Portrait Photographer Portfolios: Ed McGowan

Welcome back to another installment of Portrait Photographer Portfolios. Just about all of the photographers we have interviewed thus far make some use out of digital post processing techniques,  but today’s photographer is truly an expert, holding a full time position with a design studio! Though his pictures already speak for themselves, we can assure you that today’s guest, Ed McGowan, is not only a professional designer, but also a master of photography. Be sure to check out Ed on his blog, flickr, and twitter pages.

I am the Director of Design @ PlainJoe Studios in Southern California. Back in March ’08 I decided to pick up the studios DSLR and I’ve been hooked ever since.!

Lauren in LA

I see that you have made a career our of graphic design. How has this had an impact on your photography?
Working in design day-to-day, I think I have garnered a general sense of composition which  has given me an advantage in photography.

Labels Lie Campaign - Portrait 2

From a photography perspective, how much time on average do you spend post-processing, and what software do you use?
Each photo is different and I approach it as such. I can spend anywhere from 5 to 45min in front of the computer screen. I use Lightroom and Photoshop.

The Path

How did you get into photography, and have you had any formal training in photography?
I have not had any formal training in photography. The Design studio had just bought a Digital SLR. I picked it up and started shooting….several months later I started a 365 project on flickr and it kind of started from there.

Do you do any professional photography? Have you ever implemented your own photography into your design work?
I will do professional work if a cool project comes my way. Since I do not do it as my job, it’s nice to choose what to work on. I do use my photography in comps for clients and occasionally my photographs will find their way onto the final product.

P&S: The Little Mermaid

What equipment do you use? Specifically, camera body, lenses, flashes, strobes etc.
I like buying budget gear. My main gear: Nikon d3, sigmas 14mm f2.8, nikon 35mm f2, 50mm 1.4G, 85mm 1.8. Flashes: sb-800×2, sb-28, alien bee b1600, abr800

I see that you do portraits, nature, architectural and several other types of photography. Which is your favorite?
Portraits by far is my favorite to shoot. If I could only shoot portraits I would be fine with it.

Which photographer has influenced you the most?
Jeremy Cowart

If you had only one lens to use for the rest of your photography career, which would it be?
35mm f1.4 (if i could afford it)

This is one of my favorite photographs of yours:

P&S: Summer 09

Can you talk a little bit about the moment you took it? Did you intend to get that great flare in the corner?
Interesting you picked that one. Because one of the main camera’s I use is a D3, I would get a lot of comments like “well you are using a d3″. So during my 365, I decided to dedicate a whole week around Point & Shoots. This was the first shot in that series. I took my nikon coolpix and went out and shot my daughter. The lens flare was a result of where I placed her in relation to the sun for a good exposure. I liked the flare so went with that shot.

[Editor's Note: Wow, this was taken with a point and shoot!]

Which photograph that you have taken is your favorite?

Eden - Senior Portrait

I think everything fell into place…I love this look. We stood around for a while waiting for the clouds to roll in. Prior to this, the sun was out.

Have you ever taken photos of strangers on the street?
Yes, but without them knowing it. I’d love to have the guts to ask people if i could take their pictures.

Do you prefer natural lighting or some form of strobes/flashes?
I like shooting both..but if i had to choose, I would prefer portraits with strobes that are well balanced with ambient light.

Summer Sunshine

What is the best advice you would give a photographer just starting out?
Shoot as much as you can! The more you shoot = more post processing = more technique you pick up a long the way.

Portrait Photographer Portfolios: Anna Gay

In the second installment of Portrait Photographer Portfolios we are pleased to welcome an incredible portrait artist, and flickr phenom, Anna Gay (Loca Luna).  Anna is the author of The Art of Self Portraiture, an instructional photography e-book related to the journey of Self Portrait Photography.  Be sure to check out Anna’s website, flickr page, facebook page, and twitter page.

My name is Anna Gay, and I am a portrait photographer based in Athens, GA. When I am not shooting, I am a guest-blogger, photography tutor, and the author of The Art of Self Portraiture. My husband, Evan Leavitt, is also a photographer, so I enjoy being a second shooter and assistant on his shoots. I am a music lover, and since Evan photographs musicians, I get to meet a lot of really interesting and talented musicians, who never cease to inspire my work as a photographer. I also have two cats, who seem to enjoy being in my self-portraits.

three forty two
I see that you did a Project 365.  Can you talk about how that helped you grow as a photographer?
My 365 was invaluable to me as a photographer. When I started my 365, I had no photography experience, in fact, I only had a point and shoot camera. Very soon, though, I upgraded to a DSLR, so my 365 gave me the opportunity to practice, every day, on how to use my new camera, different types of lighting, composition and post-processing techniques. It also helped me become confident in my process of creating images, which has really helped me with my portrait work, because I spend more time connecting with my clients, rather than fiddling with my camera and lighting setups.

 

What equipment do you use? Specifically, camera body, lenses, flashes, strobes etc.
My primary camera is the 5D Mark II with a 50mm lens, and a 480ex ii flash. Those are my staples that I always carry with me to a shoot. I am also shooting/developing a lot of film these days, in which case I use a Nikon FM-10, which is a 35mm film SLR. I prefer to develop my own film, so I shoot a variety of black and white films so that I can develop them at home.

 

"so i cut the ties and i jumped the track for never to return"
I see that you do events, self-portraits, nature, architectural and several other types of photography. Which is your favorite?
Without a doubt, my favorite types of photography are events and portraits. I love shooting engagement, weddings, maternity and kids as much as possible, because they are such joyous events, and highlight the happy moments in peoples’ lives. I am fairly shy, but through photography, I have found a way to connect with other people in an area in which I am confident. I love going to a shoot, getting to know the client and hearing about their life, and then giving them images that they are happy to have – that is such a rewarding feeling.

 

Do you feel restrained at all when doing events such as weddings compared to a self-portrait at a scene of your choosing?
Yes and no, actually. My solution to that issue is that, with every event I shoot, I do my best to get to the venue the day before, or the morning of. For example, if I am shooting a wedding, I always attend the rehearsal so that I know exactly what the venue looks like in terms of lighting, seating arrangement, and where I need to stand when I shoot. So, while the venue is always out of my control, I do my research beforehand so that when the time arrives, I have a plan-of-action that will help me get the best possible shots.

 

day eighty three: jumping allowed
As a self-portraitist, how much time do you spend going back and forth between going behind the camera and in front of it for a single shot?  Do you find yourself cropping in post a lot to get the scene just right?
When I first started with self-portraits, I spent a ridiculous amount of time going back and forth, because it takes a lot of practice to know how to place yourself in front of the camera, especially when you’re new to photography, as I was. By the same token, I used to spend a lot of time cropping, too. At this point, I pretty much know exactly where I should be in front of the camera, and have learned to look through my viewfinder and visualize exactly where I need to be in the photo. This has really helped me with my client shoots, as well, because I know where and how people should be posed, so I spend very little time directing them, and cropping in post.

 

day twenty five: orange you glad i didn't use a pineapple?
How much time on average do you spend post-processing, and what software do you use?
I spend a good deal of time in post-processing. I am trying to graduate to a more natural style of processing as I learn more about photography, because if you look at my earlier work, it was processed with an extremely heavy hand. I can see that I had an idea of how I wanted my work to look, it just wasn’t working for me at the time. So, while I still have my color curves and textures that I add to the majority of my photos, I am refining my technique as much as possible, and learning how to use color and texture in a more subtle way. I use Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS 4.

 

How did you get into photography, and have you had any formal training in photography?
I graduated with a degree in theatre, so I have had no formal training in photography. I found photography in 2008 after I had knee surgery, and needed a hobby as I recuperated. I have always really enjoyed drawing, but wanted to try a new medium of visual art, so that is why I started experimenting with photography.

 

Which photographer has influenced you the most?
There are so many to name, but the two whose work I always find myself staring at for hours on end are Sally Mann and Katie Lee. Katie Lee, for her amazingly artistic self-portraits, that always seem to have a positive, uplifting feel to them – she is the person who inspired me to get in front of the lens. Sally Mann, for the depth and emotion in her portraits of her children, as well as the perfect tonality in her work with film and wet collodion.

 

If you had only one lens to use for the rest of your photography career, which would it be?
Any sort of 50mm, I don’t particularly care what brand (unless someone wants to give me a Zeiss, I wouldn’t turn it down) as long as it is fast. I have been in love with that focal length ever since I first shot with it.

 

Which photograph that you have taken is your favorite?
To this day, my favorite is a self-portrait called “Full Circle.”  [pictured below] It was one of my first self portraits, but has always remained my favorite. I enjoy it because my back is turned which, for me, opens up the possibility for interpretation. I also just love the light, and the colors of the peeling paint on the walls.
18: Full Circle
Have you ever taken photos of strangers on the street?
Two of my closest friends are talented street photographers, and they have encouraged me to get out and photograph people on the street, which is really, really difficult for me to do, because as I mentioned, I am fairly shy. It is an exercise in self-confidence for me, because I am always worried that people do not want me taking their photos, but I haven’t received any complaints yet. It is really fun to me, but I have to be in the right mood to put myself out there in that manner.

 

Do you prefer natural lighting or some form of strobes/flashes?
I much prefer natural light, but when I need an extra light source, I either use a reflector, or my flash and a reflector umbrella off-camera.

 

two sixty six: Those Who Hear Not the Music Think the Dancers Mad
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?
Sharing a lot of personal details about my life on Flickr was a huge, huge mistake. Because I post all of my self-portraits on Flickr, and because I went through a lot of personal turmoil in a short amount of time during my 365, I found myself talking about it in a very candid way on Flickr in my descriptions of my photos. At this point, I wish I had let the photos speak for themselves, rather than airing all of my emotions in my descriptions. If you are that open, people will often set out to attack you personally, which is what happened to me, and I wish that I could have avoided all of that.

 

What is the best advice you would give a photographer just starting out?
Practice, study the work of other photographers, practice some more. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and also know that if you want to become a professional photographer, there is a lot of serious competition out there, and it can be challenging field. If photography is really where your heart is, though, you just have to find a way to keep doing what you love, and know that you may have to wear a lot of different hats. For me, I do portraits, but to supplement my income, I also guest-blog, make Photoshop actions and textures, as well as tutor other photographers. It is a lot of work, but if it is what you love, you’ll be very rewarded by photography, so just stay open to new possibilities.

 

will travel
I see that you have a book out, can you talk about that?
Yes, I wrote an ebook for Digital Photography School called The Art of Self-Portraiture, which is basically a how-to guide with tips and tricks for taking self-portraits, and also explores how self-portraiture can help improve your skills as a photographer, as well as serve you in the area of self-awareness and personal expression. The book goes through the basics like equipment, lighting, posing, composition, post-processing, has examples from other self-portrait photographers, as well as a list of ideas and themes for self-portraits. People have really been enjoying it so far! When it was first released, I wasn’t sure how people would react to a book about self-portraiture, but so far I have heard from a lot of people who found it very useful.

 

Portrait Photographer Portfolios – Kris Kesiak

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!

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.
Lost in Music • Upside Down (Boy You Turn Me)
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.
Emily
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.
The Other Side
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:
Kiera
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: 
I've Seen It All

 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.

Stella Bartram
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! :-)