"I think by knowing your value you understand what your time is worth."
Cooper Davis is doing something different. Before even entering his junior year of high school, he managed to tour with rappers 88glam and Nav, amassed over 23,000 Instagram followers, and developed a professional brand and name for himself through his photography and videography. The photographer from Salt Lake City, UT, sat down with MPS to talk about his experience on tour, working and managing school all simultaneously.
When beginning with photography, Cooper was lucky enough to have resources to enter the professional world early on. “I had a friend that was a PR agent that worked for Jaden Smith” he says. “I tagged along with him and brought my camera.” This opportunity undoubtedly paid off well. When looking through Cooper’s work, his concert photography is one of his greatest areas of strength, showing the amount of time and effort that he has put into perfecting his craft.
Cooper understands the payoff of this. When talking about what he’s learned so far, he says that “the biggest thing that I’ve learned is to value your work. Don’t let someone use you, learn your value. I think by knowing your value you understand what your time is worth.”
The importance of valuing your work especially comes off through doing business with someone, particularly when you are young. “After a certain period of time working for free doesn’t cut it. People have budgets, don’t let them take advantage of you because you are young. I would say that I show this through my work and [expressing how] time has a price tag. I always tell people that you aren’t paying me for the hour that I’m shooting, you’re paying me for the 4 years I’ve put into this to get to this point.”
Cooper’s professional mindset was important when on tour. As incredible of an opportunity as it was, he got real about the struggles and difficulties that come as well. He describes tour as consisting of and being “a lot of sleepless nights, 24/7 working, really stressful but also very fun.”
This was especially true when trying to manage school. Still being in high school, Cooper had all the same responsibilities as the average student, with half as much time to complete them. Although he understands the importance of school, Cooper’s realistic about the amount of time he has to manage everything. “Honestly managing school and work is terrible. I’m very upfront with my teachers and they all have been really chill and understanding about what I do. They give me a lot of slack. I would definitely say the best advice I could give someone is to communicate your situation with your teachers. Most of them will find it really cool and support you along the way.”
How was he able to do all this? A lot of motivation, drive, skill, and some luck. “Over the years I’ve just sent emails and DMs to people asking if they needed a videographer or photographer and through that my business is what it is today. Just simply reaching our to people goes a long way.” When it came to perfecting his craft, Cooper showed similar levels of motivation just for himself. “I do spend a lot of time working on myself, whether that be getting better with different softwares or just trying new things. I think the main thing that inspires me is creating something new. Just trying to be a little different with my work.”
The importance of staying true to yourself is something that he believes strongly in. When asked what he would tell someone interested in photography, he says “I would tell them most definitely stay true to what you want to create and definitely again learn to value your work.”
You can check out more of Cooper’s work here: https://www.cooperdavis.co/
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.