How I Became a Photographer

posted in: Knife Industry, Work | 0

I still don’t really consider myself a photographer, despite what the title of this post says.  Perhaps “guerilla content creator” would be a more accurate description of what I do.  I make pieces of content to build a brand.  Perhaps it’s video.  Maybe it’s photos or copy.  Or it’s a viral campaign.  Guerilla means it’s irregular and unconventional– low budget or no budget.  That’s what I do for work:  guerilla marketing.

Photo Credit: Ben Petersen, 2014
Photo Credit: Ben Petersen, 2014

On the Cheap = Many Hats

Photo Credit: Patrick Gottsch, 2015
That’s me in front of the hero banner I shot for SHOT Show 2015.  It’s super cool to see it there. Photo Credit: Patrick Gottsch, 2015

I needed photos to do my job as a digital marketing coordinator.  We didn’t have a budget for that, so I made it happen on my own.  I started taking pictures for work while I was on vacation at the beach.  I snapped pictures on hiking trips and scouted locations on my morning commute.  I became the photographer on our scheduled video shoots in order to maximize our content production.  I used the photos for social media posts, web banners and other aspects of my job, but my photography work was fairly isolated to my own projects, within my own job.  Until last month.

Get ‘er Done

Here’s how it happened:  On one of our video shoots, I planned to bring back solid photos along with video.  I did the planned filming with the knife designer, then composed a still image with the new knife and designer.

The creative agency we collaborate with, Blue Collar Interactive, came across the image I had shot, liked it, and it became the most prominent photo of our trade show booth for our largest industry event.  I was tickled and amused.  I’m the self-taught photography hack whose work became the biggest banner at our biggest trade show!  Wicked.

Around the same time, the agency requested photos for our upcoming catalog.  Another video shoot turned into a tag-along photo shoot and I produced several background images for our 2015 catalog, including the inside cover photo.

Those are my grubby hands holding the 2015 CRKT catalog with my photo gracing the inside cover spread.


This is Guerilla Storytelling

I have never had a budget to go out and create or hire out professional images.  The flow is typically just me feeding the media brand beast whatever table scraps I can find.  This means I have to think outside the box and get creative with my content creation.  It means a trade show in Vegas becomes an opportunity to produce quality guerilla content on the streets.  That’s me getting wild in Vegas on the left and the resulting images in the middle on right.











Guerilla means I take the camera to scout camp when I’m volunteering and work off the clock because the location is premium:

CRKT Woods Chogan
Photo Credit: Ben Petersen, 2014.  Camp Life


Guerilla Means You Get It Done.

When someone asks me what I do for work, I don’t pipe up and claim to be a photographer.  I don’t really see myself as an “artiste” composing works of magnanimous art.  I’m not.  That said, I’m a stickler for quality and if I have to go create quality from scratch, I will.  Because that’s what guerilla does:  it gets it done.   And that’s how I became a photographer (guerilla style).