Today we would like to welcome a very kind, grounded and patient photographer to our blog who goes by the name of Isaac Leverett. Isaac is a high school band teacher by day, a gifted creative by heart, a dreamer, a go-getter, a pretty big fan of Emily Ratajkowski and soon.. (fingers crossed) a boat owner! 😉 Check out his lovely photos and enjoy the read, we sure did!
Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team
Where is home?
Columbus, Ga. About an hour and a half south of Atlanta.
What is your current state of mind?
I am in a really peaceful mindset. I am happy with who I am as a person, and I am happy with where my work is going. Can I improve? Well obviously, but I like where I am heading!
How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve had a camera since like ’97. I dabbled with pictures. I went to the park, shot pics of ducks and squirrels, shot pics of my girlfriend…they were all horrible! Lol. I would say about 9 years ago was when I first shot with a model. I was really lucky, I had a work friend who’s daughter was actually agency repped and I was able to shoot a few times with her. She was great, I sucked, but I think I began to call myself a photographer then!
How would you describe your style?
That’s difficult to say because I think I am in the midst of a style change. I started off shooting more glamour than anything else. I think the reason I liked that style was because the women didn’t wear much and my friends were impressed that they would allow me to freely shoot them in that state. Lately I have been trying to capture more emotion in my shots rather than the pretty girl just standing there smiling. I know I am late figuring this out, but those emotional facial expressions are what I love!
What is your secret to keeping a happy balanced life while following your passion?
Photography is my actual balance; It’s my “get-away.” I am a high school band teacher and most times that can be a stressful job with constant performances, trips, etc. When I get home during the week, or if I am not working on the weekend I like to grab my camera and a model and shoot, or just work on images I have already done. Anything to keep my mind away from work.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Just like with anything in life…go for it. Pursue your dream(s) and put 100% into achieving those dreams. Network with local shooters to bounce ideas and inspire each other. That’s kind of how I got started and wanting to purchase my first camera. I was in college and there was a local photographer, Greg Rodriguez, that was always around shooting things for the school catalogs and brochures. We developed a friendly relationship and whenever we saw each other we would talk cameras and he would give me advice on things.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photography?
Separating yourself so you can stand out. Depending on your location there can be countless other photographers there. Can you make yourself stand out from some of the others to where people will come to you over others?
Is your creative formula the same no matter now big or how small the job is?
I think so. No matter what or who I’m shooting I try to visualize the “perfect” shoot and everything that would take place during the shoot; what music to play, obviously wardrobe and location, how to talk and communicate during the shoot, things like that. I go through all of that in my mind, then when it’s time to shoot I forget it all!
How do you educate yourself to take better photos?
Looking at other photographer’s works mainly. I love Instagram for this. I also like watching YouTube videos of various shoots for ideas and inspiration. There are lots of good things out there where you can really learn new things.
What is your favorite recent image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc?
A lot of my newer images I really like, but there was a series of shots I did this past summer when I was in Boston that truly stand out in my mind. Everything came out perfect for me! I was travelling through the Northeast and met the model on a website and we decided to get together for the shoot. She suggested a local park outside of Boston that had a field or two there. We had to walk about a quarter of a mile through a path of mud before we got there…it was very nasty! But when we got there was this huge grass filed that was a great location. I had her try on a bodysuit to which she was skeptical of at first because she had never worn one, but she ended up loving it. It was me, her, and the sunlight. No reflectors or anything. I knew I was going to convert most of these shots to black and white, and I wanted them to be darker in nature, so I had her turn her back to the sun so her blonde hair would be illuminated. I just had her move around the field and I followed. The shots turned out great!
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I have a Canon 7D. I have always shot Canons
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I love my Pocketwizard Flex and Mini. I have gotten lots of use out of those with my speedlite.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
Probably my Canon 70-200 2.8 L. I can use it to shoot models, then turn around and use it to shoot some sports action. The lens I probably use the most is my little cheap Canon 50 mm lens. I think I paid like $120 for that lens, but shoots way better than a hundred dollar lens. It’s amazing for the cost!
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
When I finally got around to shooting RAW Lightroom became my favorite editing accessory.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
Photoshop to me is very important, although lately I am using it less. I used to want to try to make the shot as perfect as possible because I thought that made for the best shot. But now I don’t mind imperfections. We as humans are not perfect so why should the pictures be?
Cos we just have to ask…!! What is your favorite +PS tool?? And how has it improved workflow time?
I don’t know if I can pick a favorite! Lol The first tool I bought was Retrograde BW and I was like “Whoa, I love this!” Then I got Retrograde and I was like “Whoa, I love this too!” Then I got Faded Film…well, you know the rest! Haha As for the workflow they definitely save time because you don’t have to work with all the various sliders as much to get the result you want. The one drawback, and this is a good thing, is that you have so many options to help create a great image! I find myself creating different variations of the same file constantly.
Can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a shoot?
This is nothing groundbreaking. After shooting, which can sometimes take up to a few hours I don’t like to dive right into the shots. I may go and grab something to eat, or do something totally unrelated just to clear my mind from what just happened. I found that if I jumped right into the shots I would still be on a “high” from the shoot and wouldn’t look at the shots as critically as I would if I took a little time away. But after first looking at the shots I immediately start deleting shots…sometimes LOTS of them. After that I send the model contact sheets of the remaining images so they can further whittle things down to their liking. We (sometimes I) decide on the very best shots they want and those are the ones that get worked on.
What do you think of the photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
I really don’t consider myself to be “in the industry” so I really don’t know.
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera…
I would be any and everywhere Emily Ratajkowski was!!
A photographer who inspires you?
Most of the people I like are of now. One of the first guys who’s work made me look twice was Max Rivera. The models he shot with were stunning and he captured them in a way that really appealed to me. Then I discovered the work of other photographers like Cameron Davis and Charles Lucima and I loved the raw emotion I saw from the models in their work.
Something that is overrated?
Needing a studio full of lights and needing the best of the best when it comes to equipment.
Something you’re saving up for?
Not photography related, but I want a boat! Haha
Which five words would your friends use to describe you?
Patient, Kind, Grounded, Amicable, Quiet
And the last question, if you had one wish…
I would like to be known for my photography. I mean I know a lot of people have the dream to be famous or well-known, and while obviously it’s not something I would ever achieve or need in my life, it would be kind of cool!