Rick’s a commercial photographer who’s work caught my attention while one of my photographer surfing sessions. I was glad he was up for the interview because what he has to say from a commercial stand point is quite interesting.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I have been a commercial photographer for more than 20 years. About eight years ago I also opened a retail portrait studio, as if 10 hour days weren’t enough.
What made you get into photography?
Photography had been a strong interest of mine since high school. I don’t really remember the moment it became a career choice. Combining Art and commerce seemed like a good idea at the time.
How did you get started?
Like a lot of photographers just starting out, friend and family became fair game. I photographed anyone and anything that seemed visually interesting. Next came weddings and small commercial shoots. I assisted local photographers, joined PPA and ASMP as an assistant, which led to working with a few out of town shooters. However, I always kept shooting and studying the work of other photographers on my own. The better my images got, the more others offered to pay me to shoot.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
Working in a small to medium market has allowed me to take on a very diverse clientele, from hospitals and tech companies to small businesses, and even a few international clients. I have shot everything from architecture to open-heart surgery. Now, like many other still shooters, I am beginning to learn about video and film-making technology. It may be better to specialize however I really enjoy the variety of assignments.
What gear are you using?
Right now I use Canon cameras, the 5D MK2 and 1DS MK2. Dynalites, Elinchrome Ranger and 580 exII for strobe, century hot lights, Bogen and Mathews stands and tripods, Westcott umbrellas and reflectors, several different makes of softboxes, Apple computers with Capture One Light Room, Photoshop, and Wacom Intuos. I have used everything from 35mm to an RZ with a Phase One digital back, to 4×5 Sinars.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
The two lenses I use the most are the Canon 70-200 2.8 and Canon 24mm Tilt Shift. However, I always try to choose a lens for what it brings to the shot. That could be anything from a homemade pinhole to a lens baby or just a 50 1.8.
How are you marketing yourself?
Direct mail, online portfolios with LiveBooks and just plain word of mouth have been my main marketing tools. I have not used social media very well up to this point but am working to improve upon that. I recently joined the Twitter world.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
One of my favorite shots was made with 4X5 b&w tmax film on a sinar 4X5 with a Nikkor 90mm lens. The image is of enormous storm clouds over a beach scene from the water looking back to the main land. My wife and baby daughter are sitting under an umbrella. There are only three prints from the negative, one hanging in my home, one that was sold to a friend and a back up stored away. There is no digital file but I still have the negative just in case. I will include a snapshot of the print and attach a few of my recent commercial favs.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Photography is an awesome profession. Every day offers a new creative and business challenge. Even though it is fun, and you meet and work with awesome people, there is still the need to be professional in all that you do. Just because you can take a pretty picture, that does not mean it will fill a client’s needs. You need to ask questions, communicate with your client. As a professional, expect to be paid! Understand copyrights and usage so that you can protect yourself and your client. Assisting is the best education which money can not buy and experience the best teacher. So keep shooting!