2. What is your Profession (Speciality)?
3. Please describe your Photographic field:
Weddings and film set production stills. I also love doing architectural shots, but more in the line of fine art than commercial.
4. When you started out, what was the biggest “eye opener”? What were your expectations? What didn’t you expect?
The amount of peripheral work it requires to run a successful photographic business. Its not just click click, making beautiful photos all day long. There is an enormous amount of admin to do on a daily basis. Its absolutely imperative to keep proper books (or pay someone to do it) and to track marketing and advertising tasks to see what works and what doesn’t. This was my biggest “eye opener”.
5. Tell us about your typical workday or workweek
Check website hits – Google Analytics
Check Google Adwords stats and account info
Do search and make sure URL is found and displayed as expected, if not determine what the problem is
Post processing current job, arranging printed album etc. Upload images for proof by client
Studio shoot mid morning or afternoon
Full day wedding shoot on weekend
6. What equipment do you shoot with?
Nikon D700 with Vertical Grip
Nikon 17-35 f2.8
Nikon 24-70 f2.8
Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII
Nikon 85mm prime f1.4
Nikon 20mm prime f2.8
Nikon 50mm prime f1.8
Monopod or light stand and umbrella for off-camera speedlight
Elinchrom BX500RI lights and light shaping devices
7. What Computer hardware do you see as “must have” and required?
Apart from a fast desktop computer, a portable, external drive for backup and the discipline to keep it offsite, i.e. not with your regular computer that holds your database of photos.
Second, a laptop for tethered work in the studio.
8. What Software is needed to function in this field successfully?
Adobe Photoshop CS5
NIK software bundle. I use NIK Color Effex Pro and Viveza a lot in my people shots
Phase One Capture One on occasion, mostly to correct skin tones
9. In this line of photography, do you need extra tuition, further studies or an internship?
Self study is vital. Formal tuition would be great but who has the time? You have to learn and absorb information about photography every day in order to stay on top of your game. Learn techniques from the experts, learn new technology and software, read about new stuff (and old stuff) daily. The internet is a fantastic source of information – but you also have to know how to filter the “noise” from the valuable stuff.
10. Can I make a decent living with this specialist field, or do I need to market my services more generally?
Wedding photography could be lucrative enough to make a living off, but I do other things as well for variety, such as production stills and portraits.
11. How do you get work? Do you have an agent? Do you do your own marketing and advertising?
I do my own marketing and advertising. Word of mouth steps in once you become known. There is no better form of marketing than a satisfied client.
12. How much time do you spend actually shooting in any given week?
5 – 7 hours per week on average.
13. How much time do you spend editing or do you have a dedicated editor to do the work?
I do all my own processing and I have found that processing time in front of a computer matches shooting time just about hour for hour.
14. Can you do this on your own, or do you need other specialists (like creative directors or food stylists, etc) to make the images happen?
I do it on my own but with weddings, usually with a little help of an assistant to hold an off-camera flash/umbrella or a reflector.
15. Can you effectively shoot other styles if need be, or is your field very specialized?
I shoot other styles, if needed.
16. What threatens your profession?
The economy, mostly. People are tightening their belts.
17. What future developments do you see in your line of work?
I think that developments will mostly be in the fields of post-processing software and imaging hardware. This will affect my work but hopefully for the better. This is why it is important to stay current.
Another factor is video. At the moment I don’t do much video (video is for videographers… I am a photographer) but I might have to change my mantra, considering the fantastic video quality in today’ newest stills cameras (Canon 5D and 7D). In the future, I suspect it might become necessary to be more of a Jack of all trades than a specialist. *Note to self: try and find out of D700 replacement will have HD video… *
18. Who was the photographer(s) that inspired you most and why?
Steve McCurry, simply because he just seems to “get it right” so often and so effortlessly. And of course the Master, Ansel Adams, who was not afraid of technololy, even in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
19. Would you do this (What you are doing today) again if you just started out today? Is it worth it?
20. Any suggestions or “Pearls of Wisdom” for a Student wanting to get into this field?Learn the basic well – start at the beginning. Learn everything there is to learn about your equipment and software. Only then can you even START being an artist. Note – Photography is primarily an art, the technical side is secondary.
The most difficult thing about photography is not the technical stuff – that can and should be learned in any event – its “seeing” a picture before you even get close to pressing the shutter. The ability to recognise a great potential image and framing it in your mind when you see it in the field is where the real skill lies. It doesn’t matter whether its a fine art photo, or a wedding photo or an architectural shot.
It is this vision that distinguishes a great photographer from a mere camera technician. Practise this skill every day, wherever you go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your camera with you. Look around you and find the potential terrific shots. Stop, look at the scene and frame it in your mind and then move on. If you do this enough it will become second nature, and that’s where you want to be.
by André Human
All images copyright André Human
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