This month we interview the world famous Clay Blackmore. In this interview, you will find Clay’s thoughts on the newest revolution to hit photography, the importance of storytelling and why you need to master the “basics.”
In 1993, digital photography changed the landscape of the industry. Similarly you feel that the recent popularity of DSLR HD video will revolutionize photography once more. How do you expect DSLR to change the industry in the years to come?
We were all excited about the Digital Revolution 15 years ago and now it’s back: It’s HDSLR cinema. We need to be prepared to offer video and fusion products to our client base because — believe me — they will be asking for them. A new generation of customers is online right now, a generation raised on constantly and instantly available media. As they grow, they won’t only want, but expect, high-quality production of their memories.
Photographers are perfectly positioned to create productions with moving memories for the families of the future. We have built relationships with them that are based on our ability to artistically preserve their memories through still images. We can bring this same artistic passion to our HD content. Our customers will use us for HD Cinema productions if we offer them; if we do not, they will turn to other sources. Families will always want images that remind them of their loved ones and will seek out anything that makes them feel connected to the people and things most important to them. Technology has now given photographers another medium to produce content that will fulfill this universal human desire.
You feel that “Becoming a leading cinematic studio is not a threat, rather a promise.” How has your wedding business benefited from incorporating video?
It’s always been about storytelling. HDSLR products produced by talented photographers and cinematographers add another dimension to my studio’s ability to build compelling narratives. We can create pieces that can affect people emotionally in the most powerful ways.
I saw it happen with a client over the weekend; she was literally in tears at the end of a five minute film we shot of her daughter’s wedding. It got people talking. When you can create pieces like that with such an emotional impact people will want it, and as more people become aware of the fact that these high-quality cinema productions are available to them, they will eventually demand them. I really get excited when I share HDSLR Cinema with my clients—they feel my passion for the films and they are getting excited about reliving their memories through the cinematic approach that we are now offering. The ability to capture moments in motion is going to broaden our potential client base, and expand our packages and services for existing clients.
You stress that “confidence is key.” What tips do you give to fellow photographers to cultivate confidence?
Confidence comes from success, and success comes from practice. Too often aspiring photographers fail to recognize that their craft is like any other profession; to succeed requires countless hours of dedication and refinement.
My mentor, Monte Zucker, went to his teacher once a week for 10 years to learn how to properly pose and light his subjects. Monte became one of the best portrait and wedding photographers in the world, but he didn’t get there accidentally. My message is simple: learn the basics. Understand light and posing and practice them until your hands form unbreakable patterns. Once that happens, you’ll be able to devote all of your energies to your clients’ needs; you’ll be free to concentrate on them and build an emotional connection with them. Then your photographs will come from the heart, and your attention will be focused on creating warmth and connection with your subjects, instead of being focused on what you should be doing technically. But to get there, to gain that level of confidence, you’ve first got to learn the basics — practice like a Doctor, or a professional athlete — practice until you know the technical aspects by heart.