Pete Rezac [peterezac]
For how long have you done photography? How did you begin?
Looking back I've always played with cameras back when I was a kid, but it wasn't until I was living in Valdez Alaska working my first real job out of engineering school that I took a formal photography class. The first time I saw a print come to life in the developer tray I was hooked. That was back in the spring of 1995. I've been a portrait photographer professionally since 2003.
What has been your education as a photographer?
My first formal photography class was at Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez Alaska in 1995, since then I've participated in many classes offered through Professional Photographers of America (PPA) Imaging USA, PPA's SMS business classes, and a lot of online webinar content.
Please list any exhibitions in which you have participated.
So far I've only participated in one exhibition and that was PPA's International Print Competition of which I had a merit print hang at IUSA this past year.
Please list any awards for your work.
So far no awards for my work, other than a print merit from PPA. My goal is to gain some more merits this year and my ultimate goal is to have a print make the Loan collection, but so far those are goals that I hope to make reality. I have attained the designation as Certified Professional Photographer through Professional Photographic Certification Commission.
What is your favourite type of photography?
Formal studio portrait. I like having a degree of control on the lighting, set, and subject.
What do you try to express through your photography?
My subjects personality through their eyes. Eyes are very important to me on my photographs. I see a trend in the industry to be wrapped up with props, backgrounds, etc. It seems that photographers are more concerned with what is around the subject rather than the subject(s) personality and specifically their eyes.
How do you choose your subjects?
A lot of my clients find me through word of mouth, but I've also started some direct marketing this year as well.
What type of preparation do you do before undertaking the photo session?
I reset everything lights and set. I do this as to always have my setups a bit different than the time before. It keeps me from getting lazy. Sure for studio it would be easy to just leave everything at F5.6 or F8 and just bang away each time, but I reset and re-meter every time.
Do you normally photograph with a purpose already in mind, or do you let yourself go with the flow?
I conduct pre-session consultations so I make sure I know what my client has in mind and accommodate those requests and then there are times where I'll go with the flow. I photograph a lot of small children and babies and it's sometimes easier to go with the flow with those subjects.
Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma, Olympus, Sony, Pentax...which do you place your bets on and why?
I find your questions funny, because you don't reference any of the medium format manufacturers :-). For my small format digital equipment I'm invested in Nikon. All are great manufacturers of equipment, but my first formal instructor said she liked Nikon for the durability of the bodies and the legendary glass so that's why I chose Nikon. I'm too invested in glass to make a change and I'm happy with the results. I also shoot film in medium format with Mamyia and Hasselblad equipment, and large format with a 1947 Speed Graphic Pacemaker.
Describe your current equipment: cameras, lenses, computers, accessories...
My current digital line up consists of a Nikon D3s body and Nikon D2x body for underwater work. I use 50mm 1.8, and 85mm 1.4 primes, and 28-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 zooms on the D3s, and 12-24 4.0 on the D2x.
My current film line up consists of Hasselblad 500c/m with 60mm 4.0, 80mm 2.8, 250mm 5.6, Mamiya 645AFD with 2.8, Mamiya RZ67 110mm 2.8, and Speed Graphic Pacemaker with 130mm and 162mm. I use Kodak Tri-X and Ilford HP5+ both rated at 320 for B&W, and Kodak Portra 400 rated at 320 for color.
Computers - 24" iMac, 13" Macbook Pro, and Mac Mini
Scanner - Epson V750 Pro
Software - PS CS3 and CS5 and LR3.3, ProSelect for presentation, and Animoto for slideshows
What software and plug-ins do you use to retouch and manage your photos?
Imageonic - Portraiture
Nik - Silver Efex
What measures do you take to protect your work against Internet piracy?
Embedded copyright information in images
Are you a good salesperson of your work? In what should you improve?
Sales is the part I hate the most. I think I'm too emotionally connected to my work and have to learn to be better at separating from it. I need to be better at suggesting what the client needs to order. I've found ProSelect with roomview helps a lot in this area.
Which past masters of photography do you most admire?
Yousef Karsh and Ansel Adams
Are technology and digital retouching reducing the gap between professionals and amateurs?
Getting it right at exposure and not overshooting is what will always maintain the gap between professionals and amateurs. Sure if an amature wants to spend hours behind the computer to fix the mistakes they made during exposure with the tools they have today, they can. Getting it right at exposure is absolutely critical as a professional as there is only so much time I can alot for post production for each job to stay profitable, and if I'm not profitable I won't be in business and therefore no longer a professional.
Do you consider yourself more technical or more artistic?
I would say I'm more technical.
What have you learned about the art of framing and composition?
That they make your photographs more interesting and its another sure way to spot an amateur vs a professional. Amateurs will tend to place subject smack dab in the middle of the frame and bullseye them. Professionals will tend to incorporate the rule of thirds of golden mean.
How does one develop the instinct of knowing when to press the shutter release button?
I think through practice, practice, and more practice. Checking the entire viewfinder frame to make sure everything is clear and then waiting for the decisive moment.
When should one use film, and when should one use digital?
That all depends on how one wants their photographs to look. I spent years trying to re-create the look of b&w film on the computer and then about a year ago I just decided why not just go back to it. Film has a tonal quality that digital will never achieve, no matter how many pixels or how large the pixels are they still have a hard edge, where film has that smooth tonal graduations. I also have begun to ask my clients if they have a preference or if they want their portraits to look a bit different. If they do I will suggest we capture the session on film. One other note is film will help one become a better photographer as you have to think about what your doing because you can't spray and pray. :-)
Does photography have the recognition that it should have in contemporary art museums?
I think its gaining more and more recognition. Just this past week I had the opportunity to view original Ansel Adams prints at an exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art. I was completely blown away at his work and it was everything and more that I could have ever imagined. To think most of what was on display was from early 1920's - 1960's, just incredible. I also think there should be a distinction between photography with darkroom digital techniques i.e. traditional photographic prints and Photoshop Art where photography is manipulated with Photoshop techniques i.e adding textures, paint brush strokes, etc.
Is there any particular technique that you could share?
Photographically: Study the classical lighting patterns that the renaissance painters and artists used, those patterns still hold true today and will always work. Master lighting and posing and everything else will fall into place.
Digitally: Remember that less is more, that just because you can do something in photoshop or the computer doesn't mean you should. Make your work your own rather than using the same actions that someone else uses. :-)
Reno, NV USA