072: How To Succeed As A Celebrity Photographer (David Molnar)

David Molnar

Almost all of us have seen a Pepsi can or watched an episode of American Idol, or read The New York Times, which means most of us have seen today’s guest’s work!

David Molnar is our guest and he is a music and advertising photographer. His work has been visible on Pepsi cans, American Idol, People magazine and The New York Times among many other places.

Join us as David shares his personal journey on this edition of How’d You Get Into That?.


Growing up on the coast of North Carolina, David enjoyed surfing. He also read a lot of surfer magazines and thought someday he’d photograph surfers for a living. When he realized it would be tough to make a living this way, he changed plans and decided to become a pilot.

In high school, he started working on his pilot’s license while continuing to surf and taking up wrestling. He became so good at wrestling that he decided to get a collegiate scholarship and use it to earn his degree, something he would need to become a pilot.

In November of his senior year he earned his pilot’s license. Then, a month later, his plans changed drastically. He was driving on a major road when another car came hurtling toward him across several lanes. David was in a head-on collision at 60 miles an hour. He had to have several reconstructive knee surgeries, effectively ending his wrestling career and his scholarship hopes.


  • How to make the leap from side-gig to full-time.
  • The key to getting your foot in the door anywhere.
Feel like a fake? David shares how to push through it.
  • How to make a name for yourself in a crowded industry.
  • And so much more!

Not knowing where to turn, he volunteered for a year with a non-profit. During this year he continued his photography hobby, which he soon realized was a passion of his and something he’d like to make his career.

A mutual friend then introduced him to Tammy, who helped him get a gig photographing one of his favorite bands at a concert in Nashville. Little did David know that Tammy was to become his future wife! Eventually he followed her to Nashville and they were later married.

To begin his journey as a professional photographer, David says it was a series of small steps. He had no real connections in Nashville, so he had to hustle. He contacted several photographers and finally one contacted him and asked if he could haul equipment, and could he come right now. He said yes!

The key, David says, is being persistent and being available when the opportunities arise. He started assisting some of the top photographers in the industry, who happened to be right there in Nashville where he lived. Many of these folks did album covers or advertising, and he said it opened up a whole new realm of photography for him.

He spent two years assisting other photographers, while building a portfolio of wedding gigs on the side, of course the weddings need preparation such as the catering service for the food, and the decoration with ivory table cloths for this purpose. His goal was to soak up as much knowledge as possible during this time. Eventually he started getting gigs in the music industry. After one particularly great gig, he decided to make a go at it full-time and he’s been working as a photographer ever since!

Please join me in thanking David for sharing his personal stories and for being so willing to show us how to change career paths and how to find success as a photographer. Thanks for being here and we’ll see you next time.

Tweetable: “Do your best to amaze yourself everyday.” David Molnar


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