Cheap Photo: Learn from the Masters and Save Over $2,500 on the Complete Photography Bundle 2018

If you have always wanted to learn from the masters of photography, you owe it to yourself to buy the Complete Photography Bundle 2018.

When it comes to photography there is so much to learn; lighting, composition, posing, and post production just to name a few. While learning all of these skills can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks to the Complete Photography Bundle it’s now easier than ever to expand your skill sets and master many other different areas of photography.

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Sigma: Thank You for (More or Less) Giving Up on the SA Mount

Dearest Sigma, Your time and resources are better spent not on the SA mount at all.

Before the world all agrees with a sigh of relief, I think that Sigma should be given adequate amount of brownie points for keeping the Sigma SA mount alive for so many years. It is a mount that dates back to the film days as the company tried to create and push their own cameras. With the transition to the digital world, we saw that the Sigma SA mount cameras on the market just really couldn’t keep up with the far less Jurassic feeling products made by a number of other companies. Sony, Canon, Nikon, and even Ricoh tended to run marathons around Sigma’s autofocus and Sigma’s battery life was just never all there. But now, there potentially is a large amount of hope.

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The Elinchrom ELB1200 Docking Station Makes the Monolight Better for Studio Use

It’s about time that the Elinchrom ELB1200 Docking Station came out.

The Elinchrom ELB1200 monolight is receiving an upgrade today that’s going to make it much more versatile, especially for studio photographers. Photographers will have the opportunity to drop their hard earned $699 on the Elinchrom ELB1200 docking station. This station replaces the battery unit when connected to the ELB1200 and lets the photographer connect to outlets if they wish so that they can use their ELB1200 in a studio without wasting battery power. When they’re ready to shoot on location, they can just switch to the battery pack.

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Tutorial: When to Use Constant Lighting vs. Flash

Knowing when to shoot with constant light vs. flash is one of the most important lessons to learn if you’re keen on doing studio photography

When you’re shooting in a studio, you’re typically also working with different lighting equipment which is often either constant light or flash. The key to making great shots in the studio is knowing when it’s best to use one over the other. Learn how the pros do it in an in-depth lesson from Adorama TV‘s On Set with Daniel Norton.

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Three Cheap Options to Achieve Beautiful Diffused Light

Setting up a studio? You’ll definitely need some diffusers, but there’s no need to break the bank to get beautiful diffused light.

Whether you’re doing portrait photography or YouTube videos, good lighting is the first and most important element you should set up in a studio. The most straightforward way to this is to get a softbox for diffused light. But, if you don’t have the budget for advanced and expensive pro equipment yet, there are some affordable options you can use to start with.

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Building and Using a Portable Photo Studio for Under $750

Every semi-professional photographer dreams of trying to create their own photo studio. What many photographers don’t realize is that with some very thrifty items, you can get the same results as significantly more expensive products as long as you’ve just got the knowledge of how to use them. There are a number of tutorials online that teach photographers how to build a portable photo studio, but not a whole lot that teach you how to use it and how to build one for a pretty affordable price point. Even less tell you what to do with the gear once you’ve got it.

We’re going to get you started from the ground up.

So many people dislike themselves so thoroughly that they never see any reproduction of themselves that suits. None of us is born with the right face. It’s a tough job being a portrait photographer. – Imogen Cunningham

Your Photographic Identity in Studio Portraiture: Answer These Questions

When you’re first starting out creating your own portable photo studio, it’s easy for you to just set it up and take photos. But you should ideally look more long term than that. If you want to do studio portraiture, then there’s obviously a reason for that and part of this has to do with connecting the technical with the artistic side of your brain. They’ll need to communicate with one another. So let’s start out by answering these questions:

  • Who are you as a photographer?
  • What studio portrait photographers do you admire?
  • Do they actually shoot in a studio or on location?
  • Do they bring studio gear onto a location to shoot?
  • What about their creative style and look do you admire?
  • What do these photographers use to get the looks that they do?
  • What do the photographers do with the models and subjects to get their looks?
  • Do you feasibly have the time to do this type of work?
  • Where will you mostly be shooting?
  • What methods do these photographers use to get the style that they do?
  • Why do you want to be a studio portrait photographer?
  • What do you feel you’re going to do for a client or subject that is different?
  • What do you feel you’re going to do that’s different in the art world?

Now as you’re answering these questions, carefully listen to yourself and be honest. Then think about what the needs are for the type of photographer you’re trying to be. This is part of your photographic identity. You’ll easily start to figure out whether you should be a natural light shooter, a flash shooter, a location shooter, a stagnant background shooter, etc.

The Gear

So now we get to the gear. This gear is really simple to work with and so incredibly versatile that you can go from working with it in a household one second or an on-location area for the next.

Godox Li-on Series of Flashes and Transmitters: The reason why we adore the Godox Li-On series of flashes and transmitters are because they’re affordable, fairly durable, powerful and simple to use. If a piece breaks, you can easily replace the unit. These flashes come with TTL capabilities for Sony, Canon and Nikon. But my personal favorite is the all manual version. These lights have a very fast flash duration, so they’re very capable of overpowering a lot of ambient light in most situations. Plus, they’re portable; and as the main piece of equipment that you’re going to need they’ll be a mainstay for you.

I also sometimes use this flash with ExpoImaging’s Gels.

Pro Tip: Use the wide angle diffuser to spread the light over a larger area. The larger the light source is, the softer it can be.

Roundflash dish: Roundflash is the manufacturer of a number of fantastic light modifiers. Their first is the roundflash itself which takes existing light from a flash and makes it work like a ring flash. The second and ultimately more versatile option is the dish. This is a collapsible beauty dish that outputs some very beautiful light. But it’s small and so is perhaps mostly ideal for photos shot from a person’s upper thigh and above.

Its small size means that it’s portable.

Pro Tip: Beauty dishes are sort of like softboxes but deliver an arguably better look.

Neewer Backdrop Kit: This kit is sturdy enough for most uses and transportation–plus it’s affordable. It includes stands and rods that you put together simply by screwing them in at the right spots. You get a ton of them too.

Backdrops: White and black backdrops are really all you need most of the time. But if you need something with more punch, then you’re sometimes best off making your own unless you go for Oliphant.

There is no single form or style of portraiture. Portraiture means individualism and as such means diversity, self-expression, private point of view. The most successful images seem to be those which exist on several planes at once and which reflect the fantasy and understanding of many. – Peter Bunnell

Westcott light stand: This stand works well enough to hold your flash with the collapsible beauty dish on it. But it can also be used to hold a reflector. With the reflector in the transparent configuration, you can fire the flash through it to give off the same look that a softbox does.

Making the Most of Your Photo Studio

So now that you’ve got all this gear, what do you do with it? Well, here are some ideas. All of the photos in this article were done with the gear we’ve been talking about:

  • Use the Godox flash placed off on some sort of higher surface and have it fire down onto your subject. Most lights that we see are naturally above us and human beings. So light sources that come from the side and above are simply more pleasing to us.
  • The Godox flash can deliver pretty soft and nice lighting when used bare with its wide angle diffuser. You can bounce the light off of a surface but keep in mind that the flash output is going to take on the color of that wall or surface.
  • The Roundflash Dish collapses down in the same way that a photographic reflector does. Then you can simply store it in a pocket of your camera bag.
  • The Roundflash dish is best used arguably with tighter frames. But if you’re a fan of hard lighting, then try that. Hard lighting typically works best with thinner body profiles though but that doesn’t mean that it can’t work with larger ones.
  • Are your backdrops all crumply? If you don’t have the time to steam the wrinkles out then consider just not stretching them out on the stand. Instead, make them tighter and sort of like a stage curtain. That will help hide the wrinkles.
  • Killing all the ambient light that you can is a priority most of the time when using backdrops. Personally, I try to do the same thing even without them.
  • Never, ever, underestimate what a reflector can do. You essentially have three light modifiers with this kit: the wide angle diffuser, the Beauty dish and the reflector. The reflector can either bounce light back into the subject, be used as a panel to bounce the light directly off of, or be used in a shoot through configuration where the light is diffused with the massive surface area of the reflector.

Review: Sony a7r III (The Camera So Many of Us Have Been Waiting For)

The Sony a7r III is one of the most perfect Sony cameras to date.

I used to borrow a joke from my buddy David Schloss that Sony got things 80% right 100% of the time; but with the new Sony a7r III I genuinely feel like they’ve done a significantly better job than that. Based on just the specs alone, I had to buy the Sony a7r III from Adorama. When the camera actually got into my hands, I was even more amazed at how great it is. Sony’s cameras have been continually improved over and over again and for the first time, a studio photographer has access to almost everything that they could possibly need with a Sony mirrorless camera. Not only do to have a fantastic 42MP full frame sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range at lower ISO settings, but you’ve got pretty decent autofocus performance, WiFi, weather sealing, better battery life, and that joystick that we’ve been begging for for years now. When you combine this with the fantastic support from Profoto, Godox, and Flashpoint amongst others in the flash system world, then you’ve got a genuinely complete system with a massive selection of lenses.

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Review: Rokinon 85mm f1.2 SP (Canon EF Mount)

Relatively speaking, I’m sort of over the idea of super fast aperture lenses simply because most folks won’t be able to tell the difference with the photos–and that’s the case with the Rokinon 85mm f1.2 SP lens. But at the same time, I can’t argue with the fact that it’s quite a mystical marketing technique combined with the fact that so many lenses are really fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re shooting with an APS-C sensor camera then having super fast glass makes sense. But for full frame cameras, it doesn’t really matter. Most people can’t tell the difference between f1.2 and f1.4. Plus high ISO output these days is so crazy good that you arguably don’t need the extra stop. 

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The Professional Photographer’s Introduction to Wireless Flash for Amateurs

Like many photographers, I worked for a time as an assistant in a studio, where one of my most important tasks was to follow behind (or in front of, or beside) the photographer and make sure they didn’t trip over their PC cable, thereby unplugging the lights while simultaneously falling unceremoniously on their face.

A remnant of the same era where telephone operators manually plugged cables into long rows of connectors to complete a call, the PC connector is a long cord that attaches between the camera and a flash or strobe setup. The PC has always been a problematic solution. On one side is usually found a connector that’s the same as a 3.5mm headphone mini-connector, while on the other side is a coaxial cable comprised of an inner cable wrapped in a thin circular metal housing. The circular coaxial end of the cable plugs into a camera’s PC port, and the 3.5mm cable plugs into a lighting pack. Multiple packs could be strung together by a series of cables, and photographers needing a lot of space between themselves and their packs would often combine multiple extenders and drag the cables behind them.

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These Custom Hand Painted Backdrops are Great Additions to Your Studio

All images by Kate Woodman via CustomCanvasBackdrop on Etsy

If you’re setting up your dream studio, I’m sure you’ll need a variety of backdrops for product and portrait work. While you’re most likely planning to head to a nearby photo supply store to check some swatches, you might also want to have at least one of the custom hand painted backdrops made by Kate Woodman in your collection.

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Which Ilford Film is Best for Portraiture? An Analysis

Lead photo by Savara (deprecated)

While many photographers will say that Kodak Portra 400 is the king of color portraiture in the analog photography world, the equivalent black and white film is not really as clear. There’s great options all around. Kodak T-Max 400 is designed to deliver the sharpest images possible. Fujifilm Acros 100 in 120 format can deliver some absolutely beautiful images in a studio. But with Ilford, they’ve got a number of options when it comes to portraiture. The company quite literally specializes in black and white film and for that reason they offer a multitude of products for a multitude of applications. Though if we were to narrow it down to only three films that you should have on you, they would be these three.

What Portrait Photographers Need

Three you say, Chris? Yes. Three. If you wanted something a bit faster I’d say Ilford Delta 400 but I expect a lot of photographers subscribing to La Noir Image to do things in a fashion that I love to call “proper photography.” That means that you’re probably in a studio or a studio like setting where you’ve got at least some control of the light. You’re a creative photographer when you shoot portraits, not a photographer who captures scenes. So you’re directing a scene, placing lights, etc. You’re going for the maximum in details and clarity in the photo. Upon writing this post, I’ve recently acquired a large format Graflex camera; and since I’m aware that many of you have used large format or do portraiture in studio-like settings, I want to help you all navigate the Ilford film world.

Ilford Delta 100

Image by Tim Williams

So why am I picking Delta 100? That’s a great question: It has a medium level of contrast but balances out the contrast with the sharpness and fine details. My assumption is that most readers here will be using it in 120 format and so I recommend good, longer lenses to really take advantage of not only this film’s sharpness, but what medium format really affords you. For example, a Pentax 165mm f2.8 lens is going to have some seriously shallow depth of field while being incredibly sharp. Lenses like that help portrait photographers really take advantage of even the worst of films. Even if you’re shooting 35mm, using newer lenses will mean that you’ll get a whole lot of details in the images that you’re shooting but not enough to make the photos look very digital in their rendition.

Luckily, Ilford states that it can rated at ISO 100 or ISO 200 in addition to ISO 100.

Ilford Pan F Plus 50

Image by Jay DeFehr

Ilford’s slowest film is bound to be on this list simply because of the fact that it also yields the most details in the photos overall. The company recommends using it in either bright natural light or in a studio where you’ve got a whole lot of watt seconds to kill using this slow film. Ilford Pan F Plus 50 also has high edge contrast–which increases the perceived sharpness in the scene overall. For that reason, they recommend it for really big prints. The way that I like to think about Ilford Pan F Plus 50 is like sort of like you’re shooting chrome/slide color film. You really want to nail the exposure and get it right. In fact, that’s how I shoot digital these days. Plus, I shoot film because sometimes I just don’t want to sit down at a computer and edit photos. If I wanted to do that, I’d do digital photography because it’s so incredibly simple and accessible. But with Pan F Plus 50, you should put high expectations on yourself to get your images and your exposures perfectly right. Use a light meter to spot meter various parts of the scene and figure out a great middle ground.

Again, this is why I state that this is a creator’s film.

Ilford FP4 Plus

Image by theUdødelig

Ilford FP4 Plus has to be one of my favorite medium format black and white films. Why? Well, it’s quite special in that you can meter slightly for the highlights and still get really good details in the shadows no matter what. If you put it up against many other films out there, you’ll see that it has a great contrast in its look. But the fact that it still brings out even more details in the shadows means that you can be a photographer that shoots really high contrast and still gets something in the shadows. This film is also at ISO 125–which a curious one. But this low ISO helps the film deliver a lot of detail while also delivering very low grain. Of any of the films on this list, it reminds me of one of my old favorites: Kodak 400 BW CN. I’m very sure that not a lot of photographers loved the look of that film, but I genuinely did. I used it for portraiture and street photography in a Leica camera.

As with every other film on this list, I really recommend using it in a studio setting or in a location where you’ve got a lot of control over the light to take advantage of what it’s capable of doing. If you’ve got an Oliphant backdrop with an interesting texture, this film is bound to do some crazy cool things.

This Beautiful Minimalist Space in Japan is a Photographer’s Dream Home Studio

All images by Yoshihiro Asada and Norihito Yamauchi via Arch Daily

It’s been said all the time that there’s always something for everyone, and we believe we’ve found the perfect house for photographers. It’s designed to maximize natural light, has plenty of space for a home studio, and has a lot of picture-perfect corners. There’s just one catch: You’d have to fly to Japan to book a viewing at least. Which doesn’t sound so bad, actually, as Japan is known for being a paradise for photographers.

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Andrei Duman: Travel Photography and Forming Connections With Your Subjects

All images by Andrei Duman. Used with permission.

Photographer Andrei Duman has been shooting photos since he was very young. He started out with travel and was always fascinated by the fact that one could go from place to place within a few hours. Along the way, he studied the works of different photographers and the ways they went about getting their photos. Perhaps this has helped influence the way Andrei approaches his subjects and the way he gets his images. For Andrei, it's always been about human connection and ensuring it's there even before he picks up the camera to his eye.

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Learn the Difference Between Hard Light and Diffused Light

 

If you’re new to photography, one of the most important lessons you have to learn is the difference of light quality from a hard light source as compared to a diffused light source. Knowing this will be useful for a lot of studio applications, from product shots, to fashion editorials, to creative portraits. If any of that is what you intend to do, here’s a LearnMyShot tutorial that should be of help to you.

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Film Emulsion Review: Kodak Portra 160 (35mm and 120 Formats)

When you work with a film like Kodak Portra 160, you get a pretty fine detailed film designed to be used more or less with controlled lighting. Though interestingly enough, I’ve personally had much better results working with many other films using controlled lighting and instead found that this film is one of the best to be used with natural light. Designed for skin tones in portraiture, Kodak Portra 160 has a very muted color palette but not as pastel as Fujifilm’s Pro 160 NS–its closest competitor which is now discontinued. Like many other films, it is available in both 120 and 35mm. But if you’re reading this website, then you’re probably only using it in 120.

I’ve been using Kodak Portra 160 for years; and even though I prefer to work with 400, 160 is surely a nice film in the right settings.

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The Psychology of a Nude Studio Portraiture Photographer (NSFW)

All images by David Kai-Piper. Used with permission.

“Creating images that have range and balance is more meaningful and to me more stimulating across all creative aspects than just a photo of a girls boobs.” says David Kai-Piper in our interview. “Saying that, I have never been the ‘boobs & ass’ photographer, I try and stay as far away from what the world now calls ‘glamor’ as I can.” David is a photographer that doesn’t care to get famous off of Instagram. Instead, he’s all about just creating good photographs. He doesn’t like glamour, he doesn’t like any of that stuff based off of what he calls the “Kardashian-esqe culture” these days. Instead, David works to create art.

You’ve been a studio photographer for many years now working with nudes and models. So how do you feel that your creative vision has evolved over the years when it comes to going into the studio and working with various subjects?

It’s odd, I would not use that title myself, never really have. I’ve never really been any genre specific photographer – not in my own view that is. Over the years things have evolved, things do in a natural way even on a subconscious level. As I have gotten older I think there has been less and less frivolous nudity in my work. Having a nude model for the sake of nudity has very little for me in terms of adding to an image. Maybe as time passes we mellow while we start to see the bigger picture. There is some provocative work on my website, but there is a lot of work to balance it out. Creating images that have range and balance is more meaningful and to me more stimulating across all creative aspects than just a photo of a girls boobs. Saying that, I have never been the ‘boobs & ass’ photographer, I try and stay as far away from what the world now calls ‘glamor’ as I can. Saying that, I recently had a designer turn down working with me as I have the ‘male gaze’. Not sure what she meant but kind of did know in the same way. Photographer have styles, we have moods and we have the right to change them whenever we like, it’s our art, it’s our work and we have our own minds too.

Sometimes we have to amend the public perception of our work to fit in with a project, client or sponsors needs. Sometimes my website gets a change around to suit needs that might not be my own. My site is like a shop front and it is there to sell me as a photographer. It has to adapt and flow with trends just as much as anything. As a photographer though, my style of shooting has not really changed. I shoot very few frames these days, even less than I used to. Which I like, but I think a few models and clients get caught off by. They expect 50 images to pick from and I have shot 5. I find that studios can kill the creative spark, so these days I do try and take the studio to the location, if that makes sense. Shooting like I would in a studio, but in hotel rooms, car parks and such.

What made you want to get into doing more risqué work? I personally feel like ever since 500px came about and everything chosen by the Editors is risqué, that there’s been more and more of it coming out to the fore in the past years. Then combine this with a rise in boudoir work, Instagram, etc. But what made you personally want to get into it?

I have not logged in to 500px for ages, I used to use it quite a lot. I remember seeing the influx of amazing work from Estonia, Poland and wider afield.

To this day, I still don’t think I have, I would be the worst photographer to hold a boudoir shoot with, most of the time I am looking at the whole photo and not worrying about if the model looks ‘sexy’ or not, as I said, I try my hardest to not be a glamour photographer, and, it is rare that a shoot with me would be solely about trying to make a girl look’sexy’. Look at what has happened on Instagram, look at the selfie world and the increasing amount of pay-per-view sites that photographers and models can make quick cash by selling ‘naughty’ photos online. I want nothing to do with that.

“They expect 50 images to pick from and I have shot 5. I find that studios can kill the creative spark, so these days I do try and take the studio to the location, if that makes sense. Shooting like I would in a studio, but in hotel rooms, car parks and such.”

It’s a cliché, but I do blame the Kardashian-esqe culture we have these days, it’s all fake, it’s all temporary and it’s all crap. Painful to watch how well it works though. Over the years, I have come to learn that, people love fake, who’d have known. My love and connection with taking images of a risqué nature comes from my love of Newton. It’s about photography and story. I like the challenge to make things that provoke the mind more than anything else. Photographers like Sylvie Blum, Robert Voltaire, Guido Argentini, Rankin all the way to Mario Testino, Mert & Marcus and especially with Ellen Von Unworth, show that you can have as much nudity as you wish, yet still have integrity with a point and reason to create, aside from designing images purely to get Instagram likes. To answer your question though. I liked the challenge, I wanted to know what it was like, I wanted to explore the world with a camera. I am not trying to please others or help them get off on a sexy photo, in fact, this is something that makes me feel quite awkward. Social media, especially for photographers can be a unique blend of narcissism and altruism, when used purely to be get more likes or followers. It’s hard to avoid seeming self-serving acts of altruism while trying to get as much attention as possible for your work; what used to be to be called selling out, is called marketing in 2017. #clickbait

Tell us about what your first nude photo shoot was like and what did you learn after that to make you a better photographer?

Not sure; I know the first nude I was really happy with though. I was in Tuscany (Italy) helping a friend run a workshop. An art-nude workshop actually. I really don’t think it changed anything. The fact that Zoi was naked changed nothing and I don’t think it should. What makes you a better photographer is listening and learning about your own mindset and understanding what your purpose for creating images really is.

Rank these in terms of importance from greatest to least: great model, great wardrobe, great ideas, great photographer, great chemistry. Why do you feel so?

On any given day that order can change from one to the other, there is no secret to photography and the recipe never works twice.

I know that I have pulled shoots when the chemistry has not been right and I know that models have pulled out of shoots with me for the same reasons. Which is fine, I understand it now. A few years ago I might have just done a shoot that was shit and then tried to rescue it. Now, I just say no thanks and move on – Chemistry is important but not that important if it is a client shoot. Professional people bring the A game to work, which is fine too. The one that none of us can produce without is a good idea or concept, saying that I think you missed the only really vital element of the list. Confidence is king, with that, you can rock anything, do anything and your team will rally around you and trust me, if your team thinks they have the best model, the best ideas and the best wardrobe…you do.

“Look at what has happened on Instagram, look at the selfie world and the increasing amount of pay-per-view sites that photographers and models can make quick cash by selling ‘naughty’ photos online. I want nothing to do with that.”

A whole lot of your work is in black and white. What attracts you to this type of work?

Many many reasons, too many to list and this is a topic we both could talk on for till the sun has set more than twice. In short, it is simple. I like to and all else is circumstantial.

I can find reasons to back up why I like black and white or monochromatic images but the statement that I like it is something I have come to feel more comfy with over the years. In my mind color is real, it is what I use with my eyes to see with. When seeing a black and white image, my mind says…this is a story. Why.. that’s complex and I think each person has a different reason, age might have much to do with it too.

The other reason is that sometimes it is easier. Colour is complex and the editing process can be more complex too.

You’re very much about incredibly clean backgrounds when you work with subjects both in a studio or on location. Do you think that when you combine this with your style of lighting that it somehow or another makes your subjects stand out more in the scene?

I had never noted that but you are the 5th person this week to say that since my website reshuffle! I like simple images that have complex stories. Single points of focus that are easy to work out that the subject is works well for me. The lighting type comes from a more logistical element more than anything at the moment. I am trying to work more on my motorbike with means simple lighting and simple set up’s. Recently I have been really enjoying shooting super low depth with flash. Around the f1.2 mark then having a cinematic lighting style. My styles can change week to week though – I like to mix it up sometimes. It’s been months since I have used a full studio setup.

When doing this kind of work, obviously consent and permission is really important. So what steps do you take to ensure that that’s always there? How does that affect creative improvisation on a set–which of course is always key to great shoots?

Really simple and clear communication from the outset is key.

Over the years, especially with any personal work, I tend to be cautious about shooting with new people. It’s bad I know, but I have had second thoughts about shooting with people just on the basis what sort of person they have online. How is my work going to be treated by them etc. I have been burnt in the past and quite guarded about it now. Respect has to be mutual and all parties have to have an input into the final output that way you can be sure to make sure everyone is happy.

“It’s hard to avoid seeming self-serving acts of altruism while trying to get as much attention as possible for your work; what used to be to be called selling out, is called marketing in 2017. #clickbait”

Walk us through your typical editing process. What’s that like?

These days I have got a pretty dialed in the editing process when it comes to my current work – which starts before the shoot. I tend to have a number of images in mind and try to shoot just those images, if we have time then we explore and have some creative fun to see what happens. Typically I have the editing process on my end before the shoot too – this would be a factor in how the image is lit and the styling of the shot too.

CLUT’s or Colour Look Up Tables are my ‘go to’ trick for color processing and using a ‘Black and White’ layer in the luminosity blend mode to make finer adjustments. Before the CLUT’s I was a big fan of using a Duotone process to grade images, but the CLUT’s are just magic.

Photographey by Dave Kai Piper

As an overall stylistic mantra, I try to get the fine line between finished, polished yet real with character. I like to have texture and flaws, photography should have elements of reality otherwise why use a camera at all. Just be a painter.

Using the digital toolbox to highlight the narrative and clean up distracting elements in an image is nothing new. Manipulation is seen as a dirty word these days, but it’s more a lack of understanding and a lack of willingness to question what people see that is causing this friction. ‘People’ on one side say that photoshop is bad and is harming the young girls, giving false ideas about beauty health, weight and all sorts. I am not sure if this is directly linked to your question, but the topic of editing is something that has come over my desk quite about today – I read a paper written by graduate that looked into this all – it is quite a read – you can find here, get ready for a long read though – https://cognitiveresearchjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41235-017-0067-2 . In short, they raise the idea, again, that using manipulation tools is for the purpose to fool or distort the truth from the creator to the viewer. If this is the case when using programs like Photoshop, if used in news or advertising they should carry a warning to something to the effect. It is a complex area that would be better solved through education rather than legislation.

To get back to your question, with the last paragraph in mind, mostly, I try and do the least amount of editing needed to produce the image I am trying to create – which of course is the vaguest answer I have ever come up with ever.

A whole lot of photographers have used nudes and risqué work to try to build up their Instagram followers like crazy. But you aren’t like that. Have you never found that to be super important to your brand and the type of work that you do? Of course you’re using Instagram but your work there is a lot more tame per se than even what some models themselves post.

Over the years, especially the last few, I have been aware of the impact my work can have on the world around me. When I was teaching at the Uni, I had to be aware that my work was on display and connecting in a different way to how I had intended when producing it. It’s not that I didn’t stand behind my work, it was that I was in another phase and the world is wide place. Some people have problems with nudity, some don’t. Some understand it and others don’t. That’s fine and that’s OK. As I said before, much of my work has an intrinsic beginning and as such, it does not really bother me when I have to pull images down because I am in a different phase of my life.

For example, I have pulled much of the more provocative work off my social media channels – it is all on my website, but I leave it there. I don’t shout about nakedness or how a models ass looks on Instagram. I will leave that to the people who do that – do nothing wrong with them doing it, but, it’s not me or my style. I prefer to have my mom and dad on Facebook and have them happy than post photos of boobs to try and get followers. I have never chased fans, or followers or likes. What the models do with images we make together is totally up to them, within reason of course !!Over the years social media has changed, and the way we use it must change too. My brother’s son will be able to find this interview. My future employers could find this interview and judge me on it, just as much as they could judge me on one to two Instagram posts. I don’t get a say in what they see and in what context they see it. I try and think about these things and try to understand that nudity is an issue for some people, I don’t want to force it on people and I want everything to be in balance.

I have sponsors too, they have public images and everything that goes with that too. Linking back to the very first question, styles and portfolios ebb and flow with the needs and demands of any particular day or reason. At the moment I am looking into branching out into another field of work and talking to new companies, bringing my work into line with a long term agenda only makes sense.

What do you feel is a signature of yours; like a special something that all of your images have and that truly make them yours? How do you plan on making that evolve in the next year?

I have been shooting for years now and I am still no closer to understanding my ‘style’. I love photography. I love landscapes, people, and everything in the middle. I have just as much fun shooting street stuff for clients at Gay Pride in London as I do sat in a rainy tent in Wales. Photography is what I love and trying my best to keep shooting is the challenge. What I shoot might change every day.

But, if I had money and could make a book or big project, yes, I would totally work on a project that each had a style. The closest I have got would be my portraits and my towel projects. For these, I was trying to fix the problem of not having a style, or at least I thought it was a problem for a while. Maybe when I have a few more images I will have to make some kind of exhibition out of these projects. You can check my Towels Project and my Portrait Gallery.

Andreas Theologitis: “Beyond Dark”

All images and words by Andreas Theologitis. Used with permission.

Guided from my background as an architect, I try to give to my photographs a personal space. I like to go beyond definitions, revealing my inner world to other people. Through my travels I “see” the world with my personal interpretation. Resulting from my professional background I use intense geometric forms, details, textures using different ways of expressions. I like to treat studio photography as a project.

I begin photography from school. At that time a used my father’s Kodak Retina camera, in an all “manual” world. This was for me a unique experience and bring me to the B&W world of light and shadow. I started in Athens, but my adulthood in photography was during my studies of architecture in Brussels. There I have entered in the magic world of the darkroom.

From my childhood I have a strong desire to “see” what I create. Not as something abstract but as real thing. Maybe, deep inside of me that was the raison that I choose architecture as profession. Darkroom revealed to me the same feelings. When I first saw the image appear in front of me, in the darkroom, it was like “magic”.

The first visit in New York City, a city that gives to photographers everything generously. My project “Intimate Cities” was important to discovery the studio process. As an architect my mind is formed from shapes in light and shadows. I was guided in my first steps in photography from this experience. Considering that taking a photograph is a mind game, my personal view to the world around us is like a geometry game.

The world around me, my trips, inspires me to create a personal vision. I front studio photography as a project, a personal challenge. Trying to give soul in a totally artificial world. Like a journey to the essential, black and white photography goes beyond the excess, the unnecessary, deep inside our inner world. I am standing ecstatic in front of the works of other photographers and I feel grateful if a photograph of mine can evoke emotions to others. I like to say that gear doesn’t make the photographer. The sight of the photographer is important. Maturing in the world of photography I realize that the correct gear helps to create a personal vision. Actually I use a Sony a6000 with several lenses and a 50mm for this portrait project.

These photographs are from an ongoing project that I started in the first months of this year. This series of photographs was like a challenge to me. Trying to overpass my vision as an architect and leave my “natural” geometry. In a country immersed not only in a financial but also into a deep social crisis. Faces are revealed through darkness, uncanny. As a journey deep inside of me, images are blur they represent my dark mood of this period.

Common people used for this studio project were left totally free behind the curtain to express their personal feelings. They look the world into the eyes, suffocate in their everyday life, feel sensual despite all their problems, playing like a clown, fading into the anonymity.

Oliver Moosus: The Diversity of the Human Face

All images and words by Oliver Moosus. Used with permission. Be sure to follow him on Instagram too.

My name is Oliver Moosus, I have been involved with photography for 16 years and professionally at it since 2009. I refrained from doing photography professionally for a long time, because seeing fellow photographers in my home country of Estonia I did not want to share their creative struggles and make compromises for monetary gains. However at one point the fever for everything visual made me quit my day job in IT, start from zero (i moved back with my parents at age 23 to cut on expenses) and pick up photography as my only course of action. It has been a rocky road, but i have LOVED every day of it. Whether I have not known where I get money for food for the next day or getting paid a few months salary for one job; i have smiled and been real happy with my choice. I have had a saying for a long time, life is not hard, it is exciting. This is my motto to live by every day. During tougher times I sometimes forget it, but then I remember it and it all becomes a little easier again.

I started out as an assistant to an italian fashion photographer working here. I approached him out of the blue, he said that he is willing to test me, but does not have any jobs coming up in the near months. I kept knocking on his door for two weeks until he said i should appear in his studio the next morning for an editorial shoot. We ended up having a really good friendship and he was fundamental in shaping me as a photographer. I have utmost respect for his effort given, he took time regularly to go over my pictures one by one and gave good critique on each of them. I also got to see big commercial shoots and make new contacts in the world i had no knowledge of. New contacts we’re of course made each time with his explicit approval. In these situations it is most important to not act behind the back of the person supporting you. Nowadays I hear many (too many) young photographers disregarding that principle. I can not stress enough the importance of this and respect in general. I worked for him for nearly three years until he moved to London. We still catch up from time to time and even though the friendship is not as frequent because of the distance, we still get along very well and i continue to look up to him.

After he left for London, he suggested based on seeing my development some of his clients to pick me up as his successor and i am happy to say some have. I am very self-critical and because of that I have taken the course of developing myself thoroughly before taking on new challenges. I feel this has worked out well for me, I have a group of loyal customers who have contacted me themselves and we have had good working relationships for not just one project. We have a cosy small growing fashion market here and many brands have not given attention to building a brand yet, that is why i feel the long working relationship is crucial so we can develop together and build a consistent brand season by season.

Why is black and white photography important to you?

There is little reasonable explanation in my world to the importance of black and white photography per se. Every time I do a shoot i try to think in color, but I find myself finding less life, less emotion, less meaning in the color images. While I love color imagery, some of my favorite photographers are Guy Bourdin and Miles Aldridge who are known for their very color-centric imagery, I feel that medium is more appropriate in the commercial world than the look I am after in my personal work. I feel repeating every other black and white photographer by saying there is less distraction in black and white images, but it is true, I feel it and I see it and i can not deny it. There is a reason everybody who has taken serious effort in black and white has come to that conclusion.

What inspires you to create photographs?

I am continuously fascinated by the diversity available in the human face. Every time i shoot a new person i discover something new about the human appearance and condition. It even occurs when I shoot the same person over again and it happens quite a lot, because I work with model agencies and shoot the same models continuously throughout their career development. It amazes me how I find something new every time, the added years in their eyes, the look they give me containing new life experiences and of course physical appearance. But I have to emphasize that physical appearance is the least interesting of it. Capturing a person’s life and personality through a photograph is such a wonderful challenge that will always leave room for progress. I started professional photography in the fashion imagery world, but every time I shoot I let myself drift away from that a little to strip down the physical appearances and concentrate more on the insides of a person.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

Photography should not be viewed upon as a representation of truth in my opinion. It is rather a representation of MY truth, different for each creator and viewer. This is ever more true in the modern digital world, but has always been a valid point. I do not feel comfortable retouching my images heavily as to change somebody’s appearance completely. I think the required visual can be achieved by good direction and your vision in-camera. Still, a photograph captures only a minuscule slice of time, that fact for me already removes it from reality by a great deal. I feel that if this perception of photography is shattered, only then can it be considered true art; if we are relieved of the notion that photography is showing us reality. One never has the option to look at a single moment as long as through a photograph. Black and white for me allows to further change people’s perception even more by removing something from the equation they are so accustomed to, color. It gives the viewer an easier platform to start deciphering the image and gives a head start into not searching for reality in the image, but rather creating or finding their own explanation as to why the image has been taken and put on display. As this is the reason art exists; for the viewer’s pleasure and possibility to give the artwork a personal meaning; black and white has a great possibility of making photography more accepted by the art world.

Tell us about your creative vision, your influences, and tell us a bit about the gear that you use.

I often look for inspiration in the work of Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Miles Aldridge, Helmut Newton, Paolo Roversi, Edward Weston, and David Bailey. Each photographer has a different aspect in their vision that draws my attention.

I have used nearly every format there is under the sun. For the first 6 years i shot exclusively on film, 35mm, 6x7cm, 5x7in. My first digital camera was Canon EOS D60, but that stayed in the closet for most of the time, as i was still attached to and more familiar with working on film. However this was the camera I still miss for the richness of tone and color response. This was also very important in converting these images to black and white. I sold my EOS D60, was without a digital camera for a while and then bought myself a brand new kit of Canon EOS 40D. However good this new camera was, the tonal response was lacking for me so I found a way to exchange it for the original 5D. I loved that camera. It gave me boatloads of detail and similar tonality as my beloved D60. I missed it for a very long time after I upgraded it for a 5D MK2. This camera was really good, detailed, had great ISO sensitivity, but the image was cold and unfriendly. Still i got used to it and used it for a few years before I sold it and bought myself an used Phase One medium format system. Gosh, I loved that CCD sensor, especially for black and white. That richness in tones was something I had never experienced. However it was too cumbersome for location work and I sold it. In 2014 i bought myself a Fuji XE-1 and was using this as a second camera, but after I sold my Canon system I used it more and more besides the Phase One. Now I am shooting Fuji only, using a XE-2 body, 35mm 1.4, 14mm 2.8 and a few vintage lenses. I love the fact that the body is so small and the viewfinder is on the edge, so it keeps my whole face free to interact with my subject through my facial expressions at all times. Also the 16 megapixels is plenty for me as I find I get better quality and similar detail out of it as I did from my 5D Mark 2. Long story short I believe light is everything in photography and as long as you can read and use light, it is of lesser importance what camera you are using.

Report: Using the Fujifilm GFX 50S for Studio Portrait Photography

The Fujifilm GFX 50s is the apple of many a photographer’s eye, as it surely should be. It’s one of the first affordable medium format camera systems to hit the market that offers the benefits of a mirrorless camera system with the image quality of that of higher end formats. Of course, the case with medium format cameras is that they’ve always been very popular in the studio. Part of this traditionally has to do with slow autofocus, thinner depth of field, and the relatively slower lenses in comparison to 35mm small format. Though with Fujifilm’s GFX 50s, that seems to be changing.

Editor’s Note: All images here were edited with our presets available complimentary to all La Noir Image subscribers.

A New Breed of Medium Format Photography

The Fujifilm GFX 50s is a medium format camera in terms of genre, but Fujifilm themselves don’t call it medium format. The sensor is smaller than a standard 645 piece of film or sensor; but it arguably performs better than a lot of options out there with the exception of the highest end products in some regards. Fujifilm has been working to not only target the studio portrait demographic, but also the photojournalist/wedding photographer. That type of work was done with medium format back in the film days for sure, but not really a whole lot now. Much of this type of work has been taken over by 35mm full frame cameras.

To appeal to a new breed of photographers, many of whom don’t know the first thing about medium format, there is a 50MP sensor at the heart of the Fujifilm GFX 50s. This sensor is larger than a full frame 35mm sensor and when you’re comparing specs and numbers, the sensor isn’t that much larger. However, when you look at it you notice a bigger difference. The Fujifilm GFX 50S also incorporates weather sealing, pretty darned fast autofocus abilities, a detachable viewfinder, Fujifilm’s signature film simulations, and access to some of the newest and sharpest lenses on the market.

Here are the main specs:

  • 51.4MP 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS Sensor
  • X-Processor Pro Image Processor
  • Removable 3.69m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.2″ 2.36m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • 117-Point Contrast-Detection AF System
  • Extended ISO 50-102400, 3 fps Shooting
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
  • Multi Aspect Ratio Shooting
  • Film Simulation Modes
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body

Just imagine medium format digital Acros…pretty cool, right?

Ease of Use

If you’re used to working with the Fujifilm camera system, then this will be pretty straight forward. There are other additions and features that Fujifilm added to the GFX 50s to appeal to those coming from Canon, Nikon, Pentax and even Phase One. For example, you can set the aperture and shutter speed dials to be non-functional and instead work with the exposure dials the camera offers. But otherwise, think of the Fujifilm GFX 50s as a much larger Fujifilm XT2 camera. Fujifilm designed the camera with a wide appeal factor amongst advanced photographers and professional photographers.

With that said, this camera is squarely designed to go up against the likes of the Sony a9, Sony a7r II, Canon 1Dx Mk II, Nikon D5, Pentax 645Z, and in some ways the Nikon D810 and Canon 5Ds. In fact, it’s around the size of a DSLR with nowhere near the same weight.

What this translates to in the studio is a simple experience. Most photographers tend to create and set their lighting up beforehand with little to no modification in the exposure settings after the shooting has begun. So you can shoot at 1/125th, f5.6 and ISO 100, lock that in and just keep going. With that statement is perhaps one of my biggest problems with the Fujifilm GFX 50s–1/125th shutter speed shooting abilities. There are many cameras with significantly smaller sensors that can do faster flash sync speeds. 1/125th is fairly awful. The way that you’re going to need to offset this is by using a flash or strobe with a fast flash duration. Alternatively you can also use ND filters to cut down on extra ambient light that could be in the scene.

Luckily, the Fujifilm GFX 50s also has a native low ISO setting of ISO 100. If you’re shooting indoors or outdoors with cloudy weather, that will surely be fine depending on a number of parameters in the scene.

Fujifilm’s own flashes aren’t very powerful either, unfortunately. So your best bet is working with some of the newer options from Interfit, Profoto, Elinchrom, Flashpoint, Impact, etc. Sadly, Fujifilm hasn’t partnered with Profoto or other manufacturers yet for TTL control and radio capabilities.

Autofocus

Autofocus on medium format cameras has never been a big selling point with the exception of the Hasselblad True Focus system. With the Fujifilm GFX 50s, you can select one of a number of different focusing points while enabling face detection and eye detection.There’s no big need to focus and recompose at all the way you would with film medium format cameras. Instead, just focus and shoot. In lower light situations, the focusing slows down. In cases like that, try using the modelling light from your strobe.

Studio shooting generally doesn’t involve a whole lot of movement when it comes to subjects; but when it does you’ve still got a pretty good medium format autofocus system. You’ll probably still want to pre-focus/zone focus using the Peaking function and the digital depth of field focusing abilities offered by the Fujifilm GFX 50s.

With Fujifilm though, I’m sure we can expect all of this to become even better after some firmware updates.

Lenses

Fujifilm has always had a fantastic lineup of lenses available. They’ve got some focal lengths that may seem weird to both brand new digital photographers and those familiar with medium format systems. For example, their 63mm f2.8 is a more normal style lens designed to act like your standard 50mm. Their 120mm f4 Macro is more like a 90mm offering which doubles as a fantastic portrait lens. The quality, especially when using flash output is fantastic. The images will be super sharp–and they may even be the sharpest photos on the market. There are other options on the way, but your best bet is typically prime lenses.

If the sensor were an X Trans sensor though, the output would be that much better.

Additionally, Fujifilm will hopefully come out with faster lenses. In the 645 medium format world, the fastest lens available is an 80mm f1.8. If a larger format can get to f1.8 then I see no reason why the GFX format can’t get them too in addition fo f1.4 lenses or even f1.2. That would truly take advantage of what a larger sensor can do. In the studio, it would mean that you’ll be able to blend more natural lights in with your flash output. This is a popular option when shooting on location actually.

Second Curtain Flash

Fujifilm has for years limited the second curtain flash abilities of many of their cameras–only allowing it to happen with their own flashes. With the Fujifilm GFX 50s though you can do it and take more advantage of the slow sync abilities that can stop one section of movement through an entire frame. This is fantastic for location work but best done with an assistant to help you out and get the lighting exactly where you need it.

Second curtain flash, for the uninitiated, uses the flash output to stop one particular section of the photo while showing off a whole lot of light trails in the rest of the image. They’re great for fire performers, hula hoopers, sports, or anything else involving movement that needs to be emphasized.

Of course, what would a medium format camera system be if it couldn’t do this.

Alexander Laurent: Comparing Good Portraiture to a Waltz

All images and words by Alexander Laurent. Used with permission.

My name is Alexander Laurent, I’m an artist with my studio located in Downtown Los Angeles. I work in a number of different mediums, but lately it’s been black and white film photography. I prefer working in black and white. It forces the viewer to let the image take the lead. Color invokes subconscious emotions before you even register what it is you’re looking at. Red summons up anger. Yellow gives comfort and familiarity. Blue is soothing. An endless number of color combinations pre-register emotions in your brain. They dictate how you see the image before it’s even been processed. With black and white photos, there is no register. The image communicates only as much as you let it.

Like a waltz, each step of the viewer needs to be smooth, accurate and done with intent. Move too quickly, you’re left with a fleeting feeling and little to take away with you. Move with it, you begin to sense the emotion, see every detail, find every flaw. These beautiful and profound moments only occur when you are fully attentive and present. It’s why I love black and white photos. I want people to have an emotional response when they see my work. I don’t really care if you like the image, so long as you feel something when you see it. There’s a connection that’s created between myself and the sitter when taking a portrait. If I do my job right, I can convey that emotional connection to the viewer and let them in to a little piece of what I got to experience with that person. So much of that is lost in other facets of our lives. We live in an image-based society now. At every corner there’s a photo of someone trying to sell you something.

Everyone has a camera and is contributing to the giant diary of the human experience that is social media. It becomes hard to focus on imagery when we’re inundated with it on a regular basis. I hope people slow down when they see a black and white image, because they have to, or they’ll mis it. Nothing will jump out at you, you have to sit still and let it guide you. I hope that’s what people experience when looking at my images.

Jeff Rojas: On Photographing In the Studio And Not Giving Into the Trends (Premium Interview)

All images by Jeff Rojas. Used with permission.

Photographer Jeff Rojas has always been a modern photographer with a whole lot of class that isn’t seen in a lot of modern photographers. He carries himself professionally, shoots, educates, etc. Oh, and he’s a fantastic portrait photographer. Jeff has some interesting thoughts and thought processes when it comes to marketing oneself as a photographer.

So he we got a chance to speak about this and his reverence of Irving Penn.

You’ve been one of the more recent photographers that believes and tries to emphasize men as portrait subjects. And in all of your images you’ve got this sense of edgy elegance to the final product. This is pretty much a trademark of yours, something that genuinely says “This is a Jeff Rojas photo.” What makes you lean towards this style of imagery?

That’s very kind of you. Thank you. Honestly? I’m not 100% certain. I wish I could give you a concrete “this is why” answer, but I can’t. It just felt like me. Funny enough, like many other photographers these days, I didn’t go to school for photography and didn’t get a chance to study the greats.

A makeup artist I work with recommended I should see a gallery at the MET because the photographer’s work reminded her of me. I didn’t listen to a name… in fact, I just decided to go on a whim one day. That photographer turned out to be Irving Penn. Walking through his gallery made me feel oddly at home. To make things weirder, I started seeing a lot of similarities in our work. Let me also be clear to say that I’m not at that level YET by any means…but I felt an odd connection to his body of work.

What do you personally think makes for a great studio portrait?

Photography like any other art is subjective, but I believe it starts by capturing the essence of your subject in a way that engages the viewer.

When you first got started in portrait photography, what were you like back then vs now? What are some major milestones that you feel you conquered?

One of the biggest hurdles that I faced was finding my own style. I worked alongside another photographer for the better part of two years and it was difficult to develop my own identity – my own voice. Second to that was feeling like my work wasn’t good enough for “everyone else.” The truth of the matter is… the only person you should be worried about liking your images is the person paying for you to take them – not other photographers and not your friends.

What deems an image to be portfolio worthy for you personally? That is, when you’re done looking at all the images from your session and you’ve culled and edited, what determines whether or not an image makes it onto your website?

I had a little bit of an epiphany a couple of months ago where I sat down with an art director and a photo agent to critique my portfolio because I started to feel like my portfolio was a mishmash of miscellaneous shoots I’ve done over the last few years. Truth be told, it was. It felt like therapy. They both sat me down and said: “show what excites you.” If that doesn’t sound traditional, don’t worry. I didn’t get it at first either. Long story short, you ABSOLUTELY want to show the work that you want to be hired for… but you should also be excited by the work you’re creating. If you’re not showing that work, then it shows on your face when you present your book to someone. Be proud of what you create.

“Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world… Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe. – Irving Penn”

Lots of photographers have talked about portraiture and a connection with the subjects that they photograph. Do any really memorable quotes really stick out at you and you feel have come to help define who you are as a photographer?

No…Although this is going to sound WEIRD. I think as an image-maker you have to fall in love with your subject in that particular moment in time. Nothing pervy. Just in the moment, capture that person for who they really are.

For you, what makes a black and white portrait effective? Of course, you need good content. But you’ve obviously already got that. But what often makes an image better when rendered in black and white?

Lighting is one of the most overlooked parts of black and white photography. It’s not about “convert to black and white” and you’re done. Quite the opposite really. You should have a thorough understanding of contrast and lighting in order to translate dimension in black and white since you can’t rely on color to do that for you.

How do you think men and women differ in the studio when being portrait subjects? Do you think that age plays a part of their personalities?

“A beautiful print is a thing in itself, not just a halfway house on the way to the page. – Irving Penn”

I think personality plays a factor more than age. As the old saying goes “age is just a number.” Some people love being in front of the camera, for others, it’s like pulling teeth. Regardless of gender, our job is to make each feel comfortable and evoke the best expression we can out of our clients.

You’ve never really been one to go with trends it seems. Instead, you’ve always been a photographer that really has some edge and definition in his own work. What are your clients typically like? Who are they? How do you think they differ from others (let’s say Peter Hurley)?

It’s funny that you say that… because although I’m aware of trends, I do my absolute best to carve my own path. For instance, HSS outdoors is a really big thing right now, as is Oliphant Backdrops. Two years ago, it was feathers and parachute dresses. Before that, it was lens baby and optical distortion. I don’t want to be one of those photographers. Let me be clear. I LOVE Oliphant backdrops and I use High Speed Sync, but I’m less concerned with what other photographers are doing and more concerned with what my client’s needs are.

Peter and I have different clients. Peter has a great portrait photography business focusing on actor and professional headshots and I’m actually shooting a lot more commercial work these days (commercial advertising). As such, it’s been a lot less formulaic than his work. Each client’s needs are different and my workflow to accomplish the assignment can vary from simple to complex. It really keeps things interesting.

What do you feel is more important: being someone that a client wants to work with, marketing, or your portfolio? Why? I think that you can agree with me that there are some absolutely terrible photographers out there that kill it at marketing and there are photographers with great portfolios but abysmal people skills.

Here’s the short answer: Create a marketable portfolio that makes clients want to work with you.

Here’s the long answer: “There is art in commerce and commerce in art.” Absolutely quote me on that. Why? Because it’s true. There are great photographers who cannot afford to pay rent and there are crappy photographers who make six and seven figures. Listen, how many photography institutions have closed in the last 5 years? How many companies in the photography industry have closed their doors? How many people have gone out of business? How many agencies have closed their doors?

It’s the reality we live in. I don’t believe in focusing on what you can’t control – you either adapt to the market or get eaten alive. That’s business. As a photographer you’re providing a product or service, you’re in the business of photography. I don’t care how great your skills are – if you don’t learn how to market them effectively, that’s your own fault. No one else’s.

Here’s an example. Joe runs a mechanic shop in New York City. Joe has been working on gas powered V8s his entire life. One day, everyone has switched over to electric and other alternative energy powered vehicles, but Joe didn’t take the time to learn how to work on those. Joe goes out of business.

I don’t blame the industry for evolving. I blame Joe for not investing the time to learn. That’s the brutal honest truth.

Stop complaining about having to learn how to market your business and do it.

“The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader. – Irving Penn”

What are some things that you feel every studio photographer should always remember when they’re on set?

Have fun. Between the marketing, sales, accounting, operations, etc., it can be easy to forget why you started in the first place. You probably didn’t start for the money, you started because you had fun doing it. Don’t lose that.