I take pride [sometimes] on being a Jake Hoyt when it comes to blazing. However, when you are inside a 100 ft2 studio room, ten feet below the earth's surface [literally], with 4 people blazing, you are aimed to get some sort of contact high. Till today I'm not certain what exactly happened or how I behaved. I do remember that, I was editing these photos while being under the influence. It sounds cool when I say "I was under the influence of such and such outlawed drug(?)".
Last, last week on my phone. I'm a week behind. Will catch up soon.
I did this interview last June  for a student at Prasad Film And Tv Academy in Chennai, India and I've accumulated a bag full of more questions since. My craft grew. My clients grew. My business sense grew and I dropped my day job. A lot of things have changed in the past 15 months. It's only fair to answer the questions since I have/and can answer from my own personal growth in this industry.
You can ask me anything from my work to where I'm hosting my portfolio to the ever annoying what gear do I use. Any questions, please feel free to leave in my contact page through the contact form. It's easier for me to segregate that way. Kindly, do not use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram as I'm not active in those platforms. Thank you!
The video is about 30 minutes so to all the ADDs out there, here is a list of questions for the video above.
1:18 - About me
1:50 - How did I get started
2:54 - Education
4:28 - Why Street Photography
6:45 - Photography or Filmmaking
7:10 - Directing or Director Of Photography
7:39 - Qualification for a filmmaker
8:10 - How do you get work
8:30 - About the new world Internet
9:18 - My take on Tamil Cinema
10:00 - My first film - In Tamil or English
10:49 - Favorite Tamil Cinematographers
11:22 - Favorite Tamil Directors
12:35 - Does quality of camera matters or not
13:42 - Challenges on my work
15:14 - Dealing with disagreements
16:36 - Mistakes / Lessons
17:25 - Inspirations
18:41 - Sexuality on my work
23:48 - Advice for upcoming visual artists
25:30 - Business advice
26:29 - Being lonely and Soul searching
I had the privilege to assist at Talib Kweli's conference where he discussed about his experience on the Ferguson incident. Most recently he made headlines when he appeared on CNN speaking with anchor Don Lemon about the ongoing riots in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of unarmed teenager Mike Brown.
During the interview, Talib was critical of Lemon and CNN for their coverage of the events, questioning the accuracy of their accounts of the situation which didn't match up what he says he experienced first-hand during the protests. The evening was hosted by Cult MTL's Darcy MacDonald.
After the conference, we [myself, a buddy of mine along side with Nate from The Posterz] had the chance to talk privately with Mr.Kweli on a vital issue; Police brutality. Without going into further details, I would like to say that something is in the work to bring the issue to the spotlight. Updates will be posted.
It was just surreal when I think how I first discovered him in my high school days and fast forward a decade to the conference and the moment I handled my contact card and a hand shake before closing the door. A massive shout out to my buddy Nissan for the invite. Without his network of some key people, we wouldn't be able to pull off the private q/a session.
MY TWO CENTS ABOUT THE CRAFT OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING.
When you graduate from Robert Rodriguez's 10 minute film school, you learn one thing and one thing only. You gotta squeeze every penny. Yes, even if it manages to poke a hole and run through your veins as it did with Homer. You gotta squeeze that shit! It's not because you are trying to be cheap. It's simply because you are looking for alternative options and inject the savings into the more meaningful part of storytelling. Rodriguez taught us on how to cut corners by shooting with film negatives, thus his choices to save money made sense.
Now we are in a whole new era. The digital era. The moment when an average consumer purchased a DSLR on boxing day special and transform into a GWC and start posing on Instagram with hash-tags #studiolife #lovemyvintagelensnikonf1.2 #imshootingwithoutknowinthefuckimdoingbutwhocaresineedvalidationforwhatidoinlife #lovemyfuji #lovemynikon #lovemyblablabla, the options for lighting gear also became broader [and cheaper!].
HOW DO I APPROACH LIGHT
My primary go to source of light is the sun. It's broad and it's cheap! Especially the twilight periods. A solid third of my portfolio is shot between 5 and 8 in the morning. Especially my films.
I get lot of emails asking on how do I light or tips on lighting. My answer is simple. Analyze your light source and work around it. You will be surprised what you can achieve just with a pack of reflectors. If you lighting interior, flick on one source of light and work around it. Unless you are trying to light a glass house, lighting shouldn't be a hair pulling process. Another tip is to watch a TON of movies! Try to aim for dramas as they have the tendency to create emotions. My favorite go to source is Korean films. Dear god, those folks know how to create mood and suck you in! My good friend and photographer Khalik Allah said it best - Composition is the son. Subject is the holy spirit and Light is God! Combined together, they form the Trinity.
PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE CRAFTSMEN
It is so sad that these days the term 'photographer' is viewed in a skeptical fashion. Too many "I capture your moments" tagline. Too many gear porn addicts. Too much profile picture of covering the face while squinting an eye with the camera's brand. Too much faded vintage look with blown highlights. Too much of a number game of followers and likes. Too much Facebook comment noise. Too much Instagram pollution. Yes, I get it. You can press a button. Yes, I get it. You can apply a preset. Yes, I get it. You spray and fucking pray all day. Yes, I get it. You pose next to your lens or a vintage camera that you bought on Ebay. I get the "look at me, I'm a cool photographer, now someone please validate my life with a like or a follow". I get all your noise. But where is the signal? But where is your body of work?
Maybe it's time for you to learn what the hell that little black box of yours does for a change? Maybe try out new lighting techniques? Maybe, just maybe, practice the craft of photography and not be distracted with the unnecessary things attached to the craft. In all other words, maybe it's time for you to finally stop performing like a photographer and actually BE ONE! Photographers are craftsmen. A good craftsman can produce a piece of art regardless the tools at his disposal.
Photography is all about creatively shaping and molding light. Repeat it. Photography is all about light. Once more. Photography is all about light. The camera is simply a tool to express your creativity. For lack of a better term, the whole megapixel and brand wars is equal to measuring and comparing your dick size to whomever. You got one right? It functions right? Then focus on using it properly than bragging about it! Drops mic. Open Letter by Swizzy and Jay-Z starts to play.
That being said, the photos on this post are test shots for an upcoming portrait shoot. I took these in my bathroom lit with an app called Flashlight on the iPad. I was holding the iPad in various angles to play with the shadows and highlights. The camera was set to burst on timer tethered to Capture One. This is my third edit with C1 and I must say, I'm gradually moving to C1 as I find the raw conversion is much refined compared to Lightroom. In addition, tethering is heavenly! For the curious minds out there, I was having a conversation on speaker, thus the facial expressions. No, seriously I was. Seriously.
Technically, these photos were from the week prior. My blog. My photos. I make the rules. [insert smiley face here]. A huge shout out to the good folks at Off The Hook for letting me creep around their office space.
I shot these photos for Dayana Narcisse, a Miami based model. She has a great portfolio however, I find it very standard [to my taste]. Now, I'm not a fashion guru or anywhere near fashion. I know nothing about it. What I do know, is to capture the unguarded state of a subject. Most of my shots are moments that are leading into an action and not the action itself. I don't like the pose-pause-snap routine. Nothing against that method, but it's not for me. I let the subject lose while maintaining the overall direction. I let them do the work and document the process.
UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 7th 2014 - Video vignette.
Just a motion vignette to go with the photoshoot.
The boys from Zoo Legacy are on "The Flight Risk" tour and stopped at the McGill Open Air Pub. Here are some photos of the evening.
I've worked with the guys on couple of visual projects and tonight was the first time that I had the chance to witness them perform LIVE! These guys know how to engage with the crowd and rattle them! After a long time, I actually enjoyed a show with my eyes instead of through a viewfinder.
This time I was commissioned by Samantha for an editorial shoot for her upcoming website and music album. She came up with a full nude concept but at the end settled with implied nudity. These photos are posted with her permission. Click here for the first her album cover shoot.