Friday, January 14, 2011

"People photographer"... interview with DABE ALAN.

Dabe (Portland, OR) is a great "people" photographer and he's also master of pictures of skateboarders... 

"My favorite thing in the world to shoot is skateboarding. I always go on stints (winter) where I don't get to shoot any but as soon as I get back into it I just think 'I LOVE this'. 
I've skated for something like 7 years or so now and I'm horrible. I'm involved with the sport enough to know all of it's ins and outs, I just can't pull it off like the people in my photographs do. Shooting skaters just allows me to participate without the commitment (not to mention the slams). Plus I love getting people pumped to try a trick by shooting it and sharing their triumph upon landing it.

If you're interesting in shooting skateboarding, there are a few pointers.

1) Back up, and work on your composition first and foremost. There are tons of skateboard photos and they would all look the same if the photographers shooting them didn't capitalize on their surroundings.
2) Learn frontside and backside by heart so you don't mess up lighting. If you're not positive, ask the skater what way they'll be facing at the apex of their trick.
3) Timing, timing, timing. Watch the trick a few times to spot the best time to snap the shot and try to catch it on every attempt."

Here's today's portrait and interview:

1Q) Can you please tell us the story behind this portrait? How you took it and why you choose to shoot this person?
About 5 months ago, I moved from Canton, OH out to Portland, OR. I left behind all my friends and family to head to a place where I could surround myself with creatives and grow from it. My family was always asking to see some shots of my place, but I didn't wanna provide more than a iPhone shot until I had everything hung up and put away. This portrait marks the date I could finally relax in my place with nothing else to be done.

2Q) What photography gear you used here and why? What is usually in your photo bag?
This was shot with a Canon 5d Mark ii with my go-to lens, the 24-70mm f2.8 It was lit as such:
AB800 w/beauty dish boomed overhead
AB800 w/ softbox down hallway
AB1600 w/ large octobox in kitchen
Usually i'd trigger this shot with cybersyncs, but I discovered earlier that day that the battery had died within the transceiver so I borrowed my friend Jason's Cactus triggers.

If you look close in the background, you can see my open Pelican case. This case houses my 3 lights, camera body, and an assortment of lenses. On the upper deck you can find all my triggers, grids, and filters. 

3Q) What do you love most about shooting portraits?
I love adding in tons of additional details one might not see when just glacing at a shot. It's a great way to reward people for getting close and checking things out. For example, in this photo of my tattoo artist Tony Touch, take a closer look at what he's REALLY reading.

4Q) Do you consider yourself mostly as a “portrait” photographer?
I find myself obsessed with requiring a person as subject for 90% percent of my shots, but i'd prefer to call myself a 'people' photographer.

5Q) Do you work with available light or do you use additional lightning often?
Since I started shooting with off camera lighting, i've found it increasingly difficult to be satisfied with natrual light. I adore the work people produce with it, and usually find myself jealous of their talent, but I'll stick to my lights for now.

6Q) What/Who are your photography muses and influences?
Dave Hill is the reason I got into lighting. That man never stops improving.
Joey L. is the reason I kick myself in the butt about keeping on shooting and challanging myself. 
Lucia Holm really made me stop and re-assess my lighting to try to improve the balance of it all.
I'm also dancing on the fine line of thinking of dabbling in film. I think i'll pick up a Hassleblad 500c/m shortly so I'm sure my entire world is about to be flipped over.

7Q) Any tip for taking better portraits?
I'd never shoot a portrait of someone without getting to know them and making sure they're comfortable with you. If you're gonna shoot a band, try to hang out before hand. Shooting a model? See if they wanna grab coffee before-hand. If they're comfortable with you and confident in your skill it'll show through the lens.

Thank you, Dabe!

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