Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Travel for work).
Sony A7R3 and the Phase One XF 100MP.
Michael Muller, Lionel Deluy, Art Streiber, Miller Mobley, Dan Winters to name a few.
Surf and Turf.
Can’t remember the name of the place but it was in Lido, Italy. The place had a moat around it and heated floors.
The War of Art, not to be confused with The Art of War.
Derek Heisler is a seasoned conceptual photographer and director who has contributed to National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, NASA, and TED. A native of Calgary, but travels great distances for great conversations. Derek is also known to create identities for film and tv from time to time.
-Did you always want to be a professional photographer?
No. I mean as a kid you constantly change what you want to be. But I actually completed my engineering degree and worked for several years before moving full time to photography.
-What words best describe your style of photography?
Style? That’s a hard one, if it’s personal projects then I would say full of emotion and cinematic. Commercially? It’s all over the place, typically that style is dictated by the creative and the brand it’s for. So commercially I am very much a chameleon shooter, adapting to the creative.
-Is there a theme or concept that runs throughout all of your work?
I like to tell stories, I always come back to the narrative.
-How do you attract new clients?
Good question. When someone figures out the gold standard please share it with me. I kid. It really comes down to boots on the ground. You’ve gotta get out there and build those relationships. I wish I knew that early on. Early on, I really focused on the craft and perfecting it, then met with people when I felt it was ‘good enough’. I think this really held me back. You’d think it would be the right way to go about it. But in reality, you need to start those relationships now as you grow.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
Pretty standard. Tether to Capture One Pro while shooting. Cull the images using stars in Capture One. Build contact sheets for clients and email those off. When I get them back I will do basic adjustments and processing in Capture One and then edit in Photoshop. I round trip back to Capture One for some final colour tweaks and final output.
-What is your dream project?
That’s always shifting. I wanted to shoot a movie poster for the longest time but achieved that. It’s always a constantly moving target. But I love shooting period films so if I had to choose it would be something along those lines, love the 30s-60s.
-What is your creative process like? What are you start, middle and end points?
Always starts with a story. If it’s two people; what is there current relationship like? What are their motives, who are these subjects? Once a narrative is established, then I typically storyboard out the scenes/images that will be captured. From there it’s all execution, from sourcing wardrobe to location to talent and crew. Shooting, then post. But if you don’t have a story, everything lacks from that point forward.
-How do you approach posing or directing your subject?
Again this comes back to the narrative. Who is this subject, what are they doing? Where are they going? What’s on their mind? These things help dictate the ‘pose’ but in reality, I try not to pose, I try to keep my subjects in movement as it keeps things feeling authentic. Sometimes I’ll get in there and tweak it for aesthetic reasons.
-What is your general guide when it comes to lighting?
What looks real? What furthers the narrative? The best advice I can give to photographers when they are starting out is to take a drawing class and understand global light. It rewrites your brain to better understand that. Key when shooting composites as well.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
This isn’t a race.