The web’s most “influential photographer” talks trade secrets

When it comes to portrait photography, Jeremy Cowart is one of the global greats. Recently named the number one most influential photographer on the web by Huffington Post, Jeremy’s work has been published in the likes of Rolling Stone, ESPN Magazine, NYTimes, TIME, Nylon and many more. And then there’s his celebrity gigs… which are many… you may have heard of the Kardashians…

But not only is Jeremy an incredibly photographer, he’s a pretty great guy. Personally helping bring awareness and enlightenment through photography to devastations such as the Gatlinburg wildfire, Haiti earthquake and the genocides in Rwanda, Jeremy also founded the Help-Portrait project in 2009. Help-Portrait is a global movement that sees photographers using their time, equipment, and expertise to help give back to those less fortunate.

After becoming one of Jeremy’s 137K followers on Instagram, the Husskie team became intrigued to find out how he first got his start in photography and to learn a few of his top tricks of the trade. And what earned him even more points with the Husskie team (if that’s possible) was the refreshingly down-to-earth revelation that he’s even happy to sometimes just whip out his iPhone to take a shot…

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Jeremy Cowart with Seal and Heidi Klum.

How did you originally get into photography?
I was a designer first and bought a camera to shoot or really just scan textures for my design work. But all my friends were musicians so it made sense to start shooting portraits of them as well. That’s where it all began.

How long have you been a photographer for?
11 years as a full-time professional.

You have a very unique style. How did you hone your craft?
I’m not sure! It’s a combination of things I guess. I have backgrounds both as a painter and a designer, so I love combining abstract thinking with good composition.

You’ve taken some incredible portraits of celebrities. How did you get into this?
Luck! Haha. I was shooting musicians locally in Nashville, TN, when a photography agent (Caryn Weiss) in Los Angeles discovered me. She then started helping me land a lot of larger gigs in Hollywood and it went from there.

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A recent picture Jeremy took of his son for career’s day, as he wants to be a photographer (just like Dad).

Can you name some of the celebs you’ve worked with?
Sure! Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting and many more…

What has been your favourite gig you’ve ever got to work on and what made it a stand-out?
I always love working with Imogen Heap. We did a recent shoot in Iceland and it was pretty epic. The scenery, the weather, mixed with a talent like her. It was an incredible experience.

Career highlight?
Doing my various humanitarian projects like Help-Portrait.

Career lowlight?
Anytime I create really interesting, creative work that never gets used by the client, haha.

Do you tend to take pictures using a camera or your iPhone?
Both! All the time.

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How do the two compare?
I just have completely different uses for them. I use my DSLR for a lot of client work and when I need the high resolution, and I shoot with my iPhone when I’m on the run with my family. Sometimes it’s just too much work to lug around a big DSLR and multiple lenses so the iPhone is super convenient, obviously.

What are your five top tips for people wanting to become a professional photographer?

  1. Know – Study and learn all the settings and gear
  2. See – Learn how to see light and composition
  3. Feel – Understand how to use your heart to engage with people, clients and shoots
  4. Speak – Find your voice within your work and figure out what you want to say
  5. Soul – Figure out how to combine all of it to make the world a better place

Where are you hoping your photography skills will take you?
I hope I can continue finding ways to put them to good use and to help as many people as possible.

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