Paul Pomfret

Paul Pomfret is a professional photographer hailing from Palm Beach, Florida. In his youth, Paul became enamored with photography, a hobby which he started after receiving a Polaroid camera as a Christmas gift. In high school, Paul Pomfret volunteered to be the beat photographer at the school paper, where he chronicled basketball games, football games, blood drives, school plays, homecomings, and proms. During the same stretch of time, Paul was asked by one of his cousins to be the official photographer for her upcoming wedding. He agreed readily, embracing the assignment as his first paying gig as a shutterbug. To this day, Paul credits that wedding as the event that launched his career in photography, and he still features those wedding photos in his professional portfolio.

Later, Paul Pomfret enrolled in a fine arts program with a focus in photography at a local college. Concurrently, he signed up for some courses in accounting and finance which would later serve him well as he set up his own photography studio.

After graduating from college, Paul Pomfret spent a significant portion of his savings on what he termed a “working vacation” to Central and South America. During the trip, he took some of the greatest photographs of his life, including shots of Chichen Itza, the huge Mayan pyramids located in Yucatan State, Mexico, and shots of the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru. The trip inspired Paul to make it one of his life’s goals to photograph every single wonder of the world, both manmade and natural, before he gets too old to travel. So far, he has accomplished about one third of that goal, after recently travelling to Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Italy.

Paul Pomfret owns and operates a small photography studio in Palm Beach, Florida, the same city where he resides with his wife, two children, and two dogs.

Why did you decide to create your own business?

Once I decided to seriously pursue photography as a career, I knew I would eventually end up running my own studio. Professional photographers only have so many avenues to make a decent living. It’s either own and operate your own studio, work full-time for some kind of periodical, or freelance. Of the three choices, I decided that creating my own business was the most palatable—mainly because I find freelancing to be tenuous and stressful, but also because I wanted to be my own boss.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

I love the act of framing the perfect shot. To me, there is almost nothing better in life. Especially when the subject matter is beautiful. I took a trip to Egypt recently, and the highlight for me—by far—was spending two hours setting up a shot of the Sphinx at sunset with the Great Pyramids in the background.

What keeps you motivated?

I love what I do. It really is as simple as that. I wake up every morning happy and thankful that I’m able to make money by taking photographs. I wouldn’t trade it for any other profession.

How do you motivate others?

That is a trickier question to answer. It really depends on the subject. With children, for example, motivating them to stay still and smile while maintaining a pose for a few straight minutes can be exceptionally challenging. If their parents are amenable, I tend to bribe them with cookies and candy. If they aren’t allowed to eat sweets, I’ll try waving toys around to capture their attention. If all that fails, I might bring in one or both of my dogs from the back room. I bring them to work with me for just such occasions. Most children love my dogs. If there’s ever a temper tantrum, my golden retrievers can usually extinguish it just by wandering into the studio. Adults are much easier to deal with. They tend to want the photo sessions to take as little time as possible.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

I have more clients, that’s for sure. And my studio is located in a much nicer part of town than the one I leased when I was just beginning. Otherwise, the company’s growth is all financial. I don’t have any employees and I don’t really plan to hire any. It’s just me. That’s the way I like it.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

Develop your artistic style and sensibilities. This takes a lot of time and effort, but there is no other way to succeed as a photographer. A good way to start is by examining the masters of the craft and their handiwork. I recommend Ansel Adams, Imogene Cunningham, Jimmy Nelson, and, of course, the much-celebrated Annie Leibovitz. After that, just constantly take photos. Talent plus experience is the only combination that really works, at the end of the day.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

“If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of conducting and coordinating a ‘picture day’ for an elementary school, be sure to bring some antacid and some aspirin with you in your camera bag.” One of my colleagues told me that early on in my career, and boy was she right! Luckily, I haven’t had to take a gig like that in quite some time.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

That capturing—truly capturing—a moment on film and preserving it through the years and decades is the closest thing to time travel that any human will ever experience.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

My wonderful wife and two children help to define me, and, to a lesser extent, so do the dogs. I love those little fur-balls. Beyond that, my proclivity for travel is a big part of my personality, as is my preternatural ability to keep files in order and generally stay organized.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

If I have my druthers, I’ll be right here in the same location doing what I love most in life for fifty weeks out of the year, and vacationing to picturesque locales with my family and camera equipment in tow for the other two weeks.

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

Nothing beats the first time I got paid to take photographs. It was my cousin’s wedding back when I was in high school. Now, I’ve accomplished many things since then—and objectively larger things, too, such as opening my own photography studio—but there’s nothing that tops the feeling I had on that day, knowing I did an excellent job and receiving my first payment for snapping photos.