Gary sent me an email awhile ago with his flickr account to check out what he was doing. After going through it all, that’s right his entire flickr feed, I knew I had to get him on RAW to see what he was all about. Not only is this a great read but it’s probably the most unique profile picture we’ve had on RAW so far.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Well let’s see, my name is Gary Ottonello and I’m 21 years old. I work full time as a Production Manager at a plastics injection molding warehouse, but my real passion is photography. I also love playing the drums and skateboarding… At times I think I’m too into some of those things, but it seems like my mind is always racing with photography.
What made you get into photography?
What made me get into photography was all of the other photos already out there. I was always the kid to flip through a book to see if there were any pictures in it… I would find myself staring at photos in books, magazines, posters, everywhere.
How did you get started?
Well, I started shooting video at about age 13. When I hit high school, I got into the Video Production classes, and really excelled there. Nevermind history class that would bore me to death, I would never miss a single video class. It was about a year out of high school that I got my first digital SLR camera. My father wanted to get me something for Christmas, and I had mentioned how much fun it would be to snap some photos. He got me a digital Rebel. All I had to do was apply my video camera knowledge and start snapping away. Being a skateboarder, I started shooting photos of my friends doing tricks.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I love shooting portraits. And skateboarding. Ok, and also macro photos too… But portraits; I love portraits. I love capturing the moments or expressions of my friends and other people I’ve met, and love the moments we share creating those images. I love setting up my lighting gear, inputting direction or mood, and seeing our reactions to the photos we create. It’s almost always a pleasant surprise upon viewing some of the first frames we make…
And skateboarding, oh skateboarding..! This is where I got my start in using cameras. Shooting skateboarding is where I can get the most technically involved… I strive to use off-camera lighting on nearly all my photos, and for skateboarding it really helps! I can use the flashes to help freeze motion, increase the contrast and mood, and really make the subject “pop!” It seems like when we go out to shoot a skate photo, that I like to have the trick/spot/photo already planned out and it’s a test to see how well I can translate that into a real photograph… I love it! I think I get some of the best colors in my skateboard photos.
I also love shooting macro. I can still remember shooting some of my first shots through a true macro lens. They amazed me! It really opened me up to a world I’d not yet seen. I love shooting little critters, flowers, and toys; seeing things in a way that your eye cannot…
What gear are you using?
I shoot with:
Nikon D700 body with the battery grip and Nikon EN EL4 battery in it
Nikkor 50mm ƒ1.8D
Nikkor 28mm-27mm ƒ2.8D
Nikkor 16mm ƒ2.8D Fisheye
Nikkor 105mm ƒ2.8G Macro
3x Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceiver
1x Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver
3x Nikon SB-900 flash
1x Paul C. Buff Einstein studio strobe with various accessories
Sekonic L-358 Light Meter with Pocket Wizard chip installed
I also recently inherited a Hasselblad 500c/m with Carl Zeiss 80mm ƒ2.8 *T lens and have been shooting a ton of slide color film through it. It’s slowly becoming my “regular” setup as I think the quality can’t be compared to anything 35mm (especially digital 35mm) but I’m in no mood to abandon digital all together…
Whats your favourite lens and why?
My favorite lens would have to be my fisheye or macro. Only because of how different they are. The fisheye lens is almost a standard lens in skateboard photography, but anytime I can use it outside of skateboarding I get really stoked! (Like a portrait!!)
How are you marketing yourself?
I market myself through word of mouth mostly. I also have some of my work hanging in local businesses and restaurants. I work for free at will, and sometimes that leads to more work too. I like to stay active, don’t like to go more than a few days without shooting a frame, so that helps. I post all of my work on Flickr and Facebook. Facebook brings me a lot of attention, which is cool too…
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
This is one of my favorite photos I’ve taken. It’s of my dear friend Travis Fairweather and I had suggested the trick he’s doing for the photo. It was the first photo I had used with my new flash triggers (utilizing the new features) and it came out amazing. I got it printed very large and unveiled it at an art show. It also got “Explored” on Flickr, so that was cool too.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Just shoot, shoot, shoot! I did one of the “Project 365” things in 2010 and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I tried to shoot a (decent) photo everyday of the year, and that got my skills way up and got a lot of attention that I needed. It broadened my horizon as to what I like to photograph now, and overall was an amazing accomplishment.