Dans’ work fills the frame. If you have ever wondered what that means or how to you apply that to portraits check out his website. On that note let’s see what he has to say.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 22 year old photographer and studio owner just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I was born in Milan, Italy and moved here with my family for work. Besides photography I enjoy good music, movies, and working on cars.
What made you get into photography?
Photographs are something that my family and I always enjoyed taking and looking at. I was always around cameras and film that my dad would bring home from work trips. I started shooting film and developing pictures in a darkroom my family made in our house at the age of 13. In highschool my strong subjects were the ones that we’re either hands-on or involved some creative thinking. However, I had a passion for figuring out how things worked and science. My senior year of highschool I became obsessed with the idea of becoming a mechanical engineer. I started to ease into the subject by getting my Associates in science. I had a summer internship at a local engineering firm which changed my whole perspective on whether or not i would finish school with a BSME or choose a different path. After talking to my family and friends it became obvious that i should do what made me happy. I spent years listening to school counselors and other people about how great my life would be if i got my engineering degree and realized that it was time to do what I thought made sense. Since I was young, I always admired photographs i saw in magazines, especially portraits. I would always read the name of the photographer who would shoot the editorial and the name Annie Leibovitz always stuck out. Her and the work of a dozen other photographers inspired me to not only shoot more images but put some thought behind them.
How did you get started?
I stared shooting with my dad’s Yashica fx-3 and still own and use that camera to this day. I bought my first digital SLR in 2005 from Canon and decided to stick to the system. My highschool years were spent shooting images of friends when we would hang out. It was a way that I could document what we did and my friends always looked forward to seeing the pictures so i stuck with it. Throughout college i continued to shoot and started playing with off camera strobes. This sparked more interest and led some some paid gigs. I realized that this was a way that i could make money while doing something i liked. After I graduated I spent a couple of years shooting models to see how the local market responded. I decided to open a studio in Sewickley PA to boost business and as a way to market myself. I started collaborating with local agencies and shooting more and more gigs. This brings up to present time where i am looking to break into commercial market.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
Portraiture and lifestyle. I have always been fascinated with people and how they express themselves. I like being able to capture a special moment in every shot. I like the feeling of having good chemistry with the talent and having them feel comfortable and open up in front of the camera.
What gear are you using?
I shoot with a 5D Mark II and most recently a Hasselblad H4D-31. I have a collections of “L” series lenses that get used depending on the project and the look i am going for. I also use Alienbee Strobes with Paul C Buff Cybersyncs. In the field these are powered by a single Tronix Explorer XT SE inverter. I like to be able to control light so i use mainly a reflector dish with 10 degree to 40 degree grids. Reflectors and sun-swatters are a must for my on location shoots.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite because it really depends on the project. I do, however, keep my 50mm f/1.2L on the camera all the time. The distance is comfortable on the full frame sensor and it works very well in low light. The lens also does a great job if i want to shoot some video on the go. But, I believe if I had to keep one lens forever it would be my 300mm f/2.8L IS. It has a very special look to it when shooting portraits.
How are you marketing yourself?
This is simple. Social networking. Hours are spent each day online promoting yourself and looking for work. If people see you putting out quality work it only becomes a matter of time before they start calling. Having friends that support you plus word of mouth helps too. Viral marketing is also something i have been starting to look into. Street signage and promo cards that are sent out using direct mail methods can make a huge difference. The more time you spend letting people know you exist, the more work it brings in.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
This was taken during the Pittsburgh G-20 summit. Me and a few friends spent the day downtown Pittsburgh dodging tear gas and riots while shooting images with fake credentials. Its a simple shot with no editing but it sends a big message.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Pay your dues and invest in your business. Be patient and don’t sell out or you will hit a plateau. Spend time educating yourself on how business and marketing work. Surround yourself with people that are supportive and want to see your succeed. And most importantly ABS (always be shooting). Have your camera wherever you go. Take pictures with your iPhone to keep your mind in a creative state. Show clients quality work and they will give you a chance.