We had the good fortune of connecting with Tim Kothlow and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tim, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Calculated (non reckless) risks are probably the most important steps you can take as a photographer. Without taking risks, you’ll never be able to gauge how far you have come or how far you need to go in terms of building your career. Risks that I have taken have opened doors of opportunity that I don’t think could have been opened in any other way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career as a photographer has taken many turns since I started out. I started off making my way into the surf industry working with professional surfers on the WSL women’s world tour. Trying to break into the industry wasn’t easy, but it all happened very quickly. The hardest part was gaining the trust of the athletes to show that I can photograph and represent them as the world class athletes/people that they are, and not just shoot bikini photos. While I was working as a surf photographer, I wanted the world to know that I was aiming to shoot honest, real photos of these women without sexualizing their image. Since working as a full time photographer within the surf industry, I’ve shifted into a career of part time shooting and part time photo editing. I worked a short stint as a photo editor at a photo news agency called ZUMA Press, where I learned a lot and collaborated with some of the greatest photojournalists of our time. After a little over a year, I somehow landed in a position as a photo editor with the NFL. Now I get to edit/work with some of the greatest photographers within the sports industry. As a photo editor, I am able to help photographers tell a story with the images they send my way. What I’ve learned along the way honestly, is to be a nice, normal person and act like myself. It doesn’t matter if you are the greatest photographer in the world, If you are able to deliver your unique vision as an artist and you are a great person to hang around, then you will get chosen every time over the photographer who isn’t a pleasant person to be around.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Personally, I think time should be most spent by the beach and not so much in the city. I would start off the week by getting my friends LA must haves out of the way. Check out downtown, the Hollywood sign, visit the Getty, taste test every street taco within a 10 mile radius and then head south to Orange County. From there we would hit the beach and check out all of the best waves from the wedge all the way down to San Onofre. In between beach visits we would be hitting up each beach town and checking out what they have to offer. There would be a definite stop in Laguna Beach to check out the art scene and galleries. After some days spent on the sand, it would be time to hop on a boat and either sail or go fishing. We would head out to Catalina for a day or two and spend some time camping on the island.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to my mentor, Jim Veneman and to my coworkers on the NFL photo desk. Jim was a professor at the university that I attended and during our many hours spent together he has taught me numerous things about life and photography, but the most important lesson I’ve learned from him is how to see. My coworkers on the NFL photo desk have become some of my greatest friends, and they have no problem telling me how much my work sucks when I need to hear it. They are honest, encouraging, and they are some of the finest (and funniest) people I know.
Underwater photo of myself/surfer – Danny Tayenaka