Interview with Colin McGuire
Colin McGuire is a professional photographer and runs a company called Colin McGuire Photographs. He is based in Columbus, Ohio and New York City but he shoots photographs all over the US and Internationally. He is originally from Galway, Ireland and go back for visits annually. He has a degree in Commercial Photography from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
His business, Colin McGuire Photographs, was established in 2001. They produce award-winning photography specializing in beautiful, emotion-filled lifestyle images for advertising, marketing and corporate clients. When he is not behind the camera he loves to race cars, listen to music, spend time with his family and travel. Today we have conducted an interview with him.
Tell us about your background that inspired you to field of professional photography.
I have always been artistically inclined even from my earliest childhood. When I was a teenager my father had an opportunity to purchase some photo equipment from his work as a lab scientist. He bought an old screw-mount Pentax K 1000 camera and gave it to me. I started taking pictures vigorously but was somewhat frustrated with the results because they often didn’t match my vision of what the shot was going to be like.
It wasn’t until I got my first access to a photography tutor and a dark room that I really discovered my love for photography. Once I gained the technical knowledge of how to control the final outcome of the images and thereby realize my creative vision -there was no going back!
What segments do you work for professional photography and who can reach to you?
As a commercial photographer I work for ad agencies, design firms, marketing departments, corporations and some magazines. I generally do not work for the public even though I do often get requests to shoot weddings on the like from my website. I take pride in my ability to create beautiful lighting and strive to create authentic mood and emotion in my images. I shoot primarily on location and the subject matter ranges from still life and environmental product vignettes to portraits and lifestyle shoots for advertising.
I also shoot a lot of highly styled room sets for furniture and other clients. For these shoots we usually start with a completely empty room -just the architecture, and then create visual stories of the lives of the people who live there, -as if they had just stepped out of the room right before we took the shot. Sometimes we do include people (mostly professional talent) too. Those shots are very involved since we acquire and style every single element in any given room.
I enjoy working with art buyers who have experience and who understand the value that great photography brings to their brand.
Tell us about the technical aspects of photography that you’ve adopted for better results.
When I started building my first portfolio it was very heavily based in studio. Every set was created and lit elaborately with very dramatic lighting and compositions. My photography style has changed since then and now I shoot mainly on location, mostly using available light as a base for my shots. However, that experience of lighting in studio for my early days has proven to be very valuable to me. Every shot I do now has some amount of lighting control, even if it’s just as simple as a reflector to fill a shadow or give a catch light in a subject’s eye, or a gobo to remove some stray daylight to add a little contrast.
I usually bring a full strobe kit to my shoots so I can take a scene that is dull and a cloudy day and light it to make it look like the most awesome sunny morning that you’ve ever seen! My unspoken motto is ‘be prepared’ because you never know what a client is going to throw at you when on set.
What are the top 3 essential tips that can be helpful for aspiring photographers?
Perseverance. I can’t count how many young aspiring photographers I have met with over the years. Since I was once one of them myself I always take the time to sit down and chat with them over coffee usually for an hour and a half to two hours.
So many of those people I never hear from again and I believe it’s because they don’t realize how tough the photography industry is and end up giving up. They expect that you can just go out and show your portfolio and get work. The reality of it is that there are many lows to go with the highs that happen along the way and only those very dedicated to their craft and who are willing to persevere through bad times will actually be able to make a living as photographer.
Business skills. Unfortunately, most photography courses either do not teach any business skills or offer very limited tuition in this important subject. Unless you are going to be a staff photographer at a studio you need to have at least basic business skills to be able to run things effectively. There are many great publications out there for those two are interested in the subject and a lot of great information is available at the ASMP.org website
Lastly don’t forget to take the lens cap off!
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