If Portraiture has you immediately thinking about Peter Hurley and his Headshot Crew, that's normal, they are worldwide known for the excellence of their photos.
We recently met with one of their associate who told us everything about the creative process behind a great portrait shot: Patric Pop!
And it's this week on the Prodibi blog - Let's go!
A few words about you. How did you start photography?
Just like everybody else, it all started innocently enough by receiving my first camera at the sweet age of 8 for a family holiday to Egypt. Later, all the money from my summer job would buy me an SLR and a half-way decent 20mm lens, which I occasionally still use.
Until recently, I had never considered photography as a career choice. When I was studying Communications Design at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, photography classes were part of the curriculum. I had an excellent photo teacher who taught me a lot of DIY tricks to modify the light and whose original tips I still apply today. I would get a feel to work with the concepts of say the Sinar, Hasselblad, or a pinhole camera.
In the following 10 years, I was working as Senior Art Director and Creative Director in international ad agencies, where I would direct many photographers and would see behind the scenes. I witnessed each photographer’s approach and gained valuable knowledge as a “part-time assistant”.
Exactly, 10 years ago, I left the agencies’ world and kept working with smaller clients. Since that moment, I have been operating as a one-man communications agency. After some time, all my clients needed photos of their showroom, their products, and portraits. I simply started to put to good use my knowledge and shot high-end jewelry, products, humidors, people at work.
My portrait work was lacking depth and connection, and I started researching more about portrait photography. After a process of tremendously improving my skills, in 2014, I became the Geneva / Genève Associate of Peter Hurley’s globally operating Headshot Crew.
What do you like best about photography?
The lens is the extension of my eye, the camera’s sensor is the extension of my brain.
Photography is more than simply depicting a scene. In my mind, I do visualize the end result and do pull all the strings to get the result wanted. There are countless ways to express your vision of the same mundane object that you will never get bored!
More specifically, as a Headshot photographer, I do meet a lot of people from all backgrounds. My goal is to give my clients the best pictures they had ever taken of themselves! With my work, I can help them change their lives for the better and pursue their dreams, land a new position or job, a new life partner or getting rid of a mental block.
You are specialized in the field of portraiture. Do you have other areas you would like to photograph and explore more?
As a headshot specialist, my work is obviously very commercially oriented.
However, over the past year, I am finding myself being drawn to creating more depth within the shadows.
At this moment, I am more drawn to portraiture than other genres. I will continue to deepen this path and figure out a way to bring in my knowledge and experience as graphic designer and my concepts as a creative Art Director.
Can you briefly explain your creative process for a great portrait shot? Any advice for beginners who want to start portrait photography?
Before any portrait shoot, I want to understand more about my clients' goals and the reason behind booking me. During the photoshoot, my focus is 100% on the client.
Personally, I am looking for a genuine expression where the person I am going to portray is in a natural state and at ease with her true self.
The choice of lighting comes with the interpretation of my subject.
Do I want to portray this person as more refined and elegant, or more edgy with a grittier look? I usually start with the safe shots and work from there to more pushed, often fun versions.
For beginners: Enjoy photography. Shoot a lot. Try to constantly evolve your skills.
Don’t blame the camera for poor results. Don’t worry about the gear!
Any camera that allows you manual settings will do for the first steps.
Understand light: Take drawing classes to read the light, to interpret the falloff of the light source.
This will help you understand the differences, such as direct vs. diffused light, natural light vs. strobes.
Look at different magazines and try to decompose how an image is being created.
I had my first revelation at looking at an ad of L’Eau d’Issey where I realised that the perfume bottle was shot on a simple white paper background in a north facing apartment.
On your photography gears. What are your favorite camera, lens, and equipment?
I definitively do not suffer from gear acquisition syndrome. Actually, I do refuse to talk about my gear during any come together with friends! Simply put, the camera that I have on hand at the very moment is the one I am going to take an – hopefully – excellent picture with. Any good photographer should know the strengths and limits of each tool, regardless whether it’s a Sinar or an old iPhone 4.
I have been bootstrapping my photography business, starting with secondhand gear and running with it for a very long time.
At this time my workhorse is the Sony A99ii and Zeiss A-mount lenses. I enjoy the Zeiss 135mm f1.8 for portraits and candid shots and the 24mm f2 Distagon by Zeiss for some wider angles for buildings.
You are part of Peter Hurley's HeadShot Crew. What makes the crew so special and what did it bring to your photography?
I will be forever grateful to Peter Hurley for mentoring me!
Before finding him, I never felt being in control over a photoshoot with models. And I saw the same issue with many of the photographers working on my projects. Peter Hurley taught me to properly establish a true connection with my subjects, regardless if I have 5 minutes or spend an entire day with them.
As Associates of the Headshot Crew, we stand for best quality work and have been collaborating closely on projects for international corporations spanning several continents.
In the HeadShot Crew, Peter Hurley has created a welcoming and insightful community that embraces all levels from pure newbies to expert professionals. The Crew offers helpful advice and allows everyone to continue to grow in a positive environment. Just to be clear, in the Headshot Crew we also can be tough critics but provide solutions to improve everyone’s work.
We also run the Wingman program, where crew members may request to get coached by associates and mentors. Myself, so far, I did mentor two crew members, one of which became himself associate and mentor.
Do you have plans for the future? Exhibitions, Travels, Workshops?
At this moment, I am quite happy with continuing my commercial work, as I do enjoy meeting new clients and learn from them.
I am planning on fusion photography and my past as graphic designer into a conceptual project that has been simmering for a couple of years now. Hopefully, next year I will find the time to seriously execute this goal and create an exhibition around it.
I am not much of a constant traveler, but when I travel, I do like to settle in with the locals to get a feel for the local culture.
My dream was always to spend the summers on the northern hemisphere and live and work during Europe’s winter in the southern hemisphere, basically following the dream of the endless summer (and catching the waves that come with it).
This is a life goal that I am gently starting to work towards.
To see more of Patric's work:
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