- Vincent Rush
- Monroe, Ohio, United States
- Began my photography career as most people do...the highschool yearbook. Upon graduation I attended the US Naval Photography School in Pensacola Fla. After getting a qualification in basic photography and then later attending their Portrait School,was assigned to a military operation. Experiences included USO photography for Bob Hope, Brooke Shields, Kathy Lee Crosby and Wayne Newton.Have also had the opportunity for travel assignments to places such as Beruit, Israel, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Spain and England. Upon exiting the Navy in 1984,opened up a Tanning Salon and Health Club in Oxford,Ohio and began photographing weddings, all as a vehicle to fund my way through college. I enjoy travel, sports photography, special event and Cincinnati Reds photography. I am frequently contracted as a sports photographer by parents, sports teams, and organizations,throughout the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio areas, to provide the highest quality sports photography, both on an individual and team basis.
November 3, 2009
Interview with Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography
Interview with Photographer Vincent Rush of Monroe, Ohio
Owner of Cincinnati Sports Photography www.CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com
Former USO and Military Photographer
Age 46, Married since 1989 to Amy and parent of 2 children, Zachary and Brianna
Q: How did you first get into photography?
A: I was hooked on it once I got my first little plastic camera. I think I was in 5th or 6th grade and it was a Christmas present. I loved taking pictures and getting them back to see what they looked like. After that it was the Preble Shawnee High School yearbook in 1978. My love languages are primarily gifts and words of affirmation. So as a nerdy geek in school, I was able to give the gift of putting your picture in the year book and get the words of affirmation and gratitude for doing it. For me, it was about acceptance. I also had a mentor from Camden by the name of Archie Armstrong who taught me how to use my first 35 mm SLR which was a Pentax.
Q: How did you make your choice to become a military photographer?
A: I originally wanted to be an Air Force Photographer, but I still remember it clear as day, when I called the Dayton, Ohio recruiting office, the guy that answered the phone said that the Air Force didn’t have photographers. So then I called the Navy and that was the beginning.
Q: What was the most interesting thing you’ve ever photographed?
A: Without a doubt, flying in a back seat hop in an F-14 over the Indian Ocean shooting squadron pictures, back when a photographer could still go up. Nothing like getting launched off an aircraft carrier and then landing back on one as it rolls in the sea. I also have to consider the photographing of the destroyed embassy in Beirut Lebanon as the rescue and recovery process was taking place an experience that stays with you the rest of your life.
Q: You we’re a USO photographer for Bob Hope in the early 80’s, is there anyway to describe that experience?
A: “Thanks for the memories”?
Bob Hope was one of the most genuine people on the face of the earth. I was actually on a tour with Bob, Brooke Shields, Kathy Lee Crosby, Ann Jillian, Vic Damon and George Kirby. Bob’s official photographer got sick in Med and as I was wrapping up the Beirut assignment, the chance came to do the Bob Hope USO tour. I also did a stint with Wayne Newton after that tour. Memories that I will never forget.
Q: You left photography for almost 20 years after the Navy. What prompted that decision?
A: I moved back to Camden, Ohio, opened up a health club and tanning salon in Oxford Ohio as a means of putting myself through college, started dating my future wife and shooting weddings on the weekend. I also went to the Dayton Daily News and tried to get a job as a contract photographer. They turned me down because I didn’t have a degree from “The Ohio Institute of Photography”. What I did have at the time were a couple of published pictures in Time and Newsweek, real life experience and a portfolio that most photographers dream of putting together. What I didn’t have was tenacity. I gave up too easily. I started shooting weddings on the week ends and unfortunately, I was practically giving them away. Eventually something had to give as far as my time went and I chose to sideline what wasn’t making me any money.
Q: What drew you back into it?
A: (Laughs) Amway!
A: Sort of. I had spent the past several years building a pretty successful Amway business and was speaking at a conference for a good friend and real life mentor of mine by the name of Larry Winters, who is a huge photography buff and a pretty good one at that. Larry had just bought 4 Nikon D200’s and when he found out that I didn’t have a digital camera, he gave me a Nikon D2x. That was the first time I had actually worked with a digital SLR camera. I didn’t even know what ISO or the term Noise meant.
So I brought it home, went and bought a lens or two and started shooting. One thing I discovered is that I still loved doing it and that I still had “the eye” for recognizing a great photograph. And I’ve been shooting for the past 4 years.
Q: What has been the biggest change other than the obvious technology of digital?
A: As a result of the technology, there are millions of GWC’s and MWC’s.
Q: GWC and MWC?
A: Guy With Camera or Mom With Camera. In other words, everyone is a photographer now or at least thinks they are. That is a result of the advances in camera technology now and of course Photoshop. They used to say that real photographers were made in the dark room. Now they’re made on the computer.
Q: You seem to specialize in sports photography? Is that by design or was it accidental?
A: Design. I’m a big believer in knowing your niche and living where you get paid. I truly believe that I am one of the best sports photographers in the country. And my equipment has less to do with it than my understanding of angles, anticipation and game flow. I also know the importance of tellin a story with a picture rather than just getting a shot of a kid with both feet off of the ground and his hair sticking straight up with no ball in the frame.
Q: You were interviewed by a publication called PDN, Photo District News, in an article titled “Pros vs. Parents” recently.
In that article you stated that your business is growing while others say just the opposite. What do you attribute that to?
A: That's a little misleading. I haven’t reached critical mass yet and my brand and reputation is still growing. Eventually it will slow down as I tap into the bulk of the area potential. Right now however, even a little growth is percentage wise, bigger than more well seasoned and well established photographers.
Q: Do you feel that you have a lot of competition?
A: Not at all. Like wise, I’m not really competition for other photographers. That’s just the way I look at it. Photography is an art and art is subjective. Everyone will have their favorites. In Monroe, Ohio where I live there are a couple of good guys, Bob Carroll and Bryan Garde, that started a little photography business called Blue River Images. They essentially try to do what I do, but there is a distinct difference in our styles and branding. There will always be people that like their pictures better than mine and vise versa. They actually approached me in February of 2009 and asked about the three of us forming a partnership. As I said, they are good guys but from a branding standpoint, it didn’t line up with my vision and what I wanted to accomplish.
Q: Could you talk about the concept of “branding”
A: You could call it Image as well. I have a very distinct, story telling, photo journalistic style of sports photography. I also wanted to be known as Vincent Rush the Photographer in Monroe, Ohio, rather than Cincinnati Sports Photography, posting pictures on the Monroe community web site. I am also very selective about what pictures I release for viewing and what I delete. Most photographers have no idea what they are trying to accomplish.
Q: You said that most photographers don’t know what they are trying to accomplish. Could you elaborate?
A: Sure. There are THOUSANDS of aspiring "SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHERS" on the web, all using hosted sites like Flickr, Smug Mug or Photo Bucket. They have no plan. They simply go out and shoot 600 pictures, delete the out of focus ones and digitally vomit 400 images on their hosted web site. Among those are mostly pictures that make no sense and tell no game or event story, or they are mixed with a few dozen pictures that make the visiting team look better. What they un wittingly do is water down their own web sites.
Q: What do you mean by watering down their web sites?
A: In effect they “spam” their own site. There are pictures where the kids are turned away from the camera, missing tackles or in soccer pictures, jumping at an awkward angle with no ball in the frame. They just load hundreds of random images on the site with no though of what the landing page looks like or what order they are in. There is a 3 click rule of web sites. People need to find what they are looking for in 3 clicks or less or they leave. I can look at analytics of my web site and see the average length of time on my site, and the fewer pictures I have of an event the longer the average visit to that event gallery is, because I only put sports photographs on the site that lock down the viewer’s attention.
Q; Is that good for the business?
A: It’s REAL good for MY business. I don’t want those people to change ANYTHING!
Q: You stated in the article that you have effectively used social media to increase exposure. What do you mean by that?
A: Community websites of the teams I shoot, Facebook, Twitter, Google Relevance Weighting etc….I’ve read several books on it and although I’m no expert I know more that the guy who won’t study the subject. You’ve also got to be great with people and realize that the way you carry yourself is a personal brand as well. For every social media book I’ve read, I’ve read 10 people skill books.
Q: Does most of your business come from Monroe?
A: Not necessarily. I do a lot of private client shoots. Although I have gotten a lot of business from Monroe this fall. Just the month of October was close to $1000.00 ordered in sports photographs from my web site.
Q: What do you mean by “Private Client Shoots”?
A: A parent or a team contracts me to come focus on their kid or team for the entire sporting event. That can be shooting a Motor Cross race or a select team baseball game, MMA fights, Cheerleading squad, or any number of sporting events. That can be anywhere from a $200 to a $500 dollar day. It’s good money and it’s a lot of fun. You have to branch out and broaden your horizons. You can only shoot so much of the local team before you get into the laws of diminishing returns.
Q: How do the other Monroe photographers work compare to your work?
A: While I appreciate the question, I won’t go there out of respect for those people. I believe that I am trying to accomplish something totally different than they are. And I am succeeding at my personal game plan. Besides, as I said, they will always have their fans and I will have mine. It’s all a matter of personal preference in the client’s eyes, and they are the ones who truly matter, not what I think. I employ an attitude of “Observe that Masses and do the opposite
Q: What did you mean when you said that you employ an attitude of “Observe the masses and do the opposite”?
A: I work the angles and go for the shots that no one else does. I’ll be at a football game and I’ll look over and see photographers and GWC’s standing around talking shop. I'll take that opportunity to go shoot the band or the cheerleaders. One time I rounded up the cheerleaders and shot a few action shots and some portraits. That 30 minutes before game time resulted in more than $1000 in business.
Another time during home coming half time ceremonies, all the photographers, Life Touch, News Papers and GWC’s and MWC’s were bunched up in a herd shooting the same straight on flash mug shots at mid field. I grabbed a football with the Monroe Hornet logo on it and walked up to each couple, gave the player the rock to tuck under his arm and started shooting.
The next day when other sources posted their pictures, I put mine, cropped and edited of course on the same sites. I never insulted or made any negative comments about their work, I let my work speak for it’s self and THAT night put a lot in my pocket. But hey, there is more than enough to go around.
Q: What do you mean that there is enough to go around?
A: There will always be people that love your work and those who hate it. That’s reciprocal and applies to every photographer out there.
Q: In your opinion, what does an aspiring photographer have to do to make it today? Or should I say, what’s the difference between the guys that get called for work and the ones that don’t?
A: All things being equal, quality, style etc…it’s professionalism and personal branding and marketing. You have to think of yourself as a walking business card. If you look like some weird old freak, standing around with a camera, you’re not going to have as many people come up to you and ask for your card and contact info
Q: Are there any local photographers that you feel stretch you?
A: From a portrait stand point, Russ Miller out of West Chester. Russ is a world reknown photographer and has covered Ronald Regan. You really don't get in the door with him for less than $2500. And from a Sports Photographer stand point, Barb Trimble www.trimphoto.com Barb is one of the best sports photographers I have ever seen.
Q: Any famous photographers that you would consider role models?
A: The standard answer to that question is always Ansel Adams, Annie Lebowitz and Larry Winters www.lwdigital.com
Q: You mentioned on your Blog that you recently had a conversation with a Sports Illustrated Photographer out of Orlando. Tell me about that.
A: Nothing too extraordinary. He read an interview I did for Photo District News on Youth Sports Photography and wanted to ask some marketing questions. But since I had him on the phone, I asked him what I needed to improve upon and he said “contacts”. He told me that my work was every bit as good as any Sports Illustrated work, I just needed contacts to get those kinds of jobs. It was very flattering and humbling at the same time because I figure that they are the very best and at the top of the Sports Photography food chain.
Q: Where do you want to take your photography and what is your long term goal?
A: Simple! I want to continue to build my brand and reputation as a sports photographer to the point that I get asked or recruited to shoot the highest level of professional sports, such as the Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL, Sports Illustrated, ESPN or one day to be on the side lines for the World Series or Super Bowl. I have several other business interests and it's still a hobby for me that sometimes I'm lucky enough to get paid for.
Q: How’s that going so far?
A: Once you quit dreaming, you’re done! So I’m still working on it.
Posted by Cincinnati and Dayton Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Monroe, Ohio. For more information (877) 858-6295