A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure and honor of spending the lunch hour chatting with Simeon Hendrix, and recording an interview for his Steady Focused web series. Which covers photography, filmmaking, lighting, lenses, cameras, etc…. discussing how to identify weak points, overcome struggles, how to succeed and how to live a fulfilled life. Their most important rule is to work hard, love yourself and have fun!
By Simeon Hendrix:
This week on Steady Focused, we’re on the line with Mr. John Gress, a 16+ year veteran to the craft of photography. His body of work is the stuff of dreams. Clients from NFL to NBA, to Best Buy to Hyundai, Lexus, New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine… Some of his assignments include the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, 2006 Super Bowl and the 2010 Stanley Cup. High fashion, high commercial, super models, film stars and much much more.
Strap on your seat belt, we’re keeping the pedal on the gas. John brings soooo much value!!
02:00 – John gives a brief overview of his history. Age 14 picks up moms camera, 18 starts freelancing for AP, then picked up by Reuters
06:00 – Full circle – collecting trading cards as a kid – shooting photographs for NFL, NBA rookie trading cards as a 40 year old.
07:00 – How handle being with celebrities? Ever star-struck?
08:45 – What’s set up looking like for NFL / NBA trading card shoots?
Pocket Wizard, Speed Cycler, 10 light set up. Alternative “scenes” from same lighting set up. Take two photos in a row, lights automatically toggle on/off to create twice as many “scenes” at the same time, without having to manually switch or adjust lights.
12:53 – Hardest thing with having a career as freelance artist?
Inevitably you will have a great client you love to work with, but something will happen and you won’t have that client anymore. People will move on, budgets will change. Recognize change is inevitable, but you’re going to be okay. Doors close and doors open. Sometimes, things seem bad but they are really going to be okay. Don’t sweat things.
16:00 – How important is putting in the work, to being successful?
For about two years, two photo shoots a week on models, for free. Getting the experience. It allowed me to develop my lighting technique. Or at the very least be able to see a photo and understand how to recreate it.
18:35 – Cheating yourself by having two different set ups, two different approaches for different paying shoots. There’s a time where I would have clients who would pay me $600 for a portrait but the newspaper would pay me $250 for a portrait.
22:00 – Communicate, prepare, set up early. Protecting yourself. Setting yourself up for success.
24:00 – Does amazing lighting have to cost a ton of money? – No.
24:00 – Art Streiber – Photek Soft Lighter – 10 sided umbrella with sock – Photek Soft Lighter – $89
Photek Softlighter II 46-Inch Umbrella
29:00 – Buy on eBay
30:15 – Biggest struggle in career to get to point where are now?
“Every creative person, has been told they should stop doing what they are doing and find a real job. And at the same time they’ve also been told, they are God’s gift to whatever…” The trick is to live somewhere in the middle. Be humble, keep your head down.
32:40 – Go deep with relationships. Build, grow, connect.
35:15 – What’s a most common mistake you see photographers make? Finding one thing and executing that one thing over and over and over, getting comfortable and not trying new methods.
37:30 – The power of experimenting. Discovering new ways to do the same things.
38:45 – Mentoring. Sharing what you know.
41:30 – Practice. Practice. Try stuff. Develop the depth, so that when you do come across the opportunity that is a solid paying gig, you will be ready for it.
43:00 – As long as you’re making a living, doing what you love, that’s all that matters.
44:00 – Photographing Barrak Obama
46:45 – #FamousBTSMag #iso1200 – Awesome behind the scenes Instagram accounts you should follow