Wick Beavers [wick]
Do you have an online gallery where one can view your photos?
For how long have you done photography? How did you begin?
I went to quite stultifying schools and was artistically repressed as a youngster. Future CEO's didn't need to learn how to type or paint or draw because they were simply going to pay and buy: a stenographer, a secretary, an art collection! When I finished my freshman high school art history exam and received a "0" for it because I had used two colored ink pens to graphically draw a portrait of Matisse using different pen colors in my text (which was pretty accurate and content rich on Matisse's life and work), I decided to be an artist. So, I guess I'd say it all began based on reaction against the way I saw my life being pushed. At age 10, I sent away for a taxidermy kit off a match pack, at 11 I sent off for a kit to develop negative film. Somehow, the curtains in my parents' bathroom caught fire while I stood and watched at roughly this time in my life as well, so it's all a little fuzzy.
What has been your education as a photographer?
At my high school in 1968, there was only drawing, painting, etching, lithograph and art history classes offered by the art department. I came to high school already knowledgeable and self taught in 35 mm b and w film developing and printing on polycontrast Kodak papers. I asked and asked about photography classes and darkrooms and enlargers and eventually -and miraculously- the department installed a couple of dark rooms in a storage room in the basement of the art center and voila! Now we had an excuse to go somewhere and smoke dope and hang out late! Things happened as miracles more often in those days...
Please list any exhibitions in which you have participated.
Please list any awards for your work.
When a bee got in my bonnet and my knickers twisted into a stitch and I wanted more enrichment in my life (hitting 45), I decided to sell a very fancy car I had, to use those funds to replace my analogue medium and large format cameras with digital replacements and get a studio with whatever was left over and put up a sign, "Pay me to snap your likeness in the way I make it come out", with whatever was left over. Not much! I set a course for myself to read and study everything I could on all the masters and the way they made their photos and lived their lives and also, as importantly, to make a good photograph every day based on a preconceived project I set myself. This was a great exercise and I still try to abide by it today when I'm not working because it pushes your portfolio up, and that's one of the best things you can do as an artist for both yourself and your work. Well, I also figured I ought to get some sort of a seal of approval to justify both this endeavor and the supposed quality of my work as regarded by my "peers". So I joined the PPA and entered their print competition and won a best of and a court of honor and something else and thought this was so easy I'm gonna rock at this, SEE? I don't think I got any work for another 6 months! But I began incorporating the "award winning" into my web site's keywords and it helps put me up in the SEO rankings. Personally, I think it's bunk, awards.... If somebody is going to pay you for your work you haven't even considered yet, that's a whole different set of capital circumstances than going to the market for a gallon of milk and some eggs. You have to get better at seeing your clients as well as seeing artistically because in commercial photography, you aren't simply making what you want, you have to confer. And that's why I love commercial photography so much- it's all about collaboration and communication and selling concepts to sell products or people. Very satisfying to stop page flippers and drive new and more customers to whatever it is you are promoting. And the better you do that, the more you can ask financially. Very rewarding...
What is your favourite type of photography?
Commercial Editorial Fashion Portraiture- right?
What do you try to express through your photography?
How strong, unique and impressive every person I shoot is.
How do you choose your subjects?
They usually choose me when it's a free exchange. Usually, though, I shoot whoever I am told to.
But I'd love to shoot more famous people we assume we know and show them how I see them. Who am I and who cares?
But I digress and state an untruth: I don't really see anything. My camera does and then I look and see. I think therefore I see.
What type of preparation do you do before undertaking the photo session?
Think, conceive, imagine, envision, visualize, wonder, and finally guess. Then I hope, but I am not religious at all.
Do you normally photograph with a purpose already in mind, or do you let yourself go with the flow?
Of course to both. Nobody is in control ever. Entropy rules. You get an idea and bat it around and it IS as malleable as a drop of water or you're not a living sensitive person. There are some general rules I have learned and follow to get started, like if it's an older woman and I like her, I'll avoid hard light and deep angles. If she's a jerk, I strafe her with unmodified bare heads and use lots of heavy high pass and unsharp mask sharpening. That's also one reason I like photographing men more than women in a way: I can carry much less in the light mod department and still make great portraits both the subject and I like. Women are much more fussy and you need to carry lots more gear to get them the photo they like. But I transition between what I like to shoot every day.
Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma, Olympus, Sony, Pentax...which do you place your bets on and why?
Leica for 35mm and Hassleblad and Sinar for medium and large format.
I haven't bought a digital M8 but love owning the new V lux 1. It has everything I need to be a great street and even party camera, including a hot shoe and built in flash, a killer image stabilized zoom lens I can stop action down to at least 1/4 maybe even 1/2 second and a great 10 megapixel sensor (big enough for stock) that is as sharp as the lens is as a tack at low ISO 100. I don't ever switch my ISO higher and just use lights if it gets too dark for 2.8 and 1/4 second. Oh, and it makes RAW files. The reason I like the little shitty on camera flash is that I use it as very low fill (like -1.5 to -2 under) but it will trigger/slave drive my light pack heads (I use profoto gear and use and love the new acuteB 600 road warrior battery packs and heads for shooting parties and street people, even portraits). When it's a bigger job, I get out my H2 and digital back and studio packs and heads. I use a honda generator or two to power this stuff on location away from plugs. For product and architectural, nothing beats the sinar P2 tethered to the macbook via digital back. This is just my list and it all makes no sense unless you can get a good picture. And you can do that with a pinhole. So why the fancy stuff? Cuz it gets you the base quality in every shot. From then on, it's up to you.
Describe your current equipment: cameras, lenses, computers, accessories...
Leica 35mm V lux
Hasselblad H2, 28mm, 35mm, 80mm, 210mm, 1.4 tele, 3 set extension tubes, several grips and chargers, pocket rocket, polarizer filter for 80mm
Imacon iExpress 22mpix digital back that integrates with both the H2 and P2
80 gig Image Bank, powered by sony lithium rechargeable batteries
Sinar P2, 50mm, 90mm, 150mm, 250mm sinar db shutter lenses
Apple: Mac G5 8gb Ram, Powerbook G4 2Gb Ram,
Epson 4800 printer
foba tripod and ballhead
profoto D4 gen packs, 8 heads, profoto acuteB 600R battery packs and heads
Light mods including broncolor para and multiple other bron and profoto mods
foba shooting table
Honda Pure sine wave, Super quiet Generators
What software and plug-ins do you use to retouch and manage your photos?
screwing around with noise Ninja and genuine fractals but can't say I see enough improvement over photoshop methodology.
Love greg gorman's action for conversion to b and w
What measures do you take to protect your work against Internet piracy?
Copyright in metadata
Size on web is small
Flash site so images are tougher to steal
Are you a good salesperson of your work? In what should you improve?
Get in front of clients more and not relying so much on email only.
Which past masters of photography do you most admire?
Irving Penn, Avedon, Crewdson, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Picasso, V van Gogh, Cartier Bresson, Eugene Atget
Are technology and digital retouching reducing the gap between professionals and amateurs?
Digital prowess only makes it appear so.
Auto everything takes a chunk out of the necessity for learning technical aspects of taking and processing photographs, but like paint by numbers, a creative photographer does it not make.
Sadly, it has taken a bite out of the lower end AND it substantiates a lack of interest in pursuing excellence both by photo buyers and the shooters.
What is your team of habitual collaborators like?
I love them and everybody we shoot for loves us.
Something is right, here.
With which other photographers do you normally team up with or do sessions with?
Huh? Why would I do that?
Do you consider yourself more technical or more artistic?
One restricts the other. I think they go hand in hand. Both.
What have you learned about the art of framing and composition?
I think you have it or you don't. If you don't you might want to remember the rules of thirds and diagonals.
How does one develop the instinct of knowing when to press the shutter release button?
Know your subject. The more you know the feeding characteristics of chimpanzees and the seasons of fruit ripening, the more you will get better photos of them eating bananas. Same with people. It's more important now than ever due to digital delay.
When should one use film, and when should one use digital?
Use film when you can't afford a better digital camera than a point and shoot. There are very few reasons to buy film if you have high end digital gear. Maybe a Nikonos on the deck of a catamaran rather than your fine electronic medium format digital Hasselblad?
Does photography have the recognition that it should have in contemporary art museums?
Which websites for photographers do you frequently visit?
Photoshop forums, Lightroom forums, Masters of Photography, Candid Frame podcast, Jeff Curto Camera Position, ASMP, EP and many individual photographers' sites every day.
Is there any particular technique that you could share?
Use a tripod, any fill light should be a key light sometimes, fun, fun fun, look at shadows, use layers, play with layer modes, use masks.
Try this for high pass sharpening:
Make a layer copy in layers palette.
Change top layer mode to Overlay.
Go to Filter>Other>High Pass and blast slider around. Go back to Layer Palette and adjust opacity.
And try this for blending:
Make a new empty layer in your layers palette. Choose Gradient tool and pick two dominant colors. Drag the gradient colors over your empty top layer. Before you freak, switch layer modes: try soft light, overlay, hard light, pin light, color burn, etc. Erase away what you don't like, add adjustment layer Hue Saturation and move Hue around, reduce opacity of layer to get it just right.