Marcus Hoffman: Masterclass Profile

“I cant believe its been a month since the Master Class Workshop! Feels like yesterday, but also feels like so much time has passed.

Writing out my journey has been like staring at myself in the mirror. ugh! I’m not one to ever talk about myself. I’m much more inclined to probe into others lives to protect myself.

Ok, here’s what I learned:

It’s been a long, difficult and often painful road that has brought be here today.

To begin, I got my 1st camera from my dad after completing Catechism in 6th grade. A gently used 1973 Nikormat EL with a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens. A heavy chunk of metal and glass with dials all over it. Sweet!

I remember having fun shooting so much in the next few years… Playing Ansel Adams in Yosemite (Please do not ask me about the zone system ), to shooting my friends skateboarding in an empty backyard swimming pool. I think it was during that time when I started to really ‘see’ the world, or at least have a desire to be exposed to more of it.

Not aspiring to photograph cats stuck in trees, ribbon cuttings, or some horrible car accident for the local paper I decided photography was not a real path to pursue… No future in it. Time to let this camera gather some dust and move on.

I wouldn’t dust off that camera again for 13 years.

After years of wandering the country working as a tile setter, 3D artist and graphic designer, I wanted to learn filmmaking. My cousin had told me about the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara that had a Film program. Perfect! I was in.

I quickly gravitated towards the role of Cinematographer. The more geeky stuff about film cameras, lighting and production I could immerse myself in the better.

The funny thing that I noticed about myself was that even though I loved all the camera moves and action, I kept pausing my footage and staring at a single frame. There was something about that moment that spoke to me. Maybe photography really is for me?

After leaving LA working in crews on both film and photography jobs, I moved to Phoenix to work on my own photography. I started paying models and hair & Makeup artists to work with me as I was building my portfolio.

When I had my first printed portfolio, I started to approach the model agencies in town to be able to get better models for my shoots. It was interesting to get their feedback and call my work “Fashion”. I really had no idea what my work was… I had worked on beauty commercials, but never thought to consider the work I was creating to be heavily influenced by that work.

I was introduced to an amazing hair & makeup artist that had been traveling around the country working on great editorials and commercial projects. We hit it off and started testing together and she really steered me towards a pursuit of fashion work.

The pursuit of fashion work pushed me harder and harder to refine my craft to try and stand out in a sea of really talented photographers. Somewhere along the way, I became obsessed with comparing myself to others and being envious of those I knew that might have shot a bigger and ‘better’ job than I did. Nothing was good enough for me. I spent about 3+ years in a constant state of disappointment with photography.

In 2010 I moved back to California and hit the ground running aligning myself with creative directors, stylists and makeup artists… Attending ASMP meetings, paying for art directors to critique my portfolio. Along the way, I started getting inquires from non-commercial clients to shoot with me. The shoots were fun, and the clients seemed truly appreciative of my work and the service I provided. A contrast to working with some commercial clients that just needed a job done at the lowest price. A line from the movie “Clerks” was often shared with my friends. “This job would be great if it weren’t for the F*^king customers!” I’m happy to say that’s not my tagline any more. 🙂

I through another year and hit a wall. I just didn’t have the heart, desire, energy to chase that genre of work anymore. I felt defeated. I knew photography would play a role in my life moving forward, but the idea of portraits really didn’t sit well with me. I had subscribed to the mindset of prejudice towards portrait photography I had learned leading up to this point. 2015 brought me pursue shooting Senior Portraits. Teens seemed to love my style, so I thought it was a simple path to success. Not so simple…. Like virtually every other effort in photography, I spent all my time shooting and progressing in the craft but neglecting the business. I lacked direction, and still cared too much about being looked down on. “From whom”? I ask myself… I still don’t have that answer.

I had been praying for change in my life… Attitude, relationally, professionally.

Answered prayer came as Sue Bryce. Just in the nick of time… Seriously. While Initially reluctant to subscribe to the ideas of another photographer telling me how to run a business, much of what I was hearing really struck a nerve (ok, several nerves). The most sensitive – Self Value.

So many thoughts rushed through my head revisiting past experiences where I was left with the feeling of being slighted by people or not feeling respected. Sue really challenged( and continues to do so) my way of thinking, and I now see much of my perceived issues were self inflicted.

Fast forward to now –

With the Men’s Glamour workshop and the Master Class behind me, I fully recognize how fortunate I have been to be part of those classes with Sue’s instruction, and a new group of amazing peers and mentors I’m so pleased to call my friends!

I’m honestly a new man with a revived passion for my work as a result of the past few months of exposure to Sue and the amazing talent that is Cat Ford-Coates, Saray Taylor-Roman, Michelle Taylor Jones, Lenka Jones, Rosaura Sandoval and Ashleigh Taylor Henningigh.

Today I find myself in a great community of photographers eager to progress and share their journeys. I’m finally in a place where I have a clear vision of what I want, and how to actually pursue it.

I’ve sent my ‘second horse’ out to pasture, and I’m proudly riding my new one with confidence! I’m so excited for not only my own success as a portrait photographer, but sharing others victories as well!

If anyone reading this is on the fence about joining Sue’s workshops, I’ll be the first person to tell you that the instruction and inclusion into such a fantastic group of supportive people will change your life for the better!”

~ Marcus Hoffman



1 Comment

  1. Wow, I loved hearing about your journey! You are an amazing photographer – congratulations on finding your horse. Ride it like the knight you are!! #cantride2horseswith1a$$ ❤