The “Thursday Thoughts Series” returns this week with an inside look at the work of Chris Breedlove. Chris was mentioned to me by Rob Jones over at Towner Jones Photography when he participated. I got in touch with Chris and asked if he’d be interested in participating. Happily, he agreed to jump in the foray here. So, let’s give a big welcome to Chris Breedlove!
Q: Everyone always wants to know some of the basics, so let’s get a few things out of the way at once here… how long have you been a photographer?
A: In some degree I have always been a photographer – ever since I picked up my first Pentax 35 mm (film). Although, I had some issues with understanding certain basics about the camera; but I always had it at my side. When I went to college I took a course on developing film and b/w portraiture. The professor I took was a good man, but could not relate to me very well on how to truly get the most out of the camera. Nonetheless, I kept trying. When I graduated college I was hired at that same University in their media relations department; it was then that I got my first digital SLR, a Canon 20D. After I could see the image and really grasp the world of digital photography, then everything became more and more clear and exciting to me, especially, the world of off-camera flash.
Q: Canon, Nikon, Sonly, Olympus, Pentax or some other brand?
A: I started with a Canon 20D, but for the past 4 years I have been shooting with an amazing camera: a Nikon D200. The D200 is out of date but this camera holds great significance to me; it is the first camera I bought with my own money. I bought a D200 w/ vertical grip and a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Just recently, I have added to my arsenal a Nikon N80 film camera. (My future camera purchases will be a Nikon D3 & Nikon F6).
Q: Even though this is predominantly a blog about digital photography, I hit recently on what appears to be a resurgence of film. Do you have any thoughts on film photography? Have you ever shot with film? If so, any particular types of film that you’ve enjoyed using?
A: I truly love film, I always have. But, due to not understanding film and how to shoot film in the beginning I allowed that valuable lesson to slip me by. This is not the case anymore. I am gradually making the mark back to film and I am absolutely ecstatic about what I am seeing. (All the b/w images featured are examples of my wedding film work). Film represents more than an image taken with a digital camera; it represents a true moment forever captured in time, un-manipulated, unrehearsed, captured art.
I shoot primarily Professional B/W film speeds; Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak T-Max 3200, and a little Ilford Delta 3200 here and there.
Q: Mac, PC, or Linux?
A: Once you go MAC, you don’t go back.
Q: Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry?
A: This question can only be answered by expressing my much needed and much appreciated desires for French-Pressed Coffee and Rich Chocolate. Mix them together, a whole new world emerges.
Q: I guess that would mean chocolate, eh? Moving into a little more granularity, photographers often enjoy hearing helpful and constructive critiques of their work, as we are aware of how much we can grow from it. However, we’ve also all had the “nice shot” and “cool” comments when we’ve shared our work. What was the singular most useful critique or comment you’ve ever had on work you’ve shared publicly?
A: The most useful comment I have ever received is: “less is more.” How true is that; for us all. Technology rapidly advances every day and more cameras are coming out with the best ISO ratings, sensors, frame rates, etc., but, just because you have the power to take a thousand images per event or live by the philosophy “shoot now, ask later,” does that necessarily mean you should? Less is more has been dramatically helpful in my wedding work. I will talk with a bride and when I relate that I shoot film and only a limited amount of portraits will be shot compared to a thousand files uploaded; they get ecstatic. Sometimes, I feel that the wedding photography industry has a tendency to overload the brides and grooms of tomorrow with endless amounts of files and photos; the goal is to tell a story not a mini-series.
Another helpful critique that was told to me not to long ago is “slow-down.” The wedding day is packed with lots happening and lots to be photographed, but when we as professionals run all over the place trying to capture that “perfect” moment; we lose the beauty of that moment. A photographer should be on his/her toes but not at the expense of ruining those tender moments for those in attendance, more importantly the bride and groom.
Keep in mind: less is more & slow-down.
Q: If someone was asking you for an honest critique of their work, what 3 factors would you look at most (excluding friendships or family relatives, we’re talking professional or fellow photographer-types here)?
A: If someone was asking me for an honest critique I would look at these factors: emotion and perspective, these two work hand in hand. Wedding Photography, or any photography for that matter, is not about fancy equipment or the latest photography gear; it’s about telling a story with the tools you have. It’s about capturing emotion through unique perspectives. Anybody can capture a smile or a hug at any event, but what excites me about photographing a wedding is capturing those exceptional and special moments and more than that; revealing the love that the bride and groom (even the guests) have for one another.
Q: Wow, that’s a great mentality to have for an approach to wedding photography and constructive critique perspectives. So, you obviously enjoy capturing moments. With software seeing the development it has in recent years though, you could almost create images without a camera. If you had to choose between the gear or the software as the only way to create, which would it be and why?
A: If I had to choose between the gear or the latest software; it would be the gear. I am not a Photoshop gu-ru. Photoshop is a tool, not the means to create. Photography will always begin and end with the gear. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive gear (although we all wish we could afford and have the most expensive stuff) to tell a story. It is how you use what you currently have in your hands to do the job. Photography, in my opinion, should always be about telling a story; not creating one. Graphic Design and Graphic Arts, is a different story.
Q: If you had to pick three to six pictures out of your entire portfolio to represent your approach to photography, or your artistic vision, which ones would you pick (feel free to share images here)?
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share about the state of photography or any catch phrases that you keep in mind when shooting?
A: When I am photographing a wedding (or anything in general) I always remember it’s not about me; it is about capturing a moment forever embedded in time on a photograph. That’s what photography is to me.
Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to participate in the Thursday Thoughts Series! Your work is really impressive and a true pleasure to look at and enjoy. For anyone interested in seeing more about Chris, stop over and enjoy his website, his blog, and feel free to share your thanks with him via email too. In the meantime, thanks all for stopping in and continuing to read and support the CB blog and podcast series. Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!