Posted on 30th SEPTEMBER 2019 by eric team
‘New Creatives on the Block’ was a series curated for the ERIC Fest: Storytelling. Young photographer, Daniel Ofori-Atta, asked senior photographer, Dave Wall, his burning questions. Here are the answers…
1) I’m sure like many creatives there’s been a few points in your career where you’ve wanted to give up, what kept you going, and what keeps you going today?
No matter what any creative will tell you we ALL have self doubt!!! It comes with the territory, as does the “why am I doing this”? It’s 100% normal to have these feelings and thoughts.How to combat them is the key. I honestly believe there are two trains of thought on this.
1: Stick to your guns and don’t compromise your style… which is the route I took but it is definitely the hardest by far (especially if your style isn’t mainstream)
2: Adapt and grow into a more mainstream creator. Some will say it’s “selling out”... I would argue “it’s called business”
How do I keep motivated? I just love what I do... it isn’t even really a job for me as I would be doing it as a hobby anyway...so in a way I have never really had to do a days “work” in my life... Ha ha ha. Watching movies gives me a wealth of inspiration and motivation...it could be something simple like the colour of a movie (eg the green cast in the Matrix movies) or something as simple as someone’s tattoo within it – inspiration is literally EVERYWHERE !!
2) Are there messages that you try to get across through your images? If so, how do you actually get your photos to say those things?
Honestly – LESS is MORE. When creating my book covers it is all about auto suggestion. So rather than photographing a skull, a bottle of poison, a doctors uniform to describe a novel about a murderous doctor... just a close up of the bottle (or even just its label) is often enough. Another trick I often use is to “guide the viewer” through my images using colour (or lack of it). Desaturate areas that are not important as it makes the important areas “pop” and stand out more. It’s an old trick but a very effective one.
3) How do you develop relationships with your subjects before you shoot, especially when time is limited and the shoot could be quite sensitive? How do you make them comfortable with a huge camera lens staring at them?
This is actually a GREAT question!! I used to shoot a great many nude studies and it can make the sitter feel very vulnerable so I developed a few tricks that have been invaluable through the years.
1: Create a “mood board” of what ideas you have, poses, lighting, props etc. Send these over first to the model and give them a call to discuss them. Make sure at THIS point they are happy with your ideas and ask them for their input and ideas and add them to your mood board. If you have had no contact before the shoot - take “your” moodboard as it will help explain your plans visually which for many is MUCH easier!!
2: On the day of the shoot have this printed out and refer to it ALL the time and showing your sitter what is required. If they aren’t getting it quite right point out on the mood board why… (hand placement etc)
3: NEVER walk up to your sitter and touch them in ANY way without asking them first (even for something as simple as moving a strand of hair)!!
Ask first and explain it is better for you to move the strand of hair or the drape of a dress as you are looking at it from a different angle and everything else is perfect so you don’t want them to move. Even when you are familiar with your model ALWAYS follow these rules – trust me it is the ONLY way to shoot responsibly.
4) How do you deal with the competitive nature of the industry. What made you stand out from everyone else?
The industry isn’t competitive it’s BRUTAL!!! I won’t lie it is FULL of VERY BIG EGOS!!!
Once you realise this, and that MANY many photographers lie about how busy they are, who their clients are etc you will be far more successful and confident within your own abilities…it’s a sad state of affairs …but it IS true! To give you an example I saw a wedding photographer the other day bragging about a destination wedding they were shooting in Dubai – WOW everyone was saying – he just forgot to mention it was his sister's wedding !!!
The moral of the story? Ignore what people put on Fakebook – it is just that – FAKE.
So take everything you read with a pinch of salt – follow your dreams and aspirations – keep your ego in-check and you won’t go far wrong!! What made me stand out ? Never giving up and keeping true to my style (which many still to this day “don’t get”)
A bit about Dave…
With nearly 30 years of experience running a variety of both photographic and retouching studios, Dave has amassed a knowledge that is second to non within the UK photographic industry, as well as being a multi-award winning and internationally published photographer with over 45 major competition wins to his name!
A bit about Daniel…
Daniel is a 19 year old photographer, videographer and civil engineering student from London. He began his journey shooting in January this year and since then have been part of capturing various projects. From collaborating with clothing brands to shooting in the O2 arena this year, his journey as a creative is just beginning.
We want to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts below, tweet us at @eric_festival or instagram us at @ericfestival!