Spotlight Interview … Photographer Will King

JRP: From time to time I find photographic nuggets while web surfing. Such is the case with Will King a talented photographer I am happy to present in this episode of JRP Blog. Thanks Will for sharing a moment with my readers.

Will King:Thank you James for the opportunity to share my work with your audience. I’m honored to be on your blog.

JRP: Where do you call home Will?

Will King: Growing up as a military brat, our family has lived in several locations such as South Korea, Guam, Washington DC, and finally settling in Southeast Virginia where I now live with my wife and son.

JRP: How did you get started in photography? Was there any formal training in your background?

Will King: I got into photography about 5 years ago. My first real camera was a Canon 20D. I’ve never shot film. Moving up into the world of Digital SLRs from a point and shoot was intimidating for me. I had no idea what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO was. I was used to just pointing and clicking but I knew I wasn’t content with just taking safe photos with a decent exposure.

I was inspired with photos from others that showed more skill and creativity such as long exposures, freezing action, and shallow depth of field. This motivated me to consume all the information I could on photography. Although I do not have any formal education in photography, lighting, or post processing, I do not claim “I’m self taught”. I read a lot of books, magazines, internet articles/blogs. I attend a lot of workshops and seminars and most importantly, I shoot and experiment.

JRP: How do you generally define the style of your work?

Will King: Bold and dramatic. I lean more on the artistic side than photojournalism side of photography. My goal is make extraordinary images by seeing creatively, seeking and waiting for great light and also creating dramatic light. I like creating images that have a lot of “POP”. I define “POP” as images that grab your attention. Typically my images are high in contrast, lush in color, and sharp as a tack. I like depth, dimension, and dynamic range.

JRP: Do you have a support staff and if so what areas do they handle?

Will King: My support system is my family. My wife Michele who works full time as a college professor and is a great mom to our 7 year son, is very supportive of my photography. She has assisted in many of my shoots as well as weddings. While I was out of town for 5 days at Photoshop World she converted our garage into a studio. It was the best surprise I’ve ever received.

While I do not have any full time assistants I do work with someone I trust. Genevieve helps me with many of my shoots as a lighting assistant, second shooter and a second pair of eyes. 🙂

JRP: What equipment would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favor and why?

Will King: For most landscapes and seascapes I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II with various filters. For people photography, I usually have 2 bodies (both 5D mark IIs) and 2 lenses (24-70mm f/2.8 L and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS).

My lights include 5 Canon 580EXII speed lights, White Lightning X3200, and the Einstein 640s. I use various modifiers and color gels to control the lights.

JRP: Describe your digital workflow and the software you use?

Will King: I use Lightroom 3 to import, manage, and do my initial edits and I use Photoshop CS5 for additional post processing. My typical Photoshop workflow is Levels and Curves for contrast, tonal, and color adjustments and sharpening.

For portrait retouching, I use the healing and clone tools to remove blemishes. I also do layer masking for manual exposure blending to create high dynamic range images instead of using the typical HDR programs out there.

JRP: Do you personally print your images?

Will King: I print about 98% of my own images on an Epson 3880. The only time I outsource my printing is if the size of the print is larger than my printer can handle or for special types of paper such as metallic or canvas.

JRP: Given today’s economy please share with us how your studio keeps a productive and creative edge.

Will King: I’ve survived primarily on word of mouth advertisement. I try to exceed my clients’ expectations with excellent customer service and extraordinary images. There a lot of fads out there with software plug-ins that create a unique look, but my goal is capture the best images possible with my camera and lights. Good lighting is timeless.

JRP: Do you have any memorable images or shoots you could share with us? What made that image or shoot special?

Will King: I have one image that immediately comes to mind. It was taken during a photo walk that my camera club hosted at Colonial Williamsburg. I told myself before the photo walk that I was going to get out of my box and do something different. I didn’t want to take hundreds of uncreative snaps or shoot what everyone else was shooting.

There is a historic church called Bruton Parish Church that’s located in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. As we started the photo walk, I noticed just about every photographer and tourist aiming their cameras up to photograph this famous church. I stood there a while and surveyed the area. I noticed a puddle of water in the street that had a vibrant reflection of the church. I setup my tripod and cable release and tried a few compositions. I liked what I was getting but felt that the shot lacked life.

The night before I watched a TV program on Henri Cartier-Bresson. His photo, “The Decisive Moment” came to mind when I was standing there thinking of an image to create. I stayed at that location for more than an hour taking shots of this puddle as several people passed by. Most of them, out of courtesy, walked behind my camera to avoid messing up my shot when in fact I wanted them to walk in front of my camera so I could capture the extra element of life I felt was missing.

Finally a bicyclist passed by the puddle. I took a few shots and liked what I captured. I got home and viewed the images on my monitor and was pleased with one image. That’s all I needed. My goal was accomplished. The image was later published in Digital Photo Magazine.

JRP: Would you share with us some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?

Will King: I saw Jay Maisel in Boston a few years ago. He taught a class at Photoshop World. It wasn’t on Photoshop or camera settings. It was on the art of seeing. He said that “Picture quality is more important that pixel quality.” It changed the way I think. I get so hung up on making sure my exposure is just right, my lighting is perfect, and that I’m getting a sharp picture, that sometimes I miss the moment. Yes, I’m still anal about the technical stuff but I try to be more aware of what or who I’m photographing.

JRP: What special advice would you be willing to share with other photographers?

Will King: Invest in learning. Yes, gear is important but I see so many photographers buying new gear thinking it will improve their images. I fell into this trap as well. I had to get the latest and greatest but it wasn’t until I committed myself to learning that my photography improved.

Analyze your images. Look for flaws and figure out why the flaws are there and more importantly, figure out how to correct the flaws and improve the shots. Have other photographers that you admire and trust to offer critiques and feedback. Good constructive feedback is far more rewarding than an ego stroke.

JRP: Thank you Will for taking the time to share your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure.

Will King: Thank you James. It was my pleasure sharing a bit of my photography.

JRP: To view more of Will King’s photography please follow these links:

5 thoughts on “Spotlight Interview … Photographer Will King

  1. In addition to being an excellent photographer, Will has always taken the time to share his knowledge with other photographers. Whether leading a group seminar, getting others involved in new photo ventures, or simply answering questions he is a dependable source of information. I am happy to see him in the “Spotlight”.

  2. What a wonderful and informative interview with a great photographer. Have seen some of his work and it is great. Also have learned a lot from his talks. Best of luck to you Both.

  3. Thanks Will for sharing. I especially appreciate your perspective on the creative aspects of photography. It is too easy to get hung up or overwhelmed by the technical stuff. I really like the Bruton Parish photo.

  4. Pingback: Check me out on James Robinson’s blog » Will King Photography

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