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He's Got Your Picture
Photography is, at its core, understanding light.
There's good light and bad, hard lighting and soft lighting and whatever it is that happens when the flash goes “pop.” This is not exactly privileged information, but if you're like me, and your main goal is to keep the camera from shaking, it's probably not top-of-mind stuff, either.
Ryan Jones brings it up because he quit a corporate gig to do this, he's grown a business around it, has an office and a client list, and still he learns something every time he goes out.
“For the longest time I was afraid of flash,” says Jones, a wedding and commercial photographer who recently came on board with the Love the Captive crew to shoot the local music scene.
He's gotten over that fear.
The digital image that shows on the flat screen above his desk is a guy in a suit with a violin tucked under his arm. It was taken with a flash, but you can't tell, which is probably the point.
Jones is the clean-up hitter of local photography, or the No. 3 hitter, says John “Johnny Q” Quiroz, stealing a baseball metaphor. What he means is, the guy is a powerhouse.
“He's serious and we're trying to be serious,” says Quiroz, the local Dj and main-man at Love the Captive. Plus, his work is amazing. It's crisp, clear and concise. It's simple and tells a story.
“And for band photos that's everything," he says.
In many ways, Jones owes his career to social media and the connectivity of the digital age.
His first gig was a friend's wedding and it paid two 12-packs of Newcastle and he posted them up on Myspace — “back when it was relevant.”
Within a month he'd booked five more.
“It sounds silly but its all because of Flickr and Myspace,” Jones says.
How many is a lot?
“More that I can remember," he says with no hint of embellishment.
Of course, he will admit the job of photography isn't what he thought. He's a guy who started as a college kid working in the photo lab at Long Drugs because the lab was infinitely better than working as a cashier and “photos make people happy.” Photography, especially wedding photography, was, in his mind, the realm of half-way perverted old guys with pony tails and logo-ed polo shirts, making bad puns.
Besides, “I was terrified of people,” he says. “So I just hung back and let things happen.”
It's become his style, his aestheic, in his wedding photgraphy and commercial work. “I'm still a storyteller,” he says.
And there it is.
It all comes down to how you interpret the world, Jones says. Working as a photographer is more than having a hacked copy of photoshop and a $1,000 camera.
“If you can't create a compelling picture in your camera, photoshop can't save you.”
Anyway, it's way more expensive than that. Jones shoots on three Nikon D 700 cameras, which average around $3,000 a piece. He's got another $15,000 tied up in lighting and lenses, and equal that in his office space. Then, there are work flow issues, the stuff he never imagined. It's twice as much work than his job as a corporate trainer. His business is his name and there's pressure in that. If he has to work a 70-hour week, that's what needs to be done.
Lighting be damned.