Q&A

-How did you first become interested in photography?

I have been surrounded by photographs my whole life. My mom has always been that one mom that feels the need to take pictures of the family constantly. It wasn’t until high school that I started playing with a camera while participating in the yearbook club. I’d always loved art, and when drawing and painting didn’t work out, I figured I’d try photography as an art form in college. I quickly became addicted to telling a story through the lens and makeshift shoots quickly consumed my time with friends.


-What is your typical camera setup on a shoot?

My setup is pretty simple, I use a 5d MK II with a 50mm 1.4 lens the majority of the time. I use portable lights when necessary but half the time I rely on natural light and reflection. I’d like to invest in the Sony A7S for its incredible low light abilities.


-What words best describe your style of photography?

I’d say the best words to describe my style are surreal, dream-like and conceptual.


-You also mentor other photographers. How has teaching informed your own creative practice?

I thoroughly enjoy mentoring other artists. I’d say teaching informs my own practice by keeping techniques in the forefront of my mind, and by challenging me to see my concepts through the eyes of others. Spending time encouraging others helps me to continuously encourage myself. Being an artist can seem impossible without community, and my students support me as much as I support them.


-What is your post-production workflow like?

Post-production will vary depending on the image, however my process tends to always span the course of 2-3 days per image or set of images. The first day is always focused on piecing together the entire image or set of images; many of my photographs are many images stitched or composited together. On day 1, I will typically complete the merging and colouring/toning of an image or set. Once my eyes have bled enough, I usually save the fine-tuning and re-evaluation of colour/tones for day 2. On extreme edits, a third day is sometimes required.


-What is your dream project?

My dream project would be photographing one of my favourite musicians or actors for a campaign benefitting a charitable organisation combatting child abuse or human trafficking. If the campaign had the budget to create on a Tim Walker or Annie Leibovitz level, my creative and humanitarian desires would both be met in one project!


-Do you ever suffer from creative blocks and if so how do you overcome them?

Creative blocks are a natural occurrence I’ve found. I find escape from these blocks by simply turning down the volume of my daily commitments, be it social media or plans with friends and colleagues. I often like to give myself “thinking sessions” where I find my breath and let my mind wander. I may relive my childhood and journal the ideas that develop, or I may listen to music and find inspiration in the lyrics that stand out. Sometimes I just take a stroll through the forest, and as my mind wanders I sift out the ideas that are most vivid.


-You work on both personal and commercial areas of photography. How does your approach to creating change depending on what you are working on?

Creating for clients and commercially certainly requires the most pre-planning and production. With clients I always want to give multiple options for the creative outcome; the complexity of the request certainly changes each time, but typically more conceptualising, scouting, set building or prop gathering, and post production time is needed. I like my work with clients to be collaborative so that it can best fit their image and needs, so a high level of communication is key.


Personal work may also require a decent level of pre-planning, but can also be very spontaneous. There is never that pressure to create something specific or to deliver a product, and my mind has more freedom to experiment through the process. Things don’t have to be as solidified in advance for a specific outcome.


-Is there a single photograph you are most proud of and why?

The image I am most proud of is one called “All In Our Boxes”. It was created during a great transition in my life, a time where I felt I was truly being born as an artist. It has a great meaning to me and is also one of the first images I ever imagined that turned out exactly as I’d envisioned it in my head.


-What was the best career advice you were ever given?

Some of the best career advice I have been given is to pursue being part of a team or community as opposed to being just an individual. I think many people view the creative industry as a battleground, and such perspectives can make being an artist quite unsatisfying. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the many collaborations I’ve been fortunate to be a part of and the friendships I’ve created by my openness to co-owning endeavours.