CPoY: What impact did winning cPOY have on your work or professional career?
Eich: Winning cPOY was incredibly formative because it opened the door to National Geographic, a client that I still enjoy hearing from occasionally. cPOY introduced me to a lot of wonderful people, not only at Nat Geo but throughout the industry. It helped to put my work out there in a way I'd never been able to before and aided in the start of my freelance career, which proved to be incredibly helpful because less than a year later I was welcoming my first daughter into the world.
CPoY: What is the latest photo project you've been working on?
Eich: There isn't one particular project I've been working on ... since CPoY I worked more on "Carry Me Ohio" before moving to Virginia in 2009. In 2010 I started a project called "Sin & Salvation in Baptist Town" about a town in Mississippi which is ongoing as well as another chapter called "The Seven Cities" about my home in Virginia. I continuously photograph family and my daily life.
Here are a few 6x7 images from this year made while working on the Baptist Town project as well as "The Invisible Yoke" and my graduate studies at Hartford Art School's Photo MFA program.
CPoY: Why did you choose and continue to pursue photography?
Eich: Photography found me at a very early age, and it has always felt like the medium with which I can best communicate. This isn't to say that it's an easy path ... there are plenty of days where I wish I had a real job, and then other days where I realize that this is the best job in the world when it isn't taking me away from my family.
CPoY: How does one develop a personal photographic style?
Eich: Everyone is different, but style comes as a result of having something to say and knowing how it needs to be said.
CPoY: How has the medium of photography changed for you since entering cPOY?
Eich: Haha. Photography has been in a state of rapid change for some time now, but it has certainly been picking up the pace since 2006. For instance, I never really thought too much about Instagram or shooting assignments with my iPhone or having people "follow" my work through an outlet like that. I wasn't very worried about motion in 2006, though at this point I consider it an important addition to my skill set. That said, I still try to focus on image-making and let other more talented folks work on the editing end of things.
CPoY: What advice do you have for student-photographers on entering photo contests?
Eich: It's like fishing ... you won't catch anything if you're not out there, (i.e. can't win if you don't enter) and it's a numbers game. The more you put your work out there, are rejected, refine it, think about it, reformulate it, resubmit it, the more rapidly you are forced to confront your weaknesses and the more likely you are to succeed.
CPoY: What advice do you have for student photographers/young professionals who are ready to graduate or start in the field?
Eich: Don't turn your nose up at work ... always produce to the best of your ability and listen to your client's needs. There is no guarantee they will ever call you again. You are not just in the business of image-making, but in relationship-building. This carries through the people you photograph and the people you work for. Put your work out there, get torn apart, get better. There is no place for ego in this industry, be honest, genuine and open to feedback and be resourceful.
Interview conducted by T.J. Thomson and Alex Scott.