document the people you meet and the things you do in your life.
After school I landed a job in the entertainment world, working on the management team of comedian Ray Romano, among others. It was an amazing experience for me but it wasn’t “it.” Around the 5th year of me being with the firm, I went through a challenging time emotionally in my life, and it lit a fire under my butt to get focused on a career that would last me a lifetime. By this point digital was really coming around, and I made an investment in some equipment and a lot in time. After work I’d go somewhere and do something photo related – whether it be shooting my friends/clients at the comedy clubs, or just sitting in front of my mac learning photoshop. It dawned on me that a career in photography was really a second shot at life… I somewhat regretted not pursuing drumming, so when I realized that I had the passion for photography and the tools at my disposal, I made a commitment to stop at nothing in order to succeed.
I worked tirelessly (still do!) and treated people well along the way, and in turn they opened doors for me. I always say that if you do right by someone that somehow, someway, that comes back to you ten fold. After nearly 9 years in the comedy business, I left to become a fulltime photographer. My first assignment was on Feb 1, 2007, and it was to take photos of Barack Obama for his bid for President at a private fundraiser in NYC. A bride of mine hired me for it and I remember having to leave my fulltime job early on my very last day there to go and take these photos. That sign was a gift from the universe, telling me that I had no doubt made the right decision.
I love being a photographer. I love the creative process so much. I just love it. And I love meeting new people and stepping into their lives for a moment. Many of my clients become personal friends and that makes me so happy. I feel so “wealthy” in just that; the relationships I have in my life.
I think it’s amazing too that photography can take you places… I’ve been so fortunate to have been hired to take photos all around the country and even in Europe. It’s living the dream, really….
I have been attending PUG meetings for about 3 years. Shari Silk did an amazing job as the NY leader and I always got “something” out of going. I couldn’t make it every month, but whenever I could I went. I am beyond grateful for Shari coming into my life and asking me to take over for her as PUG leader…
I am excited to begin a new chapter for the NY PUG. I want to mix up the topics. It’s easy to get into a technical discussion of some sort, or to talk about the latest product, but as I think more and more about it, the topics that are most relevant to me are those that involve practicing good business acumen before, during, and after the job. At our first meeting I raised the issue of “what happens when you are denied food at a wedding,” and later on my fellow photographers told me that it was that particular topic that brought them to the meeting. I still consider myself “new” to the business, and I feel like I’m always having to overcome certain stereotypes that have been created well before me. That’s just one area I want to focus on; how to dismantle some of these antiquated stereotypes, taking us from being perceived as the “hired help” to being seen as the “artists” that we really are.
As the NY PUG leader the thing that I look forward to the most is getting to know the other amazing photographers in the community.
You should attend the NY PUG, or the PUG in your city, because It’s a great opportunity to learn, plain and simple. I was a skeptic at first because I said to myself “how are these people sharing as much info as they are!?” But then I realize that it was up to me to feel secure enough to know that there’s plenty of work out there for all of us. At the very least, if you want to, you’ll meet some really great people who are doing the same thing you are!!!!
To find a PUG near you visit www.pugs.pictage.com. If you have any questions about PUGs feel free to email email@example.com.