JRP: Nancy Brown is photographer who made her reputation as a people / lifestyle photographer. Today Nancy is sharing a few moments with JRP Blog. Thank you Nancy for this opportunity to talk with you.
Nancy Brown: Thank you for asking me. I feel that it is important to share information with other photographers, especially in the climate today where everything is changing so fast.
JRP: Where is home for you Nancy and how did you get started in photography? Do you have any formal training in your background?
Nancy Brown: My home for the last nine years has been Boca Raton, Florida where I moved to when my first granddaughter was born. For thirty-five years before that I lived in New York City where I had my photography studio. I have a studio in Boca very similar to the one in New York except here I have a drive in cyc which I couldn’t have in New York because I was on the second floor!! I was a model from the early 60’s until I opened my studio in 1979 and my education in photography was modeling. I worked with many photographers and since photography was my hobby at the time it was a natural transition. I did take a few courses at The New School and The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where I got photography assignments from Art Directors to give me confidence to make the change. My first assignment was from the art director of Womans Day who was one of my teachers.
JRP: What is it about photography that has motivated you over the course of your career?
Nancy Brown: I have always loved photographing people and people continue to motivate me. I especially enjoy making beauty images and my two granddaughters are great subjects for me. I will plan a whole shooting around a person that I like to work with and I tend to use the same people over and over. The only exception to people is China. I just got back from my fifth trip to that country and have finished my book project on China. The people of China are a joy to photograph and the country itself is heaven for me and my cameras.
JRP: Equipment wise what would I find in your camera bag / studio for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favor?
Nancy Brown: I use Nikon cameras and Dynalite strobes. I work very simply and love shooting on a bright white set in the studio. I shoot a lot of stock for Getty Images and people on white has always worked well for me. When I travel to China I carry three cameras around my neck. A D700 with a 70-300 lens, and two D200s with a 17-28 lens and a 28-70 lens. I am ready for anything! I don’t carry a camera bag since I can carry my cards in my pockets an advantage of Digital. Nikon made me one of their legends in 2001 which was nice since I have been loyal to Nikon for over forty years.
JRP: Could you please describe your digital workflow and the software you use.
Nancy Brown: When I shoot a card or cards they are downloaded in the Bridge and then opened in camera raw for basic corrections for color, contrast, and cropping. Then the images go into Photoshop for retouching. I am still using Photoshop 3. I have Photoshop 4 but haven’t made the change yet. Some images need a lot of retouching, especially the skin, since digital is so much sharper than film. For major photoshop work I have a woman who is much better than me do it. I backup on hard drives, two in the studio and one at home. They are in SATA DRIVE TOWERS and each holds five drives. To me backing up is the most important thing for a photographer to do in this day and age. Making the images means nothing if you lose them!!
JRP: Do you print any images in-house?
Nancy Brown: Yes I print in the studio on an Epson Pro 3800. For clients I give them images on CDs or DVDs and will make prints if they want them but it becomes an expense.
JRP: Could you break down one of your images and explain the lighting or any special concerns you might have had during the shoot or capture of the image?
Nancy Brown: The image that comes to mind is the one of the little girls in the bath tub done in the studio on white. I wanted to make sure the bubbles and soap showed up on the white background and yet have a blowed away look. Also keeping the girls happy, the water warm, the soap bubbles there, and the foreground light balanced was a concern. But with a good crew and planing it all worked. (two images to show image and production)
JRP: You have a side that has become a respected author. What led to this and tell us about your literary offerings.
Nancy Brown: When my first book came out “Photographing People for Advertising” I was dong a lot of advertising photography in New York city and was approached to do a book on the subject to help photographers getting into the field. About that same time stock photography came on the scene and I started producing stock for The Image Bank. The stock photography business took off and has continued to grow. I now shoot for Getty Images. I asked my editor if she would be interested in a book for photographers on how to shoot saleable stock. Thus “Photographing People for Stock”.
“Nude and Beauty Photography” was the next book, and my last one “Photographing People” just came out in April 2009 and is a how to book on working in the digital world. I love doing books. It forces me to stay organized and when photographers tell me that a book helped them in their photography that is a good feeling!
JRP: What has been some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Nancy Brown: The best advice I ever got was from a photographer that I modeled for in the 1960s. I was interested in photography and he told me to buy a good 35m camera, one lens, one kind of B&W film, one kind of color film and learn to work with them until I needed more. I used a 50m lens for years until I needed a telephoto and wide-angle to get the image I wanted.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with our readers?
Nancy Brown: Keep things as simple as possible. What is in front of the camera is much more important than the equipment you use. Also, always be looking at the world around you. Watch the light on people and things. Movies, magazines, and art are all great for inspiration.
JRP: Thank you Nancy for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you. We wish you continued success.
Nancy Brown: Thank You! Having to put your thoughts on paper is good for you.
JRP: To view more of Nancy Brown’s photography please follow these links: