Jared Polin, Photographer & CEFRO of FroKnowsPhoto.com

Jared Polin got his start as a photographer at thirteen years old before working his way up to photograph musicians and bands for Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine along with professional sports. Eight years ago he started his website Fro Knows Photo to generate more work leads, but it has since grown into a successful business complete with employees and 401K’s where everything “revolves around the internet.” Jared says that he uses the internet for his “entire life” and warns that without it, we would return to an era when gatekeepers controlled who could have access to audiences and markets and who could not.

Below is a condensed Q&A following a conversation Re:Create recently had with Jared to learn more about his business, how it operates entirely on the internet, his experiences with copyright takedown notices, and the importance of being able to post freely online.

Re:Create: What can you tell us about you and your business and how you got started?

Jared: I got started as a photographer at thirteen years old and photographed for Rolling Stone, for Spin Magazine. I worked with a lot of bands, I shot professional sports shooting the Flyers. My business – the website froknowsphotos.com – launched on June 1, 2010 so we’re over eight years of doing this. The crux of my business is to create fun and informative content to help photographers or videographers of all skill levels become better from anywhere in the world. It’s always fun and informative.

Re:Create: Why did you start Fro Knows Photos?

Jared: There’s two main reasons. One is that I thought it would help me get more jobs. I thought if I put videos out there that I would end up getting more photo gigs because people would look at my work and be like: “I want to hire this guy.” I basically went from somebody who was afraid to share information because I thought somebody would take the job from me, and now I’m gonna give it all away.  What ended up happening is people started asking me questions. They started saying, “Well how would you do this?” and “How do you shoot that?” and “What gear should I buy?” That’s when I thought: “You know what? I should answer every question that people are asking. I’m just gonna make a video and put it on the internet.

Re:Create: How does your business utilize the internet?

Jared: I utilize it for my entire life. YouTube is the main way that I generate followers. It’s not the main way that I generate revenue, but it’s the main way that I can reach tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people around the world. Without the internet, you’re going back to the ‘80s and early ‘90s when there were gatekeepers. Where somebody had to say: “Yes you can be this person who can speak and share information.” If not? Well you can’t get through. The gatekeeper keepers are gone…All the gates have been opened. Because I can get to anybody I want to.

I generate revenue digitally from selling digital products. I use Stripe, I use PayPal. I use other services that allow people to digitally purchase my stuff. The whole world — my world — my business revolves around the internet.

Re:Create: Do you employ others or utilize any local vendors or services?

Jared: I have two full time employees with benefits and a 401K. I’ve got a full time editor, and then I have another person who manages that other employee and runs basically the direction of the content, in terms of filming and editing.  

Re:Create: Have you been faced with any copyright challenges since you first launched?

Jared: Every once in a while copyright people come out of nowhere to try to claim copyright on something that I created and I tell them to f**k off, basically. I go through the process with YouTube to get it situated…Take down notices are kind of annoying when you buy licenses for music. I’ve used services like Audio Blocks in the past and I’ve used this one called Epidemic Sound, and they’re places where you can pay a monthly fee and get access to music to use on your videos. Every once in awhile somebody claims that they own the rights to the music. Well they may own the rights to it but Epidemic Sound also owns the rights because they were licensed to them which allows us to use it. It’s usually taken care of so that’s a good thing.

Re:Create: Do you rely on fair use?

Jared: We do a show called “Photo News Fix” where we do three or four news stories about what’s going on in the photo world. Many times we’ll cite movies where we use a clip from the movie, but I understand that you need to use only what [is relevant]…If it’s newsworthy then we can use it because we’re reporting the news. It’s still a super gray area how it all works.

Re:Create: What about your friends and colleagues in this space – do any of them rely on the internet to run their business/organization/project?

Jared: Yeah, of course. Most of the people I deal with are internet entrepreneurs or people that live on the internet to make a business. We rely heavily on being able to sell products around the world. We rely heavily on having free access to YouTube.

Re:Create: How would you be impacted with more restrictions to share and post freely online? Would you be able to continue operating?

Jared: I’d be able to continue operating, but the more restrictions [they] put on us…the harder it is to do business. You’re starting to put gatekeepers back…Anytime you lock us up, put restrictions on us, it’s going to hinder our business.

Re:Create: Is there anything else we should know to better understand you and your business?

Jared: I started with zero followers and I’ve been able to build a huge business around almost a million followers…We are moving into even more of a creator society. I love the fact that things like Etsy exist, that people who have a talent can put it out into the world, having access to YouTube and being able to reach people for free.

I am a small business owner here in the United States. I employ two people. They get healthcare, they get 401Ks. So I’m taking care of them and of course they earn it. But also I’m giving tools to people around the world for free. I’ve got letters and emails and messages saying: “Through this free content I’ve been able to make a business to support my family. I now have a full time job being a creative and being a photographer. I couldn’t have done it without you kicking me in the a**.”