featured member

October Featured Member – Lawrence Getubig

 

Between 2 Ferns: A Conversation with James Kegley and Lawrence Getubig.

 

 

Lawrence Getubig by James Kegley

This month we feature APA “Educator” member, Lawrence Getubig. Lawrence has been in the Washington, DC region for a little over a year and has become a staple at APA events where he is known for his passion and enthusiasm for the art of photography. His work can be found at lawrencegetubig.com.   Interview and Portraits by James Kegley

 

James: Let’s start with your background as an educator…what courses did you teach and to who? 

Lawrence: I’ve taught a wide gamut of classes. There are still college programs that teach the fundamentals through black and white darkroom processes, so I’ve taught  this at the beginning level through advanced. I’ve even taught color film using enlargers, but that process, the machinery and supporting chemicals are hard to come by. It’s been years since I’ve taught that. It’s status quo to have a digital photography program of course, so I’ve been asked to teach digital photography classes as well.

Which ones did you find the most interesting to teach?

Well, I’ve really enjoyed teaching at art schools with photography programs that go  beyond the technical aspects of the medium. I once had to steward a senior thesis class at an art school in Michigan. The assumption in that class was that these were maturing artists proficient enough to create work that is executed well. And so the challenge had more to do with formulating a cohesive body of work with a message that goes beyond the idea of a pretty picture. I’m really passionate about lighting, and I’ve taught quite a bit of studio lighting and strobes set-ups to art and design schools spanning Boston, MA to Grand Rapids, MI to rural Virginia, even!

You have an MFA. How does that influence you now as an artist and as a person? 

In hindsight, it’s rather strange to have an MFA in photography, no? I became interested in photography only after getting my BS in Molecular Biology. So instead of going through undergraduate studies again, it made sense to pursue an MFA back then. In the vast world of photo production, one conduit is in academe. Many photographer luminaries teach. Stephen Shore, Gregory Crewdson…Barbara Kreuger. That’s a stratosphere I’m definitely not part of (chuckles). But having an MFA is one mode that qualifies artists to teach. So I started teaching and attending associations that focus on art production in the context of academic institutions. College Art Association, CAA is major one, as is Society for Photographic Education, SPE. Actually, SPE is a great organization and resource for any early career photographer. Their connections span beyond what their name implies.

 The MFA has really steered me into academe and its associated institutions.  I understand that’s just one aspect of making photographs and art. I can’t afford to just be an artist, so I have had to figure out other passions in conjunction with my interest in the visual arts. Teaching is one of them. But the more I think about it, the more I think I enjoy the connections and relationships I build, and being a teacher somewhat narrows my community. So I’m currently exploring ways to branch out.

 

This leads me nicely to my next question! You mentioned that you might be moving into a new phase  for your photography and photographic life.  What direction do you see that going in and how do you see the evolution and change occurring?

I’m keen at trying my hands as a commercial photographer in the future. For now,  I’ve been able to put my people and photography skills to work as an assistant for local DC photographers.  I hope those that I’ve assisted spread the word about me!  And I’ve been trying to network with the photo editing community. Both assisting and reaching out to photo editors and fact checkers (a fascinating behind the scenes aspect of editorial magazines) allow me to employ my passion for image construction, art and research, as well as helping out people with their own goals, and in doing so, connecting with them. People skills – these soft skills, if it hasn’t been said already, I’ll say it again, plays such an important role in any industry. Oh, yeah, and luck!

 

You are drawn to classics in many fields…movies etc. Want to talk about that and its importance to you?

Are you referring to my homage photo of George Peppard? While I was in Michigan teaching, I discovered that George Peppard’s grave was located near Detroit. As you and I know, he played Audrey Hepburn’s paramour in the movie. I was so excited, so I took my 4×5 camera and capitalized on the photo op. The photo references a scene where the two of them don dog and cat masks.

I am particularly drawn to how American film, especially the genre of science fiction and romance, past and present, constructs our ideas and aspirations for love, desire, home and family. Breakfast At Tiffany’s is such an iconic film, more so than the novella. The film really reached the hearts of many, including those of us who grew up outside the United States.  Although from the 60’s, I saw B at T and films such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. back in the 70’s.  I’m fascinated by how American imports like these grip the imaginations of people beyond the borders of the US. All these movies are about home, about belonging, about finding a greater purpose. It definitely resonated with my immigrant self, then and now. They were so escapist, they were flickerings of silver dreams,  a way of emigrating out of the Philippines and economic hardship for many, albeit temporarily.

 

So how does this tie-in with your love to photograph the dioramas you construct?

 Most of the art work I’ve done these past 5 years are cut-outs and dioramas that I photograph with my 4×5 film Toyo camera.  I try to design these mini sets to mimic the iconography of these movies that I watched growing up in the Philippines. I’m examining and reliving how they specifically resonated to the aspiring  migrant  I was, with the idea of home, love, family, belonging and greater purpose. Hopefully, these photographs resonate and are appreciated by others as well, even if the associations are different.

 

You moved here not so long ago.  How has living in the DC metropolitan area formed your ideas about where you are heading with photography.

DC has influenced me by…well, actually, I’m still figuring out how and what DC’s rich landscape of possibilities are leading towards. For the immediate present, the door of opportunities I’m knocking on are assisting other commercial photographers, but also, figuring out how I can apply my visual skills in this city. There are many editorial institutions, museums and archives. I’ve expressed interest, but so far, no bites! APA DC has been an unbelievable professional support group. And I like that there’s enough cross-talk between the other photo trade associations. So I’ve been able to connect beyond APA because of this. Hmmm. The future is too fluid for a concrete answer! I doubt Yoda could do better.

Actually, I’m taking an HTML class here at one of the community colleges. And, I just became the instructor’s TA! Funny how, in trying to ramp down on teaching, and learning another valuable skill such as web design, HTML and JavaScript, I end up back in part-time teaching!

 

You are a pretty outgoing and positive person.  What are you excited about in particular?

Other than photography and art-making? I get excited when I meet interesting, engaging people! Advances in science and technology are always in my radar. The last exciting event I’ve attended here in DC: the city’s 10th Annual Short Film Festival. Who knew the film community was thriving here!

All images copyright Lawrence Getubig

September 2013 Featured Member – James Kegley

09-2013_KegleyCORRECTED

Portraits and Interview by Kate Bohler.

How did you first get started in photography, was it one specific thing or a combination of events that drove you to photography?

 It was a combination of events. I had been a sales rep for computers, found it unsatisfying, so went back to school and got an MS in exercise physiology. This led to a few ventures landing me back in pharmaceutical sales. Once again it didn’t fulfill me.  After 3 years of that I quit, sold the condo and boat and travelled around the world doing different things to make money as I went and traveling quite cheaply.  In India I was taking some pictures and getting paid with absolutely NO idea what I was doing.  I faxed Paul Fetters, who was a friend, about advice on what lens to buy there and after a fax or two we decided I should come be his assistant and learn.  I had no idea how much I had to learn, and was more than a little intimidated at the prospect but came back from this incredible adventure to embark on a new one.

 

You mentioned working in a different field before working as a full time photographer.  What do you enjoy most about your switch to photography?

I love this job.  I love that I get to go places I wouldn’t normally go, meet people I wouldn’t get to meet, and take a momentary peek into their worlds. It is, in a sense, a continuation of the early 2 year journey. I enjoy continuing to learn about the craft of photography and the business of photography and continuing to grow my business. The combination of all those things is really fulfilling.

 

Did you ever assist other photographers when you first started out?  If so, what was the most valuable thing you learned from them to help you get started?

 At first I was Paul Fetters’ full time assistant. That was invaluable. We had a year commitment, which of course morphed into a longer working relationship as I understood his approach at the time so we made a good team.  The obvious is the lighting, but beyond that, Paul is great with clients and was good at discussing the business end of things with clients in a professional manner. He pretty much shaped how I approached things. After that I spent another year assisting Brett Littlehales who was also great to learn from and spend time with. Barb Ries was also another regular who had(s) a wonderful approach to things and always makes whoever she is photographing at ease. Another I used to assist frequently was Walter Calahan.  Once again, seeing slightly different approaches to solving the same hurdles, was invaluable and everyone was very generous in sharing why the did certain things.

 

You spoke a lot about your work in education.  What do you like most about working in schools or for your education clients?

Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that I was decent at shooting in these educational environments. At one school recently, shooting images for their viewbook/website one middle schoolish kid looked at me and said…”its kind of like you are on safari, only in the schools….like…”oh hey theres a student studying! Thats a good shot!”.  And to a degree he nailed it. It is really fun and sometimes challenging finding the good shots that serve the clients needs at the same time as being the less obvious cliched shot and one that is naturally lit well. And trying to fit that into a specific layout at times is an added challenge.  I do a lot of work with/for Catalone Design and I really enjoy the thoughtful way they have planned out a piece and what sort of image might go where. So working with them and a specific layout to fill with my images is a wonderful process I have enjoyed.

 

Is there anything that inspires you when you work with the children and staff at the schools?

 As a father of two young boys in school, I enjoy being in all these different learning environments getting a peek into the world these kids are growing up in. Plus kids are so great and unpredictable, there is always a reason to smile which is nice.

 

Your portrait work is really wonderful. When you first interact with a client, how do you decide what the best location/lighting/props/etc. will be right for that particular subject?  

Thank you. I enjoy it.  Its hard to say.  I would say my work, clients vary so much. I have many long term clients I have never met, particularly the clients who are hiring me for portraits. They are usually in some other part of the states.  But for me, basically I react to what is happening with the existing light and try to find a place that has something interesting going in in terms of light, shapes etc, keeping it relevant to the clients direction and needs while talking to the subject about what they do.

 

Are the shoots mainly your creative genius or do you work closely with the clients to come to a joint decision on what type of portrait will be appropriate?

Ha! Let’s leave the genius part out.  I have both types of clients, some who are very specific and some who are looser. The longer the working relationship has gone on, the more trust on both sides exists which is nice for both of us. I did a shoot this week with a new client, a portrait for an alumni magazine, and the direction was very specific with a lot of caveats about what they don’t want and stories to accompany those concerns. The stories all involved photographers who didn’t listen to their layout needs or some such. Needless to say, I was a tad nervous until she saw the gallery and really liked it. But I am pretty easy to work with I think and will sometimes do exactly what they want and then when that is done shoot something slightly different that I see along the way. Because in the end, clients are hopefully assigning us for the way we see a picture.

I loved browsing through your travel images on your website.  Was most of that shot for a client/job or did you shoot that while on a vacation of your own?

Most of those I shot on my own. I have done some travel photography for work and really enjoyed it. I would like to keep that in the mix, but the goal to have that be what I do all the time went away when I had kids.

What do you see for the future of your career, and do you see yourself in the field for quite a long time?

Yes, I see myself doing photography forever. As for where it is going, I hope to continue to mix it up, some education work, some portrait work, some lifestyle work and the occasional travel shoot.

Last but not least, how has your family influenced your career?

When I first got into this, I thought I would love to do travel photography. I have done some traveling to some cool places on assignment and gotten to see some interesting things. But getting married and having kids changed what I see as ideal. Now I really wouldn’t want to be on the road all the time, missing chunks of their lives. Everything changed for me once we had them and all for the good.

 

 

Find even more of James’ images at

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August Featured Member – Kate Bohler

bohler triptych1

 Max Hirshfeld

Interview and Photos by Max Hirshfeld

 

After receiving your BS in 2005 what was the first thing that led you to switching to further education as an artist?

I have always been interested in some type of art from a young age.  I was enrolled in drawing classes, painting classes, and even in high school and college took a few art classes.  It has always been my passion and I knew that I would want to be in the art field as my future career, I just didn’t know how or when.  Some of my family members are photographers, and one in particular inspired me to start shooting a bit.  So after graduating with my BS in 2005, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do yet and decided to pursue photography.  I signed up for a few classes and quickly realized that this was the career I wanted to pursue.

 

When you started at Art Institute was photography your first field of study? And if not, what led you into photography specifically?

Photography was my first field of study, but I did get to enjoy a wide variety of different classes while I was attending the Art Institute.

 

Who inspired you and what might be your one guiding principle that you came away with?

My inspiration was definitely one of the professors I had, and another was the former Director of Photography who also taught a few of my classes.   They taught me not only about photography, but how to build a business, how to work with others, and taught me some great lessons I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.  They were an incredible instrument in helping me get to where I am today and I am grateful for what they did to help me start my career and to help it blossom to where it is today.  One particular lesson I learned in school that has helped me a great deal in my work as a food photographer is something one of those professors always said:  “Ask yourself what if?”.   Those words have stuck with me since then and have been the greatest tool I take on shoots with me today.

 

Did you assist other photographers after school?

I did assist other photographers right after school.  I found it was the best hands-on approach to learning my craft, there is no education like one in the field assisting someone else that is a professional.  I also sat down with many photographers once I graduated to talk photography and the industry, have them look at my portfolio for some advice, and just meet my colleagues.  It was a great way to learn more about what my future may look like, but also get some hands on experience.

 

You have chosen to concentrate on shooting food. After doing this for the past few years do you see yourself branching out into still life and, say, interiors which for many photographers are often combined in what is offered to clients?

I definitely see myself branching out into still life and especially interiors, and have already had the opportunity to shoot some interiors while on my food shoots.  I think that will be vital in helping me further my career, especially when working with restaurant clients.  I think still life would be a great avenue to pursue as well, although I see that as more of a personal project at this point while I work on my food photography and learn more about shooting interiors.

 

I know you shoot with available light which allows broad freedom but has its own set of controls that need to be mastered. Tell us a little about your normal shooting approach and the kit you travel with.

I enjoy shooting with available light because it does allow me the freedom to move around easily, especially when shooting in a tight space or a crowded restaurant.  I also like the look of natural light especially while working with food, and it has been the style of photography I have enjoyed the most.  I am still learning little techniques to help control the environment I am in which is challenging at times.  When on a shoot, I look for the biggest window or most available light the restaurant/client can provide for me and work there.  If possible, I ask them to turn off the overhead lights which mix with the natural light while I’m shooting.  If not possible, I use large flags to block out the other light.  While shooting for clients or magazines, I like to have the food as close to how they would serve to customers as possible, so I don’t use many food styling items.  I use some food tricks like oil to make food look more juicy or less dried out, toothpicks to help keep a burger together, salt to give beer more head, but I like to keep it as simple and natural as possible.  I have been doing a bit of research into styling tools in case I get into commercial food photography, and will continue to work on that as personal projects.

 

Since DC has become something of a foodie’s town, are there new avenues to pursue (within that world) that might allow you to stand apart from others?

DC is a great place for me to start up my career because there are so many new restaurants, chefs, and avenues to pursue.  I think as a newer photographer the best direction for me to go is to shoot as many different types of food and lesser known places as possible.  There are always new chefs coming up with new ways to present food or cook, and that could be something that could help me to stand out apart from others.  Chefs are a big inspiration to me, and working with new and upcoming chefs could be a way to set myself and my portfolio apart from others.

 

Do you shoot personal work? Video?

I shoot some personal work now, especially during down time while I am marketing myself and finding clients.  I feel it is a great way to keep myself consistently shooting and motivated, and also helps me learn through mistakes while on my own time.  I don’t work too much with video although I took a class while at the Art Institute and would like to learn a bit more about it for my own personal and possibly professional work.

 

Finally, where do you see the future of food photography heading?

I see a lot of positive things in the future for food photography. There is more and more interest in food photography now, as well as new ways to cook and plate with all the newer young chefs coming around and developing new styles and techniques.  Especially in markets like DC, New York and Chicago, with the increase in new and unique restaurants and styles of cooking, they will always need photographers to help showcase their work.

 

More of Kate’s work can be found at www.katebohlerphotography.com

July Featured Member – Max Hirshfeld.

Max Hirshfeld_Portrait_small

By Timothy R Lowery

I was honored to be the APA/DC Member of the Month for May 2013. . .and one of the responsibilities of being featured is you are asked to photograph and interview the next featured member of the month.  Accordingly, I was asked to photograph and interview local photography legend Max Hirshfeld.

I had known of Max Hirshfeld’s photography for quite some time, but it was not until a few weeks ago that I had the opportunity to meet the man himself.  I received an invitation from the Hemphill Gallery to attend the opening reception of their new exhibit Artist-Citizen, Washington DC. And as fate would have it, one of the featured artists was Max Hirshfeld.  When I arrived at the gallery for the reception the first thing I saw immediately upon entering the space was an entire wall of thirty-three stunning portraits taken by Max.  He called the exhibited project ILLUMINARIES, as it featured portraits of key players in the Washington DC art scene.  I was totally mesmerized by the wall of stunning portraits. I stood there and tried to take in all the subtle nuances of each portrait. . .until finally I had to step to the side to allow others to take in the beauty of the exhibited art. Later in the evening, I had the pleasure of meeting Max and speaking with him for a few minutes about his work. As impressed as I was with Max’s ILLUMINARIES project, the warmth, sense of humor and down-to-earth nature of the man behind the project equally impressed me.

Over thirty years of advertising and editorial photography in the studio and on location coupled with his vibrant yet emotional personal work has made Max one of the best photographers working today. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, GQ, Time, Forbes and Vanity Fair and in advertising campaigns for Amtrak, Johnson & Johnson, Ikea and The US Mint.

I am honored to share the following interview with APA/DC July Member of the Month, Max Hirshfeld.

 Portraits and Interview by Timothy R Lowery

 

* * * * * * *

Timothy R Lowery: Were there influences that steered you in the direction of photography from an early age?  

Max Hirshfeld: Most certainly my father. He gave me a camera in high school, helped me buy my first Nikon and, with my mother, built a home full of books and music.

What inspires you to take photographs?

I take picture because I have to. Pictures present themselves to me all the time so I used to feel almost guilty if I didn’t try to grab them. It’s only recently that I have learned that absorbing images is sometimes enough and that “mental lightbox” informs and aids me when I do actually push the shutter.

What was your very first professional photography job?

I was the staff photographer at The National Zoo before I turned 24.

How would you describe the evolution of your work?

During my final year in college (GWU 1973) I became enthralled with shooting 4×5 B&W images, mostly abandoned buildings and alley images…lots of texture with no soul. But at the zoo I had to embrace shooting 35mm color transparencies as well as run the darkroom. So I really came to loving photography from two distinct places. When I went out on my own in 1979 I took whatever jobs came along and quickly discovered my passion for shooting people. It wasn’t long before I moved into medium and large format work in a series of studios while still shooting 35 on the street. The advent of digital shooting has in many ways allowed me to circle back to a more organic, spontaneous way of working.

When you plan a photo shoot, do you structure everything or do you leave room for improvisation?

The best planning for a shoot is something akin to the old maxim in carpentry of measuring twice and cutting once. I feel pretty strongly about a buttoned up approach on the technical and crew side while maintaining a very relaxed atmosphere while on set. Knowing my gear, depending on dedicated and smart team members and never considering any assignment as a ‘throw-away’ allows me the most flexibility and the ability to improvise. I like to make it look easy while being in complete control; I love the adrenaline rush when I shoot, knowing the details are covered actually allows me the most freedom to create and be as fully in the moment as possible. And with the wide berth that shooting digitally affords one, taking risks is an added bonus that comes with its own comfort level.

When you receive a new assignment, or you are working on a new project, what is your typical workflow process. . .from pre-production to post-production?

My number one workflow start is a thank you to the person who has hired me. From there it seems to roll out in the following way: planning session with my producer, confirming crew, scouting a location (or hiring someone if its out of town), developing a shot list which hopefully dovetails with the lighting plan I should be devising when the job is confirmed, creating a calendar from which I can work backward filling in any holes regarding rental gear, location permits, wardrobe details, travel arrangements. Then…hopefully, we shoot. Double backup on site, download soon after wrap, archive raw files, build web galleries, initiate post-production if shoot requires outside digital services and confirm delivery schedule with client.

What significant changes in the photography industry have you seen during your career as a professional photographer that 1) excite you, and 2) concern you?

The advent of digital capture still excites me the most…the advent of digital capture still concerns me the most because it has never been easier to take a picture and never harder to stand out from the crowd.

 

If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your photography career and have a conversation with your younger self, what advice would you give?

I would tell myself to shoot more than I ever thought necessary but to also slow down, to remember that life is short, but art is long.

Finally, your ILLUMINARIES project is beautifully featured on one entire wall of the Artist-Citizen, Washington DC exhibit currently on display at the Hemphill Gallery through July 27th. Could you tell us about your inspiration for the project?

ILLUMINARIES was inspired by two things. First, by Irving Penn and two specific bodies of work: Worlds In A Small Room and the series of portraits of leaders in the art and cultural worlds in New York that was shot in his studio against a simple, two-flat set. The second inspiration was actually a combination of two weather-beaten adages: ‘shoot what you know’ and the best stories are usually in your own back yard. Like all of us I’ve watched Washington explode with restaurants, theaters, retail opportunities, apartment buildings, a certified nightlife, traffic and more. So being a student of popular culture and a fan of social media, I crafted a series of portraits that might begin to tell that story by focusing on some of the key players who give DC a healthy chunk of home-grown soul.

* * * * * * *

 

May Featured Member Timothy R Lowery

May 2013 - Lowery

 Photo and Interview by Mike Morgan

Timothy R Lowery is an APA|DC member based in Washington, DC who photographs fashion for editorial publications both here and abroad. He was interviewed by our April Featured Member, Mike Morgan at the end of April.

 

***

 

Mike Morgan: So, let’s start at the beginning. Tell me how you got started with photography?

 Timothy R Lowery: I started my journey with photography when I was fifteen, actually. I bought my first camera…a Canon AE-1.

 

M: My first camera as well!

 T: My older brother had bought a Canon AE-1 while he was stationed inVietnam, and when he came home he was taking lots of pictures; and you know, I looked up to my big brother and I wanted a camera like his. So I worked for a year and a half after school and did whatever I could do to earn what I could earn, and I finally saved up enough money and bought the Canon.

 

 

M: Sure.

T: I immediately felt a connection to photography. I was hooked the first time I pressed the shutter release button! Soon after purchasing my camera, I started taking photographs for my high school newspaper and annual. I took advantage of any opportunity to shoot.  Back in those days, it seemed as if I were neglecting something essential if a day went by without me doing something related to photography. Toward the end of high school I was looking at enrolling in the Art Institute of Atlanta and pursuing a career as a professional photographer.  But I was dissuaded by members of my family who felt like a more prudent decision would be to get a business degree at an in-state university, so that is what I wound up doing. Even while in college, I continued to shoot as much as I could. . but by the time I graduated so much was going on: becoming an adult, trying to get a job, all that stuff; and over time I stopped taking pictures and for many many years I did not pick up a camera except maybe a “point and shoot” camera while on vacation. For twenty-years after college I was very focused  on my commercial real estate career, leading successful projects throughout the country.

 

 

M: So how did you get back into photography?

 T: In 2010 I was feeling a need for a creative outlet. . .and at the same time a really close friend of mine was going to Aveda Institute. As part of the learning process, local photographers would come to my friend’s school and shoot portfolio sessions for them.  I flippantly said one time to my friend “I could shoot better images than what you are showing me”.  My friend said, “Well, why don’t you do it?”. . .and that’s really how it all started. I went and bought a new camera and I bought some constant lights (I didn’t have strobes back in those days) and I started shooting hair shots. That’s really how it started. Eventually I started shooting once a month for Aveda, shooting all of their students’ portfolio work.  So my progression was very organic: nothing was planned, nothing was strategic, nothing was really thought out. It was more responsive than proactive.

 

M: So how did you get from that point to shooting these very involved fashion editorials, in such a short span of time?

 T: The next level for me was working with a local fashion designer who had seen my work and asked me to shoot her look book.  Accordingly, I evolved from hair to fashion to editorial, and again it was very organic. Just to fast-forward, two years later my most recent editorial is coming out in Zink Magazine in June, and at the same time I’ve negotiated rights for Velvet Magazine in the UAE to have the exclusive Middle-Eastern rights, so there’s been a lot that’s happened in two years.  One thing has led to another thing. . .and eventually better models, better clothes, better stylists, better equipment has been the result.

 

M: That’s amazing, so in that short of a period of time?

 T: Yes, two years!

 

M: That’s incredible, meteoric. 

 T: Well, meteoric is going from obscurity to Vogue. So I don’t feel like it has been meteoric…but it has been an amazing journey in a short period of time.

 

M: You’re in a very interesting space in your career right now with your successful commercial real estate career and the success of your editorial photography.

 T: It’s a very interesting space, and you know I’m constantly asked: Would you want to be a photographer full-time? And I always say I would love to, but I’m not 20-something years old any more and I’m not at that point in life where you just drop everything and go, “Oh, I’m just going to go and live out of a suitcase and shoot pictures.”  But I do have a passion for photography and I love what I am doing.  I’m learning something new every day.

 

M: I think it’s a very unique story, and I think most people who have the financial means or money from some other source and decide that they’re interested in photography, they’re dabblers you know? They’re just going to do a little bit here and there, there not going to commit to building a talented team around them and then actually producing truly impressive, very detailed work, and if they’re shooting fashion they’re not shooting it with such technical precision and the type of forethought that you’re obviously putting into it.

 T: I really do put a lot of forethought into every editorial that I shoot…and as far as technical precision, the last two years have taught me so much about the technical aspects of fashion editorial photography. . . from good composition to lighting!

 

M: I think your work is pretty amazing. I’ll be honest with you, when they told me I’d be photographing and interviewing you I was not familiar with your work. I went to your website, and I said who is this guy and what is he doing in DC?

T: From a fashion photography standpoint, it’s a great question!

 

M: You know when photography students come to me and say they want to shoot fashion I tell them, “Pack your bags, go to New York or LA, you’re not going to be able to build a career here.” So I think you’re in a really unique position, and an enviable position. For most photographers it’s the financial burden of running the business and having access to capital that stalemates their creativity and wears them out.  

T: I’m deeply sympathetic because I know that’s many photographer’s plight, and so when I look back on my life in hindsight, I kind of owe my family a debt of gratitude in one regard; because my business career has created this vehicle that now allows me to financially shoot what I want to shoot.

 

M: So having said all that, tell me a little bit about where you draw your inspiration from and, even when you were starting, how did you determine what your end goal was, and how did you decide what kind of images you wanted to create in the first place? 

T: When you ask that question, I immediately think back to the end of 2010, and I was shooting the look book that I referenced a bit ago, and I remember saying I want to devote 2011 to just learning how to shoot fashion editorials. What I loved about editorial was the story, and I wasn’t sure how you tell a story in pictures when it’s all fashion? So some talented friends and I started brainstorming about some stories we wanted to shoot.  The first editorial I shot, Center of Attention, I didn’t even know what to call it, to be honest with you. I came down to a furniture store in Georgetown and told them I needed some furniture for a photo shoot, and believe it or not they loaned it to me.  I had a local model, not even agency represented. . .and I found a local stylist.  We put all this together and that was my first experience with editorial.  Truthfully, we didn’t even have a “story”. . .we created the story after we shot the images.  So I learned it is much better to go into the shoot with a story rather than vice versa.

 

M: How did developing a storyline change things on your shoots?

T: Soon after that first editorial shoot, I decided I wanted to do an editorial inside an office space about a group of people who work together. . .I named the editorial “Taking Care Of Business”. This time I went into the shoot with a whole storyline and I knew the characters and how I wanted to shoot them. It made doing the shot list so much easier!

 

M: When you’re developing your story, and say it’s an editorial client, do you run your storylines by your editor and do they ever contribute to it? Or is it just a private conversation that goes on with your team and crew?

T: It goes both ways, because if it’s for submission you have total control, but if you’re shooting for a magazine they have certain parameters you must follow. You know a lot of times they want to approve the talent, they want to approve the stylist, and many art directors want to be right there viewing every shot.  Thankfully most of the magazines that I have worked with and worked for, have just allowed me to be me and use my own creativity rather than imposing their vision for the editorial.

 

M: I have to say, it’s an enviable position to be in, when you’re just going out there and you’re making the art you want to make, and along the way you’re getting work published. 

T: That’s exactly it, from my perspective it’s like painting a beautiful painting. You know many of the great painters were dead long before their paintings were ever appreciated; imagine the rejection in that. And you know, we’ve all dealt with some rejection.  But I never take it personally because at the end of the day this is my art. I want everyone to love it, but if you happen to hate it, it doesn’t degrade the fact that it’s art in my opinion, and that’s really how I see photography.  Even in portraiture or architectural photography. . .it is art!

 

M: One thing that I think makes this so unique is your talent level, I mean there are so many people who just have an interest in photography, but the key is not just your influence in business but the fact that people can look at your work and say, “Ok, wow, this guy really knows what he’s doing, he’s coming here to actually do something – he’s not just some hobbyist using up our time.” 

T: Well, I’m very serious about my photography. . .but let’s be honest, everything is about aesthetics in photography. So either you have an eye for it or you don’t.  I personally believe that it is a god given talent or universe given talent, however you want to say it. I didn’t ask for it, but I’ve always had it…and I am very appreciative for whatever level of talent that I have been given.

 

M: Tell me a little more about working with a team, and what that’s like in terms of the genesis of coming up with a storyline to how you game plan.

T: It all begins with a concept, and to be honest with you the team brainstorms, so it’s not always my idea.  But usually it’s an idea and then the first thing we do is a mood board: you go to the internet and you pull images that are inspirations, that have the same feel, the same mood, the same setting, some commonality and we create a mood board and then the mood board is circulated amongst the team and we start talking about what kind of clothes we want to shoot, what resources do we need, what fashion houses can we pull from, etc. Then that leads to talking about the hair, the makeup and the location where we are going to shoot the editorial.  I then reach out to the modeling agencies once we decide what kind of model we want.  And I have to say that I am very thankful that we have been able to have models come from New York to DC to be featured in our editorials.

 

M: I think you’re the reason why they’re willing to come to DC.

T: Well, thank you. . .I always take good care of the models and try to make their experience on set as good as I can make it.

 

M: This is a fascinating story, it’s so different from the path of most working photographers. So I did have one last question for you: what is does the future hold for your photography, what do you hope to eventually accomplish with this second career?

T: That’s such a difficult question for me, it really is. I want to keep taking photographs, and I want to keep telling stories, and I want to keep creating my art.  I’ve made a conscious decision that I’m not going to put my camera down again. So that’s where it begins for me.  I’d love one day to be able to work with certain magazines, and hopefully continue to grow, and have them say “Hey, we’ve got this amazing project we want to shoot, and we think your aesthetic would be right for this.” However, I don’t have a crystal ball, and have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I hope that I get to one day be able to spend a good portion of my time doing what I have a passion for.

 

M: Well, it sounds like you’re making it happen.  It’s pretty nice to be in a position to write your own destiny and do it the way you want to do it. 

T: It’s getting easier and thankfully, I have more options these days. . .and I appreciate all that is currently happening with my photography.  As I said before, it’s been an amazing journey!

April Featured Member : Mike Morgan

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 Photo and Interview by Mike Olliver

 

Where are you from, and how did you enter the DC region? Where do you currently live?

I’m originally from a little town called Pacific Grove, California. I was going to college out west and suffering from wanderlust and decided I’d take some time off from school and travel. I ended up in Baltimore and thought I’d better start looking at going to school again; I chose the University of Maryland and I’ve been in the area ever since. After I closed my studio in Silver Spring, my wife and I moved to Annapolis for a couple of years, and now we’ve just bought a house out on Kent Island.

 When did you realize you would become a professional photographer?

 Well oddly, I think it’s more accurate to say I had a moment when I realized I *had* become a professional photographer. I started shooting after college and followed a few opportunities and my career took off pretty early, but initially I thought I’d ride it out for a while and then start applying for grad schools. It didn’t slow down for a very long time and I was having a lot of fun along the way, and at a certain point I realized this is what I was doing with my life. It was never a goal when I was younger though, I always thought I’d have a much more traditional job.

Read more

March Featured Member: Mike Olliver

March Featured Member Mike Olliver

Interview and photos by Amie Chou

 

How many years have you been in photography?

I’ve been making my living from photography for almost 15 years.

How did you get started in this field?

Purely by chance. I was working at a post production facility, and my company asked me to take some stills during a video shoot — of the late Steve Irwin, “Crocodile Hunter.” There was another photographer, Steve Barrett, who had been hired by the client to do a portrait of Mr. Irwin. He and I started talking, and next thing I knew, I was taking longer lunch breaks to assist him on local shoots! I became increasingly smitten with the variety of assignments and flexible schedules, and within a year, Steve introduced me to Mike Langford, of Capital Color (a well-respected Q-lab specializing in E-6), and I began working there part-time. I was able to meet a lot of prospective clients (photographers) and began assisting a stable of photographers on a regular basis. This allowed me to jump full-time into assisting, and eventually, I was able to “cut the cord” and make the jump to full-time shooter.

Who are your photographic or artistic influences?

I couldn’t name anyone for you. My inspirational sources are constantly evolving. If we’re speaking of the formative years, it would be a very strange juxtaposition of National Geographic and Playboy Magazine. (Sorry, Mom!).

How long have you been in the area and what brought you here?

I originally came to DC in 1990, just after I graduated from college. A friend lived down here, and since I played guitar, he invited me to live in his basement, and join his band. I never intended to stay in the DC area, but ended up staying here until 2004, when my wife Linda and I moved to Baltimore.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing photographers in the metropolitan DC area?

I think it’s the same as it would be everywhere – a lower barrier to entry for the aspiring photographer, which creates a larger pool of photographers competing for a dwindling amount of decent jobs. We have the added problem of not being regarded as a production based area, so for bigger jobs, especially involving outside agencies, clients tend to look at our shooters last, even though the job may be in our back yard.

Can you define a specific “turning point” in your career? Read more

February Featured Member: Amie Chou

 

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 Photo and Interview by Cameron Davidson

An Interview with Amie Chou

How many years have you been in photography?

I picked up my first camera in 1996 but didn’t pursue photography as a career until recently. Since 2008 I have been assisting local photographers and last year took on fashion label Club Monaco as a client.

Who are your photographic or artistic influences?

Among my early influences were Margaret Bourke-White and Julius Shulman. Two of my favorite contemporary photographers are Tim Griffith and Michael Kenna because, although they shoot different subject matter, their imagery is always striking and elegant. I’ve always been tuned into the lines, angles, and the use of negative space in photographs–qualities that all of these photographers share in common and something I strive for in my own work. Read more

January Featured Member: Cameron Davidson

Aerial and Portrait Photographer Cameron Davidson. Photo by Matthew Rakola

Interview and Portrait by Matthew Rakola

An Interview with Cameron Davidson

Cameron Davidson lives in Northern Virginia and shoots for clients all over the world. Cameron photographed, from the air, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed for twenty years. Chesapeake is one of six books of his collected work. While we at APA are especially fond of Cameron’s landscape and aerial photography, he produces stellar portraits as well. Visit our Facebook page as we feature Cameron’s work throughout the month of January.

How many years have you been in photography?

Quite a while now. I started shooting when I was 14 and never really looked back. I assisted (indentured servant?) to three photographers in the DC region, David Sharpe, Ross Chapple and a name I have wiped from my memory. I started shooting commercially in 84 after I had a couple of years of editorial under my belt. I started out pretty young and am grateful that I was given the opportunities and trust by a few important editors and art directors.

Who are your photographic or artistic influences?

I read a great deal and this helps give me with a sense of balance and influence. Particularly now, since we all seem to be bombarded with photography, technique and way too much non-important information.

My early photographic influences were Bruce Davidson, Jay Maisel, Eric Meola, Pete Turner, Arnold Newman, Ernst Haas and William Garnett. Nowadays, friends of mine surprise me with their incredible imagery. They are: Julian Calverley, who is arguably the best landscape photographer in the UK who shoots with Alpa and an 80 megapixel Phase back. And Mark Tucker, a portrait shooter in Nashville who is pushing his own envelope with 8×10 and large format homemade cameras. Both of these guys have a distinct vision that is firmly rooted in a meticulous approach to craft. Read more