The Four Most Influencing Photographers Since 2017

In this post, I want to identify and thank the following four photographers for influencing me in the last four years with their expertise, passion, and most of all, generosity. Sharing with me equipment, knowledge, secret locations, passion, expertise, time, and so much more.

2017: Bryan Hansel

I first met Bryan on a winter workshop along Lake Superior during February. I had been saving up to participate and my wife said I was crazy to pay money to photograph ice will being on ice and having my entire face frozen. When it comes to winter photography, a little crazy is good. Beyond the shared love for winter photography, the North Shore and Lake Superior, Bryan indirectly encouraged me through his use of a good foreground. No one does that better in Minnesota in my opinion. He really captures unique patterns and leading flows from foreground to background. I also think he is distinct from many other photographers for doing this. I am grateful he showed me to look closely and see beyond what is easily seen.

2018: Jay Rasmussen

If you have read my blog posts before, you may be familiar with Jay’s name as he has been my mentor since 2018. After reviewing my work in early 2018 and not impressed, he reviewed my work again six months later at his home. After critiquing 75 images of my images, he determined I had a chance at selling my work and he began to equip me using his experience and knowledge to start my journey. He became the catalyst ingredient to my passion and practicing and I’m so grateful to his generosity and support. Jay has taught me how to sell, market, and get my name out there and has been the largest influence in the photography journey.

2019: Chris O’Donnell

Chris would be surprised to make this list. But my “astro adventurer” friend, really produced a love for the night skies through inviting me to join him on all night excursions to capture the moon, Milky Way, and on one fortunate occasion, the Northern Lights. He was really patient with me as I learned how to focus on stars, set my iso and create long exposures. He even loaned me a lens which he eventually sold to me. Waterfalls may be my favorite subject to photograph but the night sky is the most fascinating and exhilarating subject. I am always in awe and Chris helped paved the way for me to appreciate it. He’s shown me secret spots and been generous the whole way.

2020: Ernesto Ruiz

I’d say Ernesto has no idea of his influence but the latest is the need to slow down. He has an Instagram hub and website called Slow Movement Photography that really focuses on slowing down and finding quality not quantity. Rather than doing the “run and gun” when it comes to locations, it’s rather about putting the camera down and seeing the scene. Just take it all in and let the entire place, the emotion or the essence of place determine the compositions. Being more of a run and gun type of photographer, who certainly has lots of friends who do this, too, I really want to practice this more. Ironically, the last picture I take at locations often is my best. I believe that is because I have spent the time needed to really understand what the scene is providing me. It’s a challenge for sure, but one I am trying to embrace as often as I can.

To each of you, my gratitude for your influence is matched by the excitement for the future. Thank you.

Without My Mentor, I’d Be…Well, Poorer!

When people ask me about photography, I usually tell them about the three major ingredients that brought me the start up success I’ve had to date:

  1. Passion
  2. Practice
  3. A mentor

I would say passion brought practice which led to more excitement but that circle hit a catalyst when a professional photographer decided to review my images for the second time and tell me that he would help me sell my work at art fairs. Even though he was adding direct competition to himself, he was willing to give me access to success.

Let me share with you what being a mentor is really like. It’s not a brief session that you pay to obtain.

What this photographer gave and continues to give is:

  • His connections, networks, the good people and professionals in his life.
  • Tips & tricks: which printers to use, what medium fails, how to price photography.
  • Honest critique: making my compositions and pictures better.
  • Advice: he spent years and dollars failing and making mistakes. He helped me avoid a lot of waste.
  • Invitations to his home.
  • Feedback on the industry.
  • Opportunities for me to share my work.
  • Encouragement and praise for excellence.
  • His equipment and the best deals for supplies.
  • Funding at times.

I am a richer professional through his assistance and commitment to my growth. While I am very new at marketing and selling, my knowledge has increased so much and I’ve saved. This is what I mean by richness, not actually calling myself a wealthy businessman.

My mentor has given so comprehensively and generously to me and shown me what a good mentor does for those under him. I hope to also mentor others as he did some day. In a future date, I hope to write a longer and more detailed post to really paint the picture.

Thank you, Jay.

 

From Hobby to Business: Photography Style

“If I were in your shoes, I’d go for it.”

These were the encouraging words from my photography mentor in late November of 2018. He had just wrapped up an hour’s worth of reviewing my top fifty or so images in his home. The question lingering in the air was “Are my photos professional and quality enough to start selling and entering art shows?” He isn’t the sort to pander or tickle my ears. I’ve received plenty of blunt assessments in the past to know he wouldn’t get my hopes up if he didn’t think I was ready.

After asking him multiple times if he was sure, diving into projections he best could offer through five years of experience, I left his home feeling both ecstatic and nervous.


I devoted 2018 to learning photography and shooting as much as I could. I haven’t yet totaled the state parks I visited but it’s around twenty. I definitely got around and photographed one to three times a week. In the back of my mind, I held onto the possibility of marketing and selling my work in early 2019, but I resisted doing anything besides having fun for a while. I didn’t want work and money to steal my joy for photography. But my mentor’s combined encouragement pushed me over the edge into the business side. It’s very early but I’ve found this new side of photography to be a challenge that is both exciting and one I can embrace. That’s also due to learning. I love gaining new skills and education.


My photography has a long way to go. But look how far it has come. This image below is what I was pleased with in December of 2017.

Compare that with this beauty:

And if you’ve been following my work on Facebook or Instagram then you’ve seen improvement.


Now it’s exciting news time:

  • Josh Driver Photography, LLC is my official new and first business name.
  • My best images can be found on my website: joshdriverphotography.com and are for sale there and directly through me.
  • I primarily focus on selling metal prints using ChromaLux and it’s the best aluminum anywhere.
  • I will be applying for a dozen summer and autumn shows in the Midwest in February.
  • My metal prints will be on display at Dunn Bros from February 4th to March 4th.
  • I’m starting a photography podcast.

Contact me if interested in any of my metal prints as it is currently cheaper to avoid the middle man online and order through me. All funds go back into the business and paying off student loans!

I appreciate you taking the time the read my updates. I never thought becoming a professional photographer would be a serious venture for me. Stay tuned!