For today’s inaugural installment of Portrait Photographer Portfolios, we proudly welcome Kris Kesiak. You can check out Kris’ website, flickr page, twitter, and facebook. Kris is a ridiculously talented portrait photographer from the UK, let’s all give him a big candidtag welcome!
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I’m 32, was born in Poland and have lived in Glasgow for almost a decade now. I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I remember there being some sort of camera around, probably since I was 10 or so. First money I ever made was by taking portraits of people when I was about 16 but I never really thought of doing it professionally until only a few years ago. I graduated from University in the meantime (English major), worked as a teacher, moved to Glasgow and, cutting a very long story short, ended up running a small graphic design & print business which I still do alongside being a freelance photographer.
What equipment do you use? Specifically, camera body, lenses, flashes, strobes etc.
My main body is Nikon D700 (LOVE this camera). I also got an ancient Zenit 11 (first SLR I ever owned) and a Nikon D40. My main lenses are Nikkor 50mm f1.4 and a Nikkor 24mm f2.8 and I’ve got a couple of Nikon SB 600s along with a lot of Lastolite portable kit (on and off camera softboxes, stands, etc).
How much time on average
do you spend post-processing, and what software do you use?
I mainly use Aperture with various plug-ins and, for heavier retouching, Photoshop. It’s hard to tell how long post-processing takes as it really depends on the nature of the shoot – portraits with a lot of skin work involved are most time-consuming.
How did you get into photography, and have you had any formal training in photography?
I don’t remember any particular moment where I first thought “wow, I love photography”, it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed, it felt natural. I’ve not had any formal training apart from a couple of evening courses dealing with more technical aspects of photography.
Which photographer has influenced you the most?
I would have to say Herb Ritts. I love the fact he worked mostly with natural light and had an amazing eye for beauty and form. His work is absolutely timeless in my opinion.
If you had only one lens to use for the rest of your photography career, which would it be?
The 50mm f1.4, no doubt. It’s lovely, especially on a full frame camera – super sharp, fast, bright and with beautiful bokeh.
This is one of my absolute favorite shots of yours:
Can you describe the moment you took this shot? Were you trying to get the baby to make this pose? When you took the shot, did you know right away that it was a great one?
Glad you like it. My approach to photographing children is basically letting them do what they do and keep snapping. That’s exactly what happened there, her mum was at her side and we were all chatting to the baby, laughing, etc and I guess at one point Kiera (who was 4 months old at the time) just got fed up and started blowing raspberries at us. It was very funny and I remember thinking at the time it was going to be a great shot.
Which photograph that you have taken is your favorite?
I think this shot is one of my favourites:
It’s my gran arranging flowers in her veranda. She’s had a really hard life and I think you can see it in her eyes here. It’s quite personal.
Do you prefer natural lighting or some form of strobes/flashes?
Strobes are great and you can get really creative with them but personally I prefer the quality of natural light and, if I can get away with it, I will shoot with a reflector only.
When did you just know that you wanted to make a career out of photography?
As mentioned before, I never really thought of it being a career. I just kept taking photographs throughout the years because I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, I built up a portfolio, had it online and all of a sudden, couple of years ago, people started getting in touch with me offering money to shoot this or that. It all happened very organically and I’m still trying to get my head around it but it feels fantastic to now be able to make money doing something that’s been a hobby all my life.
Have you ever had an absolute disaster occur during one of your shoots ie out of batteries, camera breaks or some other form of adversity? If so, how did you deal with it?
I was doing a cover shoot for DIVA magazine a couple of months ago, we were on location in this abandoned Victorian prison in Glasgow and all of a sudden my strobes stopped working. I changed the batteries, tried everything but it seemed like the camera wasn’t communicating with the strobes anymore (I was shooting in commander mode), might’ve been some frequency disturbance or something, don’t know. I tried not to show I was in complete panic and just relocated to another part of the building to take some natural light shots while at the same time trying to figure out in my head how to fix the strobe situation. After 15 minutes or so I checked the strobes again and, weirdly enough, everything was back to normal. The funny thing was that those natural light shots were among the best ones taken that day.
Anything else you would like to mention to our readers?
If anybody has an idea about what happened to those bloody strobes in that prison, I’d be eternally grateful!