Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you do?
My main gig is actually teaching photography so I’m surrounded by cameras and get talk about what I love every single day both inside and outside of the classroom. Aside from that, I’m also passionate about journalism and co-own a local arts and culture blog in Denton, TX called We Denton Do It.
I also have an expensive instant film obsession which I’m trying to rid myself of.
When did you first get into photography?
I first got into photography in high school. Then, I got more into it in college as a way to improve flyers that I would make for local shows. I had always thought of it as a hobby until I was given the opportunity to teach “Commercial Photography” to high school juniors and seniors later on.
How would you describe your photography style?
I want to say “minimal lifestyle,” but I’m afraid that makes my life sound boring. I do try to keep all of my images simple and clean, and 90% of what I shoot is the result of me thinking, “Hey, that looks cool” when my son is doing something interesting. I try to apply the same method of composition when I’m shooting more thought-out images, too.
What kinds of subjects do you find yourself drawn to when you shoot? What do you look for? In other words, what fires you up?
My son is often the subject of my photos. I try to time our outdoor activities or dog-walking time so that we’re outside during golden hour. The area of Texas that I live in is fairly flat, but if you look around hard enough, you can always find an area that is new and exciting. I most like to shoot architecture and food.
What does your photography process look like? From setting up the shot to the final edit, what tools do you use to get the look you desire?
That kind of depends on what I’m shooting. I try to keep my Instagram iPhone-only and for those shots, I edit primarily with VSCO, but let other apps like Litely or Priime get in there sometimes. Oftentimes, though, my self-diagnosed OCD will get the best of me and I’ll have to import certain images to my computer to edit in Lightroom or Photoshop to make sure my vertical perspective is straight or fix a particular aspect of a photo that I can’t get perfect on my phone...yet. I know VSCO just added those features, but they aren’t quite there yet for me. I always feel like I’m cheating when I edit an iPhone image on my laptop.
If I’m shooting something for hire, though, I turn to my Canon 5D… but I’m tempted to switch to Sony right now. I use the bokeh panorama technique (or Brenizer Method) quite a bit. I have a set of actions that I’ve whittled down over the years that give most of my images the look that I want. I also sell those same Photoshop actions on my website.
Are there any photography related projects, experiences, or thoughts you’ve had that you want to share?
Definitely. I work with a few awesome people to put on a local version of Jeremy Cowart’s charitable Help-Portrait event in Denton, TX. It really helps to show my students how much a photograph can affect someone.
I’m currently in the planning stages of a self-published photography book about skin/skin cancer. Forcing yourself to think about particular images and how they work and fit together in a larger form is a really interesting experience.
Has the community on Instagram changed how you shoot? If so, how?
I try to use Instagram as a source of inspiration so it definitely changes not only how I shoot, but also how I edit. While there’s a fine line between inspiration and “ripping someone off,” I try to keep my following feed so that it isn’t too much of one particular style of photography. It can be very easy to have a feed full of photos of similar photos of misty mountains, Haystack Rock and foggy photos of windy roads, but that can get old pretty quickly.
Do you have any advice for fellow photographers?
Don’t give up too easy. You may not see success for a long time even if you’re working really hard, and that is okay. Keep challenging yourself, shoot all the time, and market yourself and inevitably things will work out. I’ve seen plenty of mediocre photographers be successful just because they have great marketing skills, so never overlook that.
What two Instagrammers are you blown away by right now? Who should we reach out to and follow?
That’s a good question. I don’t want to mention anyone I know personally because then everyone else will ask why I didn’t mention them. But lately I’ve really been digging @witchoria and @emilysoto. Both kind of speak to that idea of keeping a varied feed full of different styles that keep me inspired. I love the high-concept ideas behind @witchoria’s work and I really dig @emilysoto’s 8” x 10” instant work and how she applies it to fashion photography