Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interview with photographer Adam Daniels...

I came across an image of a dog, a Doberman to be specific and followed it home to its owner, and ended up at the website of Adam Daniels.

One thing was quite clear, Adam Daniels knows how to take a picture.

Adam was kind enough to spend some time answering a few of my silly questions and then give the "behind the scenes" info on four of his pictures.

Q. When/how did you get into photography?
A. I picked up my first SLR camera in 2001 after switching from an animation major to a photography major at Savannah College of Art & Design. I loved animation, but the end product took days, sometimes weeks. Photography was a medium through which I could more quickly see results. But it wasn't until I switched to digital photography a couple years later when I began utilizing Photoshop to really get creative with my visions.

Q. Who (or what) had the most influence on your development as a photographer?
A. The person who most influenced me in the art world must have been my mom. She always has had a knack for decorating the house, and creatively lighting every corner of every room with appropriate soft-lighted lamps. I cannot have my eyes open without analyzing the lighting in front of me. Of the photography masters I studied, Clarence John Laughlin stands out as a favorite. His spooky images of ruined buildings and ghost-like figures hits home for me, as I love dark and stormy nights, and horror movies.

Q. What camera do you shoot (and why)?
A. My main camera is a Canon 1DS M3. I chose this mainly for the resolution. I wanted to be able to make large prints of my darker portraits for art shows, and also have a camera capable of producing commercial-quality work. I have a backup 5D.

Q. What is your favorite lens?
A. My favorite lens is hands down the Cannon 24-70 f2.8. I wish it telescoped a bit more, but you can't have everything... yet.

Q. What is your favorite shooting (off camera) accessory?
A. My favorite off-camera accessory as of late is my Q-Flash. This thing is great! I just used it at a wedding this past weekend as a 2nd flash, to light up the banquet hall. Not only did I have my hot-shoe flash, but I triggered the Q-Flash via radio slave, giving each picture so much more life. It eliminated my hatred of shooting weddings inside!

Q. RAW or jpg (and why)?
A. RAW as much as possible. Although hard drives become quite numerous, shooting RAW gives me so much control over color balance and exposure, while providing lossless image quality. With JPGS, each time you re-save them you lose image quality.

Q. If you could only have one, would it be Lightroom or Photoshop?
A. If I had to choose, it'd be Photoshop over Lightroom any day of the week. I retouch everything I shoot in Photoshop/Camera RAW. To me, there's no program more important.

Q. What was your "big break"?
A. My "big break" has yet to happen, I feel. This is good in that it keeps me looking forward to something that I know will happen! But as with everything, you have to work for it. You can't just sit around waiting. Get out there and shoot, constantly! You'll get better each time you go out, I promise.

Q. I see you have both “recognizable” people and products as clients, how did that come about?
A. I used to work as a graphic designer/animator at TV stations. Two of the recognizable people on my website are those whom I stole for a few minutes after their appearance on the morning shows. The products you see on my site are mostly lighting tests done in my apartment. I'll get inspiration from a movie or website sometimes at odd hours in the morning, and won't be able to sleep until I've taken some photos.

Q. If you had to pick a single marketing tool to focus on for your business, what would it be?
A. There is nothing more beneficial as far as a marketing tool than word-of-mouth. Almost every time I get out to a networking event - and they're more prevalent than ever nowadays - I make great business contacts that, more times than not, lead to a job. And the more times someone sees you networking, the better your chances that they'll remember you when someone they know needs a photographer. How good you are doesn't nearly matter as much as how many people you know. If you're apprehensive about networking with strangers, take a friend with you to an event who can talk you up, so you don't have to.

Q. Can you share one marketing mistake that you would advise others to avoid?
A. One marketing mistake I made while at a big networking event a few years back was to place my business card at each place setting at the table before our meeting began. A networking professional approached me and told me that simply throwing my cards around was no way to really meet people and establish a relationship. "It was a cheap salesperson thing to do", he said. I took offense at first. But after thinking about it, I realized that he had an interesting point. How much respect would you have for someone if they approached you and handed you their business card then walked off without getting to know you?

Q. If you could have lunch with any photographer, who would it be?
A. You've stumped me on this question. If I were to choose a photographer with whom to have lunch, I'm afraid I couldn't. I am inspired every day by showcased photos that come through my inbox from PDN, NAPP, etc. However I couldn't give you a specific name of anyone. So if I had to choose, I would much more enjoy dining with students, and answering any photography/Photoshop questions they may have. I'm always willing to help fellow artists!

Q. What is your favorite photography magazine or book?
A. My favorite photography magazines are PDN and Photoshop User. PDN keeps me up-to-date on the industry news, new up-and-coming photographers, and helpful resource guides which I use to find strobe rentals when I'm shooting in other cities. Photoshop User keeps me up-to-date on cool new techniques.

Q. What is your favorite online photography resource?
A. My favorite online photography resource would probably be fredmiranda.com. It's a website that discusses and rates new cameras/lenses. Before purchasing any equipment, I check that site out first.

Q. Lastly, what is the one thing you would want people to know about Adam Daniels?
A. One thing I want people to know about me is that I'm always willing to help out a fellow photographer with any questions they may have. Back in college I used to keep too many secrets about my photography/Photoshop techniques. I would refuse to share them with anyone for fear that they would start using them in their work, and cause me to lose business. This was super-ridiculous thinking. Thankfully my instructor gave me his wisdom, and suggested I share with others. And to this day I love helping out and teaching other aspiring photographers.

You can view larger versions of these images (in a new window) by simply clicking on them.

Tennis - This was a test I did in my apartment a couple of years ago. Two shots, and some Photoshop smudging for the special effects. Profoto strobes, Canon 5D.

Old Man -This is one of my favorite, award-winning images. It was taken of a man in New England whom I passed on the street. I asked if I could take a picture of him, telling him that he had an interesting face. Then through a technique I discovered while messing around with Photoshop, created this image.

White Dog - An old girlfriend's dog shot on a white seamless bkgd. Most times, treats or toys are needed to get a dog's attention. This is why it's good to have an assistant or dog owner dangling a toy or food above camera. I believe a piece of cheese was used for this shot.

Doberman - Black dogs suck up light like a black hole. This one was no exception. I used a 30 degree gridded light on the right side, a soft box on the left/above without diffusion panel, and a 30 degree gridded light on a white background. The colored background was done in Photoshop. Finishing touches on the image included adding selective contrast via Curves masks, as well as hairs with a hair-shaped Photoshop brush, making the image look less like a composite and more believable as a straight shot.

If you like what you saw here (and I am sure you did), be sure to check out Adams website and his blog.

And a big thank you to Adam for being so willing to share.

2 comments:

Alankar said...

Thanks for the helpful guidelines.
Which model should I prefer if I want the camera for normal family shoot. I have confusion between Cannon DSLR and Cannon PowerShot.

Abal Abal said...

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