For the past few years, we have been incredibly lucky to not only do what we love, but also to have such wonderful peers here to share our work with. We appreciate so deeply all the sweet things that are sent to us, whether it’s a comment on the site, a message via our social media pages, or art inspired by what we do.
With that in mind, today’s post is about you! We rounded up some of the most popular questions asked and attempted to answer as truthfully and eloquently as possible. Hope you enjoy…
1. How did you get to where you are now in your career?
Shooting as much as possible. After I graduated from college, I worked for almost two years for free, shooting non-stop, building up my contacts and clients. Eventually the clients and opportunities became a career where I could sustain a living and start investing back into my work by buying new equipment and things like that. It is also really important to get your work out there. Everything changed when I started my tumblr back in 2009 as a place to share old photographs I had taken.
2. How did your education prepare you for the future?
I studied fashion photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology back when it was all on film. College taught me a lot about lighting, producing shoots, and how to execute your vision, which I was already doing naturally since I started shooting at an early age. Mostly, college got me to New York City, which was where I wanted to be and around the people I wanted to be working with.
3. What person has been your inspiration in life? Who is your hero?
On a personal level, I think we all know how important my Grandmother is to me. On a professional level I idolize Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon.
4. Do you feel like you’ve met your goals and are successful?
Of course not! Every day I’m looking toward the future: the next photograph I will take. How I can make my images stronger. Who I want to shoot for. I’m constantly setting new goals and the only way I relate to success is if I feel a photograph has achieved what I was trying to create. And then I start the process all over again.
5. How have things changed for you since the invention of the Cinemagraph?
Our life changed completely. Pioneering a new form of photography, creating the term and pushing it forward from a technical stand point was something I never anticipated happening and has been a creative journey and challenge everyday. So many hard decisions goes into our relationship with this aspect of our work. How much we invest from a technical stand point, how much we legally protect it, where we want it to be in the future and our dreams for how it can be displayed.
6. If you had to do it over again, what would you change?
I am not big into regrets, but I guess if I knew then what I know now, I would have spent my entire 20s traveling and photographing around the world before settling in New York. I am a very goal-oriented and ambitious person, so I feel like I have worked my entire life instead of just exploring and seeing. I also wish I would have worked for one of my idols before setting out on my own. There are so many things I had to learn the hard way and sometimes I think it would have been nice to have a mentor to talk to about the business of photography.
7. What advice would you give someone who is young and wants to have a position such as yours one day?
Shoot all the time. Don’t get caught up in all the gear, really all you need is a camera and a lens; the rest will come in time. Be prepared to work hard. Know that people will take your work, not credit you, copy you, and take your ideas. Just stay focused on taking the photographs you see in your mind. Know there are a lot of different routes to achieve your dreams. Know you will have a lot of lessons along the way. Surround yourself with people who believe in your work and your vision. Our managers are our champions.
8. How do you stay inspired?
I get offline and go to art museums, travel to a new place, watch the light dance throughout the day, watch documentaries on my idol photographers, read books, watch movies. There’s inspiration in everything if you know how to look.
9. What photography related things do you recommend?
How to read a photograph / THIS podcast is THE BEST. / Capture series by Mark Seliger / This blog is great / This museum / Click / PDN is a must read / Inspiring Documentary / Visionary documentary / there is always B&H / At Work / Start a TUMBLR / APERTURE / they made the impossible – possible
10. What is the hardest part about your position?
So much of having a studio is running a business. We produce many of our shoots, so we are always paying contractors, photo labs, rental houses, insurance companies, assistants, etc., etc. It’s a lot of office work. There are also business taxes, payroll, investments, trademark lawyers, and accountants to work with…it’s not the most fun part of having a photo studio, but it is absolutely part of the job.
11. What is the best part about your position?
When I have a camera in my hands and I am shooting. It’s the high I live for everyday. It is truly what makes me the most happy. I love taking pictures. It doesn’t stop on-set, it’s every day, it’s my life.
12. When you go out on a shoot, what’s in your bag? What gear do you prefer to use on a shoot?
It depends. First you start with a vision. How do I want the shots to look in the end? Then I match the equipment list to my desired outcome. Yesterday we shot a cinemagraph of Donna Karan for a gallery exhibit on the RED Epic with a 24-70mm & 70-200mm lens. The day before that, we shot an editorial for LoveGold on a Canon 5D Mark III. Last week I did two shoots, all on film, one with Dannijo in Armani and the next coming out soon with a medium format Pentax 67. The week before that, I worked on a personal series on flowers using a 4×5 view camera with color film. We’ve used digital Hasselblads for things like this and sometimes I just walk around the city with the first camera I ever owned, the camera my mom taught me how to use when I was 13, a 35m Honeywell Pentax and a roll of B&W film. And of course, I’ve done a lot of work with a 50mm lens and a Canon 5D Mark II.
Other camera bag staples – 32GB Cards, gum, extra batteries, film, card reader, pen, light meter (I have a sick hobby of liking to guess what the correct light exposure is and then testing myself… the sunny 16 rule), hand strap, lens options, lens magnifier for a quick macro adaptation, iPhone charger, business cards.
13. You still shoot in film sometimes, what labs do you like in New York?
14. Do you need an assistant?
15. What is your post-processing workflow like?
I work closely with my assistant on post-production. All our computers at the studio are networked together so that we can pass projects seamlessly back and forth and we stay organized with tasks through Basecamp. Our assistant will make first round selects for me, then I’ll go through and edit it down to just the files we will work on. Typically I’ll do the color corrections to get the image where I envisioned it and then our assistant will do any beauty retouch before I make a final pass. Everything we shoot we back up a multitude of times. If it’s a client project we deliver the imagery through Dropbox in high res (for print) and web res (for easy viewing, emailing or social media). If it’s personal imagery, we prep the files for our photo licensing agency Trunk Archive. Then we work on the social media part of our studio with editing the photos for online, prep blog posts, tumblr drafts, text captions, and links…this alone can take a day or even more!
16. What would be your dream shoot?
Couture gowns, in France, natural light, film, Natalia Vodianova for a print magazine with a series of Cinemagraphs to go in the digital editions.
17. What was your first shoot?
I was 13. I put my best friend in an evening gown, I gave her a makeover and we went into the backyard and did a fashion shoot which (at the time) I thought was SO VOGUE. And that was it… I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
18. What has been your favorite brand collaboration?
I am so honored and thrilled with the work we are doing for Chopard this year.
19. What’s the shoot you are most proud of?
The one I just finished for MAIYET coming out this fall.
20. And finally…what is that enchanting lipstick you wear?
Is there anything left you want to know? Ask me below!