Life, luxe, faces, and places. This is how Jimmy Williams, a professional advertising photographer based in Raleigh, North Carolina describes his work of 35 years. "With every photograph I take, I like to tell a story and reveal an emotion," Jimmy says. Today, this self-taught photographer and owner of JW Productions works directly with large-scale commercial agencies and clients in the hospitality, healthcare and travel industries, including The British Virgin Islands, Hyatt, and Harley Davidson.
Jimmy's first taste of photography happened when he was a teenager and given an underwater camera to use on his scuba diving ventures. This unusual introduction inspired him to switch gears in college at North Carolina State University and change his major from engineering to Visual Design - a concentration that would increase his knowledge and understanding of photography. Jimmy was determined to gain real skills in an area that would ultimately become his career and greatest passion, so he buried himself nose deep in piles of photography books from the library and experimented with "every camera on the face of the planet."
Soon after Jimmy graduated, he opened a small studio in Raleigh and began receiving assignments from a small award-winning advertising agency located just down the road. Shooting for carpet companies to airlines, his career as an advertising photographer took off. Today, Jimmy earns a majority of his revenue from assignment photography from advertising clients.
But Jimmy's work does not stop at advertising, as his repertoire has expanded to include special fine art photographs. These collections feature his Music Makers series that delicately captures the southern soul of elderly musicians in North Carolina, as well as a series of Tuscany's breathtaking landscapes. "These were both subjects I found fascinating," Jimmy says. "And the beauty in creating these is that each series never has to end. I can continue to add photographs forever. There's no set rule to the pace." With each image he takes - often with his Canon 5D - Jimmy believes that if he's able to convey both the emotion of his subject and technique behind the photograph, he's done a darn good job.
As Jimmy's list of clients and archive of fine art and stock photography steadily grew over the years, it was clear that he needed a platform that could provide him and his team with extensive backend capabilities to run his business smoothly and conduct sales for both his stock images and fine art prints. PhotoShelter was the solution.
Jimmy was drawn to PhotoShelter because it provided him with all the backend features like search tools, lightboxes, gallery and portfolio customization and organization options, and e-commerce capabilities that he needed to support his expansive collection of photographs.
"PhotoShelter gives me the best of both worlds," says Jimmy. "I get all the backend tools I need to share and sell my work, but PhotoShelter also gives me the flexibility I want to customize my site to have its own look and feel. I get everything I need and everything I want." Hosting two PhotoShelter sites to showcase his stock photography and fine art collections, PhotoShelter also allows Jimmy the customization capabilities he wants to keep the look and feel of his sites universal. And when you're a photographer on a mission to sell and market your work, consistent branding is key.
To market his work to potential and existing clients, Jimmy's strategy is to always highlight his best work and nothing less, often using direct mail and print advertising to do so. He's also a big fan of email marketing and likes to send out "thoughtful mailers" to customized lists of clients to inform them of his recent projects, awards, and news. And often traveling throughout the United States and abroad, he integrates Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into his workflow to keep his clients and supporters updated with where he is and what he's working on.
Today, whether Jimmy is on an assignment from an advertising agency or expanding his special fine art editions, he often draws distinct connections between all the work he does. "Whether I'm shooting a portrait or a landscape, my purpose always remains the same; to establish a connection with the subject and to produce utterly 'real' moments that are raw and honest." As for what's next, Jimmy wants to do this for as long as he can. "The camera gives me a 'pass card' to enter places and people's lives. I would never have had this great opportunity otherwise."