Friday, October 17, 2014

The College Experience with Jaime Schultz

>> Happy Friday all! It's time we look at another student with dreams. For those of you who don't know what this feature is for, here's a brief explanation of what I'm after: The College Experience is my way of discussing the pros and cons of taking steps to have a career while still being a student, or how the desire to be involved with the music industry could interfere with the pursuit of a degree. I'll be asking a selection of folks the same basic questions regarding their school, their role in the industry, their struggles, and their goals. I'll also ask about each person's individual projects, whether they are photographers, musicians, aspiring publicists, writers, promoters, and the like. I think it'll be interesting to see how each of us deals with the difficulties of balancing and prioritizing the various obstacles we face as students with big ambitions.

>> After discussing the efforts of promoting and performing music last week, today we look at someone who captures other people's moments.  Jaime Schultz is a music photographer who is currently interning with Universal Music Group while in her third year of college. She's recently photographed Colbie Caillat at NYC's Central Perk location among other cool things.  Find out about Jaime and her college experience below.

Source: Jaime Schultz Photography

Please state your name, age, what school you attend, what year you’re in, and what your major is.
Jaime Schultz, 20, The School of Visual Arts, Junior, Photography Major

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene?
I’ve been involved with music my entire life, my parents used to listen to a lot of country and some rock music. When I was seven or eight I started to develop my own taste which ranged from Missy Elliott to Korn (Weird choices for a eight year old but hey it was 2003). My neighbors accidently bought a Korn album when I was a kid, so they ended up giving it to me and I fell in love with heavy music at that point. I still maintained a love for pop and hip hop because artists like NSYNC were popular for my age group, and Ciara was coming up in the scene in those years too. Since then I started to get exposed to music like AFI and My Chemical Romance and would sit at my computer for hours just looking up musicians and listening to all types of artists. High school came around and I was already taking photos in a serious manor and wanted to figure out how to merge my love of photography with music. I started getting approved for shows to shoot in my sophomore year of high school -- at this point I had no outlet but managers were more willing to hand out passes back then. I was getting opportunities to go to shows but of course, my parents wouldn’t let me go to shows so I didn’t really shoot much. I think I shot four shows from 2009-2010. That being said I got really involved in the local scene in Northern California, I went to this venue called Red House in Walnut Creek, CA every weekend. I didn’t always shoot but I really learned how to take pictures at shows in that venue. From there I got more leeway with my parents and I tried to shoot everything I could get my hands on.

If you got involved at a relatively early age, were age restricted shows ever a problem?
I got involved young: I started taking it seriously at the age of 14 and haven’t looked back since. My parents were a HUGE obstacle for me, even to this day if I’m home they generally don’t want me going out and shooting shows. I remember the first time I got really mad at my parents for not letting me shoot a show, it was on 4/20 in 2010(I think…) and HIM was playing in San Francisco. At the time HIM was one of my favorite bands since I was like 10 and I was approved for a photo pass and my parents wouldn’t let me go. I was crushed and most likely cried and threw a fit all day, because I could see what I wanted in such close range but my parents refused to let me go.

Now that you're in college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now?
Now that I’m in college and living in NYC It’s gotten a lot easier. I’m also thousands of miles away from California so my parents can’t really say no. Also it’s a lot cheaper to take a subway to shows rather than having to drive or attempt to take SF public transit in California. I do burn myself out now that I really don’t have limits to what I can shoot, and how far I can travel.   

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
So far I haven’t had a lot of “Industry” experience. I’ve been shooting live shows for a handful of online outlets and have been published a few times recently. Right now I have a photo internship at Universal Music Group which is absolutely amazing and I love it here. I’m hoping to get a part time job at a label or management company soon because that would just be so great for me concreting a position in this industry.

Where did you have your photography published?
Right now I’ve been published in the August issue of Premier Guitar and I contribute to New Noise Magazine, mainly their online site but I was published in their August print issue as well. For Premier Guitar it was a photo of this great band from Brooklyn called Sharkmuffin. I had to do a school project so I got to shoot them in a recording studio and I was really exited when I was contacted about publishing that photo. For New Noise it’s a photo I took of Major League when Nick Trask was still their singer.

What was your reaction when you found out that someone wanted to publish your work?
No doubt, I freaked out when I was contacted by Premier Guitar looking to use some of my photos. I jumped around my house and called my mom at work in excitement. I was mainly exited because it was a print magazine that is international. For New Noise I was also really exited because I had no idea my photo was picked, I saw Major League post the article and saw my photo, also I freaked out a tad and was really exited about it. My parents were so happy that they purchased two copies of each issue that I had photos in.

What have you been doing at your internship at UMG so far? How did that position come to be?
The first few weeks were really slow.  I shot Nick Jonas’s music video premiere on his 22nd birthday and did a few in office showcases. After that I was doing some spreadsheets and a little editing here and there, not an insane amount of work. In the last two weeks I’ve been doing a lot more. I got to shoot Misterwives, Jessie J, Kiesza, and the most amazing experience was last night shooting Def Jam’s 30th anniversary show. It was truly mind blowing being surrounded with so many industry people and being able to shoot all 15 acts that performed including 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, DMX, Ashanti, Ja Rule and a bunch more. Most of these artists I never thought I’d get a chance to see, let alone photograph. I’m still in a daze about the entire event. Things seem to be picking up right now so hopefully a lot more work for me in the upcoming weeks!

What did you get out of each of those experiences?
I love being able to see the inner workings of a label, working on so many aspects of what it takes to keep an artist a float, not just photography based. I’m taking this internship as a huge learning experience as well as a opportunity to make connections and maybe get a job out of it.

Are you involved with any clubs or teams relevant to your interest in the music industry?
I’ve never been involved with any clubs, promoters, or street teams. I’m super shy and relatively anti social so street teaming would never be an option for me. I could never stand on a street corner and pass out fliers. I know street teamers do a lot more than that but I never really had an interest in that side of the industry.

Are there any companies in the industry that you particularly admire? Whether they’re companies you’ve worked with or just companies you follow, what appeals to you about them?
There’s a handful of companies I really enjoy working with and admire for their work ethic. Big Picture Media is one I love everyone who works there and they are seriously so hard working with everything they do its really amazing to work with them and their artists. Also, Universal who I intern for because they have such a big span of artists and people working on a million things at once and its full of great people that I enjoy working for. I have a few friends that are Tour Managers who I love to death because they’re great and are always helping me out. There’s a few other companies I really like working with like The Chamber Group, Sight and Sound Management, and Warner Brother.

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often have you been tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend a show? How do you make the choice?
Oh, I do that often. I’m terrible when it comes to school. I tend to schedule my classes around times that shows won’t happen. So I refuse to take anything that starts after 6. I’ve left classes early multiple times for shows and sometimes skipped class all together depending on how far I have to travel. It’s a terrible thing to do but I try to balance it out. I’m a total procrastinator so projects generally get done the night before they’re due. I’ve had that mentality my entire life and I should totally change that….. one day.

Have you ever arranged your schedule based on music related obligations? Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule?
100% I arrange my school schedule based on times show starts, my classes better end by 6 or I don’t take that class. I really hate turning things down and rescheduling, I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that due to something school related, but I have due to being sick or something like that, which I often will go to shows if I’m sick, I basically will go unless I can’t walk. Which has only been the case two or three times.

Are you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student who's also involved in the music industry?
My priorities are generally music related first and for most just because I want to do everything I can to further my career. School is a close second, obviously its important but I generally will take a show and just pull an all nighter if I have to, in order to catch up on work. I also have family close by when I’m in NYC for school and trying to schedule weekends to come visit has been really hard because shows are always on weekend nights. I have to find weekends that I have no plans and they have no plans, so I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like.

Do you ever struggle to find space to store your equipment, especially when living in a dorm? Is traveling with fragile equipment ever a struggle? Is affording the equipment you need ever an issue?
Sadly I’ve been living the dorm life the past three years and I struggle with thinking someone will steal my equipment more than not having space for it. I don’t have a lot of equipment so I have space for what I do have. I don’t really worry about traveling with my equipment I’m careful enough to not drop things or throw my bag down. I luckily live around the corner from my class building so generally I just go home and grab my equipment before I head out to a show, in the event that I need to leave right a way, I don’t mind carrying my stuff all day. Not having money to buy equipment is the biggest difficulty. I’m lucky enough to be a photo major at a school that is fully stocked with equipment that I can take out almost whenever I want free of charge, which is amazing.

As someone who dorms, do you struggle with roommates? Do they ever complain about you taking up too much space or being too loud with your musical endeavors?
I had a single room my freshman year, and because I wanted to have my own kitchen I took the plunge and got a dorm with two roommates. Worst mistake of my life. I grew up as an only child so having to share a small dorm with two other people was an absolute nightmare for me and I will never do it again. Not only did I not know who I would be dorming with but we didn’t get along. Long story short, it was a nightmare and I hated it. I didn’t really listen to music too loud, so I didn’t bother anyone with that but my stuff did take up a lot of space, not all camera related I just have a lot of things. Other than that it was a lot of petty crap that I dealt with between the three of us.

What is one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Have you faced many tough obstacles like that, or has being in school helped you take those next steps?
The biggest issue I’ve come across thus far is not really being able to tour. Don’t get me wrong, I have yet to get an offer but if something did come up I’d more than likely have to turn it down and that would just kill me. Going to a fine art based school hasn’t helped me progress in really any way. I learned more things about using the camera, lighting, and editing but career wise, most teachers expect you to take photos of fruit baskets and hang things up on a gallery wall. I’m 100% not into it and get a lot of bad critiques from teachers due to not knowing how to handle someone who doesn’t shoot “fine art.” As I like to say, school is “Struggle City.”

How has being in college helped you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both outweigh the cons?
School has done absolutely nothing for me as my advancement in this industry. My photography has gotten better but I feel like that would have happened even if I didn’t go to school. I’m not a fan of school, I’ve never liked being in school but at my age I feel like it’s necessary to go to college and come out with a degree. Nowadays without a degree its really difficult to get a good job and especially in the art/music industry its even harder. I’m really getting a degree as a backup plan if I can’t make a living with what I’m doing now.

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career in the music industry while you're still in school?
I think it’s important to work towards a career when you have the fire in you to work extremely hard for what you want. If you don’t know what you want don’t try to put your life into something that you end up not wanting to do a year down the line. I’ve been in love with photography my entire life and music has been a huge part of my life as well. The idea to merge the two started when I was 13 and now I’m 20 still pursuing it because I love it. Seven years of dedication and hard work and I still have the fire in me to work for everything I want with no doubt in what I want.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After I graduate I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m hoping to get either a good enough connection with a label, management company or a magazine in the industry to get a full time job as a photographer or a good enough connection to tour with a band full time. If I don’t have a full time option by time I’m half way through my senior year, I’ll likely go back to California for a while and live at home while I look for a full time job. I’d prefer to stay in NYC but that may not be in the cards for me down the line.


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