I’d love to start by saying thanks to Scott and Brad for the opportunity to share. Its quite an honor to be in the midst of such great people on this blog,but also a great challenge because so many great things have already been said here!
I never planned on being a photographer. I never went to school for photography and never really spent much time assisting. Its still sometimes shocking to me that this is where I ended up. I grew up with a heavy fine art background so it was not rare to see my brother and I spending time on the weekends or after school, painting, drawing or creating. In college, I majored in painting and honestly had no clue where it would lead me career wiseâ¦. but I loved it. I was obsessed with art. The culture, the history, the respect. It wasn’t until my senior year studying that I stumbled across photography.
Out of college I got a job at a great design firm in Orange County. It was a new world to say the least. I approached ‘digital art’ in a very primitive way, letting my technological skills catch up to what I saw in my head and wanted to create. It was very foreign to me but I enjoyed the challenge and the pace. I picked up photography simply to aid in my design work. Doing what most do when they begin, I shot textures, abstractions and various macro types. After my time at the design firm I was submerged in a world of art meeting commerce. I fell in love with the idea that an image could be beautiful and help attract towards somethingâ¦ a brand or a statement. It was powerful and at that point I knew what I wanted to spend my time creating. The rest has been a wild ride.
I’ll keep it short and sweet but I wanted to spend the few moments talking about being an artist. I figure most people reading this are in the industry or wanting to break into it, so this is geared to all of us. There is no doubt that this industry is incredibly hard to break into and if you don’t keep creating, you will disappear in a sea of heavy competition. I know for some of us its daunting to think about. What I charge you with today is to be an artist. I know that seems silly but I hear too many people jump into this industry for the wrong reasons and spend their time focusing on the wrong things. My buddy Nick Onken has always said this so well. You have to “live your passion”. As working artists or some that hope to be making a living creating, we have to be obsessed with the art. You have to find what ‘fills’ you as an artist and fight to keep that. I do this in a few ways.
Coming from a painting background, I have spent a lot of time with 3 elements: Tone, Form and Light.
These are things that painters and photographers have in common and they are worth getting obsessed about. I often get questions about post production and editing and I wish I had fancy answers for everyone, but I simply use inspiration that is out of the photography world. This is a fun exercise and I encourage you all to try it.
For example, I was shooting a recent fashion story and was so inspired by the pigments of a recent Edgar Payne exhibit, that I found myself toning my images as if they were his paintings. Did the skies need more yellow? Did the skin tones need more greens? Is my lighting carving out the shadows enough? These questions only came about because I was inspired by those simple things: Tone, Form and Light. I spend a lot of time and energy studying art because I think it makes a difference in my work. If we aren’t fighting for that creative ‘fill’ I have a hard time believing our work will be competitive enough in this industry. It takes that obsession I was mentioning. I want to encourage you to take an art history class or a painting class. You will be surprised how it affects your photography.
The last few years have been really fun. I work primarily in fashion and advertising so its always scratching that itch I have for where art and commerce meet. I am continually trying new lighting techniques, creating new personal work and learning the business of a modern day photographer. Thanks for readingâ¦ go create.