Don’t Follow Your Passions — Develop Them, With Film Photographer Jon Trend

Don't Follow Your Passions -- Develop Them

We talked with Jon Trend, a Philadelphia/New York City-based photographer, about his journey through this creative industry. While doing social content for Urban Outfitters, he is also finding himself and a love for film photography.

If you’re interested in admiring someone’s portfolio, or learning which (film) camera to purchase and use, or how to get a cool job in a creative industry, you’ve come to the right place.

How did you get into photography?

It definitely wasn’t on purpose. I was studying music when my interest in photography first started to appear. I was feeling creatively stuck in school and was starting to question if music was what I really wanted to do. Fast forward a few months – I bought my first camera and I drove out to the coast inspired and excited to try out my new equipment. I spent the entire day taking pictures of birds, driftwood and well….anything that crossed my path. It was the first time in a long time that I felt fulfilled. I was creating for me and me alone. I was hooked.  

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Do you shoot digital or film? If both, do you have a preference?

I shoot both. But most of my work over the past two years has been film. Honestly, if it wasn’t for commercial work I wouldn’t shoot digital at all. There is something so subtle and beautiful about film. It’s delicate and you have to have a certain level of trust within yourself to be able to do it. To be confident enough to know that you are making a good photograph. There is a reason every photographer on Instagram edits their pictures to try and copy it. But don’t get it twisted…..just because something is shot on film doesn’t mean it’s a good photograph.

What was your first camera? Is it the same one you use now?

My first camera was this small Sony digital point and shoot with a 3X zoom lens. No, I definitely do not use it now, but mechanically it is very similar to the camera I use today. Currently I am shooting on a Fuji Klasse 35mm Point and shoot.

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How’d you get the cool gig at Urban Outfitters?

Well the short answer is I applied and they hired me. But if it wasn’t for the time I spent making connections in my community, involving myself in events and working with local brands, I never would have put myself on the trajectory to be where I am today. I spent my time working with insanely talented and smart individuals who taught me the value of being a multifaceted creator. Learning what it takes to run and market a business, how to speak certain languages to communicate to clients, and most importantly, how to be professional.

Because I was able to make these connections I got the chance to meet people who happened to work at UO. Eventually someone referred me and I was hired. Initially I wasn’t hired to be a photographer. I was hired to write copy for Facebook and Twitter as well as report on back-end analytics. It wasn’t until the photographer before me got let go that I was able to wiggle my way into shooting.

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it’s hard not to fall into the trap of social media. as an artists i loose touch with the social side of social media. i try to share work that best represents “me” or what i would like people to think of when they hear my name or see my work. i have always struggled with sharing my personal life and other interests besides photography on the internet because i trapped myself in the box of peoples opinions not resonating with anything other than whats expected of me as a photographer. but tbh its about time i take my own advice and stop giving a fuck lol. im excited to share more of what I do at work, personal projects, writing, and getting back into music. thx 🙂 image shot for @urbanoutfittersmens

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Have you set any major goals for yourself, as a photographer?

Not really….at least not that I can think of. I never had thoughts of “I want to do this, I want to be that” and I still don’t. I am just happy to be doing something that brings me endless amounts of joy. Photography has opened many doors for me that I never knew existed.

I am taking all of it in with as much excitement and hunger to learn as humanly possible. My goal is to never look at this like a job, even though it very much is. But if I’m going to be 100% honest I don’t care if I never make a dime off of my images. I’ll never stop shooting. I will always look at myself as the kid chasing birds on the beach.

Any advice for fellow photographers or anyone wanting to get into this industry?

I will never tell someone to deprive themselves of their dreams, as we are all entitled to happiness, but more often than not creatives fall into the idea of “if I do what I love I will never work a day in my life” and that is so wrong. 

There is a huge difference between following your passion and developing it. Let go of the idea of what your passion is or was and stop pursuing things that your past self thought would make you happy. Instead of chasing your “dreams” try chasing your curiosity. You’ll be surprised at what you  might discover.

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