Pickens Professional Photography Pathway: How One of the Top Food Photographers in the Country Got his Job
Pickens Technical College Photography program graduates have many options open to them because of the skills they learned. Many have gone on to become photography assistants, building their own practices after they’ve cut their teeth. Some become freelancers and have long and lucrative careers working for a variety of clients on their own terms. Some are hired by companies to produce excellent photographs.
The bottom line is, you can’t predict where your skills will take you in a career like photography. By graduating from Pickens’ professional photography course, you’ll be in a better position than most to find your perfect job and create a career you can be proud of.
Most successful photographers end up that way purely by mistake or happenstance. That’s how one of the most popular food photographers in the US, Evan Sung, got his start. Sure, he was lucky at first, but his determination and willingness to trust his skills led him to the success he enjoys today. How did he get his start?
It may have been blind luck that started Evan Sung on his rise to photography stardom. He graduated from New York University with a psychology degree and planned to pursue a doctorate in comparative literature.
Sung started fiddling with cameras in college. When he graduated, he considered photography a relaxing way to make money in the short term. He was interested in portraits and what he calls “people in spaces as a reflection of their psychology.”
But one day while working as a freelancer for the New York Sun, Sung was asked to photograph at a restaurant for a story. The photographer who normally covered these stories was out that day, so Sung showed up, took the photos, the Sun liked them, and soon he was asked to shoot more and more food.
Sung was always interested in photography and even gained some experience in how quality photos are produced by working at Comstock, a stock photo agency. Working as a freelancer certainly had its challenges. He calls being a freelancer a “constant string of setbacks!” He was ready to put the camera down for good and go back to school, but an ended relationship made him question everything, including why he was ready to give up on photography.
What You Can Learn
Sung says that the most important skill he learned over his photography career was stubbornness. There were many opportunities and excuses to quit, to go a different direction with his life, but after he decided that photography was his career, he made sure to never compromise on his dreams. That stubbornness helped him struggle through the stress of working as a freelancer and eventually got his shots in a restaurant review in the New York Times.
Another lesson to take from Sung’s story is that career paths in almost any field don’t always follow a smooth, linear route. Many professionals run into obstacles that shake them to their core, cause them to reevaluate, and send them onto unexpected pathways. All you have to do is master your craft and be ready to go where your inspiration takes you.