John G. Wilbanks Photography, Inc. [jwphoto]
Do you have an online gallery where one can view your photos?
For how long have you done photography? How did you begin?
My business started in 1990 with the humble job of shooting for a monthly real estate magazine. The pay was low, with only one job a month, and the budget was tight. From there I moved to freelance work for individual Realtors hoping to better market their listings. Business grew, I added a graphic artist for post production, we incorporated in 2006, added a second photography and another graphics person along with an aerials photography business
The rest is history...and we're still writing the story.
What has been your education as a photographer?
Other than reading some photo magazines and a few 2-day nature photography seminars, I'm pretty much self-taught.
Please list any awards for your work.
I've only been awarded on "Award of Merit" for artisty, but my clients are winning awards using my photography to showcase their services and products...call it an award by association, but I'll take it. My most recent participatory award was from the Sound Transit "On The Move" video award, where my photography was prominently features. It was the equivalent of the Emmy's for public entities.
What is your favourite type of photography?
I love travel and nature photography. That being said, I'm mostly a commercial/architectural photographer. The ability to participate in the stock photography industry via my nature photography allows me to unwind and recharge from the hectic schedule of running a commercial photography business.
What do you try to express through your photography?
I look for the art in the architecture. Mostly, I try to articulate the feeling the architect had in mind while creating his work.
How do you choose your subjects?
When I first encounter a location I take notice of the first thing that strikes me about the location. From there, I try to key my images to that feature. If it's a negative feeling instead of a positive one, I know to de-emphasize that part of the project.
What type of preparation do you do before undertaking the photo session?
I don't get all artsy-fartsy, but I do think there is a system you go through the free up the artist inside. For me, I try to walk the location before talking to the client. That way the conversation with the client will enhance the images I have creating in my mind instead of direct them.
Do you normally photograph with a purpose already in mind, or do you let yourself go with the flow?
There are certain aspects of a shoot that you know have to be shown. Given that, each location is unique and you have to let go and kind of free-think while shooting. Otherwise, you get stuck in a box and photography get's boring and robotic.
Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma, Olympus, Sony, Pentax...which do you place your bets on and why?
Canon. They're innovators.
What software and plug-ins do you use to retouch and manage your photos?
Mostly Photoshop and a good sharpening and noise reduction tool.
What measures do you take to protect your work against Internet piracy?
I let my stock agency handle that side of the internet.
Are you a good salesperson of your work? In what should you improve?
I'm a terrible sales person. It pretty much goes like this: "Here's a sample of my work. If you like it call me, if you don't that's okay too."
Maybe I should be better at that.
Which past masters of photography do you most admire?
Are technology and digital retouching reducing the gap between professionals and amateurs?
Yes and no. Digital let's people fix and retouch and do a lot of other things in the post processing session. But if you can't nail the composition and articulate the feel of your subject nothing you do in Photoshop will make up for that. There will always be a difference between a pretty picture and an emotion evoking image.
What is your team of habitual collaborators like?
They're all smart-asses.
Do you consider yourself more technical or more artistic?
I'm definitely technical, although I do have a strong artistic bent. The technical side of things allows me to understand why something works the way it does...taking that knowledge into the field will always improve your composition and imagery.
What have you learned about the art of framing and composition?
Don't over do framing and don't be afraid of breaking the compositional "rules".
How does one develop the instinct of knowing when to press the shutter release button?
Experience. Shoot, shoot, shoot. But I don't mean put the camera on autowind and hold down the shutter release. I mean put the camera in your had and shoot as many subjects as you can every chance you get.
If it's a bad shot, decide why it's bad and move on. Soon you'll start noticing a pattern of what makes the shot bad...once you notice the pattern you can stop doing those things. Then, stop taking bad pictures.
When should one use film, and when should one use digital?
Today...everyone should be shooting digital. Unless you're shooting film for the nostalgia there's no reason.
Does photography have the recognition that it should have in contemporary art museums?
Nope and with digital it never will. There is a feeling that anyone can take a picture. However, you can take 100 people and put them at the same place at the same time and only the true artists will create a great image. Unfortunately, the "art world" doesn't see it that way...I guess Ansel was just another guy with a camera.
Which websites for photographers do you frequently visit?
John G. Wilbanks Photography, Inc.
Seattle, Wa, USA