Gregory Allen is a guy that grew up in a suburb just north of Seattle, Washington. Gregory Allen is a passionate photographer that shoots with consummate elegance. Gregory Allen is a hard working, coffee-drinking, dexterous visual artist with a killer eye, and we’re over the moon to have him stop by Preset Shop.
Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team
What do you love the most about your job?
Each day is different. Fashion shoots and commercial photography productions are about problem solving, and expecting the unexpected. I also love working with people, as the leader of a team. It’s a very creative, dynamic working environment.
Did you get a “big break” when trying to establish yourself and your career?
I don’t believe in “big breaks”. I attribute my success to constant hard work, perseverance, and treating people well.
How would you describe your style?
I studied art in college, at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, US, with photography as my concentration. It was mostly a documentary and portraiture oriented black-and-white photography program at that time. I have no experience with commercial or fashion productions until my first job after college, working directly with Oliviero Toscani. I learned from Oliviero that you always need to put your personal touch on an image whether it is a personal or commercial project.
I try to maintain my foundation as a documentary photographer in my fashion images. I focus on creating images that are honest, improvised, that do not feel produced.
When you are shooting people, are you directing them in a certain way or letting events unfold naturally and capturing what happens?
Directing is my favorite part of the process of making images. One of the challenges of my job is to determine what type of direction the model needs in order to create the image I am looking for. Some people need to be provoked, some coddled…there’s a strong psychological side to the interaction. It’s a dance between the photographer and the subject.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?
Many models begin each shoot with their regular set of poses. It is my challenge to break from this, to make something new and fresh.
Tell us about authenticity.. What does it mean to you?
Keeping a consistent, recognizable style throughout your images. This is a great challenge between commercial productions, and is something I strive for.
What is an issue you have with the state of the fashion photo industry today?
I wish fashion collections weren’t as seasonal. But it is a necessity of the industry, and the business of selling clothes.
In today’s economy what changes are driving photography and how have you adjusted?
I have been very lucky the last few years, and have had a consistently growing client base.
What is the best advice you have received so far about photography?
To take walks around your neighborhood. I walk almost daily around the park near my studio, it is a great exercise to stay observant and notice subtle changes in your surroundings.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?
It is important to be a team player, to work well with others. Commercial projects don’t always depend on your personal taste, and it is important to have everyone on the team involved.
What has been your favorite photo location or session?
In Baja California, a small town call Guerrero Negro. It’s an unusual micro-climate on the coast. On on side of the bay are salt flats, and on the other are 40km of sand dunes.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing up the fashion campaigns for the end of this year, and beginning to plan for the spring 2014 season which begins production in November. Also, I have been shooting magazine covers for the Latin versions of Glamour, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Vanidades, and GQ.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I shoot with a variety of cameras, depending on the project. I have Canons, and a Phase One back on a Hasselblad H2.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
A pencil and a pad of paper. Taking notes and sketching/drawing is essential to my process.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
I could do 90% of my work with an 85mm.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?!
Capture One. I edit and do almost all color corrected within the program. I use Photoshop very little now, just for cosmetic work.
Cos we just have to ask…!! What is your favourite +PS tool??
I use the Light Leaks and Flares a lot. Also the Noir Collection and the Fashion Editorial Collection. I usually blend the presets together with the original image, masking and revealing where needed to create depth. It’s a process very similar to painting, accentuating light and shadow. I like to keep the post production of my images as simple as possible, normally creating as much as possible of the final look in-camera. And the presets are ideal for batch color correction of a series of images, for example, a fashion editorial or catalog.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I mainly use Photoshop for correcting wrinkles on the clothes. I try to maintain a natural, consistent look throughout my images. Retouching should not be felt by the viewer.
Do you maintain a studio or do you rent one when needed?
I share a studio here in Mexico City with another photographer.
Three photography pet hates and why?
I don’t like the focus on equipment in photography. As photographers, we use cameras to capture the image, that is all. I wish the focus was more on personal vision, and story-telling.
What keeps you awake at night?
Coffee?? I sleep well.
Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow?
New York. I’m in Mexico City now, but am living now between NYC and Mexico.
What five words would your clients use to describe you?
Do you play music whilst shooting? If so, what are you digging right now?
Music is very important at my shoots. Music helps to establish a good rhythm between shots, and movement with the model.
Big plans for the future? What’s next?
I hope to continue working with my current clients in Latin America, and begin to work more in NYC. I love my job!