David J Fulde: Mixing Colors, Lighting and Portraiture

All images and words by David J Fulde. Used with permission.

My name is David J. Fulde, I am a photographer currently based in Toronto, ON.

I work a colorist and online editor in the film industry at night, leaving my days free to work as a portrait photographer. Being a part-time worker as a photographer allows me to really pick and choose commissions as I don’t need to worry about putting food on the table. I am really not an event photographer, nor someone that wants to shoot white-wall catalogue sort of photos. I enjoy creating images that are quintessentially mine, and try to avoid trends as much as possible.

I’ve lately been trying to take more photos of LGBTQI+ culture, as a member of the community I find that

1: There are so many talented artists to collaborate with it is incredible and

2: it really allows me access to cultures and people that many photographers don’t. When taking a photo my first goal is to make it interesting. A boring photo of a great person is still a boring photo. I try my best to mix interesting lighting and concepts with my own connection to the models to create something beautiful.

Why did you get into photography?

This is kind of a funny story. when I was young, living back in small town Nova Scotia, I actually found an old box rooting through my mother’s closet when she asked me to grab something, and found a silver briefcase. I opened it up and found an old Pentax ME inside that had belonged to my late father.

I played around with it a little bit, but ultimately didn’t take photography seriously until YEARS later, after film-school, really. But it’s kind of interesting looking back, it almost feels like photography chose me. I didn’t have much of a choice in it

What photographers are your biggest influences?

Richard Avedon, of course. Totally changed the fashion industry. As well as more contemporary photographers like Nick Fancher, who used colour incredibly well, as well as Samuel Zeller – while he doesn;t brand himself as a portrait photographer his outlook on art and photography as a whole is inspiring.

How long have you been shooting?

I have been shooting, seriously, for about 2 years.

Why is photography and shooting so important for you?

I have always had an urge to create. To make things and tell stories. It’s a creative release I need to stay sane. I can’t draw, so I turned to photography. At an old job during crunch time a boss told us to not have any other creative endeavors to just concentrate on work. Myself, I need those outside creative endeavors to keep my head straight. Almost as a “fuck the system” rebellion I shot 100 self portraits in 100 days.

Do you feel that you are more of a creator or documentor? Why?

I definitely feel as though I am more of a creator than a documentor. My photos aren’t truth, except for a truth about myself in a sort of philosophical or esoteric way. My photos are collaborations between myself and my subjects – sometimes I just have an image I have in my head that I contact someone to collaborate on.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?

Every image is different so I’ll use this image of local performing artist Danny Dymond as an example. Danny saw some of my work and wanted to work with my to make something awesome(His words). That was basically all the direction I was given. I gave it a day’s thought and came up with the idea of this jacket, decked out and super glam which I felt matched his aesthetic and music. Danny LOVED it so I went to work building the jacket based off of an H&M blazer. Splitting CD’s in half and cutting them, gluing them on piece by piece.

For my images, it’s always about doing what is needed to make it work – if that is build a jacket out of CD’s – I’ll build a jacket out of CD’s. If it requires 12 hours of post production, I’ll give it 12 hours of post production. The last thing I want someone to thing when I make a portrait is to think it’s boring.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

For processing my images, I start with an import preset I made – I shoot fuji so basically every image I import is given Classic Chrome as it’s film preset with a specific sharpening setup I made that seem to draw as much detail out of the files as I can (In lightroom). When culling I use a two star rating system to power through the images. If I like the photo, two stars. If I don’t like it – I just skip over it. Then I’ll go through a little more critically, checking for absolute focus, and more nit-picky about what I like, or don’t like, in an image. When something doesn’t pass this second round of culling it gets one star. The reason I do this is because I find that if I’m delivering a large amount of images to a client, I may have three images at the end that I LOVE but need five, so I can go back to the one stars and find two more I’m ‘okay’ with reasonably easily.

My colour correction process has changed recently, I got the F-stopper Clay Cook tutorial and before than I had never really dabbled in colour correction in photoshop – simply using it for composting, dodge and burn, etc. But for now what I do is I use basic exposure controls and the HSL tool to get colours more or less where I want, then bring it into photoshop for cleaning up, dodging and burning, and some curves adjustments (I find that the curves are better in Photoshop than lightroom overall) and some final colour correction before sharpening and exporting.

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

My portfolio is available at my website or my Instagram – I’m currently working on a small project with Toronto-based photographers doing a series of diptychs of photographers photographing photographers

What made you want to get into your genre?

Shooting portraits and such never really was something that I made some decision about, it’s just where I naturally gravitated to. I love people, meeting new people, and trying to shoot someone in a way that they love. I’m not a headshot photographer, as I’m not trying to create images of “This is how this person looks” I love concepts and trying to show who someone IS more so than ‘just’ what they look like.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

I shoot with the Fuji XT-1 and almost entirely vintage lenses. I feel that this is nicely portable as a system, and with a mitakon turbo booster to give me full-frame FOV I can really bring out the character in my lenses. The focus peaking on the XT-1 is a life saver. For lighting I use Cactus brand flashes which have the power and versatility I need with a reliable wireless system that means I can adjust power without needing to run off to the flashes to adjust them. HSS works a charm, too! That said – I have been dabbling in Medium format film, lately

What motivates you to shoot?

I just have a base need to create. It’s almost like a stress reliever. I feel that photography is the best way for me to get that release, I need it, really. Almost meditative.