How did you get started?
I’ve been a Graphic Designer for over a decade now and have worked with plenty of companies that couldn’t afford stock photos which left me having to search the web for hours for images we could use and then using Photoshop to make them work with the product or site. I’ve always loved Photography and video so I began developing my skills over the years at both to offer this to companies I’ve worked for. I’ve been shooting with point and shoot camera for years building my way up to full frame DSLR. I was just never happy with the quality I was getting even in a web over print world.
Did you go to school for Photography?
No I went to school for design. I am a self-taught Photographer. If you take the time you can find anything you’d want to know about photography, lighting and gear on the web but in the end it really comes down to having an eye and an idea. I’m a self-taught musician as well and took off to Los Angeles when I was 17 to do music. My band had a development deal with MCA records before grunge music took over and wiped us out.
What do you love to photograph?
People. Fashion, glamour, commercial, lifestyle, etc. I started with landscape and animals as a way to learn and work myself up to people. If you’re naturally shy it does take a while to get to the point where you can not only photograph someone but also direct them and keep a shoot fun and relaxed.
Photographing a person attaches the image to their lives and can be cherished for a lifetime. It’s about capturing moments that will never come again as tomorrow is gone forever.
What do you think of the state of Photography these days?
I think people are happy with iphone pictures and video on Facebook or Youtube which to me is not future proofing memories. My favorite childhood photo of myself was taken by my uncle with a 35 mm film camera and even at 8 years old I knew their was something special about that picture. The bokeh effect and the colors.
If I took a picture of someone with an iphone, you might think they are just a regular person but if I do the same with a good camera and lighting, you might think they are someone special because we don’t associate normal with quality. I took a few pics of my brother and he posted them on Facebook and someone asked “What are these for?” Like it was from a special occasion. It’s the same with web design, if your website looks cheap people assume your business isn’t doing well enough to afford a good one.
What equipment do you use?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III which does any and everything I can possibly think of. I use an Alien Bees b800 strobe, a couple of speedlights through soft boxes and pocket wizards. I have some continuous lighting for video and numerous soft boxes and umbrellas.
Do you prefer location shooting or studio?
Studio because I can add locations. I live in Florida and the only locations are swamps, parks and ocean. I spent a week with my kids at Leeds Castle in Kent, England last year and every
location was amazing. If I had that view close by I’d never shoot inside but I never have to cancel a shoot because of weather or deal with bright sunny to cloudy exposures and I can control everything in the image rather than waiting for the perfect weather or searching for an awesome location.
What is your photo shoot process?
I use my house mostly with paper backdrops. If the client has ideas we’ll discuss through emails before the shoot so I can research and prepare some ideas giving me time to see the images in my head beforehand. If it’s a model I tell them to bring various clothing (bikini to winter coat) and as they are changing I am moving and arranging the lighting. This way one shoot can look like 20 giving them more variety in their books. After the shoot I’ll dump the images into Adobe Lightroom and let the client go through the images choosing their favorites.
Some Photographers won’t show an image until it has been retouched but it’s a waste of time if the client hates the image anyway. We don’t know them well enough to know if their eye is supposed to be twitching that way or they hate the right side of their face. Also it lets them be proactive in the process rather than just being the muse. Most of the time they will pick ones I like as well. As we go through the images they see themselves, I see lighting, angles, crops and bokeh.
What makes you different than other Photographers?
First, my design background. Being able to do retouching and compositing let’s me focus on the person and then worry about location problems later. As a designer I’ve done work for tv shows like Price is Right, Stargate Atlantis, Deal or No Deal, banner ads for NBA All-Star games, etc. Being a musician got me over my stage fright of dealing with people so I understand what it’s like being on the other side of the looking glass.
In Photography I like to create an image that will stand out from the others in a models portfolio and I’ll spend the time to make it perfect.