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Photographer Profile: An Interview with Aaron Muntz

Aaron Muntz discusses the start of his career, and how he continues to grow and create today:

“I became a photographer via the usual route I believe… I got a hold of my father’s camera and went to town, photographing everything. I was into skateboarding and music so I photographed those things a lot. But I was also drawn to photographing these mundane objects as I found them, out in the world, part landscape, part still life. I was encouraged by art teachers and other teachers to continue to explore the medium. At first, I thought I wanted to be a photo journalist. But once I went to University, I quickly realized I liked the control I found in the studio and the challenges of what I came to understand as commercial photography. I studied in the Visual Communications dept at Ohio University, one of the first programs of its kind. After school it was, internship, assisting, shooting, assisting some more, shooting some more. Now, after 15 years in the industry, I’ve translated the years of assisting and working as lighting consultant for still life, interior and beauty photographers into a career as a still life photographer. Now my clients are beginning to seek out motion and still photography projects shot in tandem, so I have found myself learning and mastering new skills as I bring my precision lighting techniques to motion.

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There are a couple stories I love to tell about becoming a photographer.

The first is likely part legend, but when I was a kid, my family went on vacation in the Smokey Mountains. We climbed Chimney Rock. It wasn’t easy, the weather was bad, but we were determined to get to the top. When we finally made it, my parents handed me the Polaroid camera and I took my first picture. Just the usual tourist photo of my parents proud to have made the trip, but for me, watching that Polaroid develop, sparked the beginning of a lifelong interest in image making. That’s how I like to remember it.

The second story is about the beginning of my career. I did an internship with photographer Jaime Biondo in San Francisco. It was an eye opening experience where I learned more about photography, on every level, lighting, composition, image making, retouching, business, etc. than I had in any class. At the end of the summer I was determined to transfer to a school in the bay area to finish my degree and continue working. When I told Jaime about the plan, he was adamant that I finish school at Ohio University and move to NYC for at least a few years. I’ve been here for fifteen years and never looked back.

In NYC I’ve had the pleasure of working as assistant to some of the most genuine and talented photographers as well as shooting for incredible art directors, photo editors and a host of other creative people. I assisted Craig Cutler full time for 5 years and his work ethic and talent has been a huge influence on my business practices and image making. I still look up to him, his lighting skills are second to none and what I learned from him I now refer to as precision lighting. I’ve not worked with another photographer that fit that description.

Still Life

I learned so much about technique from working with Craig. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Of course I didn’t stop learning there, I learned a little something from each of the photographers I’ve assisted over the years and developed some of my own tricks along the way. So much of it is trial and error and trying to think outside of the box. As a photographer, or as a lighting tech, I am handed a problem and it is my job to figure out how to solve that problem. Sometimes I can reach into my existing bag of tricks, I know the exact right answer. Other times I’m finding inspiration from the world around me. Trying to recreate a type of light I find in the real world, or to create something completely surreal that could never happen outside of a controlled studio environment.

Still Life

I also get ideas when I see new fixtures or new lighting packages. Broncolor is great for this since they have such an extensive library of modifiers and fixtures. And they always seem to be coming up with something new. Sometimes I look at a new light and I know exactly how I want to use it, other times I find myself in a pre-pro meeting or on set discussing the lighting and I realize that a fixture I saw would solve a lighting problem that has come up. One of my favorite problem solving fixtures are the Broncolor Striplites and Lightbars. They can be used in so many creative ways. It’s a personal goal to use as many fixtures as I can in ways that were never intended.

Now that photography and motion are intersecting more and more I’m learning new techniques by working with gaffers. I’ve found that we have vastly different techniques for lighting still photography than most gaffers do on motion sets. So I think when I work with the right people, there is a real idea exchange. Most gaffers don’t really understand precision lighting, and as a still photographer, I never understood the demands of lighting for motion. Part of that is the difference between additive and subtractive lighting, but it also has to do with the type of fixtures and how modifiable they are. The new Kobold line offer’s us the ability to cross over some of that precision lighting into the motion world. Most gaffers I’ve worked with have never seen a beauty dish.

Craig Cutler and Sarah Silver are the two photographers that I have worked with who have had the most influence on my career. I guess I consider them to be heros. They are inspirations as image makers and business people.

As a young artist, I was heavily influenced by the pop artists. I was obsessed with Andy Warhol for a long time. Now I find myself less influenced by his work and more by the work ethic, his drive to create and create. Andreas Gursky, Edward Burtynsky and Vincent Laforet, are a few other photographers I’ve followed. But I’m always trying to look at new artists to keep my own work fresh. Not that I want to recreate their work but allow it to inspire. Lately I’ve been looking at Ryan McGinley and Guy Bourdin a lot.”

Still Life

When asked what his least favorite part of his career, Aaron states:

“That’s a loaded question, isn’t it. I guess the worst part about my job is the some times long hours. I love what I do, but I also love spending time with my lovely wife. Luckily she is an understanding woman who also works in this business as a producer. We often find ourselves sending frustrated text messages to each other at the end of the day, apologizing for having to work late. But that’s all part of the package.”

And the best…

“I love my job. I walk into an empty room and work as part of a team to create images from the ground up. That’s a pretty simplified way of putting it, but I love seeing projects through from the beginning to end. I get to work with my brain and my hands and collaborate with creative people from so many disciplines. And I’m doing something a little different each time I walk into the studio.”

Still Life

Finally, Aaron takes a moment to tell us more about the equipment he is currently working with:

“- Pulso G4 Lamp with frosted pyrex

-I’ve found that the frosted pyrex really fills the reflector and takes full advantage of the fixtures shape and focusing ability. For precision beauty photography the frosted pyrex takes a little of the edge off of the fixtures snappy nature. The diffusion options offer even more control over the light quality. I’ve found the combination of the frosted pyrex with the #3 diffuser, at just the right distance, offers a gorgeous glow on the skin, in very compact package.

– Kobold DW 400

-The Kobold 400 in combination with the Para 88 has really changed the way I deal with shooting motion in combination with still images on set. In the past it was a painstaking process to change out fixtures entirely, and to approximate the quality of light from one fixture to the other. Very few parabolic options for continuous light actually exist. For precision beauty especially, the quality of light is so key. The fact that I can pull the Pulso lamp out of the fixture, without changing the focus and replace the head with a Kobold DW 400, ensures that when I strike the light, we are already 99% there as far as light quality is concerned. From there its just a matter of firing up some DW 800s on the background to match the look of the still image.

The fact that the DW 400 can be adapted to so many of the Broncolor fixtures, means that we can easily swap to video no matter what which fixture, look we are trying to accomplish.

Now that the DW 400 is in our arsenal, we find ourselves reaching for it even when shooting stills. I’ve always loved the quality of continuous light for still photography. I’ve used it extensively for still life, and for fashion and beauty, I’ve used it for shutter drag effects as well as for the soft quality that comes from continuous light that you just can’t get with the snap of a strobe.”

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To see more of Aaron’s work, visit his site: aaroncameronmuntz.com

Shoot NYC Recap

A packed house at Michael Grecco's Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait seminar. Photo by Mike Hill.

Hasselblad and broncolor wrapped up another Shoot NYC event at La Venue on October 25 and 26, 2012. Shoot NYC has become a photography staple, a place where people can network, educate themselves on photographic tools, and foster a community with their fellow photographers. Free seminars and workshops ran both days and included a variety of topics ranging from how to create and maintain a photography business, to learning about key lighting modifiers and copyright information. These free seminars were incredible in terms of the quality of information, and our speakers spoke to packed rooms of eager photographers that wanted to enhance their photo businesses.

The broncolor Para family lights up Shoot NYC. Photo by Andre Rowe.

Lara Jade's business seminar focused on online marketing and promotion using social media tools and networking. Photo by Kermit Mercado and Victoria Harrington.

Rick Friedman spoke to a full house, and taught how to light on-location, with the use of Sunbounce reflectors. Photo by Kermit Mercado and Victoria Harrington.

Bryan O'Neil Hughes taught the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop with on-screen instruction. Photo by Mike Hill.

Sunbounce, Sun-Sniper, broncolor, FOBA, Kobold and Visatec products were on the show floor for anyone to get their hands on and use. Shoot NYC also featured new products including the broncolor Move 1200 L battery pack, the Hasselblad H5D, the Sunbounce Bounce-Wall portable flash accessory, and the Sun-Sniper Pro-II camera strap.

The broncolor Move 1200 L battery pack was featured at Shoot NYC

The new Hasselblad H5D was available to see for the first time since Photokina. Peter Stig, Hasselblad product manager for the H system camera, spoke about the new H5D, including its technical advancements and new product features.

The Hasselblad station at Shoot NYC. Photo by Mike Hill.

A live shooting sets with photographers Franklin Thompson, Thomas Liggett, Gregor Halenda, Jodi Jones and David Perkins (with two dancers and a Ducati) were a main focal point. With an array of broncolor modifiers and Kobold HMIs, they played with light to create some amazing images.

Dancers Aaron and Kristin. Photo by David Perkins.

Photographer Franklin Thompson with dancers Aaron White and Kristin Yancy . Photo by Mike Hill.

Photo by Franklin Thompson.

The Ducati. Photo by Thomas Liggett.

In case you missed it, here are some video compilations of the speakers who talk about their businesses, their seminars and a little about themselves:

Shoot NYC 2012: Lindsay Adler, Kawai Matthews and Lara Jade from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Rick Friedman, Ryan Enn Hughes, Arash Moallemi, Andre Rowe, Michael Grecco and David Robin from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Chase Jarvis and Vincent Laforet from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

The student event ran on late Friday afternoon with photographers/directors Chase Jarvis and Vincent Laforet, and was an informative Q&A session that spoke volumes on starting off as a photographer and following your dreams. “Rejection is another opportunity” and “don’t be incrementally better, be different” were some of the mottos behind the two. The students asked everything from “how to make it big” to “what was your biggest mistake,” and everything in-between.

Shoot NYC 2012: Peter Stig, Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Beth Taubner and John Harrington from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Carrie McCarthy, Alexandra Niki, Aurelie Jezequel and Viktoria Sorochinski from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Franklin Thompson, David Perkins and Jodi Jones from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

We would like to thank our partners: Scheimpflug, Adorama, APA, Capture Integration, Fotocare, Resource Magazine, Digital Photo Pro, B&H, HD Video Pro, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Lucie Foundation, ASMP NY, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Calumet and the Art of Photography Show.

And our speakers and photographers: Ghada Khunji,Viktoria Sorochinski, Rick Friedman, John Harrington, Lindsay Adler, Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Ryan Enn Hughes, Arash Moallemi, Alexandra Niki, Aurelie Jezequel, David Robin, Lara Jade, Peter Stig, Kawai Matthews, Michael Grecco, Chase Jarvis, Vincent Laforet, Andre Rowe, Jodi Jones, Franklin Thompson, David Perkins, Thomas Liggett and Jeff Mosier.

We would also like to thank our invaluable extra hands: Elizabeth Stacy and Ryan Burke,  and our army of interns.

Without all of you, this wouldn’t be possible.

And, let’s not forget, the infamous Flugoween Halloween party on Saturday night. After a long week of Shoot NYC and Photoplus, our team rallied together in our costumes and headed over to the event in Dumbo that was hosted with our good friends from Scheimpflug and Resource Magazine. There was an electric chair photo-op and enough food and beer to make anyone merry. Overall, it was a good time with good friends.

We are already looking forward to next year. Cheers!

Photos courtesy of: Kermit Mercado, Victoria Harrington, Ryan Burke, Andre Rowe, Mike Hill and David Perkins

Shoot NYC is back, October 25 and 26

We are three weeks away from another Shoot NYC event! Oct 25-26, from 10 AM to 8 PM, industry leaders Hasselblad and broncolor will host the event that brought 2,000 people to NYC last year (and four consecutive years) to the historic Terminal building. This year, some of your favorite speakers are back, alongside some new faces.

The event, originally established in NYC four years ago, has spread internationally. Shoot NYC is an exciting and informative forum based on the premise of building a photographic community. In addition to a wide range of free professional photography seminars, industry leaders broncolor and Hasselblad will help you learn how to harness and integrate the market’s most advanced photographic tools into your business, improving both your photography and your bottom line. Top industry professionals will host workshops and hands-on seminars in an array of subjects, whether you’re interested in fashion, portraiture, commercial, stock or repro.

This event is ideal for professional photographers, photo assistants, advanced students, or any imaging professional that would like to learn about the latest products and techniques being used in the digital capture market.

The new Hasselblad H5D camera will be there and ready for hands-on demonstrations.  Shoot will also feature all the new products from Hasselblad, broncolor, FOBA, Sunbounce and Sun-Sniper, including the broncolor Move 1200 L battery pack, the Sunbounce Bounce-Wall, and the FOBA TURNO medium-sized turntable.

And Shoot NYC will be the first stop for the winning prints of the Hasselblad Masters 2012 gallery show!

The Hasselblad Masters represent photography at its finest; at its most inspired, most communicative, most beautiful. They are young, old, western, eastern, classical, experimental, traditional, modern, and futuristic. They have perhaps but one thing in common: they are masters at conveying an instant, an emotion, with images. Masters of the art and craft that is photography.

Event location: LA VENUE (Terminal Building) – 608 WEST 28TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information and to register for Shoot NYC, click here.

 

Seminar Schedule

THURSDAY OCTOBER 25TH

10:30AM – 12:00PM
Lecture
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Ghada Khunji and Viktoria SorochinskiSponsored by LUCIE

Join New York-based photographers Ghada Khunji and Viktoria Sorochinski in conversation. Both have been recognized by the Lucie Foundation’s sister-effort, International Photography Awards, and will share their projects, discussing their individual approaches to being working photographers.

10:30AM – 12:00PM
Seminar
Rick Friedmanrickfriedman.com
Location Lighting Workshop

Join us in viewing some of the iconic and award  winning images Rick Friedman has produced. Hear some of the anecdotal stories from behind the scenes.Rick will show some of his images from his “Location Lighting Workshops™” and demonstrate how the photographs were created, using speedlights, studio strobes and Sunbounce.   Rick Friedman has been a photojournalist for over 30 years.  His work has produced over 75 book and magazine covers and has been in hundred of magazines around the globe.

12:15 PM – 1:45 PM
Lecture
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John HarringtonSponsored by APA National
Licensing, Your Copyright & Negotiations

Before you’ve signed the contract with a client, you’ve had to negotiate fees, and the language that grants them the rights to your creative efforts. Ambiguity in your licensing language a problem? You’ll learn how to implement the Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS) within your contracts (and metadata) so that everyone is on the same page about what rights were (and were not) granted. Also, a simple 3-step process for registering your copyrights will be shown.
12:15 PM – 1:45 PM
Seminar
Lindsay Adlerlindsayadlerphotography.com
Geek out! 5 Unique Broncolor Tools, 5 Kick-Ass Images

Photographer geeks unite! We all love playing with unique photo tools, and Broncolor has some incredible one-of-a-kind light modifiers that give us specialized and unusual effects. Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler will share some her favorite unusual modifiers, and utilize them to make some high-impact images!

2:00PM – 3:00 PM
Lecture
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Bryan O’Neil Hughes
Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6 for photographers

Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Senior Product Manager, Photoshop, will take you through the most current, time-saving workflow via Lightroom and Photoshop CS6.  In this presentation, Bryan will show how these two products combined will dramatically accelerate your post-production while delivering control never before available.

2:00PM – 3:00 PM
Seminar
Ryan Enn Hughes & Arash Moallemi
Building a set step by step

Join Ryan Enn Hughes and Arash Moallemi as they discuss their journey in Photography and Motion Pictures, and demonstrate how to build flexible lit photo set from start to finish.Ryan and Arash will then demonstrate various approaches to building a lit photo set, using both flash and HMI lighting. They will explain how lighting can be used to achieve different aesthetic effects, both with male and female subjects, and how one can quickly alter current lighting set-ups to create multiple looks within a tight timeframe.This is a valuable demonstration for anyone interested in using creative lighting to improve his or her next photo shoot.

3:45PM – 5:15 PM
Lecture
Alexandra Nikki & Aurelie JezequelResource Magazine
Survival guide for the Crew-less Photographer

With more than thirty years of combined industry experience, photography producer Aurelie Jezequel and prop stylist Alexandra Niki share their “Survival guide for the Crew-less Photographer”. Whether you’re the victim of a small budget, or someone calls in sick at the last minute, avoiding panic and knowing how to compensate for those missing in action can make or break a shoot, not to mention, spare your own sanity. As co-founders of Resource Magazine,  Aurelie and Alex have been serving the photography community at-large with sage advice, inspiring encouragement, and practical tips since 2007. Join them for their Hands-On presentation and surprise guests!

3:45PM – 5:15 PM
Seminar
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David RobinSponsored by Santa Fe Photographic Workshops
Lighting Dramatic Portraits

Award-winning portrait and beauty photographer David Robin, whose clients have included Levi Strauss & Co., Gap, Sony, Coca-Cola, American Express, BMG, Blue Note, and PolyGram Records, explains and demonstrates his techniques for achieving meaningful portraits, covering the gamut of editorial, beauty, advertising, and journalism. In this workshop, David aims to briefly decode the mysteries of portraiture and review techniques, through live demonstration, to help participants consider their own unique voice and style.
5:30PM – 6:00 PM
Lecture
Lara Jade – larajade.com
The Business of Photography

With the rise of digital media recognition in today’s industry, every photographer should consider the ways in which online marketing can work within their marketing strategy and stay ahead of the game. In this seminar, I will be referencing my own personal journey, and giving tips on business success, networking and how to expand your business worldwide.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 26TH

10:30AM – 12:00PM
Lecture
Peter Stig and Ove Bengtson
A Hasselblad insight on the H5D

Ove Bengtson, Product Manager for the H camera system, and Peter Stig, Director of Professional Camera Products, will give you an insight in the new H5D camera including:
– what’s behind the new H5D design
– what does the photographer gain from this
– functionality of TrueFocus II and Immediate Focus Confirm
– H camera lens system keeps growing: and for a good reason.
– H5D camera configuration, a great tool when working with rental cameras

10:30AM – 12:00PM
Lecture
Kawai MatthewsAirPhilosophy.com
Shooting Musicians 101: Basic Creative Lighting Techniques to Shoot Music Artists

If you’re looking to add a little excitement to your portrait photography, there’s nothing like shooting a music artist to get your creative energy running wild.  Most music artists look for photographers that can come up with “outside of the box” ideas and concepts to help them communicate the vision for their music.  You become partners in creating a look that helps them stand out, so it opens up your lighting playground.  Kawai has photographed music artists like Kanye West, Janelle Monae, Little Dragon, The Shys, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Quest Love, Queen Latifah, Melanie Fiona, Common and many more.

12:15 PM – 1:45 PM
Lecture
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Bryan O’Neil Hughes
Photoshop CS6 for photographers

Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Senior Product Manager, Photoshop will take you through a tour of Photoshop CS6’s tools made just for photographers and retouchers.  The enhancements shown will save time, add polish and bring a new level to your photography.

12:15 PM – 1:45 PM
Seminar
Lindsay Adler lindsayadlerphotography.com
1 Modifier, 5 Ways: The Beauty Dish

A beauty dish is an amazing tool for creating a variety of lighting solutions for portrait, beauty and fashion photography. This one modifier can be utilized to create drastically different effects. Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler will show you the beauty dish used 5 ways for 5 great images!
2:00PM – 3:00 PM
Lecture
Beth Taubnermercurylab.com
How to Distill your Brand, Expand, and Opening New markets

Frequently photographers reach a point in their careers where they are strongly interested in vastly increasing their reach and the markets they would like to work in. Every market has its own needs and expectations, and can require a different approach. For example, regional or British marketing or advertising might be more cerebral, or sentimental. Different segments of the US advertising or editorial market have specific conventions and needs as well. You must know how to tailor your message and materials to new markets while staying true to your brand. “One size fits all” simply does not work.This interactive talk will help you to identify your brand, and to learn how to analyze new markets in order to create successful marketing messages and campaigns that will bring you more attention and work.

2:00PM – 3:00 PM
Seminar
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Michael Greccomichaelgrecco.com
Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait

The difference between an ordinary photograph and a truly striking portrait lies in the photographer’s ability to pierce the obvious and reveal the intimate nature of the subject. The play of available angles, light and shadow, soft shapes and hard lines are tools to create not just a photo, but a work of art. In this demonstration, you will add these tools to your camera bag. Michael will explain his techniques for creating light and shadow and will demonstrate how he creates his stylistic and dramatic images. He will explain his specialty lighting, and show you the setups he used to create the striking signature looks for this new work. The last few minutes of this seminar will be a Q&A.
3:45PM – 5:15 PM
Lecture
Kawai MatthewsAirPhilosophy.com
Photo Career Bootcamp: Guerrilla Marketing & Strategies for the Photographer on a Budget

For those of you with big marketing budgets, this seminar isn’t for you! But if you’re a bootstrapping photographer that wants the secrets to marketing without a budget – keep reading. Grab your notebook and spend a power-hour with Kawai, learning quick, easy and FREE ways to market and grow your creative business. Get excited and get ready to turbo boost your marketing strategies and increase your bottom line.

3:45PM – 5:15 PM
Seminar
Andre Rowe
Six Must Have Light Shapers and Why

Andre Rowe will share a few examples of the creative uses of many of the available broncolor light shaping modifiers. He will provide a demonstration showing a comparison in the midst of a live shoot for the audience to see. We will explore what makes the PARA 88 a must have tool in your lighting system as well as play with other lightshapers that you may not of given strong attention to. Andre will also address questions and invite audience participation. Andre is fashion and commercial photographer based out of Miami.He travels the country not only for work, but also for the purpose of educational seminars.