We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Anderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaron, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
This career is pretty risky in general, most commercial photographers I know don’t really have any idea where the next paycheck is coming from (especially with the current climate of things). When I quit my job over six years ago to become a full-time freelancer we’d just had our first kiddo, and shortly after I quit we found out the second was on the way! There are definitely moments when the risk feels extreme, that was one of those moments, but you kind of get used to the fact that it’s not a normal life. Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 and we made the second most extreme decision of my career, we sold everything and moved into an RV with 3 kids. Our idea was to alleviate the burdens of mortgages, bills and debts, while making a way to move closer to clients in California without actually moving to California. While these choices are extreme, they are also pivotal, it allows me to grow as an artist and a business person, it also allow us to grow closer and have adventures as a family. I’m not trying to make it sound like these aren’t scary decisions, and there are times when I feel like a genuine crazy person. I look at friends with steady incomes, insurance, retirement and it seems so appealing, like “what the heck am I doing this for?”. Then I look at the rewards of being with my family, having a career that I love, being able to travel and the list goes on, the risks all make sense when I look at it that way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Two things stand out to me in my career: Personal Work and Networking. I’ve always believed that if you want to do a certain type of work or work for a certain type of client, you need to show that you are capable of handling that. Photography is amazing because you can actually create your own experience through personal projects. You don’t have to wait for your dream shoot, you can make your dream shoot! It has been amazing to see the people and places personal projects have taken me, and my career wouldn’t be what it is without them. Is it easy? NO! It takes a ton of work and time, but it’s all worth it. Networking is also something that I have built my career as a creative on, just meeting people in general and getting to know them. I honestly love that part of my job, and people are the reason I became a photographer. Before we “moved” to LA I would fly out a few times a year, just to meet people! Sometimes in turns into work and sometimes it doesn’t, but it has definitely been a key ingredient to this journey. You can’t do this journey alone, just the number of people you need on your team to have a successful shoot requires you to actively be seeking a great team.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d definitely head to RiNO and just go for a walk! I’m a huge sucker for industrial parts of a city and RiNO is one of my favorites. First, as with any adventure, you need coffee! I’d take them to Crema and sit on the outside patio. I’m also a huge burger guy, which it would be hard to pick, but I think I’d take them to Park Burger for lunch (Shake Shack is pretty great too). After that I head over to Highlands and wander around for a bit before hitting Blue Pan Pizza for dinner. There’s quite a few places in Denver that have become staples for our family, but that sounds like a pretty radical day! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There’s a few people who’ve been a huge help in my journey, the first is my wife. Honestly, her belief in me and willingness to be uncomfortable is the only reason I’m here. Her ability to have an amazing disposition, while raising three kids in an RV, while watching her crazy husband run around taking pictures, is nothing short of incredible. I think the second person that comes to mind is a photographer in San Francisco named Kevin Twomey. He was one of my first internships, and I still talk to him from time to time. He’s not only been an incredible resource, but we’ve worked on sets together and it’s inspiring to see his process and personality. Another person that comes to mind is my friend Scott Jung. We went to the Academy of Art in SF together and he instilled a lot of things in me that I still utilize in my career. I remember him saying “every set is a professional set” and it should be treated that way. That’s why we always had assistance, models and MUA on sets in school, and I still think about that to this day. It changed the way I thought about personal work and collaborations, and made it easier to transition into real clients.