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BetterPhoto Interview with Vik Orenstein - Part II

When did you know you finally "made it" as a professional?

Vik Orenstein:

When I got to quit my day job! I was working as an on-site manager for a special events company and though I really enjoyed that job, I was delighted when I got to leave it in '89 to pursue my passion full time.

Did you have a mentor or someone who helped guide you as you were getting started?

portrait photographer
The Jester
© Vik Orenstein
All rights reserved

Vik Orenstein:

Lots of them! My first husband taught me darkroom and the basics of shooting, helped me research and buy strobes and my first camera. And at least 6 or 7 shooters from the Ford Centre - the building in which my studio has been for the last 18 years helped me out very informally. They all had different specialties; editorial, fashion, commercial product, etc., and I took away a little from each one and applied it to my work with kids.

That's why I strongly believe in "cross-training". If you're a people shooter, learn from a flower and a product shooter. If you're a sports shooter, learn from a studio shooter. And so on.

Do you remember your first photography sale?

Vik Orenstein:

I remember one of my very first ones. A mom of four saw a display that the owner of a local toy store was kind enough to allow me to hang in her shop.

It wasn't even hung up yet it was sitting behind the counter. She saw the display, took my number, called me immediately, and booked a shoot. She purchased 20 16x20 hand colored portraits from that session, and we worked together many times over the years. I was very blessed to have her as one of my first clients. I learned so much from listening to her about how she wanted her children portrayed and her color palette. Her kids were a riot and she was very creative and very kind.

Family Portrait Ideas hand colored photos
Hand Colored Portrait
© Vik Orenstein
All rights reserved

How did you get your first book deal?

Vik Orenstein:

Before I was ever a photographer I was a writer. I ghosted several books for a New York writer and when I came up with the idea for the How To Break Into Modeling book, he put me in touch with his agent.

Often it's harder to get an agent than a publisher, I'm told, so I was lucky to have that connection. From the moment I got the idea for the book to the day it was accepted by the publisher, it was only about 4 months. That's EXTREMELY fast in the world of publishing.

< -- Part I   Part III -- >

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