Jake Holschuh, RMCAD alumnus, was always drawn to photography, especially in high school when it was an outlet for him creatively. After attending the University of Colorado Boulder, Holschuh made the decision to transfer to RMCAD to explore his passion for the Fine Arts. He shares his journey since graduating in 2015 and how impactful mentors have been for him as he’s pursued editorial and advertising photography.
1. Tell us more about your career journey after graduating from RMCAD.
I really got my start by assisting other photographers, which I always recommend to others just coming out of school. Find someone you are inspired by and work for them. I did that in the editorial world for a few years and worked for Matt Nager, and then in advertising for Willie Petersen, a fellow RMCAD alumnus. Through these assistant roles, I had the opportunity to help with big magazine work, including the New York Times and Forbes. Even though I wasn’t shooting for these big name publications, I was in the room. I started shooting stuff for my own portfolio which led to getting a job working at Westword as a photo editor. From there, my career started to transition more towards advertising. I started assisting photographers, like Brent Taylor, who focused on packaging, food and product photography. I worked in the studio with him for years and started shooting advertising stuff for my own portfolio. That’s when things finally started to take off in my career, and I started to work with big brands like Noosa, PopSockets and Brumate.
2. What is your photography process like?
In advertising in general, you have creative control to a certain extent, but you are also trying to please your client. Therefore, the process is a mixture of collaboration plus your own creative style. It’s important to communicate with the client and understand what they are looking for. Because of this, every photoshoot is a little different and the process can vary.
3. How did you find your photography aesthetic?
Thinking back to my time at RMCAD, this was actually something I struggled with. I spent my college years exploring and trying a lot of different things to help me find my aesthetic. Once I was in advertising, I realized I was really interested in colorful, bright and pattern-based designs and I always liked an element of quirk or weirdness in my work. Finding my niche aesthetic was also inspired by my mentor Brent Taylor.
4. What has been one of the highlights from your career thus far?
I love advertising, but one of my favorite highlights from my career was an editorial job. I love editorial projects because they are really rewarding and you get to meet so many interesting people. Whenever I get an opportunity to shoot a cool profile, I always really love it. My most memorable experience was when I got to fly to Peru to support an author’s upcoming book, “The Wedge”. Scott Carney, New York Times bestseller for “What Doesn’t Kill Us”, was writing a follow up book about the idea of pushing one’s limits. One of the chapters was all about an Ayahuasca Ceremony, so we flew out to a tiny town called Iquitos, also known as the Capital of the Amazon, to document and photograph the ceremony.
5. What advice would you give to current students?
Find a mentor! I learned a lot in school technically and creatively, but I think after building that foundation, it’s important to work with people who inspire you. In addition, always keep your head up. I think we all go through ups and downs, especially when freelancing. I have found that every winter my workload slows down, so knowing and learning that over the years, I’ve been able to prepare for it. Remember, it’s one of those jobs where things come around, so keep putting forth the effort.
To learn more about RMCAD’s photography programs, visit our online and campus pages. You can also read RMCAD student shares his epic journey to action photography.
*This story was updated and edited for clarity and brevity.