We had the good fortune of connecting with Benjamin Doktor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Benjamin, what is the most important factor behind your success?
If I have learned anything about success over the years, it is that everyone has their own definition and metrics of how they define “success” in their lives or careers. The most important factors that I feel have contributed to the successful longevity of my photography career are my core values rooted in passion, authenticity, and longevity. Being passionate about what you love to do will always shine through in your work. I was fortunate to have found my passion, identity, and purpose with photography early on in my adolescent years. Being authentic and genuine in how you conduct yourself has always been imperative to me when it comes to establishing rapport, networking, and landing future opportunities. Longevity is something I value because it is a testament to someone’s level of commitment, consistency, putting in the time, and continuing to learn.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Regarding my career, I am a photographer with a multifaceted background in photography spanning fifteen years across various genres. I have had my work featured in various outlets over the years, most notably with Nikon. When I first started photography in 2006, I began learning the fundamentals of image composition using film cameras and post processing in the darkroom on film. A year later, I made the switch to digital. I was very grateful to have found my identity and purpose early on in my adolescent years. Looking back at it now, I am still amazed with how far and fast technology has improved both in photography and in social media just within these last fifteen years. When I first started pursuing photography fifteen years ago, social media was in its infant stages. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. didn’t exist at the time. Mobile phone cameras were just being introduced to mainstream audiences a year after I started pursuing photography. Photoshop was only accessible for anyone that had $699 to spend on an editing program. Now we can download Lightroom as a free mobile application on our phone for basic editing. Just thinking about having the ability to edit photos within a phone application still blows my mind considering this wouldn’t have been possible back when I first started. Cameras along with plethora of editing tools have never been more affordable and accessible than they are now. I don’t think enough people have really stepped back and marveled at how fast of a leap technology has made in that short amount of time. My mission statement from the inception of my photography until this day has been to create a body of work that I can expose to as many people as possible without sacrificing the integrity of my work. I never went into photography with the intention to compete with anyone else nor did I come into this with the intention to strive to be the most popular photographer. My only competition is challenging myself to improve every day. Creating a body of work that ultimately reflects who you are is a vital catharsis as an artist. I want to see the creative community thrive and I am always celebrating other people’s successes in whatever path they have chosen to pursue in their lives. What excites me about photography is that there will always something new to learn or something to be inspired by. I am excited about the future of photography going into this decade with emerging growing trends such as mirrorless cameras and drone technology. When it comes to overcoming challenges and failure, that is all part of growth and development as an artist. Life experiences have humbled and shaped me to be a better person. Any failure that I have endured whether it is in photography or in life has always been viewed as a learning experience in my eyes. Experience can only help you get better. Over the years, I have learned six valuable lessons in photography. 1. Education is far more valuable than expensive photography gear. Having a firm understanding of how gear works will allow you to make smarter decisions on what tools you will actually need in order to achieve the end results that you are looking for. 2. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is something that I learned early on in my life. Comparison in the thief of joy. Everyone is on their own path. Don’t get discouraged by someone else’s success in life. 3. Art is subjective. The beauty of diversity is that everyone has a different way of how they see the world. Not everyone is going to like everything that I shoot or produce especially since my photography portfolio is so diversified spanning multiple genres. Some may love my scenery images, but those same individuals may dislike my portrait and wedding photography. At the end of the day, you need to ultimately be happy with the work you are creating. All artists experience some level of vulnerability when they are putting their work out to the world for the first time. 4. Know your worth and value your time. Your time on Earth is limited. When you understand the value of time, your mentality changes for the better. Don’t sell yourself short or marginalize your value in order to stay competitive. 5. Never stop learning. Whenever I wanted to learn something in photography, I probed questions about how an image was created, reached out to others, researched, and practiced. 6. Expect the unexpected. Always have a Plan B in place and be prepared for unexpected emergencies to happen, especially during a shoot. Have backup equipment and be ready to improvise where appropriate. Expect the unexpected has been kind of a running theme for 2020 as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Ventura, the scenic places I would take someone under normal circumstances would be the Ventura Pier, The Cross in Serra Park (with a great view of the Channel Islands on clear day), and Ventura Harbor. There are plenty of beaches in Ventura to relax, surf, and hang out at such as Emma Wood, Surfer’s Point, and Mondo’s. There are also a variety of solid places to eat and shop at on Main Street in Downtown Ventura along with The Collection shopping mall in Oxnard. Santa Barbara is also half an hour away on a good day, which also makes for a great weekend getaway as well. I also love that LA is an hour away if you wish to escape to the city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, I want to shout out and thank my family, my friends, and my peers that have genuinely supported my endeavors over the past fifteen years. Being able to share my work with others and being able to create images that resonate profoundly with other people has been a blessing. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have the encouragement or support from those around me. Last, but not least, I want to thank anyone who has ever commissioned me to shoot for them past or present. Thank you for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to build experience and develop as photographer over the years. I am always humbled whenever someone reaches out to express interest in having me shoot for them, especially when I have the opportunity to shoot someone’s wedding, engagement shoot, or proposal. Just knowing that I am getting the chance to document and be a part of someone’s special moment in life always fills my heart with joy.