“I grew up on film,” says photographer Todd White about how he creates his photos. “I just like how that looks. I feel that natural light and softer light are more flattering to a person.” Todd continues to say that he finds it more challenging, and that he loves a challenge. His clients are many big brands, and Todd makes his photos using Panasonic Lumix Cameras. So we talked to him a bit about how he creates, networking, and more!
The Essential Camera Gear of Todd White
- Panasonic LUMIX S1R
- Panasonic LUMIX S5
- Panasonic LUMIX GH6
- Panasonic 24-70mm f2.8
- Panasonic 50mm f1.8
- Panasonic 35mm f1.8
- Panasonic 85mm f1.8
- Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2
- Westcott FJ400
- Westcott FJ200 on location
- Profoto D2 in studio
As far as LUMIX cameras are concerned, a few things stand out for me and my work. First of all, the menus are straightforward to use. They are intuitive, and they make sense. Also, I love the image quality I get from all the cameras I’ve listed. Two things I like from these cameras are the skin tones and colors. Super easy when it comes to editing both photos and videos.
As far as what makes the cameras unique, talking from both a photo and video perspective, I like the tools in the camera. They help not just with exposure and color, but adjustments and tweaks that I can make in-camera, which make post-processing workflow easier and quicker. I make money when I’m shooting, not necessarily when I am editing. So time behind the desk editing is something I’d like to keep at a minimum.
One feature I really love is the frame marker options. When on set shooting photos and the video of the same works, it’s nice to be able to put up the dimensions of the primary use of those photos. Then, I can make sure I’m capturing what I need and don’t struggle with resizing or, more importantly, that my client doesn’t struggle with resizing and getting multiple uses from the images.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Todd White: I started photography in high school as a hobby. I mainly focused on shooting landscapes and architecture, and Street scenes. I grew up on film. Shooting 35mm and occasionally the 110 format. I did photography all through high school and some into college, and then I took a break for a while. It was a trip to India that really sparked my interest in getting back into it. I was there for a month and had my camera with me, obviously, and really fell in love with capturing people and culture and telling that story. That led to multiple trips to various countries around the world. Since then, I have focused on shooting and making photographs; now, videography is my career.
About 12 years ago, I left the corporate world I had been a part of for 26 years to pursue photography and videography full-time.
Phoblographer: You’ve got a considerable client list! having your work published in Vogue is no small feat; it’s the envy of many photographers. What are the three biggest things that have defined your creative vision and unique to you?
Todd White: A few things that make me stand out are my relationship, authenticity in my approach to photography, and editing and networking.
I run my business based on relationships and not just going out and shooting a project. I rarely take on a client I don’t spend time with, and I really get to understand their business and the purpose of the content I am creating. I don’t just want to be a constant machine without understanding how the photographs will be used. This also helps me strategically know what to shoot a lot of times. Educate the client.
As far as authenticity, what I mean by that is that I’ll actually do not spend a lot of time in Photoshop. There are many times that I don’t take a photo into Photoshop at all. I can shoot both natural light and in the studio, but I try to get it right in camera, and I do not like to over-edit, especially on a person’s face or features. That’s why I believe many of my clients hire me to shoot lifestyle content, which is where I have found a lot of my work comes from.
And networking goes back to the relationship part. A lot of my business is word of mouth or people that are looking at my portfolio. I really don’t advertise. I like to network, meet new people, and look for opportunities where I can do shoots, even for free. I know that is a bad word, but if I see a struggling small business that I believe in and have a relationship with, I don’t mind helping them out, which goes a long way. A lot of times, those people become regular clients of mine over time.
Phoblographer: Please rank what you’re inspired by when it comes to making portraits: lighting, environment, subject, wardrobe. And beyond this, what photographers have influenced how you create?
- Subject / Person
The person, first and foremost, is important to me, and then, depending on what we are shooting, the other things fall into place. All of them combined obviously helped tell the story. Still, for me, it’s more about connecting with the person and, in my case, shooting a lot of fashion, the wardrobe, and what that client or designer is trying to convey, and then working with them to place all of that in the right environment and lighting.
Photographers I am drawn to: Terry Richardson, Stanley Kubrick, Jose Villa, Norman Parkinson, and Steven Meisel.
Phoblographer: You go for a lot of soft, natural light. Where does that affinity for soft light come from?
Todd White: My affinity for natural light and softer light comes from the fact that I grew up shooting film. I just like how that looks. I feel that natural light and softer light are more flattering to a person. I also find it more challenging to learn how to control and work with. I love a challenge. So for me, that spills over from just photography and even into my video work. Crafting and working with the light is something that I enjoy. I’m not a master at it, but it’s something that I continually strive to do.
Phoblographer: For you, where does the magic really happen: in-camera or in post-production?
Todd White: For me personally, the magic really happens in camera. My editing is pretty light. I don’t spend time in Photoshop. I have a set of adjustments and color tones that I use in Lightroom that are pretty consistent across everything I shoot. But for me, the magic is in camera. I cannot correct an expression, a smile, a sparkle in post-production. The connection I make with that person and the authentic moment I capture is paramount. Those elements I just mentioned are things that a good photographer needs to understand and be able to capture. Those are the elements that make a photo successful. Not so much how good you are in editing in Photoshop. But it goes back to relationships. In my relationship with my client, I understand what they want and need. The relationship that I develop with the people that I shoot is equally important as well. I think that photographers that don’t understand this really struggle with creating authentic work. To hear the phrase, “I will fix it in post-production” makes me cringe.
Another point to bring up here is that because of my background in shooting on film, I really had to pay attention to getting it right and cameras as much as possible. I believe my foundation and shooting on film helps me today with digital cameras. I actually treat it to some extent like I’m shooting on film. When shooting, I try to get the exposure right and all my settings correct. I do not spray and pray and hope for the images. I slow down, and I am very deliberate when I’m shooting digitally. I’ve had clients and models mention that they like this approach. I give them feedback and look at my images as I shoot them; when I have the image, we move on to the next look or the next setup. I do not like to overshoot. Overshooting is a waste of everybody’s time.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you market, please. Photographers have been moving away from Instagram more and more. where are you going? How important do you think networking is?
Todd White: I still post my photos on Instagram and Facebook. These social platforms still provide me with business leads, and I still get clients from them. I do videos as well. A lot of my work is a hybrid between both photo and video. I have a small YouTube channel that I post to, but I also do a lot of client video work that is then posted to their social channels. All of this still drives business for me, but networking is absolutely key. I spend a lot of time networking with local businesses, models, and other important people to make a shoot successful. Word-of-mouth is how I get the majority of my business. Providing my current clients with a successful shoot and developing a relationship with them gives them comfort enough to refer me to their friends and other companies they interact with.
The relationship that I develop with the people that I shoot is equally important as well. I think that photographers that don’t understand this really struggle with creating authentic work. To hear the phrase, “I will fix it in post-production” makes me cringe.
Phoblographer: What are your favorite features about the GH6 for photography?
Todd White: For me, it’s going to be about my exposure tools and frame marker options. Those are key. To judge my exposure in camera and minimize highlights or shadows that are too deep are essential. And then I’ve already talked about the frame markers. That is key for me when I’m shooting, and I know there will be multiple uses for the images.
Outside of that, I just like the size of the camera. I like that it’s lightweight, and I can usually fit the camera body and 3 to 4 images in a fairly small bag and move around quickly, especially when I travel and do not feel like I’m weighted down with gear.
Also, with the Micro 4/3 mount, lenders can use many options that are even outside of what Lumix has. And it also opens up the door for some other unique vintage lenses for creative shooting.
Phoblographer: What’s your favorite lens for the GH6?
Todd White: The Lumix 42.5 f1.2
This piece is presented in partnership with Panasonic. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this post already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you.