When choosing a photographer, whether for acting headshots, or your special wedding day, one of the most important factors beyond liking his/her work, is how you connect to the photographer. Gavryush makes you feel at ease, while making the work seem easy. I have always loved his style; his photos have a beautiful simplicity about them, from the natural lighting, to the focus on the people.
Recently he graciously took the time to explain how he came to become a professional photographer and who his main inspiration is!
You know how people love to collect either stamps, shoes or anything else they're into? I love collecting experiences with people through photography. Of course, that wasn't my goal when I was starting out...back in the day, probably 15+ years ago, I would enjoy communicating things visually. Taking pictures of family members and family gatherings with a point and shoot film camera was one of my favorite things about holidays. I originally dabbled in both video and photography; even though I enjoyed both, photography was more enjoyable and in the end, I stuck with it. The rest is a wide open bokehlicious blur...
2. When did you decide to make it your full time career and what were the steps you took to becoming a professional photographer?
Several years ago I decided to go official. I created a name, legalized it all and that's how it started.
3. How would you describe your style of photography? Which is your favorite type of shoot to do and why?
Hmm…my style is definitely ever changing towards the better and not necessarily towards the newest fad. I guess the words you can use to describe my style would be simple and natural, with a twist of unique.
Shooting people is my favorite - mainly because I love people. Everyone is so unique that it never gets boring photographing them.
There are myriad of ways to get inspired before the shoot, but in the end it often comes down to an individual(s) and the location of the shoot. The landscape/surrounding area plays a big role for my inspiration. The wardrobe also opens up ideas. I guess after looking at literally hundreds of thousands of photographs, shooting more than 500,000 images myself, and combining those with what I like best, it kind of helps to make a good repertoire of ideas.
I try to keep my shoots simple. Often times it's just me, although weddings I always bring someone to assist. A lot of the time, my wife comes along and does a great job at second shooting, or helping out with lighting and other things.
I use Canon DSLRs, 5D series to be precise. Lenses are mostly primes that I love to work with, even though I own a few zoom lenses, I don't use those as much. My favorites for portrait work are 35mm and 85mm. I often shoot in natural light but when a see a need for adding some additional artificial light, I do use off-camera flash and or studio strobes. Often times, just a simple video light does the trick :)
As with keeping the shoots and lighting simple, my editing style fits right into that flow. I use Lightroom about 95% of the time, and Photoshop when needed. I like to keep skin tones natural; I don't over process and add very little, if any special effects – my favorite special effect is lighting. That may sound simple, but when it's done right, it looks special and people notice that.
I've been lucky that most of the business comes through word of mouth. It still how I get more than 50% of my jobs. Just like a friend of mine says, “The best business card is a job well done.”
Website and social networks are definitely helpful - and I think required in this day and age. I get a lot more inquiries through my website than any other social media site. Websites are more universal and don't need special apps or devices to access them. If I had an option to either have a website or a social media site, I would probably say website... although Facebook comes in at a close second.
7. Could you tell us your process for a shoot from beginning to end?
Phew, this can take a whole page; I'll try to keep it short! This will be for a lifestyle session: when I get a booking, I go through the process of working a day and time out for both of us. We agree on a location, select a few outfits, and plan by exchanging ideas (often via Pinterest). On the day of the shoot, we work together to get what the client wants or prefers (or what the talent agency likes). Then a week or so later, I usually share an online gallery with a client and send them a disk with a print release and high res images. Weddings work a little different, but the bulk of it remains the same. Of course, it takes longer to edit a wedding.
8. If you could shoot anyone or anything, who/what would it be?
Wow that's a big question...well it would have to do with people, and I actually thought of this the other day. Even though it probably is not my dream, but it's close. One of them is to shoot either a couple or a single person on the tallest skyscraper in Dubai or in the streets of Tokyo. Another one is to shoot for at least a week, not people necessarily, in just one city. That way, I would be able to capture the city/area during the day and night times and hopefully during some unusual weather (that's where planning comes in handy).
As a photographer I enjoy the photography aspect, and not so much the other administrative and legal tasks. The most challenging part to being a photographer is doing other things not related to photography, like marketing, accounting and other business related activities. However, the passion for photography will overcome all the difficult tasks.
10. How do you educate yourself to take better photos? What resources do you use most to learn more about photography?
I educate myself nonstop – or at least I try to! Often I get too submerged visually, but it does help me come up with new ideas and assimilate lighting schemes and such things. I'd have to say that I use internet and print media (magazines/books) most to learn about photography. Lately, online videos have come in handy as well.
11. What has been the most unpredictable thing that’s happened on a shoot and how did you deal with it?
There was this one day I had a big wedding shoot, and I forgot to bring my favorite lens at the time. The wedding was two hours away from my house, and I couldn't go back to get the lens. So instead I used my other lenses and ended up being very happy with the results. Guess what I use more of nowadays? The lenses which I HAD to use that day I forgot to bring my favorite zoom lens. A lesson learned the hard way but it did modify my style - for the better, in my opinion.
I’m sure there's more than one basis for my inspiration. Some are conscious, some are not. It often is our 2.5 year old son, other times it's something I see when traveling or browsing online. It's never the same, and that's that main reason to staying inspired – trying new things and always learning.
13. Besides photography, what are some things you love to do?
Besides photography, I like to spend time with my family and go biking with my wife and our son, which isn't really a thing, or is it? Speaking of things, I like to collect and of course, drink, tea. I try to drink at least one new tea every 7-10 days. So far my favorite teas are: Jasmine pearls and Yerba Mate. Another thing I like, well it's sort of new for me, is use and collect fountain pens. I don't have a lot of them, but I do enjoy them.
The only advice I can give is “Shoot, shoot, shoot!” Yes, it may sound simple and over rated, but it does work! The more hours you spend doing photography, the better. Like it is said, 10,000 hours of doing one thing makes one a master in that subject. I think it completely applies to photography. However, you can shoot a lot, but it won't help you as much if you shoot the same thing every time and don't challenge yourself to try new things or techniques. Take on new projects, start a 365 Project (take a picture every day and share it on a social network), try new lighting techniques, meet and talk with photographers locally and online, go on photo walks, and never stop learning.
Wedding photography is very, very competitive, especially today. Second shooting with a wedding photographer is a great idea; it won’t guarantee you success, but surely will give you a good deal of hands-on experience. Frankly, wedding photography is one of the more challenging types of photography, but if you love to be challenged, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. You can shoot for a friend, or friend of a friend's, but don't start out being the one and only photographer at the wedding. I can tell you from experience, it's not as easy as it seems. Weddings usually happen only once, and messing up is not an option. Having gone through a wedding myself, I now know better of what to expect and the things to pay more attention to on my clients' weddings. Like with other types of photography, if weddings are what you love to do, keep at it and never give up. Your love for weddings will make the small obstacles seem insignificant.
Check out more of his photos and find out more about Gavryush (based in Sacramento, CA) on his website or Facebook.