This week I had the opportunity to e-interview the incredibly talented Aaron Feaver of Feaverish Photography. Feaver is mainly a portrait photographer located in Los Angeles, California who is aspiring to make photography his career.
How old are you?
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in South Carolina, lived in France, Cameroon, Texas, California, Oregon, and Colorado, and now I live in Los Angeles.
When did you discover your interest in photography?
I started taking pictures when I was about 20, when I worked in a camera store to pay my way through school.
Who/what influenced you to be a photographer?
I was first attracted to the gadget aspect of photography. Playing with all the dials and levers and getting the settings just right to take a “proper” picture. I always just dabbled, though, until I started getting into people/fashion photography.
Who are some photographers that you like that inspire you?
When I first saw Dusdin Condren’s portraits, though, I realized that I wanted to do something just like that. I love a lot of photographers, though — too many to list. I started a blog just so I could try keeping track of them all.
Do you have/are you working on a degree in photography or are you self taught?
No, my degree is in English. I’m just self taught, I guess.
Is photography your career? If not do you plan on turning it into your career some day?
It’s not my career at the moment; I’m a graphic designer by day. I’d love to turn photography into my full-time career, though, and I’m working in that direction.
What is your favorite thing to photograph?
People, by far, in cool clothes and settings.
Where do you find and how do you instruct your models?
Initially I photographed friends, and then moved on to amateur models from Model Mayhem. Now I mostly photograph models I get from agencies.
Do you listen to music while you shoot? If so, what is on your photo shoot play list?
I always listen to music, yeah. Mostly upbeat stuff from the last 50 years or so.
Can you list off all of your photography equipment and which of these items you use most often?
Oh it would take paragraphs to list all my equipment. I’ve narrowed down what I use regularly to a few cameras, though. For medium format film I use a Pentax 6×7. For 35mm I have a Canon AE-1 and a Nikon FM2, and sometimes I use an Olympus XA or Stylus or even a Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, which is kind of a toy camera. I use a couple of Polaroids; an SLR680, a 250 pack camera, and an old SX-70 sometimes, depending on the film. I also use a Canon digital camera.
What is your favorite lens and why?
Hmm I think my favorite is my 50mm f/1.4 lens for my Canon AE-1. It’s small and light, but also much sharper than I’d ever need it to be. It makes great colors and gives a nice soft look to the out-of-focus areas.
What inspires you?
Interesting settings and clothes, for sure. Other fashion photographers, movies, friends. Everything, really.
Future photography goals?
I’d love to be able to make a living taking pictures.
Describe a day in your life:
Hmm… I had a shoot just a couple of days ago. I got up around 8 and made coffee for my girlfriend and myself. She made breakfast sandwiches and we ate in bed and read for a while. The model was styling the shoot, too, and she showed up around noon so we could go over the looks. The makeup artist and hair stylist came a little bit later and got to work. I just sat around chatting with people. This is all in my little home studio. It’s really just an extra room in my apartment. Makeup and hair were done by about two, and we drove up the coast to Malibu and started taking pictures. We shot for an hour or so, until everyone was freezing, and then piled in the car and drove home. My girlfriend and I got Thai food at a place on the beach, and then walked down to the water and I took some pictures of her in the surf. The end!
Do you think that the price of the camera affects the quality of the pictures that it takes?
Well, “quality” is a loaded word in photography. There are people who obsess over how many lines-per-mm a lens can resolve, or how sharp their raw images look or whatever. If that’s what you mean by quality, then, yeah, price is a big factor. I’m more interested in the look that a camera/lens/film combination produces, and not as interested in, for instance, how sharp a lens is or how much light falloff is in the corners. So, for me, price isn’t that big of a factor.
What do you think makes a photographer a good photographer?
It really depends on the kind of photography they do, but for me, as an aspiring fashion photographer, I think a good photographer is good at capturing the emotion of a scene, and seeing in their head what it will look like as a finished photograph. Honestly so much of a good photograph is created by people other than the photographer. Stylists, makeup, hair, the model… those people are all just as important to the final photo.
What is your favorite photograph and why?
I really like this photography by Corey Arnold. It shows someone flipping off a pair of swans.
Do you believe that film photography will be replaced by digital photography?
I think commercially, for the most part, it already has. Digital cameras are only going to get better and better, and the argument for using film only going to get weaker and weaker. If we’re talking about the “lomo” look, or the Polaroid look, then, yeah, that will take a while to go away or fall out of fashion. But that’s not a film-vs-digital debate, that’s a toy-camera-vs-digital debate.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a photographer? How did you overcome it?
Well, my career hasn’t really taken off or anything, so so far the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome is finding awesome people to work with. Especially at first it was really hard to find good models. Now that I can get good models relatively easily, I’m trying to find good stylists.
Do you have any advice for someone who is aspiring to become a photographer?
Hmm… I guess just find photos you like, figure out why you like them, and try to recreate them.
What was your most memorable photo shoot and why?
I did one where I worked with a friend, and we designed and painted these plywood backdrops and shot for hours and hours, both of us together. We kept taking breaks to drink beer, or make food, and it was just fun in a way that more formal shoots haven’t been.
What does your work flow consist of?
I think I’m really unorganized and don’t really have much of a workflow. Lots of my shoots are outdoors, so I’ll usually have everyone meet at my place for hair and makeup, and then we’ll drive and hike to the location. I bring a backpack of snacks and beer, and we just hang out and have a little picnic for a while, before we really start shooting. We’ll take pictures until the sun sets, usually, or after, and then hike back.
Where do you have your film developed?
I use a lab near my house. They do a decent job. I scan the negatives and color correct them and all that.
Thoughts on post-processing. What software do you use if any?
I use Aperture for my digital photos. It’s good at organizing everything, and pretty fast and easy to use. I’ve tried others, but I always end up using Aperture. For film photos I do most everything in Photoshop. A friend of mine is a retoucher for a big-time photographer here in LA, and she showed me some tricks to get good scans and make them look like decent photos.
Other interesting things about you?
Haha. Well let’s see, like I said I’m a graphic designer by day. I work for a little web studio in Venice, California, doing web design.
Have you ever eaten a crayon?
Are you wearing socks right now?
Last food that you ate?
I had an In-N-Out burger and fries for lunch, since there’s one right by my film lab.
Your dream vacation?
Oh gosh, pretty much anywhere. I’d love to go take photos in Paris, or anywhere in the Mediterranean.
Do you like to sing in the shower?
Please check out more of Aaron Feaver’s photography on Feaverish Photography, Flickr, and Facebook.
You can also find the blog post that goes along with this interview on the Penny Laine blog which shows some of my favorite photographs taken by Aaron Feaver.