Brian emailed me and in his first sentenced mentioned how he doesn’t have an “L” lens or a “Full Frame” body. As you are aware if you’ve read RAW for awhile “L” and “FullFrame” cameras don’t create great photos. They are nice but you still need to be able to compose and understand the camera to take a decent photo. Brian’s work is great and for all those with basic gear check out his work, there is some inspiration there for you.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 21 year old, full time student, full time retail, lifestyle and portrait photographer. Based in Charlotte, NC I have the advantage of working with some of the most talented people, I think, in the business. I work full time at the local Apple Retail Store and it’s the best job a guy my age could ask for. I mean where else would I get to geek out everyday and talk “nerd” all I want? It’s awesome. I also get the opportunity to volunteer with my churches photography team. We’re a collective group of professionals in Charlotte that love shooting together for our church (Elevation Church). I’m in school for Marketing, but am probably switching to Psychology, that desire is a new fresh idea. I enjoy the finer things of life; brewed tea, coffee, and anything dealing with food essentially. I’m a huge foodie, local restaurants are my favorite. Legos, I’m still a huge fan of Legos.
What made you get into photography?
I’ve always loved anything creative. It started with drawing, then painting, then piano, then the performing arts. When I entered high school, I took a digital photography class. I was blessed to have an amazing teacher who taught more than just the basics, she focused on the art form itself. I learned the basics of manual controls and learned a ton about photoshop. This is where the foundation was laid, which turned into an obsession.
How did you get started?
I got my first DSLR in the fall of 2009. I had borrowed many cameras from friends before I bought my own. From there, I guess the rest is history. I was known for always having a camera and always taking photos, and to this day I still have some of the most unattractive photos of my friends. I grew up constantly going on church retreats, vacations, trips for school, etc. This made it easy for me to take as many photos as I wanted, I think I have somewhere in the range of 10,000 photos from high school alone. When I graduated high school, I started my own graphic design business (it’s what I was in school for) and if I’m going to be honest, I hated it. I wanted to do something in the creative industry and, remembering my love for photos, I decided to pursue professional photography. I remember my first photo shoot, my friend needed photos for her blog. We went to the campus of Queens University (local college here in Charlotte), and for my first shoot they weren’t too bad. Armed with my Rebel and my 50mm, I remember the shoot like it was yesterday. We walked around the entire campus snapping photos, I took somewhere in the range of 450 shots. Hard to believe that was over 2 years ago. I look at the pictures almost every week to see where I’ve come from and I continue to learn from them, it’s important to know where your roots are.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I used to do almost anything and everything. From shooting newborns, to being commissioned to shoot photos at an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fight. Now, I specialize in portraits, engagements and weddings. I love telling stories, and these three are definitely a way that I can achieve that goal.
What gear are you using?
I originally had a Nikon, my first DSLR was a D3000. After about a week, I returned it an got a Canon EOS Rebel XS (never looked back). Since then, I’ve upgraded to a Canon 60D. Lens wise, I own a 50mm 1.8. This is the lens I use 99% of the time. I rent lenses all the time, just for the experience and variety.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
Lens that I own, obviously my 50mm. On cropped sensors, it’s still the best lens. I love shallow depth of field and this lens gives me that. It’s always on my camera, I have the kit lens (18-135mm) but I rarely ever use it. If I were to choose from the lenses that I’ve used/rented, I’d have to go with the Canon 24-70mm 2.8L. Even on a cropped sensor, this lens is completely versatile and has great sharpness and shallow depth of field.
How are you marketing yourself?
Social networks. I am utilizing Flickr and Facebook to their full potential. I love the idea of integrating my photos into my regular interactions on the web. It’s been more important, to me, to build a reputation by word of mouth then to build a web presence. A reputation is more valuable then any website or photo blog. I’m currently working on my branding and website but with being in school and work full time, it’s difficult to devote the time it deserves.
Whats your favourite photo and why?
It’s too hard for me to narrow it down to just one photo so I’m going to give you 2. These photos I took at wedding receptions this past summer. Like I said before, I love shooting weddings. There’s so much going on and so much happiness that it makes my job easy, and that’s what these two photos represent. Happiness and a good time. My favorites do change, literally, depending on the week/month but these are my current favorites.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
1) Shoot. Shoot as much as you can, you need to learn your camera as best as you can and develop your eye. The only way to do this is with practice. 2) Take the jobs that come your way. You won’t know your passion until you experience all sides of this business. Even if you fail, you still tried. 3) Make relationships with other photographers. The relationships I have with other professionals in the business are invaluable to me. From a friendship standpoint and a mentorship standpoint. I wouldn’t have the understanding of the the business that I have today if it weren’t for the friendships I’ve built in this industry. 4) Value yourself and your time. This is adaptable to both the business and personal sides of professional photography. You need to make time for both the development of your business as well as your own personal development, make time to shoot the things you love and the things that sparked your passion for photography in the first place.