1) How long have you been photographing people for and how did you start?
I’ve been photographing people since the moment I picked up a camera. There’s just something about the connection between the viewer and the person in the image that really appeals to me. My very first images were of my attempts at street photography.
I bought my first camera in January 2011, and didn’t take it too seriously for the first little while, but around the 6 month mark, I realised that photography was what my life was going to be around, so I quit everything I was doing and pursued photography completely. I had actually just finished my studies in IT a short while before this. In October 2011 I got a job assisting a local wedding photographer here in South Africa, but I only assisted him until the start of 2012, when I went off to start my own business (he actually fired me, but that’s another awesome story for another day). Wedding photography wasn’t actually what I went after at first, though, it just sort of happened and I went with it. You know how it is – as an artist starting out, you take whatever work comes your way, and I had bills to pay. But the wedding thing totally took off for me, and I really enjoy it now.
2) What is some of the gear you use?
If I can help it, I’ve got my D800 in my hands, and it’s fitted with my 85mm f/1.4G or my 135mm F2 DC. I do 95% of my work on that setup. Of course I have other lenses that I need in other situations, and I have a backup body as well, but that setup is my go-to. I’m also REALLY particular about lighting, so I light the vast majority of my work with a 5′ Octa and a speedlight, or if the speedlight isn’t powerful enough, I use a Profoto B1. Something else I do quite often is slap an ND filter on the front of my camera if it’s there’s a lot of ambient light, so that I can bring my exposure down to a shutter speed that I can sync my lights at. I use a set of LEE ND filters for that. You can read the full breakdown of my gear on my website’s gear page. But as a whole, give me a body (any body, really, I don’t care too much about the body), an 85 or 135mm lens, and a big Octabank, and I’m happy.
3) What inspires you?
Jeepers. What inspires me… Hmmm. I get hugely inspired by looking at the work of others. 5 minutes on 500px and I’ll have a handful of great new ideas. I’m also really inspired by photographers who are shooting more or less the same stuff I’m shooting, but creating work that’s infinitely better than mine. That really challenges me to go out and do better. Something else that I find really inspiring is good light. When I see light in a photo that I can’t quite identify, but that looks amazing, it really get motivated.
4) Do you have any goals for your photography for 2014?
At the moment, my goal is to catch up and not be behind! My business has grown significantly over the last 12 months; way more than I expected, and I wasn’t ready for it. But I’m a couple of weeks away from having it all under control. As far as my work goes, I want to start getting hired for slightly different work. I really want to shoot more advertising/commercial work, but nobody’s hiring me for that stuff because I don’t have any portfolio work that looks like that to present, and I don’t have any because I don’t have the time to make it. So I really want to create more work like that this year and next year so that I can start doing those kinds of jobs more often.
I also want to get better at lighting this year. The more I learn about lighting, the more I realise how little I know about lighting.
I also want to start teaching this year as well. I’ve had a whole lot of local photographers in South Africa show interest in attending workshops I want to teach, and there’s a whole stack of people in the US that have been asking me to teach there too. I want to teach here first, but I suspect that I may do a few workshops in the US early next year.
5) How would you describe your style of photography?
I’d say that my wedding work definitely has more of a journalistic, documentary style. I work hard at weddings to create images that are candid and natural. I’ve always hated wedding photos that have the subjects staring into the camera with that “deer in the headlights” look, so I create the opposite of that. My portrait work is a little different to that, and I’m not sure I’ve really got my style of portrait work figured out yet. Maybe you can tell me the answer to that one!