Thanks to iPhones, everyone thinks they are photographers. Yet photography is much more nuanced than that and requires technique, skill and the proper technology. Meet Ethan Covey who was able to harness his photography skills while moving up the ranks in the advertising world. Read his story about making the jump from photography as a side hustle to a full-time career and check out his work at Ethan Covey Photography.
1. Ethan, you’ve had quite the advertising career! What inspired you to branch out on your own and become a photographer?
Advertising was rather an accidental career for me. My first job upon moving to NYC was in the industry and I fell, temporarily at least, under the spell of being an adman. Yet, over time, while there were challenges I enjoyed I never was able to buy in to the illusion that I was doing anything of particular substance. I knew my aspirations were broader. It took time, but eventually the search for a more fulfilling, creative life led me to try to make a career of photography—something that had long been a passion yet was continuously pushed aside to make room for the demands of my corporate gig. I also enjoy shaking things up, and am enough of a contrarian that I quite appreciate the arched eyebrow I occasionally receive upon telling people I’ve abandoned a “real” job for a creative pursuit.
2. What are your favorite aspects of being a photographer? Is there a particular type of photography you focus on?
A photograph preserves a moment that that will never occur again. I am inspired by the rather romantic idea that there is something in these moments that is worth capturing. A glance, a smile, the play of light—I chase them with the hope of honoring the beauty of that instant.
As for types, my primary passion is for fashion and travel photography. Yet, one thing I love about being a photographer is I get to shoot so many different people/places & things—food, architecture, parties, pets, you name it.
3. Do you have any advice for those thinking about launching their own business? Anything you wish you had known?
Oh, man. I wish I’d known anything! My move to photography was driven far more by passion than planning, so the elements of it as a business are things I’ve needed to figure out as I go along. For all the artistry in such a pursuit, people need to remember that this is really starting a small business. And as such there are huge amounts of time spent networking, marketing, organizing—sometimes it’s alarming how little of my time actually takes place behind the lens.
For advice, I’d recommend connecting with as many people as possible. Other photographers, artists in other media, people who inspire you—really anyone to bounce ideas off of, get feedback from, help keep your energy up, learn from. And be humble. That’ll help a lot, especially during the lean times.
4. What have you been most proud of since launching? What’s been your lowest point?
I’m most proud of having made the decision to go against the grain and focus on something which enriches me. It can be frightening. All of us have pressures, whether from society, parents, peers, to follow a prescribed life path. Breaking from that mold isn’t easy. I’m pleased that I have been able to do it and hope to inspire others to do so, too.
Related to that, I’d say my lowest point, or points, are the times when the task feels insurmountable. It’s another reason to stay inspired—view art, read books, travel, love. And always keep moving.
5. What does being a manbassador mean to you?
I’m honored! I’ve already met so many talented, vibrant people through Six Degrees Society, and I look forward to continuing to be inspired by—and hopefully inspire—those I meet.