Bio: Tether Tools Pro Maurice Jager is one of Europe’s premiere headshot photographers. Maurice’s childhood and youth revolved around sports. Pushing hard to be the best on the pitch was his daily routine. When that ended abruptly because of an injury due to a traffic accident he needed to find a new direction. Figuring out what drives people drew his interest and marketing became the name of the new game and he jumped straight in and led several departments in the corporate world for almost a decade.
While time passed, the job jumped the shark as the creative aspect of the job diminished and the commercial goals became overly important for his taste. He felt he needed yet again to make a change in his life. Maurice has been photographing for years already and that’s when he decided to take up photography fulltime. Up until then Maurice always worked with people and tried to get the best out of them. Headshot and portrait photography is exactly what ties it all together.
His competitive nature got him to be one of the premiere headshot photographers in Europe and the Chief Marketing Officer at the HeadshotCrew. Thanks to Peter Hurley, he’s been given the opportunity to teach headshot and portrait photographers both online and in-person to build their portfolio and business. Besides that, Maurice’s workshops also include the use of CaptureOne, Photoshop, social branding, and marketing.
I would describe my style of photography as…
No-nonsense portraits and headshots. I’m really big on interaction with the people in front of my camera. As a photographer who predominantly shoots headshots, I like my work to be about the person in see in my viewfinder and have as little distractions as possible. I’m mostly a studio shooter, even when I work on location. I bring my full studio with me to give clients the level of work they’ve come to expect from me when they’ve looked at my website. I’m very meticulous about it, I guess when you get to a certain level the details start to weigh in heavier. I just don’t want my location work to look any different from my studio work. Sometimes I shoot natural light portraits for campaigns and then I pull open the aperture and get an as clean, smooth out of focus background as I can because even without a plain background I try to keep the focus on the person and the expression as much as I can.
What was your first camera, and how’d you get started in photography?
My first camera was a Canon 350D, bought used from a camera store here in the Netherlands.
Why did you want to become a photographer?
I never really thought about photography when I grew up. At some point, a friend bought a camera and I tagged along and bought a camera, more as a social thing. So I started out as a hobbyist, like probably everyone who picks up a camera these days. I started shooting anything and everything in my spare time. At some point, approaching my 30th birthday, I find myself stuck at a 10 hour a day office job asking myself: “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?”. Do I really want to stay in the corporate world working for someone else or do I want to find something that makes me happy too? While thinking about this, I stared at my camera and figured I could turn my hobby into a tool to enrich peoples lives. After having a talk with my girlfriend Maaike, who summed it up nicely: “Go for it if it makes you happy”. So I did, but with no clue where to start, I found Peter Hurley on Youtube, 5 years ago and started looking at his videos.
Headshots in the Netherlands didn’t exist back then. Nobody was doing it. I figured this was an amazing opportunity and challenge. After I joined Peter’s HeadshotCrew things went fast. I either go all-in or bail out, so I got a studio space and some gear and just started shooting people. Reaching out to business owners, CEO’s and top-tier managers I used to work with and try and get them to shoot with me and start the referrals come in. I realised I had a business that I could build. Today, 5 years later, I feel fortunate to be considered one of the top headshot photographers in Europe while helping my clients to look their part with my headshots and combine it with working with Peter Hurley on the HeadshotCrew teaching photographers to become better with their photography and business
building. I live a life I’m truly excited about living!
What’s your most memorable shot or shoot, be it challenging to capture or interesting subject?
Every client I shoot brings a story into my studio. I have a natural curiosity to what drives people and what goes on in their lives. Some stories are more impressing than others, but learning from their experiences and tapping into their mindset is something I love to do. Whether I shoot CEO’s or students, every shoot has something happen that is memorable to me. The most challenging subjects for me are people who think they know it all because they shot with other photographers before. I pull out all stops to get past that and blow their minds in how the experience I offer is different from what they know and the second I achieve that they’ll become my best clients. I’m not only taking their headshots, my goal with every shoot is to amaze them. That’s the challenge.
Everyone can take a picture of a face, but getting a shot of a person that gets them to feel amazing about their look is something that needs skill. That skill is what I’m developing continuously with every shoot and that’s what drives me.
What image are you most proud of from your photography portfolio?
The image I’m most proud of is always a different image and is usually one of the images I shot recently. As a photographer and a human being, I thrive on excelling and continue to become better at what I do and who I am. Although the growth curve isn’t as steep as it used to be, I personally feel my images continue to get better the more I shoot.
My dream gig would be…
One of the items on my bucket list is to have celebrities find me and have their headshots taken by me. That hasn’t happened yet, but would be an amazing milestone. That being said, I’m not actively pursuing this goal.
My favorite piece of gear is…
Definitely my Peter Hurley FlexKit by Westcott. As a photographer, I think the way you use light is most important and I’m so dialed in with my FlexKit that I can’t imagine shooting anything else for my headshot- and portrait photography. I’m fairly light on gear though, besides my FlexKit, I have my Canon 5DSR set up on a Feisol CT3472-LV tripod, connected to my MacBook Pro sitting on a Tether Tools Aero Table connected with my trusty bright orange TetherPro USB cable.
Do you shoot tethered?
Yes. Always. Everyone looks great on a 3” screen on the back of the camera. Tethering is the way to go if you really want to look at your work as you produce it. In the studio, I shoot into my MacBook Pro connected to a BenQ SW2700PT monitor to have the best tools for my clients to see what we’re creating. At the start of the session, people are so self-conscious about the way they look, that I want them to see my work in the best possible quality. People grow into the session and become more confident as we go and shooting tethered gives them the chance to see my work as they would when they order the images after the shoot. Tethering helps me to point things out that I’d like to change in the next image and helps my clients to understand what I’m looking for and how to make that happen too. My sessions have a certain flow and having equipment from Tether Tools takes my mind of all the technical stuff. I trust it works and it has never disappointed me.
My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…
My trusty 15’ orange Tether Tools TetherPro USB cable. Hands down.
What’s on your photography gear shopping list?
Hard drive storage. Not really photography gear, but the size of these files and the volume of the shoot really force my arm here. As for actual photography gear, I seriously got everything I need in life. Hi, I’m Maurice Jager and I do not suffer from Gear Acquisition Syndrome anymore.
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…
It depends on their ambitions as a photographer. If you’re a hobbyist, shoot whatever puts a smile on your face. Life is too short to not enjoy it. As an (aspiring) professional photographer, shoot for your business, not your portfolio. The difference between a hobbyist and a pro these days is that a pro has to put food on the table while holding a camera. There are so many amazing amateur photographers these days that as an (aspiring) professional you have to focus on the business.
I train photographers in business and marketing with videos and e-mails and at first most focus too long on creating work for their portfolio, shooting friends, co-workers and family. If I had to start all over, I’d rather shoot my target clients for free or low fees and build my network than shooting friends and family for free and not build my business network. If you have a body of work that resembles what you’re about, start monetizing your time. I’d rather have a business that produces money and clients that give me portfolio-worthy work than sit broke on my couch and have hundreds of shots in my portfolio. You’re only 30% photographer and 70% entrepreneur. So make some moves, create a wave and ride it!
We recently went behind-the-scenes with Maurice Jager in our How I Got the Shot Guide on the set of a headshot shoot. Check out his feature here.