Photography fulfills many aspects in Clark’s life – with a focus on music photography, he is able to relive the days of when he was in a rock band. On a more personal note, photography has abated his anxiety, enabling him to live life to the fullest and capture those moments that may have gone unnoticed. As he states, “I truly believe there are things nobody would see if I did not photograph them.” Check him out below.
Say hello to Clark:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I am based out of Austin, TX and come from the Rio Grande Valley. It is located in deep South Texas close to the U.S.-Mexico Border. I’ve been to a small percentage of the world – Guadalajara, Mexico, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco just to name a few.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
It has to be California. The lighting there for most of the year is fantastic for portraits with so many locations – both popular and unknown to utilize for photography.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
An entire photo book documenting the beginning, end, and everything in between during a world-wide tour. The end product would have that VH1: Behind The Music feel to it.
You have a strong background in music photography – do you play any musical instruments by chance?
Yes I do! I strum the guitar from time to time, and in high school, had a rock band. Short-lived, but a crazy, fun experience. I used to be a pretty mean drummer in the video game Rock Band, Expert Level – does that count? HA!
How would you describe your visual style?
Clean. I aim to capture photographs that have commercial value with my photography. Portraits are more organic and still maintain that clean look.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
Yep, sometimes too often. I shoot personal projects to have fun with photography again. Challenge myself to not plateau. Progression is important for any creative.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I grew up with my father using his VHS camcorder to record family events and the annual city parade. It rubbed off on me and that is where I get my drive for photography. Documenting people, things, and moments in life I find important and deserving to be preserved. I was working at my brother-in-law’s family furniture store helping with the closing of the store. I figured as this was extra money aside from my main job, I could use the money to buy my first DSLR. Admiring photos in magazines and other publications, I knew it would take a DSLR to take that kind of quality. Canon Rebel T1i was my first DSLR, and I started taking pictures of everything naturally. That is how I learned about lighting, composition, and more.
What types of photography do you do?
My work consists of music and portraiture. I wanted to continue to be part of the music community. Starting a band again was not an option for me and I found my way in with photography. I began shooting local shows on my own, then moved to concerts, festivals, and more, once I began contributing to publications. There is something profound to witness a crowd of strangers all in one place for the love of music. For that one period of time, fans go from being strangers to friends, thanks to unity – together as one. Portraiture to me was logically the next step in my photography. One of the main reasons I started taking photos was to help with my anxiety issues and being an introvert. It helped me break out of my shell and interact with others to produce fantastic portraits. Music photography will always be my favorite.
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
In 2012, my brother-in-law, Chad, participated in BP MS 150 that starts in Houston, TX and finishes in Austin, TX. The BP MS 150 is a two-day fundraising bike ride organized by the National MS Society. The ride is the largest event of its kind in North America with 13,000 cyclists, 3,500 volunteers, and countless spectators along the route and at the finish line in Austin. My siblings and I decided to sit past the finish line to see Chad as he crossed the finish line. This was a great spot for photos as you end up capturing the joy in the rider’s faces as they crossed. You could also capture the pain and sweat that showcased how challenging the bike ride can be. There was a moment when a female rider headed towards one of the railings up to a man in the audience and kissed him. My gut instinct told me to start taking photos when I noticed her leading up to the moment of the kiss. Immediately after that moment passed, I ran towards the gentleman and showed him the photos. I asked for his email address as I wanted give them the photos to cherish forever. That was the moment I decided I wanted to become a photographer.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Don’t focus on what others are doing or their “success” you read about on their social media. Just go out and shoot. Make mistakes and learn from them. Participate in photo walks in your city. Get feedback and critiques from your peers. You can expect family and friends to always say, “That’s a great photo!” and support your work. That doesn’t help in your development – you need constructive criticism.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
Lack of communication. Nothing is more frustrating.
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
Although it is staged, it would have to be the cover photo of the last issue of Life Magazine from the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I won’t spoil the movie for anyone who has not seen it, but when you discover what the photo is, you are overwhelmed with all kinds of feelings.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
- It’s not all about gear. Learn to use what you have first before spending a ton of money on gear you think you need but only want and will probably use lightly. Photography is expensive!
- Know your rights! Understanding where you can and cannot shoot, proper use of photo/model release forms, and how you are protected with these rights. You can read more here.
- Never stop shooting. Feel like you’re stuck? Then go shoot some more, but outside of your comfort zone. You don’t know the area of photography you excel at until you try it.
What kind of gear do you have?
I have a long list of gear I’ve worked for throughout my career, so instead, I’ll list my go to setup. It is my Canon 5DMK3 with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART lens. The lens is incredibly sharp and wide open (f/1.4) and the tones are fantastic!
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Light is light. What one person does with an expensive monolight, you can get away with using and controlling a work shop light. Not in every case, but in most this applies.
What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?
Photography has helped me with my anxiety. Being an introvert, it is a challenge to confidently approach strangers with even the simplest request of taking their portrait without being a nervous wreck. It has certainly made my life more fun-filled with great stories too!
What’s one of your biggest fears?
Losing all my data including the back-ups and back-up of those back-ups.
What will you be doing five years from now?
Hopefully going on tour. It is the one thing I still want to do even if it is just once.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Crowdsurfed with my camera to get a unique perspective for a photo. It was so much fun!
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Sky dive! I’m not afraid of heights that I know of, but I hate that sinking feeling like a pit in your stomach when falling. I’m told it goes away momentarily after jumping out of the plane and you feel like you are swimming as you plummet towards the Earth.
For anyone who wants to get in touch with Clark, here’s some contact information:
Clark, we enjoyed learning more about your work and your outlook on life. Thank you for reaching out!
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.