Chico photographer, Aaron Draper, joined us this month to share a bit about his company, Draper Photography, his passion for teaching, and techniques for getting his clients to have fun during shoots.
Tell us a bit about Draper Photography:
I started Draper Photography in 2001. I’m a photographer that works throughout California and specializes in people photography. Whether it’s advertising, headshots, or consumer photography like family pictures or senior pictures. Any photography involving people is where I excel. I also offer eye tracking which is a specialty service using new technology that helps advertisers understand what their customers are viewing when they look at their webpage, print ads or any form of visual communication.
What inspired you to become a photographer & want to teach others?
I enjoyed working with people and had an art background so the two fields were a good fit for me. I also love it when people can enjoy how they look. So many people don’t like how they photograph and it’s a challenge to be able to photograph them in a way that they feel confident about. I thought about teaching because I really enjoy passing on information to others, especially those passionate about photography. I also see so much bad imagery posted online, I wanted to impact content creators at a young age so I could help them create better content.
What would you say is your "special sauce" - the one thing that makes you stand out from everyone else?
I’ve been told that people book me for my personality and not even for my photography. This is a great compliment because, in order to get people to feel relaxed for portrait work, you have to be great with people.
If we were to ask your clients what you're best known for, what would they say?
I’m best known for making people feel comfortable. They say that’s one of my biggest strengths – the ability to make people feel comfortable and confident.
What's a little-known fact about you?
I was on America’s Next Top Model my third year in business.
Describe the culture you cultivate in both your workplace and classroom. And, what would your employees/students say are the top three reasons they love working with you?
Whether it be in the workplace or classroom I try to create an atmosphere of respect, passion, confidence that is free of fear. Top three reasons? 1. I’m authentic and genuine. 2. I’m funny. 3. I’m always learning and pushing myself.
What project has made you most proud?
A homeless series I produced called “Underexposed.”
Fun facts about you and your business. Go!
I’m one of the few people in California that provides eye tracking. I was once on a competitive jump roping team. Sometimes I have my subjects do things that I don’t intend to photograph – just to see them do it! (jump up and down, stick your tongue out, spin in circles, etc.) I purchase Happy Meal toys whenever I photograph small children so they can have a small present.
Why did you decide to start your business in Chico?
I relocated to Chico from San Francisco after grad school because Chico State offered me a teaching job.
What is your first memory of Chico?
I went to high school in Oroville so Chico was always the place we went for movies. We didn’t have a theater in Oroville when I was in high school so we always came to Chico to do anything. I remember watching Wayne’s World at the Senator theater and it was HUGE. There were so many people packed in there that people were sitting in the aisles.
What makes you most proud about living in Chico?
I love the small community feel and I actually think it’s nice running into my students when I’m out on the town.
Your favorite spot in Chico?
I like mountain biking so I’m often up at Upper Park but I also like people watching downtown. I’ll frequent Kona’s, Upper Crust (cherry pie), GreenLine Cycles and Ellis Art Store (I do calligraphy and some freehand art).
You meet a stranger who has one day in Chico and you're their guide. Where would you take them?
Well, I’d want to take them out to the parks like One Mile or Five Mile because I think the proximity to nature is something unique about Chico. I’d also take them to eat at the Banshee then I’d take them to the Pageant for a movie.
Last question. If you could photograph anyone/anything in the world, what would it be and why?
Johnny Depp and Scarlet Johansen. I think these people would photograph themselves.
Thank you for your time, Aaron!
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