Every spring Photo District News announces their 30 photographers to watch. It’s a great time to see what the commercial photography industry is taking notice of and because of the respect and reach of the magazine it’s a pretty big deal to make the list. Each year when I view the PDN30 I see a lot of what I am not. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Knowing what I am not helps me to figure out what I am. Being able to wander around shooting ideas helps me find out what’s for me and what’s not for me. In college my goal was to be a sell-side analyst. For those unfamiliar with the investment banking chain of command, a sell-side analyst is the person responsible for writing research reports on sectors and companies and making buy, sell or hold recommendation to the investment community. I achieved my goal and eventually hated the job. With photography I have taken a different approach – try different things to see if what’s a good fit. In 2006 some friends suggested I look into children’s photography. I booked a couple test shoots with friend’s kids, had fun and a new business was born. The following was a shot from one of those test shoots.
A few years ago I started working with small battery powered strobes and wanted to set up some test shoots to find their limitations and see what I could pull out of them. I asked everyone who came in for a shoot to wear the same thing; a white wife-beater. Despite all the different faces, shapes, colors and moods the wife-beater helped bring everything together. It was a great exercise and I learned a lot. Recently I was looking over the series and appreciated how real they were. I was able to capture great images of people without fancy lights, locations, makeup or wardrobe. I also noticed that through that series I made some great friends and continue to have relationships with quite a few people I photographed.
I saw the value in the exercise and my current project was born. It’s a similar portrait project although a bit more stripped down. Back in November I had a model sit for a very close up portrait before our fashion shoot. It was the spark for the current series. It’s ongoing and I welcome everyone who’s willing to come in for a shoot. Click on the photo to check out the project’s website.
©Chuck Espinoza 310-571-5094