Meet Jason, a right-eyed Nikon shooter who would someday love to have a multiple photographer company. He mostly focuses on mucisian promotional and live show photography, but he’s been doing more and more portrait and wedding photography lately. He shoots mostly JPEG in fully manual mode, and is a fan of basic, but proper, dodging and burning.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
A little over two years ago a few friends started a band and as I started going to more shows I noticed no one was taking photos of their sets. So, I started using my girlfriend’s point and shoot. After a few months of that I started really getting into it and bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D50. Now I’m doing a show or a shoot at least once, if not a few times, a week. I recently upgraded my camera and studio lighting gear! I’m an official geek now.
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
KEEP IT FUN… and I still enjoy it enough to where it never feels like I’m “working.” Ya know? Also, to rely more on your eye than your camera to do all the work. You can have $5,000 worth of equipment and still not know how to capture the image you’re wanting to get. I’ve always told people, that ask me for advice on doing photography, to just go out and shoot. Play around with settings and lighting, and you’ll start to develop you’re own techniques and you’re on style.
Nikon d90 / Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 – @ f/11, 250iso, 18mm, shutter @ 1/200
What makes you different from everyone else?
I can pretty much pull off any style of photography. Whether it’s something goofy with some studio lighting indoor/ outdoor, or creating something with a more mature, professional look while only using natural lighting. I also try to take a common idea or theme and spin into something more creative and unique.
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
Locally, I’d probably have to say this 17 year old high school kid out of Powhatan, VA. His name is Brandon Hambright and is producing great work after great work. Brandon is going to start giving me a run for my money soon! On a bigger level, I’d have to say Gage Young in Orlando, FL. This kid understands lighting on a whole different level than myself and kids his age (20). He also does such a great job with picking on-location spots or making due what a certain situation and making it seem completely planned.
Nikon d90/ Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 – @ f/10, 250iso, 18mm, shutter @ 1/200
(Alienbee AB8800 into large octabox to group right and high)
One item you can’t live without?
Lens cloths because I hate spots!
Your best bokeh image and why?
I really don’t have a whole lot of amazing bokeh images, but there’s a few that I like with that kind of style. My favorite of those is probably a photo of an All Time Low guitarist on stage. I shot with a 50mm f/1.8 from the back of the crowd. There’s two huge BRIGHT lights behind the guitarist to where he’s in somewhat of a silhouette state and I have the lens focused on him. Everyone in front, with their hands in the air, and a sea of heads, are blurred and hazy. I love it.
“On The Road” by Jack Kerouac
“Stranger Than Fiction”
Nikon d90/ Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – @ f/1.8, 1000iso, 50mm, shutter @ 1/160
Where do you find inspiration?
Living in downtown Richmond and seeing all aspects of life driving to and from work
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
Work ethic and trustworthiness. I want to put everything I have into every photo and have the client know that they’re going to receive something they love.
Nikon d50/ Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 Fisheye – @ f/13, 400iso, 10.5mm, shutter @ 1/40
(45w slave bulb into umbrella to camera left and right)
Do you use a second shooter?
I have on two weddings. They were friends that wanted to see what it takes to successfully shoot a wedding on their own. I brought them along and showed them that it’s a lot more difficult than just pressing a button for 8 hours!
Nikon d50/ Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 – @ f/3.5, 400iso, 18mm, shutter @ 1/60
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
Keep practicing, and keep reading up on new techniques or how to do certain things. Take that kind of advice and run with it. Make it your own. Be respectful of guests or others at the event your shooting. Whether it’s a concert or a wedding. You can get a lot of great shots if you just ask politely about something you need to quickly do. I feel like that goes a long way. Another big plus is to be rather outgoing and professional for the clients to have an enjoyable experience. No one likes a shy, creepy photographer, right?
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Ryan Russell. The photos he creates while on tour with musicians or just around town with musicians and celebrities are just phenomenal.
Nikon d90/ Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 – @ f/8.0, 200iso, 18mm, shutter @ 1/160
(Alienbee AB800 into large octabox above camera)
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
Unfortunately, no. The closest I’ve come is being asked to participate in Richmond’s “Best of 2008” Photo Show earlier this year in February (2009). Another would probably being asked to use photos by a record label for AP Magazine (a popular music magazine) twice last year. I’m really just starting out and have yet to get the name out there enough.
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
I really was all self-taught. I never gave up, and always tried something different or new. I failed a bunch of times, but I had a better understanding of photography as a whole afterwards. Going out there and meeting other photographers really helped as well. Sharing bits of information and tips I think is very important for someone to grow as a photographer.
Nikon d90/ Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 – @ f/14, 100iso, 18mm, shutter @ 1/250
(Alienbee AB800 into large octbox on boom to camera right)
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Not trying to sound repetitive, but find an aspect of photography you really enjoy. If you love music and go to a bunch of concerts, go that route! If you love your grandmother’s antique cameras, take a stab at doing some film work with portraits. If you’re wanting to do it to try to make a ton of money, you’ll be disappointed. When it comes to photography, I really feel like practice makes perfect (or as close to it as you can get!)
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
Probably a band promotional shoot with Love & Reverie last year. We took an old parachute to a soccer field, haha. Doing something so different, yet so simple, really impressed a lot of people. Everyone that contacts me always says something about how they saw that photo somewhere.
Nikon d50/ Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 Fisheye – @ f/2.8, 400iso, 10.5mm, shutter @ 1/80
What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
Getting to discuss certain aspects about photography that some people might not understand or care about. Getting together for “photo adventures” are a lot of fun and that’s where I can get a lot of practice with adjusting to certain lighting situations and what works best.
Anything else you would like to share?
I truly appreciate the opportunity to be on this blog, and to reach out to other photographers! It’s inspiring to see some of the work I’ve seen through this site and I hope some of the work I do and the things I’ve said really helps inspires others, too.
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