I have had so many emails asking me about how I got started and my background I figured I would just post it here for all to see ?
I started in Photography about seven years ago. I have always been interested in photography and had a really strong calling for it deep down. It took me a while to understand what it was that was calling me though. I was on a train, at Parramatta and this amazing looking girl got on. I had such a strong desire to photograph her, capture her beauty and style, freeze that image in time for ever. No matter how she changed, or how old she got or how many wrinkles she developed over time, she would always have that snapshot in time. It was then that I realised I was in the wrong profession. Im actually an Engineer by trade, but now, thank god, im a full time photographer!
So this moment came and went and then life got back to normal. Then out of the blue, a mate of mine called me up. He had started a promo girls agency and wanted ME to do the photos. I nearly fell over, my first real job (non paid – but a real shoot none the less). I had my brand new Sony Cybershot camera (At the time it was the bees knees in digital) and I set off to photograph all 15 girls over a two day period. I had an absolute ball and really felt like I had found my calling. The photos compared to my work today are shocking (I wouldn’t admit to having ever taken them hahaha) but it gave me the bug.
So over the next few years I worked two jobs, doing engineering which I steadily grew to hate and used to spend all my spare time at work on photography forums like this one. I also worked a second job doing free photos for potential models. I gained a lot of experience doing this and even had a fairly good portfolio too. Nothing by today's standards but at the time I was happy with it.
Then one day, Wayne Daniels called me (Ralph’s main photographer) and asked me to assist him on a shoot. I went along for the weekend and helped him out. That weekend I learned so much from him it was amazing. It totally opened my eyes up to how a pro does it. He gave me a list of what he uses and I went and brought it all. Over time he helped me refine my skills (especially my business skills as well as my photography skills) and I give him full credit for moulding me into the photographer I am today. The man is a genius with a camera, one of the most talented men I have ever had the absolute privilege and humbling experience to work with. He’s a dark South African bloke and after working with him, like I said before, my God was for ever a dark South African man!! ? He’s the most amazing photographer but the most amazing person too. So with a little bit of encouragement from Wayne I decided to try my hand at Magazine photography. I did my first published shoot, the mine shoot, about 2 and a half years ago.
I sent it to FUEL Magazine and no reply ? So I emailed it again and still no reply. I was devastated that they didn’t like my work and figured maybe it wasn’t good enough, but everyone kept telling me it was BETTER than what was in the magazine at that time. Then, someone asked me, “What did the editor actually say on the phone?” and I replied that I hadn’t actually spoken to the editor on the phone, more that I had just emailed. I think deep down it was a hidden fear of rejection. So I mustered up the courage, called the editor (about 5 times) and finally got a meeting to show him my portfolio. Wayne and I sat down and went through three portfolio albums and picked out the best 20 shots that would fill up one album. He made a really good point, ONLY show the editor your best work as your saying to that editor “this is the absolute best I can do”. The editor Andrew Mara, loved my work, brought the shoot, then commissioned me for a few more shoots, then FINALLY he booked me for a regular set of shoots each month. I figured if I had done it with FUEL, I could do it with FHM, and being a published photographer, I had a track record now too. I spoke to FHM, and put together the Gangster girl shoot. They loved my theme based shoots and commissioned me to do the “its Your” section each month. From doing this section my contribution has now grown to the “Its Your” section, “Under the Sheets”, “UNI Student of the month” and “sex confidential” sections. There are also other spin off jobs like the Lara Croft shoot we did recently where I got to photograph TEN Lara Croft look alikes ? check my behind the Scenes gallery for some shots.
Now that im established, Magazines seem more keen to talk to me. I understand what a deadline is, I know how to shoot a full shoot that can be laid out in a 4 or 6 page spread and I know what works and what doesn’t. My lighting is much better and my technique is becoming much more honed now. Most of all, I am a down to earth person. I talk to anyone and I don't have a big head about how much work I do. That's Wayne’s secret, be a normal person, don't get over yourself about what you do. That's the rule I live by. I never knock back a question and I never leave until I am confident the person understands what I am trying to explain. With this job comes a lot of responsibility too. Above all else, treat people how you want to be treated and RESPECT models because without them, you don't have a job.
To give you a quick idea of my setup. I use a Canon EOS 1DS Mark II (16.7 megapixels) digital SLR, all L-Series lenses, my fav lens is the 24-105 L F4.0 (not that I ever shoot at 4.0, F8-F11 is the sweet spot of this lens) F16 is even better but only really good for bright conditions, I use 2 Medium Chimera softboxes (only 1 outdoors), a Broncolour Verso A2 studio battery powered studio light pack for outdoors, and two Bowen’s Esprit II 500 lights for indoors. I don't use umbrella’s ever and I rarely use reflectors or flutes. The 1DS Mark II has a sharpness setting, I set it to 4 to get really clean crisp photos. This does a much better job than sharpening later in Photoshop (IMHO). I use Adobe RGB for my colour profile as that's what the magazines use.
So that's me in a nutshell, any questions, ask away ?