Spotlight Interview … Fine Art and Portrait Photographer Bill Gekas

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Welcome 2013 as we join Fine Art and Portrait Photographer Bill Gekas as he shares his thoughts and images with James Robinson Photography Blog Thank you Bill for spending this time with our readers.

Bill Gekas: Thanks for having me, I’m honored!

JRP: Where do you call home Bill and has that enviroment helped to shape your visual perspective?

Bill Gekas: I was born and I live in Melbourne Australia. Although I’ve traveled a few times I’ve spent most of my life here and call this place home. Melbourne is not quite the inspirational city that it’s historical European equivalents are but it is the arts capital of Australia which I’m sure has had an influence on me.

JRP: Your work is very polished. Is there formal training or assisting in your background?

Bill Gekas: I’m a self-taught photographer. I started playing with slr film cameras in the mid 90’s developing my own film and darkroom printing etc. It wasn’t till about 2005 when I switched to digital capture that my work started to evolve into what it is today. Digital simplified the process to the point where the workflow almost became transparent and this enabled me to concentrate on the creation process without having traditional workflow processes inhibit it.

JRP: Name two photographers that have inspired and influenced your approach to your craft.

Bill Gekas: Irving Penn and Diane Arbus. Although I’ve studied their work countless times I still find I look at their work for inspiration and usually see something different each time. I can relate to Irving Penn’s conceptual studio work, it’s amazing.

JRP: How do personal projects figure in the development of your photographic vision and technique?

Bill Gekas: Most important aspect are my personal projects, these are what shape and define the future process of my other projects.

JRP: Do you have a regular team that assists you or do you pretty much work independently?

Bill Gekas: As my studio setups are small I’ll usually work with an assistant that could be anyone available at the time to hold a reflector, move some hair out of the way, etc. In an outdoor environmental type shoot I prefer having two assistants as one will be holding a light stand and the other taking care of the subject whilst I’m shooting.

JRP: What would we find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?

Bill Gekas: Pentax K5, FA50/1.4, DA16-45/4, DA40/2.8 & DA70/2.4. Then there are the lights and light modifiers which are the bulk of my kit. Usually speedlights, rf triggers, umbrellas, octaboxes, softboxes, etc.

JRP: Which do you prefer artificial or available light? What are your most used light modifiers?

Bill Gekas: I prefer to work with artificial light as I find I have complete control when I do and with this style of work where the concepts are all pre-visualised I just can’t rely on the available light having the quality and quantity when I want it. My most used light modifier is my Westcott Apollo 28″ softbox folllowed by a 43″ shoot thru umbrella for outdoor shoots where light spray is not an issue.

JRP: Please describe your digital work flow and the software you use?

Bill Gekas: I shoot in raw *.dng format and import straight into Lightroom. From there I’ll carefully select the file which will be worked on and crop, pre-sharpen and adjust exposure. Once this is done then it’s into Photoshop for final tweaking. This is where the photo is worked on at the pixel level bringing detail in the eyes, curves adjustments, texture overlays etc. All this is applied in small amounts as subtlety is the key.

JRP: Do you make use of custom white balances and color checks as you shoot?

Bill Gekas: I don’t do these color checks during a shoot and will only do them if I’m shooting a series of images that need to be shown together. However as I only shoot for one final image I can afford not to as I always fine tune in post and for aesthetics sometimes go completely against what should be natural looking.

JRP: When necessary how do you handle image printing?

Bill Gekas: Any printing I do is outsourced to professional labs. Printing is another beast altogether which really doesn’t excite me and I don’t have much patience for. As long as my system is profiled to the pro lab, I see what I get and this just gives me more time to concentrate on concept creation.

JRP: As you look through the viewfinder is there a critical moment in the capture of an image for you?

Bill Gekas: As my scenes are usually all set up beforehand, the only thing that’s left for me when clicking the shutter is getting the right emotional response from the subject. In some cases this can happen in the first few minutes other times it may take a bit longer. No matter how perfect I set the scene with lights, props etc., if I don’t get the emotional response from the subject it’s all irrelevant. This is what holds it all together and is the difference between making or breaking an image.

JRP: Name a project or shoot that opened your eyes to the distance you’ve come as an artist.

Bill Gekas: The photo named “Pears“. The post and lighting techniques I used for this shot shaped my painterly style for most of my work since then which has developed into a sort of signature.

JRP: With today’s economy and changes that are driving the market place how have you adjusted?

Bill Gekas: In a field full of photographers doing good work you have to stand out from the crowd. Develop a style and stick to it. Make your work interesting in a tasteful way. If it’s unique it will target a specific market with a certain taste and social media can be the driving force.

JRP: If not photography what would  Bill Gekas be doing with his time?

Bill Gekas: When I’m not shooting I’m usually spending time with family or watching foreign films. Photography sort of feeds off my other activities which is a great thing as I’m never out of inspiration.

JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?

Bill Gekas: Learn the rules, practice them, master them, then know when to smash them, twist them, turn them inside out and upside down to create amazing works.

JRP: What advice would you like to share with photographers starting out?

Bill Gekas: Don’t let the fact that it’s been done before stop you from shooting something. Take an image you’ve been inspired by and apply elements from other images you find inspirational, twist it and make it your own. Art never stagnates, it’s always evolving.

JRP: Thank you Bill for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure and I wish you continued success.

Bill Gekas: Thanks James, the pleasure was all mine!

JRP: To view more of  Bill Gekas’ photography please follow this link:

www.billgekas.com

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