James Robinson Photography Blog is pleased to have Fashion Photographer Willis Roberts share thoughts and images with JRP Blog. Thank you Willis for sharing a few moments with us.
Willis Roberts: Thank you for having me.
JRP: Where do you call home Willis?
Willis Roberts: I am based in New York City.
JRP: What led you to photography? Do you have any formal training or assisting in your background?
Willis Roberts: I am self-taught and have not assisted. I have practiced photography as art since childhood and eventually saw it as a professional alternative to graphic design and painting. I received formal training in fine art.
JRP: Who are some of the photographers that have inspired you and your approach to your craft?
Willis Roberts: Mert & Marcus are very inspiring to me of late. Everything that I know about lighting I learned by studying the work of Patrick Demarchelier and Herb Ritts.
JRP: Are personal projects important in the development of a photographer’s growth?
Willis Roberts: Absolutely! Photography is best understood by practicing, teaching yourself and observing very carefully. The ongoing challenge to capturing your vision is essential.
JRP: What would we find in your equipment bag for a typical shoot?
Willis Roberts: Nikon D7000 and 3 basic lenses usually. 35mm, 50mm, and a wide to tele zoom.
JRP: What is your approach to lighting? Do you prefer artificial or available light? What are your most used light modifiers and why?
Willis Roberts: My approach to lighting is to carefully observe how light behaves and model the subject very precisely. I like available and artificial light equally. I start with the lighting that is most practical for the situation. If the light outside is interesting then I go outside and “chase” the light. The light outside determines the location for me and not the other way around. I don’t use any light modifiers outside. I shoot natural light as it is and where I can find it to suit the effect I’m looking for. In the studio the lighting setup is usually done simply. I am usually only interested in the precise effect and angle of light on the subject.
JRP: Could you describe your digital work flow and the software you use? Do you process your own files or employ a retoucher?
Willis Roberts: I use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop. I do all of my own processing and retouching.
JRP: What about custom white balances and color checks when you shoot?
Willis Roberts: I have a strong film processing background. I prefer to shoot in jpg with auto white balance and standard color settings in the camera. Nikons are really great for that. There is no need to shoot raw. I prefer to have solid exposure settings done in camera. That way the processing of the images usually only entails the creative aspects as was done in my film days.
JRP: Image printing, is that something you handle in-house?
Willis Roberts: Yes.
JRP: When you look through the viewfinder what would you say is the most critical moment in the capture of an image?
Willis Roberts: It is the moment itself. You observe it, frame it and snap it purposefully. There is an ebb and flow to it. You don’t force it or contrive it. With experience you learn to invite it.
JRP: With today’s economy what changes are driving the market place and how have you adjusted?
Willis Roberts: Clients are seeking better quality and value nowadays. I haven’t needed to change. I have always tried to produce the best quality and that keeps them coming.
JRP: What is the biggest obstacle to over-come in building a client base today?
Willis Roberts: Convincing them to trust that my quality will always be everything that my portfolios show. I do everything on my own, including creative direction. It’s unprecedented to be such a one man show, but once clients have that experience with me they are hooked and become ardent followers.
JRP: If not photography how would you be occupying your time?
Willis Roberts: With any of the fine arts; painting, music and writing, etc.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Willis Roberts: Assign yourself, grade yourself, teach yourself, research the work of photographers that you admire and shoot like crazy.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with photographers who are starting out?
Willis Roberts: Like I mentioned … Teach yourself.
JRP: Thank you Willis for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a real pleasure. We wish you continued success.
Willis Roberts: Thank you.
JRP: To view more of Willis Roberts’ photography please follow this link: