We had the good fortune of connecting with John DeMato and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
When my mother was on her deathbed, I spent a lot of time talking to her and I realized that if I were in her position, I’d have a list of regrets that would stretch outside the hospital and around the block. I worked in the television industry for years, and while the pay was good and the benefits even better, I ultimately burned out. That led to a lot of anger, moodiness, lack of motivation and ultimately, resentment for putting myself in that position. Once she died, I knew I needed to make a change…and 8 months later, I did. Without warning, I quit my job and leaned on the one thing in my life that gave me joy – my passion for photography. I was a hobbyist for years as it represented my artistic escape. Street shots. Headshots. Portraits. That weekend fun turned into a side business. That side business then became my bread and butter. I’m drawn to the work because I take great joy in helping those who help others get past what’s holding them back. To this day, I still can’t believe I get to make a living doing something I love so much. Despite the challenges of running a business as a creative solopreneur, when it comes to the game of life, I’m playing with house money, 🙂
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a branded lifestyle portrait, virtual and live event photographer that serves speakers, trainers and other expert-based business owners who are looking to create an emotional connection with their audiences through image content to inspire them to care, connect and take action. Was it easy? Hell no – this is the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced – but it’s also the most fulfilling. The focus of my work revolves around capturing my client’s essence through their facial expression, body language, outfits and activities captured in front of the camera. As I preach the power of relationship building through image content, I build my business in the same manner. I am not a camera monkey commodity – I work with experts with whom I’ve connected with on a level beyond the work itself. And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people who do great work that makes a difference. Lessons along the way? Being a solo business owner forces you to be a better person overall because you have no one to fall back on but you. Also, the most important asset you need in your tool belt? Belief in yourself – belief that regardless of what curve balls are thrown your way, it will work out because you do good work, love the work, and appreciate those that pay you for that work. What do I want the world to know about me? A client described me once as being “an animal” behind the camera – I took that as a high compliment. I am physical when I shoot – on the ground, running around, standing, crouching, sitting, dodging traffic – I do what I need to do to put my clients in the best light possible – and I love it, 🙂
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in NYC so there’s an endless amount of things to see and do here. Some of the places I’d suggest people go to? Central Park by the water fountain. Battery Park by the water at sunset. Museum row if you fancy that sort of thing. Grand Central Station and look straight up at the beautiful ceiling. And my hometown neighborhood of Astoria – if you like streets lined with pre-war buildings, fire escapes and stoops, that’s the spot to check out!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Personal Branding and Business expert, Pia Silva. Pia is the reason why I niched my business to serve speakers and trainers. She was a client that came to me with a specific set of challenges, and the solution to those challenges ultimately transformed into my current services. I don’t know where I’d be without her and her husband’s guidance during those early days.
All images uploaded for this interview were created by me – johndemato.com