Which artists or photographers do you most admire? How has their work influenced your own?
I’ve been influenced by DOZENS of photographers. Sometimes I am inspired by their lighting, or their use of fabric, or their portrayal of women. I find that gathering many influences (instead of just a few) helps you to be more authentic and less of a ‘copycat.’ My lighting inspiration is most from Albert Watson and Solve Sundsbo. I am absolutely enamored with Lillian Bassman‘s experimental approach to image-making, along with her strong and elegant portrayal of women.
Do you still have time to shoot personal work as well as commercial?
I shoot personal work frequently. I am not a photographer because of a desire to make money. I could choose a wide range of other careers if my focus was purely on making money. I am a photographer because it is my passion and expressing my vision through personal work is one of the most rewarding things in my life. I can barely express the pleasure it brings when making beautiful images.
What is a typical shoot like? Do you have any particular habits that are a part of how you begin your creative process?
For the type of photographic work I do, preparation is an essential part of the creative process. Let’s take a look at a typical fashion editorial, for example. First, I begin by selecting a general theme or subject of the editorial. I shoot for a variety of high-end fashion magazines, and often their issues have a theme. I enjoy shooting for themed issued because I feel that these small boundaries help open up a great deal of creativity. When I know this theme, I start to piece together the editorial visually by creating a mood board.
A mood board is a visual reference of the overall feel of the shoot. On a mood board, I will have images that represent the desired hair, makeup, wardrobe, lighting, location, or overall mood of the shoot. This helps me communicate my vision to my creative team. When you look at the mood board, it is a snapshot of how you should feel when looking at my resulting editorial.
From there, I pass this mood board on to my creative team so they can start preparing (purchasing hair and makeup, gathering wardrobe, etc). Next, I start casting the model by reaching out to a variety of model agencies, seeking to find the model who best fits my vision. When the entire team is gathered I send out a ‘call sheet’ summarizing the schedule for the day.
The days of my shoots are a fantastic mix of serious and fun. We are all serious about our art, sticking to the schedule, executing the vision. That being said, we have an amazing time and are flexible enough to allow us to create openly. We eat great food, listen to music, laugh, tell stories, shoot funny behind the scenes, and just create an environment for open expression. I love that my models always comment on how great the creative team works together and how we are both professional yet create an environment that everyone can enjoy!