You would know by now if your a regular reader of RAW that I love it when people put a lot of thought to their answers. Ben’s one of those people and it helps that he takes some great photos. Make sure you check out his website and blog once your done. Oh and share it around.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Well this is always the hard part, isn’t it? I am 23 years old and live in St. Augustine Florida. some of my favorite things in the world are my girlfriend, my mom’s pasta, my dad’s pork chops and folk singers with unusual voices.
What made you get into photography?
I’m not sure if there was any defining moment that sparked my interest in it but I remember throughout high school I was always trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and it was always something creative. At one point I thought I was going to be an interior decorator and was looking into schooling for it. After that I switched my interest to graphic design and I started a little clothing company and I sold shirts at school and events. I think the only thing that really kept me interested in photography was my yearbook class.
How did you get started?
When I graduated from high school my yearbook teacher gave me an old film camera as a graduation present. I shot with it but was pretty discouraged with what I was getting out of it so I didn’t use it for a while and never really thought of photography as something I could actually do for a living. After I graduated I worked for a nonprofit called Invisible Children and my job was tour around the south west to tell people about a war that has been taking place in Northern Uganda. When we were on the road we stayed in the homes of people we met and one of those places was a house full of college guys and they were all graphic designers and photographers. One of them (that I knew of) was in college and was doing photography full time. I remember thinking “well if he is doing it, why can’t I?” From that point on I started to take photography more seriously and once I got back from tour I started to get a hold of any photo knowledge that I could. It was a pretty slow process starting out but once I got into the swing of things it made me feel silly for thinking it wouldn’t be realistic for me to even try.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I shoot mainly lifestyle and editorial work as well as weddings. I do some landscape work when I travel but what I really enjoy is shooting people because every shot can carry so much depth behind it. I like to use natural light so the image looks more candid (even if it isn’t) because I like that look of being caught in the moment. I want to make the viewer feel as though this moment was going to happen regardless of whether or not I was there to capture it or not. Obviously if there was an extensive amount of artificial lighting it would look more staged and would be hard to believe that it was a real moment.
What gear are you using?
When shooting digital I use all Canon gear. 90% of the time I am using one 5D II with a 35mm 1.4L and another 5D II with an 85mm 1.2 II L. I also shoot medium format with a Contax 645 and an 80mm.
Whats your favorite lens and why?
My favorite lens by far is the Canon 35mm 1.4 L. I can’t remember the last time I took it off of my camera. I use it for a lot of lifestyle work where I need to portray that happy-go-lucky feeling and when I need to get the environment in the shoot as well as the subject. It’s wider focal length allows for some killer dynamic images without the distortion you may get from a more extreme wide angle.
How are you marketing yourself?
I am a big believer in have strong brand and a strong web presence. Once people find me (though The Knot, Alt Pick, word of mouth) I like to keep them interested. I am constantly putting new shoots up on my blog so people continue to come back. I also utilize facebook, tumblr and twitter to keep in touch with people.
Whats your favorite photo you have taken?
Wow. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. My favorite shot as of recently is this one of Ashley. I love the light, the wardrobe, the hair and makeup, and that kind of weird look to it. For a while I shot nothing but happy lifestyle work so I wanted to shoot some weirder work and this was one of those shoots. I try to experiment as much as I can but I still need to more. I have a few shoots coming up that are a venture from what I normally shoot and I am looking forward to seeing what comes of them.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Shoot Shoot Shoot. After you do that, keep shooting and start to learn the business side of things. Unfortunately if you want to be an artist for a living you have to know how to make a business work. Learn how to market yourself and be a professional. Once you have been at it for a while and you figure out what you are good at shooting, don’t stick to just that. For example, I shoot a lot of happy lifestyle work and it is my bread and butter but I can’t have just that in my bag of tricks. If I want to be a well rounded photographer I need to experiment with different types of shoots. Last piece of advice: don’t be discouraged if things happen slower than you wanted them to. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of figuring out how the industry works. Good luck!