A Spotlight Series About The Technique Of Photographic Imagery by Photographers For Photography!
WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALTY:
My specialty is people for editorial and advertising.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS:
I got an undergraduate degree in film production with the intention of directing movies. During that time, Dallas had opened a studio and looked to be a “third coast”. Robert Rodriguez had shown us
how to do Independent Films and a lot of ‘creativity over cost’ energy was in the air. Unfortunately, about the time I graduated, the creative film industry dried up here. On top of that, I learned that I didn’t want to move to L.A. or N.Y. to be a P.A. So I stayed at the corporate job, that was my college job, for another 5 years. Eventually that place drove me to medication and I knew I didn’t want to live my life in that environment. So I quit and made a feature length independent film. It was during the making of that film that my lighting guy noticed I was taking a lot of production stills and suggested I do “commercial photography”… a term I’d never even heard before. After he explained the industry to me, I looked up some commercial photographers, found the ones I liked, and cold called them explaining that I’d like to learn from them. One of them explained that I was looking to be a “photo assistant” and he hired me for a job the very next day.
FAVORITE TOOLS FOR YOUR TRADE:
A camera. I say that simply because I really don’t care about what camera I’m shooting with. It’s the experience of shooting and the emotion I get from the subject that really drives me. I like some of my hipstimatic prints more than shots I’ve done with Hassalblads. I never stepped foot in a dark room, so I don’t have the ‘film purist’ background…although I do appreciate the change of pace that film requires. As far as lights, I much prefer the ‘let’s create something with what we DO have’ rather than the ‘let’s take every piece of equipment the rental house has, just in case’ style of shooting. So, if I have to pick a specific thing, I’d say a funny assistant with a good personality. Is that a tool?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE “ON THE GO” CAMERA TO SHOOT WITH AND WHY:
I’m not the kind of photographer that carries a camera with them every where except for my iPhone. The camera I WOULD carry with me would be like a digital Roliflex. Something that has limited controls (so you use creativity to find images rather than focal lengths and shutter speeds) and that allows you to shoot as waist level. However, I think the Canon 5D Mark II and III is the most versatile camera I’ve used.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE PHOTOGRAPHIC REVALATION GOING ON OUT THERE WHERE EVERYONE HAS A CAMERA?
I love the fact that everyone has a camera. Everyone has a toaster but that doesn’t make them a great chef. I feel that if my output doesn’t separate me from the general masses, then maybe I need to re-evaluate my career. What’s more troubling is the attitude of ‘it’s good enough’ that encourages image buyers to hire incompetent photographers for cheap prices. I wish there were enough jobs for everyone with a camera to make a nice living.
WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHY INDUSTRY AS WE APPROACH IN 2013:
Expectations? Always amazed, never surprised is how I’d describe the industry…so I can’t rely on expectations. I’d love to see people start getting paid for their hard work, especially in the DSLR video arena. I’d also like to see some great stories being told rather than a few vignettes with narrow focus.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR CLIENTS THAT GET TO BENEFIT FROM YOUR CREATIVE EXPERTISE AND PASSION:
I’ve done work for many magazines including O Magazine and Entrepreneur. I’ve also created a few album covers where I’ve had total control over the idea from creation to execution to post processing. Anyone that needs creative problem solving would benefit from the way I like to approach jobs.
TELL EVERYONE ABOUT THE IMAGE YOU ARE CHOOSING:
I‘m choosing this photo of a little girl in a lone boat in a small pond (that’s not the name of it, I don’t like naming photographs). Jess is an amateur model in my area and her mom had contacted me to photograph her for a test. I wanted to, BUT…she had done a lot of other work for other local photographers, professional and amateur, and while they were always excellent…I just couldn’t come up with an idea to shoot. So I kinda dropped the ball. However, her mom Facebook friended me and I kept up with her. One day her mom posted about some wolf dogs they raised and I immediately had the idea of doing a Little Red Riding Hood series. I asked her if they had ever done a LRRH shot, they hadn’t, so we jumped on it. Check out the series on my website. Thanks, Social Media!
I set out with no crew (I like being flexible), just Jess and her mom and dad and a wolf dog. We rode around their property looking for a place to shoot the LRRH series and we passed by this small pond with a row boat on the shore. I immediately had them stop the car and we reconfigured Jess’s LRRH costume to be generic. I wasn’t sure what the story was going to be, I just knew that it would be interesting and hoped it would raise more questions than it answered. To get the shot, we put Jess in the boat and her dad held a tied rope and pushed her into the lake. I used a Prophoto 2400 pack with a 5ft octobox to light Jess from the shore and underexposed the sky. I shot with a Canon 5D Mark IIIn addition, I used some photoshop to manipulate the mood and tone. I had no idea if it would be interesting or not when finished and it didn’t really fit into a LRRH scenario…but I knew I wanted to capture the image that was in my head. So I guess you can say I stopped the job I was doing to the capture this?
Working with kids is always a trying experience. Their little personalities and quirks don’t always align with what you want to get done, much less on your schedule. So when working with kids, you have to work fast and flexible because once they are done…THEY ARE DONE! The whole Little Red Riding Hood series…including the accompanying video…was shot in 2 hours. And this outtake was done in the middle of that. You could never do that in a commercial shoot. You need many more “definites” in a commercial shoot that don’t allow you to be as flexible. But then again, I might not have gotten this shot on a commercial advertising shoot. I shot about 12 frames of this scene and then we moved on to the LRRH stuff.
I chose this shot because it emphasizes my preferred method of shooting. I like having very small crews (just enough to get the job done) because it allows you to be more flexible. Sometimes I only take an assistant to keep me company and to stand in while I set up a shot. Their expertise is just icing on the cake. I worked with many different photographers as an assistant; some would only shoot when conditions were perfect and never stepped away from their specific idea, and others would set up a shot and had the attitude of “let’s see what happens”. I prefer the latter method when able. If you are reasonable competent, creative and open to serendipity, you can often find something you didn’t know you were looking for. Some people have great skills in executing preconceived shots, others at capturing beauty that’s already there. For me, this photo does both.
When I shoot a portrait, I want the viewer to want to meet that person. When I shoot an editorial scene, I want the viewer to wonder what happened right before or right after the shot.
To check out ALL of Shane’s work
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