Spotlight Interview … Photographer / Teacher Scott Stulberg

Scott Stulberg has an impressive list of photographic accomplishments. He teaches and is always working on some new project that has caught his interest. He is also a stock photographer with images available through two of the world’s largest stock agencies.

I first came across Scott and his work after listening to an interview he had done on The Candid Frame website. His images are without question first rate, and there is much one can learn from him.

JRP: Thanks Scotty for sharing time with JRP Blog and it’s readers. Where do you call home?

Scott Stulberg: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and have pretty much lived here all of my life. It used to be a very mellow place but it is way too crazy now.

JRP: How did your journey in photography begin. Did you have any formal training?

Scott Stulberg: My father gave me a camera when I was 10, and it sort of opened a Pandora’s box for me from which I never looked back. He also built a darkroom for me when I was 13. Looking back that was one of the most influential things that happened to me in my photographic career.

I took photography in high school, and while attending different colleges. I was able to assist many top photographers in Los Angeles, was extremely eager to learn everything I could from everyone that could help me. I think now that is why I love helping others.

JRP: You have made a name for yourself as a teacher and stock photographer. What is it about each of those areas of photography that gives you such personal satisfaction?

Scott Stulberg: There is something about a group of students, whether on-line or in the classroom, that makes me feel alive. I love helping and showing them everything possible to help them achieve their goals and become better photographers. When I think back to some of my instructors in photography and how much of an impact they had on me, it makes me feel good that I can help others. It’s a feeling that is hard to describe.
When it comes to stock photography it was the direction I wanted to take for so many years. I’m so happy that I am just where I want to be. Shooting stock, whether locally or abroad, is what puts a smile on my face. Although it is extremely frustrating at times, it’s also incredibly satisfying. Being a stock photographer has also taken me to all corners of the planet to capture images of people and places that will forever be in my memory. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

JRP: Describe what equipment I would find in your camera bag?

Scott Stulberg: I always travel with a camera backpack and all of my Canon gear including my EOS bodies, lenses from 15 mm to 500 mm, depending on where I’m going, flash, reflectors, small soft box, cable release, model releases, iPod, headlamp, hard drives, snickers bars, and who knows what else.

JRP: What type of software do you use in your workflow?

Scott Stulberg: Although I like Lightroom, I have been using Photoshop since version 2. I love working with Bridge, Camera Raw, and Photoshop CS 3. It just feels like home and I’m all dialed in with a smooth workflow. I use all kinds of plug-ins for Photoshop and have been beta testing all kinds of software for it for over 10 years. Photoshop, there is no substitute.

JRP: A lot of your work has been published because of it’s useful stock nature. What would you say are some of the challenges that must be met by photographers in this arena?
Scott Stulberg: I think the biggest challenge for new stock photographers is the proliferation of every kind of image in the world and at some point, the stock agencies say “been there done that”. There are so many images of every thing imaginable that it’s harder and harder to come up with original ideas. With the advent of royalty-free and micro stock, the business of stock photography is getting tougher all the time even for seasoned stock shooters.

JRP: What has been some of your most memorable photos to date?

Scott Stulberg: That’s a tough one, so many of my images bring back amazing memories.

Being in Pagan, Burma in 2001, was one of the most special places I’ve never been.
Getting seven monk boys from a local monastery and shooting them for several hours was something that will stay with me forever. Lying on my back and shooting them from below, while they were holding parasols over their heads was something more than special. I bought a 14 mm lens before leaving for Burma, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Lying with the sea lions on spectacular beaches in the Galapagos Islands, and also filming them underwater is something that was almost surreal. What an amazing place! Two Orcas swam right next to me about 12 feet away, and that is something that will be with me forever.
Kenya is also a photographer’s paradise. The never ending photo opportunities will blow you away. I’m not sure what I liked to photograph more, the animals or the tribes. Being in a place you’ve always dreamed about, and coming home with some of your favorite images of all time is about as good as it gets.

I am off to Belize and Cuba soon. India, Burma, and China later this year. Who knows what incredible photo ops I will be coming across. My favorite times are the few weeks before a new trip. Being so jazzed that you are going somewhere special makes the days go by a lot better.

JRP: What do you feel is most important to your work, technique or vision?
Scott Stulberg: For me I always have to be thinking of new things. What can I create and capture that will do well for stock. Many of my best friends are also stock photographers and we are always thinking of what to try for our next great stock shot. Drafting up stock shot lists, and looking all over the web for new ideas is crucial for all of us.

I also pay a lot of attention to television commercials for cutting edge ideas and gorgeous lighting. I try and make sure that my students pay attention to these things too. Keeping your eyes open and not being closed minded helps so much.

I also try to learn as many new techniques in Photoshop as I can. I tell my students, “Photoshop is a photographer’s best friend”. I also tell them that if Ansel Adams was alive today he would trade in his darkroom in a split second for the versatility that Photoshop brings to photography. Those hours and hours dodging and burning among other things and creating the exact vision he wanted in his gorgeous images is just what we are doing today. Technology has caught up with us, and given us so many more options.

I also love going to the bookstores and hanging out for hours looking at all the new photography books. If there’s one thing that gets my juices going and gets me motivated is looking at great photography books. It’s the best high in the world!

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

Scott Stulberg: Not to be limited by anything except your imagination. The sky is the limit Using your creative juices is what will get you noticed and take you where you need to be. That was the best advice given to me by one of the top fashion photographers in the world, and is always in the back of my mind. I live by the Nike logo ... “Just do it“.

JRP: What advice do you give to young photographers starting out?

Scott Stulberg: Pretty much what I just said. Being as creative as possible is what sets photographers apart. When you see something you’ve never seen before it makes you stop in your tracks, you wonder how they thought of that. Thinking out of the box like Apple says, think different, is what it’s all about.

Experimenting with all kinds of ideas, lighting, locations, models, equipment, and seeing what new and innovative things you can come up with is rewarding. Studying all kinds of photographers from the old days to all the new kids on the block is a great way to expand your horizons.

As one of my students said in my last class, “I learned to see rather than look“. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.

JRP: Don’t forget to checkout our “Community Bulletin” which from time to time has information about upcoming workshops with Scott Stulberg. Click here to view Scott’s Betterphoto.com page.

To view more of Scott’s fine photography please go to his main site at this link: http://www.asa100.com/

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6 thoughts on “Spotlight Interview … Photographer / Teacher Scott Stulberg

  1. Scott Stulberg rules! He is one of the very best photographers on the planet — plus an all around good guy and amazing teacher. Thanks for posting this interview.

  2. CJ and Leisia,
    thank you both so much!! Sure is nice to read those nice comments!
    All I can say is thank god my parents got me that camera when I was 10….
    wonder what else I might be doing now….? hmmm??
    scotty

  3. SCOTT,
    YOU ARE AWESOME WITH PEOPLE JUST AS YOU ARE WITH PITRURES.
    NEVER WAS FASCINATED BY PHOTOGRAPHY AT ALL. BUT HEY YOU BRING IT TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. I LOVE THE HORSES, THE MASSAI, EVERYTHING.
    FOWARD TO SOMETIME AGAIN.

    EMILY (SWEETWATERS KENYA)

  4. That is such a great interview Scotty, although your picture makes me laugh… It almost looks like you were caught by the papparazzi!

    It is always so great to get inspired by your view of the world.

    Cheers,
    Yves

  5. what a wonderful discovery today, finding scott’s photography.. and how great to be able to read this article.. i am just starting my photographic journey, at the ripe age of 30, and feel as though i’ve discovered my life’s passion.. one of the great ones, at least – life is so full of passion.. james, thank you for your questioning and scott, thank you for sharing your eye with the world. it really is an incredible life, a phenomenal planet we live on. on a more personal note, i love seeing how skillfully you’ve captured images of kenya, a country i spent time growing up and will forever call home. sooner or later you’ll see me in a workshop 🙂
    thanks again,
    hannah bee.

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