Contributor: Stanley Sigalov
Shotzr Handle: @stantheman
Instagram Handle: @stanleysigalov
Shotzr: Tell us a little about yourself!
Stanley: I’m a semi-professional photographer, small business owner and full-time digital nomad. I started my professional career in corporate marketing and moved into traveling and business ownership exactly a year ago… and haven’t looked back. I currently move to a new city every three months for my SO’s travel nursing career and travel internationally in between each cities. My business is called Axe & Hammer – we had our start in Denver, as well, and feature high-quality, authentic prints in an environmentally friendly way.
Shotzr: How did you get your start in photography?
Stanley: I’ve been into photography since I was 15. I took some classes early on and got the mechanics down, but didn’t love it quite yet. Then, I went to college and had to find a way to pay for school. By a weird set of circumstances, I was hired as a student photographer for my work-study job… and my photography career took off. By the time I graduated, I was president of the photo club, running the photo side of the college newspaper, and doing for-hire shoots on an almost weekly basis. Thinking about it in hindsight, the whole process felt really natural. Photography just kind of pulled me in… although a big part of that was it’s ability to help me pay rent. After I graduated I put my camera down for a year or two, but was drawn back naturally when people started asking for LinkedIn portraits at work, so I started shooting at a renewed cadence.
Shotzr: Tell us a about your experience so far being a Sponsored Contributor for Shotzr.
Stanley: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my experience with Shotzr. I came in not really understanding the concept and being weary of putting my photos anywhere but Instagram. I started posting my old IG photos while I was walking in between places, just for kicks. In the least few months, however, posting to Shotzr has become more of a priority for me. I even prioritize it above Instagram at this point. From a photographer’s point of view, it feels more serious and rewarding to put my photos to work instead of them simply gaining some superficial likes on social platforms. There’s an actual purpose for them now.
Shotzr: What areas of photography are you currently focusing your growth?
Stanley: Currently, I’m working with a real estate photography group in San Diego called Unforgettable Studios, so my main focus has been real estate photography and video. On the top of that, I’ve really been trying to get my portrait skills to the next level and have started dipping my toes into video production. My goal for this year is to release some fun cinematic travel videos as well as some really on-point portraits.
Shotzr: How has your last year of traveling influenced your photography?
Stanley: Over the course of last year, I visited almost 40 cities across 8 countries, so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. Mainly, the travel has really made me think of my photography as content instead of just pictures. There have been a dozen instances where I would be looking through old photos from Iceland or something and been like “wait a minute, that’s actually a really good shot that would work for this or that project”, even though I had long forgotten about that set. In simpler words, my view of my photography and photography career has been more stacked than linear. I now try to review old sets as much as possible and build upon them consciously instead of just shooting and forgetting.
Shotzr: Now that you left your 9-5 and work for yourself do you find it more or less difficult to make time for photography?
Stanley: More! Most people think that when you quit your job a bunch of personal time just appears. In reality, it’s the complete opposite. The beauty of a 9-5 is that you have between 5 and 9 to do whatever you want. When you’re doing your own thing, it’s impossible to just ignore your to-do list in the off hours. That being said, I’ve had to be way more conscious about making time to shoot, but it’s way more rewarding when you do. You get to fully dive into the activity and use it to get away from everything else.
Shotzr: Your portraits are exceptional. How do you help subjects show their authentic self?
Stanley: Thank you! I’m humbled.
Getting people to relax and be themselves in front of the lens is the single most difficult thing. I’ve discovered that three things really help:
1. Don’t start with the camera – try to get to know the person you’re shooting first. Try to meet for coffee and get their vision first, or, at least, spend 10-15 minutes before a shoot just walking and chatting without the camera.
2. Show them the shots as you go. I try to show them the screen every 5 or 6 shots. It makes them more confident as they see the work turning out and it helps them feel more in control over the shot.
3. Talk a lot and try to relate. I’m extremely unphotogenic and I know how my subjects feel, so I try to tell them that’s it’s always a messy process. Make sure they understand that you’re on the same team working against the camera.
Shotzr: Where will 2018 be taking you?
2018 is going to be even a bigger whirlwind. Geographically, I have plans to backpack through northern Latin America, do a stint around the Great Lakes, and then possibly an extended trip through Southeast Asia, Australia, and NZ. However… a goal of mine has been to look no further than the next month, so these are all very tentative plans. We’ll see 🙂
Shotzr: Lastly, what’s your favorite image that you’ve contributed in the last month?
Stanley: I got the incredible opportunity to fly around the SoCal coast in a small place recently. I got some incredible photos from the short flight, but I can’t attribute the quality to my own talent. When you’re in a small plane above the California coast at sunset, it’s almost impossible to snap a bad photo.
Check out more of Stanley’s amazing images and use them for Digital Marketing by downloading the Shotzr app.