We had the good fortune of connecting with Eli Vicks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eli, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
My name’s Eli and I’m a photographer based out of New York and Connecticut. My work consists of medium format film which I process by hand at home. Finding the balance between landscape and portraiture resulting in cinematic / environmental styled portraits have been my favorite part of this medium. I started back in 2019, with the hopes of being as big as some of the artists I admired. I had no idea what “big” or “successful” even meant at the time. In my head, it was just a huge following on social media or an endless amount of supporters.
Over the last few months, my perspective on success has changed entirely and it has almost everything to do with the connections and friends I’ve made while doing photography full time. Success in my eyes, has everything to do with those around you and what’s inside of you when it comes to your passions. It has to do with the people you can call your friends or the way your heart feels when you’re out taking photographs. Having other artists around you that are equally as passionate about your dreams as you are that inspire you can bring you so far. Waking up and realizing that your circle is full of other amazing artists and inspiration is what I consider success. Having the right ones in your circle is far better than pursuing large numbers and social media growth. Whether you’re doing photography or creating art with a 9-5 job on the side or doing freelance, as long as you’re getting up and doing the thing you are being successful on your craft. I’m not gonna tell you money doesn’t matter because it’s one of the many reasons I’ve been able to continue creating art, but that comes naturally. Some days you aren’t making as much as you wish and some weeks you’re overwhelmed with sales and bookings. Success isn’t just the up days, but the down days as well.
Seeing your art as extremely valuable and worth the higher rates is also what I consider success. It’s important to remember that we are always chasing higher quality work. You could be the best photographer ever and still wish your work was better. You can see yourself and your art as valuable while also consistently pursuing artistic growth. If followers is what you’re chasing, act as if you have 100,000 even when you’re at 50. Promote your work as if you’re talking to a million people even when it’s just ten. Your work is part of you and the growth / process is just as important as taking amazing photos. A lot of the artists you look up to have been doing this for a long time and so it’s not logical to compare yourself to them right now if you’re just starting out. Success is seeing yourself as a high value person worthy of respect in a world that sometimes gives artists the bad end of the stick. You never really reach success, you just keep pursuing it and that in itself is success. Even when you’re burnt out, you’re still successful. The weeks you spend unmotivated with no energy to create are successful days. Success is what you make it, and chasing a false idea of success is everything but that. Your favorite photographers are winging it day by day. As cliche as this sounds and I’m sorry, but It’s essential to remember that success is the journey and not a destination. Do what you can with what you have and stay true to yourself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Throughout my photography, I like to put a lot of focus on colors, the environment and finding a balance between landscape and portraiture. My work is most known on social media for being photographs where the subject is out of focus and the background is in focus. I pursued this look in some of my greatest work because it allows the viewers to put themselves in the shoes of the subject and connect with it more. I’m a firm believer that my work cannot be replicated, as it comes entirely in the moment and I’m always telling some kind of story in my head. From the film stock to what’s in frame, I think of photography as a different form of painting. I’m capturing what is already there, yet I am creating a piece of art from scratch. Every corner and every color is vital. I got to where I am today professionally because I knew when to take inspiration and when not to. Amazing photographers like Vuhlandes, Jessoca Kobeissi, Brandon Woelfel or Linus and his Camera inspired a lot of my work. When I was new to photography, I followed them and their work closely, seeing what I could implement into my process in order to take better photos professionally. Whether it was Jessica’s use of natural light, Vuhlandes’ use of color, Brandon’s use of emotion and movement, or Linus’ and his conceptual work, I knew I wanted to take photos like some of the greatest. It’s never easy, but it became easier when I realized it was okay to not fit in or be part of some clique. Being an outcast is just as cool as not being one. You’re on your own path here. I learned that you should be proud of how far you go along the way and never forget why you started in the first place. Take inspiration from those you admire and even go as far as becoming their friends. My brand is heavily centered around telling stories through medium format film and portrait photography. I’m still discovering new ways to do this and that’s the best part.
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.
Brooklyn is my favorite part of New York City by far. It just has a special charm about it that I love entirely. A week long trip? I would take them immediately to Front Street Pizza over in Dumbo. Speaking of Dumbo, going on photo walks in this area is one of the most fun things ever. Such a great area with an amazing sunset view! I go here all the time when it comes to finding places to take portraits in. The food is also amazing and I just highly recommend all around.
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?
My friend Zoe Lynn is an amazing photographer based out of Connecticut. Her socials are @takenbyzoe
Youtube: YouTube Channel: Eli Vicks
Other: You can book me for portraits in New York City over on the contact part of my website.