My name is Maylisa Shuler, I attend the Art Institute of Jacksonville and we have to interview a local photographer for an assignment. I admired your photos a lot and I was wondering if I could interview you
1.How long have you been in the photography business?
11 years full time but I shot for 30 years before that on a personal level as well as a few weddings and portraits while art directing and being Creative Director/ designer of a large Direct Marketing Collectibles Company.
2.What initially interested you in photography?
My father gave me a little kodak brownie camera around age ten and I used to photograph my little toys and dolls in scenes I made. It was a black and white camera and I remember taking a trip to visit an older sister in Washington DC where I took my camera and loved photographing everything. My dad encouraged me and did not mind developing all of the shots.(which were pretty bad since I was a 12 year old.)
3.How did you go about selling your first photograph?
Years ago, when I was shooting weddings for friends, I charged a nominal fee for the development of the images. As an artist and art director, I was asked sometimes to shoot portraits by friends.I was using Pentax film cameras then (20 years ago)
5.What would you say is more important Good Knowledge/Good Equipment?
Experience and also it is crucial to have excellent skills in retouching. I started using Photoshop when it first came out because I was a designer and the industry was changing into digital from the old story boards with waxed type galleys. I learned graphic design in the early 70’s while attending college in San Diego. I have a degree in Fine and Applied Arts from San Diego State University and made the Deans List for Academic Excellence. Before moving to Florida in the late 70’s, I worked as a high school art teacher and Art Director for an advertising firm.
6.Which photographer do you look up to and why?
Michael O’Neil, Susan Michaels, and Marcus Bell. I love the way they take charge and pose their subjects gracefully and creatively. Posing is so key and its very important to have the subjects comfortable and relaxed at the same time. If you are confident, some of the pressure is lifted. When I have a subject who is nervous, it shows in the shot so finding ways to relax them is so important. Sometimes I just change the set or distract them with something else..then go back to the pose later when they are more focused. My concern for their enjoyment of the process is quite acute and when I feel that a person is uncomfortable, it becomes more challenging to get them to relax.
7.What genre of photography are you most interested in?
I love art photography with tinting and toning of the images. It takes a long time to produce spectacular images in the camera and then taking it a step further with hand tinting always lends itself to a more romantic image. The trick is to get clients to understand that type of photograph versus a standard retouched Black and white or color photograph. If a client mentions that they like my signature collection styles, then I will spend the time producing more art for them. Also, there are times when I do this treatment because I personally loved the image.
8.Are you able to have photography as your only job or do you need another job alongside to manage?
Yes. I am full time and my husband works with me. We also employ assistants when needed.
8.Would you say photography is a hard line of work to get into?
Its getting much harder since the consumer cameras are getting so good and the public cannot see the reason for hiring a professional when Uncle Bob can shoot. At every wedding and even some portraits, I have family trying to edge me out so they can take their own shots of the scene I just staged. I kindly ask them to not shoot since its a distraction for my subjects. I find it so rude when people do this. Once, I had a friend of the family follow me around during the entire wedding and it was very annoying. He was a photo enthusiasts and wanted to learn. When I was photographing the wedding couple cutting the cake, I felt this tug and his camera was tangled in my hair (he was that close!!). At another wedding, I saw the bride shooting her cake and different things with her little camera even though I was there shooting everything for her.
9.What method of photography do you use? If not film/digital and why?
Digital of course. FIlm is too expensive and you do not have the luxury of experimenting and photographing unlimited images. This is the best way to learn. That is why I try to shoot nearly every day even if I am not on assignment. However, you will learn very fast that for every hour that you shoot, its many hours (sometimes 5-6 hours per hour) at the computer converting them, retouching and preparing them for proofing.
10.If you could work along side any one photographer who would it be?
There are so many… http://hofferphotography.com. He does amazing things with additional lights.
11.What goal are you working towards within your photography and when will you know you have reached it?
I am 60 now and would love to continue being paid for producing excellent work and being appreciated as a photographic artist. The profession is boundless for inspiration from so many wonderful shooters. I continue to be excited and work long hours daily on ideas I get from magazines and journals. Staying up to date with my equipment is a challenge because its so expensive. Its hard to imagine myself not with a camera in my hand.
12. What type of camera do you use?
I have 3 Nikon bodies that I use all the time. Each one has different lenses so I don’t have to change lenses all the time and can work quickly. Nikon D2X, D700, D300. ALso I own another D700 and D200 as well as a nice film camera. The use of each camera is determined by what I have in mind to photograph.
15.Are you a member of any photographic organizations?
JPPG, NAPP, PPA, and others.
16. Did you go to school to study photography?
I have studied with a half dozen globally known pros and attended seminars. This is so important to learn from the best and attend educational seminars. Also, I read and study constantly through the professional photo magazines for ideas and updates on new equipment. I am very invested in what I do and want to continue to grow as an artist.
17. How would you describe your style?
Traditional and photojournalistic mix. And as an artist, I like to add my touches of artistic rendering and retouching with every job.