Kimber Shaw (interview)

Kimber Shaw

( / / )


Who: Kimber Shaw

When: 28th December

How: e-mail interview

1. Why did you choose photography as your profession?
I originally was pursuing music… I had a record deal lined up and was recording all the time. I went to my grandpa’s house when I was 18 and found several thousands of dollars worth of old analog photo equipment that he used when he shot professionally. I was enamored with everything. I simply asked him for the equipment and he gave it over to me. It has been a whirlwind ever since. I got picked up by ESPN, Better Homes & Garden, HGTV, and most recently I was hired by New York Times Magazine.

2. Who has influenced you the most in terms of photography?
Gregory Crewdson, is my all time favorite photographer. Linda Adele Goodine, is amazing with composition. Duane Michaels, Cindy Sherman, Cindy Mann. And of course, my grandpa, Gene Arthur. 

3. What specific way did you use to get your first clients?
I honestly went with one approach that I still follow. Confidence. If you don’t know how to do something, don’t let anyone know. Be firm with your decisions and make people feel like they are getting a special privilege just to have you photograph them 

4. What are your tools of the trade?
-For my art photography I shoot 90% film…. Usually medium format (120mm) and I use a Hasselblad 5cw, a 4×5 (large format) field view camera. Then I scan my negatives on a large format Flextight Scanner. I usually use a 85mm 2.8/f lens for the hasselblad because that is a fairly standard focal length lens for that format. 

-For my commercial I use a Nikon D800 E FX DSLR. I have Elichrome strobe sets, and a SB-700 shoe mount flash. I shoot on a 50mm 1.4/f, lens, a 28mm 2.8/f lens, a 85 1.8/f and a 18-55mm 2.8-5.6/f…. those are my primary lens choices… I have several more but rarely have a need for anything else.

5. What is your number one fear or frustration when comes to working as a photographer?
Personally, it is that I will burn out… I work 70 hour weeks and I feel like it is something that I absolutely love and I always want to keep the passion. 

6. What is your favorite style of photography? Why?
I really only look at art photography, or what I like to call “Concept Gallery Photography”… I love work that has concept… something that is not just seen on the surface. Anyone can take a photo; in the same light anyone can paint on a canvas, or draw a portrait with a pencil. Just because they can do it, doesn’t not mean it will look good. 

7. Could you please describe your creative process from the idea to the final result?
I start with ideas that go back to memories of my childhood and into my teenage years. Memories that affected me in a negative way, which I have not dealt with fully. From there I sketch my photos and compositions in my sketchbook… This for me is the most helpful thing. I plan and think about my next upcoming shoot for conceptual photography for more two weeks. 

8. What is your best tip to taking a striking portrait?
There are three main things
1)Aperture- Using a low aperture will give you a shallow depth of field that will blow the background out of focus. “Google search 85mm 1.4/f portraits.” You will be able to see how that setting effects that the nature of photograph. 
2)Focal length- using a 50mm lens on a SLR or DSLR will give you the most proportionate looking portrait. IF you use a wide angle lens, (example, 18mm) it will make the face of the subject look flat and the depth of the photo will seem off. A 50mm lens is the closest to reality and what the human eye sees the world at.
3)The Butterfly Effect- this is based on the principle that a fresh new expression will give you the best portrait. When you are all set up and ready to take your photo… have your model/subject, look down, close their eyes, and relax their shoulders, then give them a count, “one, two, three look up.” When the model looks up to smile, or give their expression, it will look so much more natural and unforced. 

9. What is your favorite shot you have taken and why?
It is a new 4×5 self portrait that I actually haven’t posted on here yet. Haha it is actually my facebook profile photo. 

10. Do you think it is hard to be original? How do you keep your ideas fresh?
No, people who say “there are no original thoughts” are ignorant. Just because someone else has thought of it doesn’t mean shit because it is original to individual. And maybe you will the one to make that thought go further and something better. 

11. Could you list a particular advantage of being a photographer? A particular disadvantage?
You are always aware when you are photographer.. I people watch like crazy when I am out and about in the city. Even without my camera. 
Disadvantage could be the stereotype that comes with taking photographs… people always love to mock because it seems so “touristy” 

12. Are there any current problems faced by most photographers? Do you have any specific advice for someone interested in this field?
Getting work can be hard at times because everyone on the green earth has a DSLR or somekind it seems. When someone says they are a “professional photographer” … it really doesn’t mean much these days because there are so many high schoolers starting their own “company” for weddings and Portraits via Facebook. So making a name for yourself can be difficult. 

13. Could you please list the highlights of your career? Satisfactions?
I am the youngest photographer to shoot for ESPN and NY Times, which is nice… and a long list of gallery shows which I have sold my work at. I don’t like bragging! 

14. Where do you hope to go with your photography? 
I want to keep pursuing commercial photography so I can use the money as a means to an end for my art career. I want to show people how striking art photography can be. I am headed out to New York City in 18 months for my masters degree… and I think I know how to make it and stand out in this sea of instagram photographers




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