DPP Home Profiles Gary Land - In the Right Place

Monday, October 8, 2007

Gary Land - In the Right Place

Working with people who are short on time and don't necessarily love a photo session, Gary Land gets the shot fast, then spends the time placing his subject in the perfect 'background'

Gary Land is an overnight sensation, though it took him years of hard work to get here. In less than a year, he has gone from salary man to success story, photographing musicians and athletes for some of the biggest names in advertising.

Unlike pros who got their start as assistants, Land began photographing as a kid who liked to document his hobbies. Skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding—he used his camera as a way to “fall in love” with what he was doing. He developed the reputation as a premier East Coast winter sports photographer, eventually working stints at snowboarding rags and as a staff shooter for sporting goods maker Salomon. Then finally came his big break: a full-time job where he wasn't photographing at all.

“I used to shoot snowboarding stuff in the wintertime,” Land says via cell phone, on his way to go surfing during his first time off in a year. “And in the summertime, I'd usually find a job and work at a digital output house or a film-processing place—something to make money. I never really took photography as one of those things where I could make a ton of money. It was more like supporting a habit. I'm making cool pictures and I'm actually able to support a wife and a kid, which was cool for me at the time. I never knew that it could be like this.”

From Salary Man To Shooting Man
Land was working one summer at a digital output house with Reebok as a major client. His contact at Reebok was leaving the company and she invited him to interview for her position, manager of photographic services, overseeing the company's global database of photos. Land got the job and, eventually, not only was he managing Reebok's image library, but hiring photographers, overseeing shoots and enjoying the benefits of a salaried corporate gig. But he wasn't quite content.

“In the back of my mind, I'm like, ‘Dude, I wanna shoot!'” recalls Land. “I went to the chief marketing officer and was like, ‘Hey, look, I'm really interested in shooting for you guys.' So I proceeded to show a portfolio to them and they thought it was cool, but I just didn't have what they were looking for. So they were like, ‘Oh, that's great, you never know.' I kind of felt it was a brush-off.”


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