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Interview Photographer Louis Reed (USA) Winner of the month

Can you tell us a little about you?

I was born and raised in South Carolina and am currently living in High Point, North Carolina, the Furniture Capitol of the World (seriously) after having bounced all over the planet in between. My day job is the antithesis of artistic and so photography helps me maintain my sanity and stay fresh. I am blessed with having numerous actual artists in my family and have always been inspired by them, as well as the circle of friends they attract. I love talking about anything and everything, as I am sure all of my models can attest!

How and when did you get into photography?

I got my first Nikon in 1977 and have been shooting ever since, which means I should be a lot better photographer than I am! I have alway preferred shooting people over things and up until recently shot primarily candids of friends, family and the fantastic people I have run into along the way. Black and white film was my first love and I enjoyed the process as well as darkroom work, but find the more immediate gratification of shooting and editing digitally to suit my impatient personality better!

What does photography mean to you?

I have always had a passion for capturing an experience and have rarely been far from a camera, audio recorder or movie camera. I am definitely not the creative type who can conjure up and develop an idea from scratch, but rather I am often struck by the beauty of what I see and hear and am moved to frame and preserve that. When I shoot people, I am trying to capture their unique beauty, and even bring out something in themselves they might not have been aware of! When someone sees themselves in an image of mine that moves them to joy and a feeling of strength and confidence, that’s a priceless human experience for us both!

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

Finding the right light for a look is my chief goal. I try very hard to use lighting to compliment a model’s features, their outfit and the surroundings, which in the case of my studio is typically very spartan! I am incredibly inspired by photographers such as Karsh, Penn, Ritts, Leibovitz and Lindbergh whose typical simplicity in design both allows and forces the subject to truly be the center of attention and artistic focus.

Think you in advance what you want in the picture?

I am trying to plan my shoots more in advance, making notes and creating idea/mood boards etc but my chief method is to have plenty of wardrobe/props/light modifiers handy and work with the model to find looks they love and feel inspired by.

Where do you get inspiration from?

As anyone who has spent any time around me can attest, I have stacks and stacks of books and magazines near me at all times. I frequently see images which confuse me in terms of wondering what led the photographer and editor to create and choose that particular image. I usually learn & grow more from these than from the obviously gorgeous, technically proficient ones. Also I find the act of trying to replicate and pay homage to the style of great artists helps to expand my repertoire, with the hope of someday developing a distinctive style of my own.

Studio, on location or both?

95% studio at the moment, but will be on the next flight to Paris or Berlin if asked!

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

Definitely not a full time professional, but would love to be able to support myself fully someday! My goal is to develop a degree of competence and individuality that I might someday shoot for top designers or magazines, but in the meantime take joy from the learning process and from meeting so many great people every week!

What has been your most memorable session and why?

A friend and very talented photographer/fashionista Ciara Kelly announced to me that she was going to shave her head and I knew immediately I wanted to create a shoot around it. Along with her husband and another great talent Danny Wolf, we spent an entire day cutting hair, creating at least 10 distinctive styles along the way, until it was all gone! Ciara is still rocking the bald head and I loved being a part of the transformation!

What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?

All of the amazing people who have the self confidence to stand in front of my camera and be vulnerable! My goal always is to give back to them as much as they have given to me!

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Nikon, because thats what I started with and the old lenses work on the new cameras, but I do also love my tiny Pentax Q! My favorite lenses are my 80-200 which I use for full length shots and 20mm for closeups! Backwards perhaps but that’s what make me smile.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Shoot what you love, and your work will show it, and it won’t feel like a job!

What do you think of our new magazine?

Love the variety of wonderfully talented photographers and models you’ve attracted and the high quality layout and extremely flattered to even be considered to be featured along side them!

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