Below you will find my interview with Vincent Versace, as I noted in my very first blog entry, he has had a significant impact on my development as a photographer, much like he as has with countless other folks, and with good reason, Vincent Versace a lot to offer.
His work is inspiring (be sure to visit his website), his advice is dead on, he is more than willing to share what he knows, and is an outstanding teacher.
He is also generous with his time, when I have emailed him to ask a question or advice, he has always been kind enough to respond, though his last email said something about a restraining order.
Regardless of where you are on your photographic learning curve, you should really take the time to listen to him on one of the following podcasts, The Candid Frame (episode #4), American Photo, and Inside Digital Photo.
You can also bring him into your own home with one of his many teaching DVD's, and as an owner of 4 of them, I give them two thumbs way up.
But enough of my rambling, onto the interview:
How/when did your photographic career begin, where was your first Studio, what kind of clients and projects did you start out with?
I SOLD MY FIRST PICTURE TO A LOCAL NEWSPAPER WHEN I WAS NINE YEARS OLD, I GOT BIT BY THE PHOTOGRAPHY BUG WHEN I WAS SEVEN. MY UNCLE FRANK WAS A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER AND I SPENT THE DAY WITH HIM IN HIS DARKROOM BECAUSE HE GOT STUCK BABYSITTING ME. I WATCHED HIM DO THE DODGE AND BURN ENLARGER DANCE, PUT THE PAPER IN THE DEVELOPER, SAW THE IMAGE MATERIALIZE GOT A WIFF OF FIXER AND I WAS HOOKED. I HAVE BEEN AT THE CORE BEGINNING TILL NOW AN ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAIT AND FINE ART NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER.
Once your career began, who had the most influence on your development as a photographer?
MY CAREER BEGAN AT NINE. SOOOOOOOOOOO………. MOM, DAD....GROWING UP IT WAS MY UNCLE CJ ELFONT WHO INFLUENCED ME THE MOST. THE BASIS OF HOW I "SEE" AND IMAGE AND COMPOSE IT I LEARNED FROM HIM. IN MY ADULT LIFE, TAD Z. DAINELEWSKI, SIDNEY WALKER AND JAY MAISEL. TAD TAUGHT ME HOW TO TAKE WHAT I FEEL AND EXPRESS IT, SYDNEY TAUGHT ME THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GIFT OF GIVING AND JAY BEAT THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ME AND SHOWED ME HOW MUCH MORE DEEP OF A GAME THE GAME OF COMPOSITION IS.
What was your "big break"?
A MEETING WITH DAVE FLEMING WHO IS NOW AT MOSAIC MEDIA. WHEN I STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD RIGHT AFTER GOING TO USC FILM SCHOOL I COULD NOT GET ARRESTED. I HAD JUST SHOT GLORIA RUEBEN AND SHE HAD JUST GOT CAST IN THE TV SHOW ER. SHE HAD SENT A HEADSHOT IN TO THE PRODUCERS THAT I HAD TAKEN OF HER WITH "COLORED GIRL FOR HIRE" WRITTEN IN MAGIC MARKER ON THE PICTURE. THEY CALLED HER IN SHE WENT STRAIGHT TO PRODUCERS AND GOT THE PART. HER MANAGER, DAVE FLEMMING TOLD HER "I HATE EVERYONE OF MY CLIENTS HEADSHOTS EXCEPT YOURS. WHO TOOK THEM?" I CAME IN A FEW DAYS LATER; WE SPENT FOUR HOURS JUST TALKING THEN WHEN I GOT UP TO LEAVE DAVE SID "CAN I SEE YOUR PICTURES?" WE'VE BEEN CLOSE FRIENDS EVER SINCE. I'VE PHOTOGRAPHED ALL OF HIS CLIENTS.
You can shoot any camera you want and choose to shoot Nikon, why? What is it you get from Nikon that you can't from other camera manufacturers?
I FEEL THAT NIKON CAMERAS ARE CAMERAS THAT WORK AND FEEL LIKE CAMERAS, THE REST OF THE DIGITAL CAMERAS I'VE PLAYED WITH FEEL LIKE TRANSISTOR RADIOS IN MY HANDS. ALSO THE COLOR IS NEUTRAL, NOT BOOSTED OR WARMED. THE GLASS IS SECOND TO NONE. ALSO THERE IS CAPTURE NX AND THE .NEF FILE FORMAT WHICH IS THE ONLY TRULY NO-DESTRUCTIVE RAW FILE WORKFLOW.
Nikon has recently announced the upcoming release of some new products (D300, D3, Lenses, etc.), is there anything on that release list that you are excited about?
JUMPING UP AND DOWN BLOWN AWAY!!!! IF THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW PATH FOR NIKON I CAN'T WAIT TO GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE
You shoot RAW, what advantage does RAW give you? What would you miss the most if you HAD to shoot .jpg?
QUALITY, CONTROL AND THE ABILITY TO HAVE ALMOST ALL PHOTOGRAPHIC SINS BE FORGIVEN. (EXCEPT FOR ISO)
Are there any occasions when you still shot film? If yes, when and why?
FILM IS WHAT OCCURS ON YOUR TEETH WHEN YOU DON'T BRUSH
If I looked in your filter pouch, what filters would I find?
SPLIT GRADIENT NEUTRAL DENSITY, A NIKON POLARIZER AND A CANON 500D 77MM CLOSE-UP FILTER
Of all the locations you have photographed, where would you go back to first?
MYANMAR (BURMA) THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE I HAVE EVER MET, THE DEPTH OF SPIRIT OF THE PLACE IS HUMBLING.
Are you an Adobe Lightroom user, if yes, what are your thoughts on it, what do you like/dislike about it?
LIGHTROOM IS A BRILLIANT PIECE OF CODING. I DO NOT USE IT TO WORK ON MY RAW FILES, I USE CAPTURE NX FOR THAT, I WOULD ALSO RECOMMEND THAT ANY ONE SHOOTING NIKON DO THERE RAW MANIPULATION IN CAPTURE NX. THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT I DON'T USE LIGHTROOM. I USE IT ALL THE TIME. LOVE THE USER INTERFACE, LOVE IT TO MAKE CONTACT SHEETS TO GIVE THE CLIENT SOMETHING QUICK DOWN AND DIRTY. LOVE IT AS A BROWSER EVEN IF IT COMPLETELY CHANGES THE LOOK OF MY IMAGES FROM THE WAY THE CAMERA SHOT THEM. HATE THE FACT THAT IT DOES NOT GIVE ME WHAT THE CAMERA SHOT. THIS IS PARTICULARLY PROBLEMATIC WITH DIGITAL INFRARED FILES WHICH ID DO A LOT OF. AS SHOT IN LIGHT ROOM IS MORE A CASE OF AS INTERPRETED WHEN IT COMES TO NIKON RAW FILES.
You are a huge advocate of monitor calibration, which calibration tool Do you use, would you recommend for others to purchase?
XRITE EYEONE DISPLAY II
I have heard you say in the past that you are a Windows user because of the printing environment, did that improve with the release of Microsoft Vista?
IT DID NOT IMPROVE IN VISTA BECAUSE IT ALREADY WAS WORKING IN XP. SO IT IS STILL BETTER IN WINDOWS THAT IN THE APPLE OS AT THIS TIME.
You do a lot of teaching, it seems that every list of workshops I see has your name on it, how did you get into teaching and what do you get out of/take away from being a teacher?
I'M NOT SURE HOW I WOUND UP TEACHING SO MUCH. I DO BELIEVE IN THE CONCEPT OF SHARING THE REFULGENCE. I LIVE A VERY BLESSED AND CHARMED LIFE. SO I WANT TO GIVE BACK TO THE CREATIVE COMMUNITY WHAT I'VE LEARNED ON MY JOURNEY. IF I CAN CONTRIBUTE TO PEOPLE BEING ABLE TO HAVE HALF THE CREATIVE BLAST I HAVE THEN SIGN ME UP.
What (photography) projects are you involved in that offer no financial return, but are of importance to you?
I TRY TO EVERY OTHER YEAR OR SO DO A PROJECT WHERE I GIVE ALL OF MY TIME AND IMAGES TO FOR FREE (OPERATING AND EXCEPTING THE PREMISE THAT NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED) FOR EXAMPLE THE SAN FRANCISCO PRESIDIO PROJECT AND THE AMERICAN PHOTO MISSION SERIES PROJECT "OUR NEIGHBOR'S CHILDREN" ON HOMELESSNESS I DID COME TO MIND. I BELIEVE THAT SERVICE TO YOUR FELLOW MAN IS THE RENT YOU PAY TO LIVE ON THE PLANET. EACH OF US HAS A TALENT, WE DIDN'T NECESSARILY EARN IT, WE WERE BORN WITH IT. IT IS INCUMBENT UPON US TO USE THAT GIVEN TALENT TO MAKE THE WORD A BETTER PLACE.
Do you have any books are training DVD's that you are currently working on?
I JUST STARTED MY SECOND BOOK, "SEEING IS BELIEVING" SHOOTING A NEW DVD WHICH WILL BE LIGHTING ON A LAPTOP 2; LIGHTING LIKE A SUNBEAM AND HOW TO RETOUCH A PHOTOGRAPH IN 15 MINUTES. I'M ALSO PRODUCING LEE VARIS'S DVD'S BEYOND SKIN: GOING DEEPER WITH CS3 AND A JOHN PAUL CAPONIGRO SERIES AS WELL. I'M ALSO WORKING ON A TV PILOT ON PHOTOGRAPHY. WE ARE JUST FINISHING THE FINAL EDITS.
Of the books and DVD's you have done, is there one you are most proud of?
WELL… MY FIRST (AND ONLY BOOK) WELCOME TO OZ COMES TO MIND… OH YEAH THE LAST DVD "UNLEASHING THE RAW POWER OF CAPTURE NX"
If you weren't a photographer, part-time super hero, and short order cook, what would you be?
UNEMPLOYED AND DIVORCED. MY WIFE ONLY KEEPS ME AROUND FOR MY COOKING SKILLS. (I'M A BETTER COOK THAN I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER.)
Lastly, what is the one thing you would want people to know about Vincent Versace?
I'M A BETTER POET THAN A COOK
Thank you Vincent