Q&A

-How did you first become interested in photography?

I actually got interested in photography through retouching. I enjoyed manipulating images and needed source material so I began with shooting what was easily accessible in Toronto – Architecture.

I was doing a fair bit of travelling at the time so I shot a lot of travel Images as well. Eventually I decided that I prefer retouching portraits and so I began taking pictures of people to once again provide source materials to work off of. As time went on I came to realise that photography was where my true passion lies, but to this day, retouching remains an integral part of my finished product.

-How did you make the move to becoming a professional photographer?

The move was fairly gradual. I continued to work in business and software as I honed my skills and developed the confidence to tackle commercial jobs. However long you think it’s going to take before you gain traction, it’s likely to take double that amount of time.

-What words best describe your style of photography?

Elegant, modern – yet timeless, minimalist and polished

-What is your typical camera setup on a shoot?

I typically shoot my Phase One IQ250 with a Schneider 110 mm lens. It gives me a good ISO range for working in natural light when I need it, but it really shines when you close down the f-stop and use strobes. If I need something with a fast AF system I’ll use my Nikon D800 as medium format systems aren’t really known for being quick and agile.

-You also teach photography through various online platforms, how has this influenced your own way of shooing?

It hasn’t really influenced the way I shoot, but rather my desire to constantly evolve. When I’m teaching I want to make sure I have a good breadth and depth of knowledge to pull from while still staying true to my overarching style.

-How do you promote your work?

Promotion is fairly multi-channel with a mix of social media, email and snail mail marketing. Success in this industry is all about repetition and perseverance.

-What is your post-production workflow like?

My post-production workflow is actually quite simple. I start by processing the raw file in Capture One Pro to get a well-rounded histogram and a good base for further work in Photoshop. Once I’m in Photoshop I do healing, subject extraction (sometimes), dodging and burning, colour correction and colour grading with adjustment layers and then finish up things like liquify if needed.

-What is your dream project?

Shooting a La Perla or Agent Provocateur campaign.

-What is your biggest resource in relation to technical knowledge and how long did it take you to master your technique?

I got a good base of knowledge through a combination of online courses and tutorials but beyond that it’s really down to practice and being critical of your own work. I spend a lot of time studying the work of photography greats and trying to deconstruct their lighting setups.

It took me about 4-5 years to really feel confident in tackling a broad range of lighting scenarios but I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I’ve mastered anything. In photography our taste and style evolves constantly, so every time you feel you’ve hit your stride, you tend to want to change direction and try something different. It’s one of the things that makes it really exciting to be a photographer.

-How would you advise someone just starting out with lighting for fashion photography?

Start with one light and two or three simple modifiers like a beauty dish, open reflector and mid-sized octabox. It’s amazing how many different looks you can achieve with one light and bouncing light around using v-flats or reflectors. Don’t feel that you have to spend a ton of money on your lighting to get great results.

I recently shot in studios that provided cheap Alien Bee lights and basic modifiers and had no issues getting the looks I wanted. High-end gear will give you more bells and whistles but those are rarely needed. Stick to the basics, master the fundamentals of one light and spend more time on subject interaction and posing rather than fiddling with complex light setups.

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

Keeping your variable costs / overhead low is one of the key things when starting out. Last thing you want to do is dive head first into a bunch of leases and debt payments. It’s truly amazing how much you can do with a little. 90% of the time I use the same lens and one light – tons of gear just creates a lot of noise and impedes rather than accelerates progress.