First cab off the Preset Shop interview rank is the amazingly talented and very entertaining Chris Stanford. Chris is a photographer/director born and raised deep south in the United States, who fell in love with photography back in high school. Chris is a focused, yet humble creative inspired by books and films.. He’s a storyteller, a loving family man, a fan of world peace and Lightroom, and it’s our absolute pleasure to introduce him to you today.
Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team
Who is Chris Stanford?
I’m a photographer/director born and raised in the deep south that spends much of his time with his toes dipped in the Pacific Ocean.
Where is home?
Atlanta and Los Angeles
What is your current state of mind?
I feel like the business keeps you on the hustle at all times.
How long have you been a photographer?
I fell in love with it in high school.
How would you describe your style?
Classically cool with a journalistic flare.
What is your secret to keeping a happy balanced life while following your passion?
I have a strong wife that keeps me in check. I can wrap a job with a famous athlete or celebrity in a far away place, fly home and immediately be asked to take the trash out. She keeps it all in perspective for me.
What misconceptions do you think outsiders have about advertising photography?
That it’s always glamorous. Yes it beats digging ditches for a living but it can be excruciatingly hard work at times.
What five words would you use to describe shooting celebrities?
Quick, decisive, patient, strong, humble
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Follow your heart and embrace your own artistic ways. We can be overwhelmed when we try to create what we think people want to see.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photography?
The constant hustle and the constant (what feels like begging) marketing.
Is your creative formula the same no matter now big or how small the job is?
It rarely changes. I am who I am.
What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such awesome imagery?
I really love the magic of the moment. It thrills me to walk in blindly and have the location and subject take you to a place that you would have never dreamed.
How do you educate yourself to take better photos?
I believe there is no substitute for time behind the camera. Go shoot… shoot… shoot and then shoot some more. Photographers shoot pictures. People that want to be photographers sit around and talk about shooting pictures.
What is your favorite recent image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc?
I set up a secondary set during a Pepsi shoot recently (we shot 34 NFL players for 8 days in 3 cities) and spent the last two minutes of each session trying to capture what I thought was a little of each guy’s personality. The “set” had one Profoto 2400w pack and one head bounced into a simple umbrella and move over to almost sidelight the guys. I was shooting Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills and he is such a high-spirited guy that I asked him to jump up as high as he could. He did it 4 times and the picture looks amazing. Pretty simple.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
A homemade 8.5×11 silver reflector that I take EVERYWHERE!
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
It’s easily my 50mm 1.4. I bet that 80% of everything that I shoot is shot with that lens. It’s just the perfect lens for me… It really reflects the way I see things.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
I’m a big Lightroom fan.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I leave Photoshop for my re-toucher on big ad jobs.
What is your most used tool, plug-in, action set etc..?
I would say that the tool I use most often would probably be Lightroom and of course I have it loaded with all of my favorite looks from Preset Shop.
Cos we just have to ask…!! 😉 What is your favorite +PS tool?? And how has it improved workflow time? Also, are you a MAC or PC fan?
I LOVE the +PS Beauty and Location tools and I use them often! It has really improved my workflow time because it gives me a great jumping off point. Occasionally the moment I click on one of the looks it is exactly what I’m looking for but most often it’s close to what I’m looking for and within a few minutes I can dial in a precise look for the whole take. I’m a Mac guy for sure.
Can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a shoot?
I always have a digital tech with me on set and he prefers using Bridge when downloading from cards or using Capture One when we are tethered and shooting directly to the camera. Everything is backed up in 3 different places including a hard drive that goes back to my studio and downloaded onto my RAID system. Once the shoot has been copied over, I import everything into Lightroom and start the editing process by ranking with stars. When I’ve got it down to a manageable number (a few hundred most of the time) I switch over to the develop module and start experimenting with the look that I want. I then go back and finish the edit by either posting web links to a secure server or exporting to another hard drive to be delivered to the client.
Each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
I would have to say that film and books are my truest inspiration. At the end of the day I’m a storyteller and am moved by great stories!
Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?
I finished school and immediately joined the ranks of newspaper photographers. I went to school for photojournalism and thought that the only jobs that existed for guys like me were at newspapers. If I had to do it again, I would have moved to NYC the day after graduation and I would have assisted…. now having said that if I were given the chance to go back and do it again I actually wouldn’t change a thing. The newspaper and magazine world helped shape me as an artist and time spent in the world of photojournalism can easily been seen in both my print and TV work still to this day.
What do you think of the photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
I think the business is alive and well but obviously going through an unprecedented time. I have almost no friends left in the newspaper world… those jobs have all but been eliminated as well as assignments for the news magazines. The world of photojournalism is really struggling at this point. The ad world is still doing pretty well though but there is a trend right now to merge many of the shoots with their TV productions to save money for the agency and ultimately the clients. This has hurt some and helped others. I started directing about three years ago and have been awarded more and more jobs that have both involved. I just wrapped an eight-day shoot for Pepsi where we photographed 34 NFL players and shot video content as well and I only see this trend growing.
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera…
Ha! I’ve never thought about that… it would have to be something historic like being in the Oval Office during a momentous event or in the corner of a recording studio when a masterpiece was being recorded.
A photographer who inspires you?
What is your marketing advice?
Never stop no matter how frustrating it gets!
How important is a kick ass website for your business?
I rarely send in books any longer. I would say 75% of the work that I’m hired for is based on my online portfolio and not my printed one.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Easily my wife Carla and our 2 children John Griffin and Minnie
Something that is overrated?
Something you’re saving up for?
I’ve never been a saver!
Which five words would your friends use to describe you?
There’s probably a big difference in what I would hope that they would say and what they would actually say… passionate, driven, giving, emotional and loving.
And the last question, if you had one wish…
World peace… no shit.