10 minutes with Jimmy Fishbein
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
After spending three years in college trying to find some direction in life, I picked up a camera at home on summer break for the first time ever and decided to play around. After getting positive feedback from none other than my mom I decided to experiment a little more. When I went back to school the next semester I took my first photography class, which was shooting and developing black and white film. It was the moment I first saw the image appear on paper in the darkroom that turned me on to learning more about photography.
Who were some of the first photographers that inspired you, and who’s work are you loving now?
Being that my first full time photo-assisting job in NYC was for Arthur Elgort, it was hard not to be inspired. He was contracted with Conde Nast publications and shot editorial spreads as well as covers for Vogue and GQ. He also shot Cover Girl commercials and a regular lunch guest in the studio was Cindy Crawford. Hard not to be inspired! After a full year with Arthur, I freelance assisted for other inspiring photographers such as Bruce Weber, Matthew Jordan Smith, Ellen Von Unwerth and George Lange. These days I don’t see much of anyone else’s work, just my own… but I’m always trying to think outside the box and shoot in new and creative ways.
What is a typical day like for you?
First, my stop at Starbucks to meet my friend for a coffee and a laugh. Then I arrive at the studio at nine a.m. (seven days a week) and work on managing the in-house operations and my business relationships and until around 8pm or until I need to get some rest. The transition from photographer to businessperson has been a long road and constantly a learning experience. I’ve found that having a workflow for all operations is crucial to the organization and seamless flow of everyday business-life at the studio.
If you could go back ten years and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Ten years ago I was living in New York City going on my sixth year. I had spent five years assisting hundreds of photographers and learning everything I possibly could have about the field. Ten years ago was my first year out on my own and I was doing everything I could have to get started. I learned a lot about life and work in the five years of my apprenticeship and already had the idea of moving forward and staying focused… that’s all I would tell anyone else in terms of advice.
(Jimmy is based in Chicago, see more of his work, here.)