Jimmy White is a lawyer gone full-time photographer with a passion for wildlife, nature, and all things under the sea. Growing up in Florida, he was captivated by the outdoors at a very young age and spent his time fishing, scuba diving and surfing. And after his father gave him his first camera, Jimmy developed an interest in photography that would ultimately lead him to his second career.
After practicing law for 12 years, Jimmy had an epiphany that days and years were passing him by. "I felt trapped indoors in a career that collided with my true interests," Jimmy said. "And after my father died in 2006, I had a tangible grasp on the brevity of life. That's when my wife and I decided to take a chance and change paths to pursue something close to my heart. For me, that was nature and wildlife photography."
When Jimmy announced his resignation to his law firm in February of 2009, he also enrolled in the Career Training Program at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana to improve his business and technical photography skills. Later, he would also work there as a teaching assistant primarily focusing on photo editing, studio lighting, and outdoor photography. His new role as a teaching assistant and the skills he learned while in Montana ultimately encouraged Jimmy to launch Jimmy White Photography and showcase his own nature, wildlife and underwater work.
A self-taught underwater photographer, Jimmy knows that it's a constant challenge to capture that unique shot. Facing additional challenges presented by the underwater environment like murky water, shifting currents and limited air supply, he taught himself the skills of underwater photography through persistent trial and error. "It's a constant challenge to balance day light with artificial light," Jimmy said. "Scuba diving is already a gear-intensive activity and when you couple it with photography the complexity increases exponentially." When photographing underwater, Jimmy uses Canon cameras and lenses and Ikelite housings and strobes which easily fill up two large wheeled Pelican cases.
With his transformation to a career less lucrative than law, Jimmy also had to develop strategies to sell his work and create a steady stream of revenue. By establishing a contact in the custom home building business, he signed on to take photographs of custom homes in his part of Florida. Not only was his client pleased with his work but Jimmy also discovered that he truly enjoyed the challenges of architectural photography. Today, this commercial client continues to be one of Jimmy's primary sources of revenue.
"My true love is in nature and underwater photography with a focus on conservation, but I've found a way to bring in revenue through my architecture work. Now that photography is my career, I find I need to strike a balance between shooting what I love and shooting what can better pay the bills."
Today, Jimmy relies on PhotoShelter for all of his marketing and business needs. Originally drawn to the platform in 2009 when a class instructor praised the system, he was confident that as an aspiring professional photographer, PhotoShelter could provide him with the tools he needed to effectively showcase his work.
"From the very beginning, I saw a clear dual purpose in using PhotoShelter," Jimmy said. "It provided an incredible high resolution archiving system in addition to great e-commerce capabilities. I could safely store all of my work while at the same time being set up for business and sales."
Jimmy also became a fan of PhotoShelter after seeing the wide range of templates offered and noticed that successful photographers who used the platform had beautiful sites. "I saw that people who used PhotoShelter had very clean designs and I wanted to emulate that look."
Since launching Jimmy White Photography via PhotoShelter, Jimmy has gained traction with his underwater work, recently drawing interest from two photo editors of underwater magazines based in Florida. To market his work and attract similar eyes, Jimmy takes advantage of social media sharing and his Graph Paper Press blog which integrates seamlessly with his PhotoShelter site. Also using a Facebook page and his LinkedIn account to post about his latest work and projects, Jimmy keeps his network up-to-date with everything he's doing.
Jimmy also promotes his work via partnerships with organizations like Sea To Shore Alliance, Inc. (a Florida-based conservation organization working to reduce threats to endangered aquatic and marine species). By establishing strong working relationships there, the organization has published Jimmy's underwater, nature, and wildlife work in their promotional material and across their website. His works with the organization also led to an invitation to join their Board of Directors on which Jimmy currently serves.
When asked for one his favorite underwater stories, Jimmy didn't skip a beat, recalling a day when he was diving in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles off of Anna Maria Island, Florida. He noticed a group of Amberjack fish which were oblivious to his presence. "As soon as my dive buddy and I started ascending, we noticed that the fish had tightened up into an incredible spiral pattern, which I was able to photograph and later learned was a type of spawning behavior. It was the most unbelievable sight. This experience taught me to always keep an eye on interesting activity in the natural world because if you wait long enough, things can often become even more exciting."
To date, Jimmy's work has been published in the St. Petersburg Times, Scuba Diving Magazine, and Bay Soundings Magazine, as well in a 2010 book, "Photos of the Gulf" to raise funds to support the Gulf Coast cleanup efforts.
Coming up, Jimmy wants to continue establishing his presence as an architectural photographer to expand that side of his business in order to better fund his ongoing conservation work. He also plans to expand his conservation and wildlife efforts by continuing to develop relationships with marine conservation organizations to help communicate their messages through his photographs. "My goal will always be to capture the beauty around me, " Jimmy said. "However, I want to provide people with the opportunity to see the beauty of our natural world in a way they may never otherwise have the chance."
Underwater, Nature and Wildlife
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