Not sure where to start with photography? Drew delved into photography by following another passion of his and staying true to himself. Check out his story below.
Say hello to Drew:
Where are you from?
I was born in Visalia, CA and lived there for a small part of my childhood – and then eventually moving to Simi Valley, where I currently live. Simi Valley is about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
I don’t have a favorite place right now, but I’m sure once I travel more I will have one.
How would you describe your visual style?
I would describe my style as a mix of urban/street photography. Although I enjoy shooting landscape, I’ve always been drawn to darker street photos. My work is usually very dark, yet remains vibrant at the same time.
How do you find your inspiration?
Where to begin with this one? I get my inspiration from so many different outlets. For starters, the photography community on Instagram as well photography books usually spark my imagination and inspiration. On the other hand, inspiration for a photographer shouldn’t be limited only to pictures. I find inspiration from all mediums of art such as paintings, drawings, movies, street art, and even music.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
Of course, any artist will experience this at some point in their art career. It’s normal, and although it sucks while going through it, just know that once you come out of it, you’ll be that much better of an artist afterwards. When it happens to me, I’ll usually put my camera down and stay off IG for a bit. When you take a break and stop trying so hard to get over the block, you’ll come back (hopefully) more refreshed and inspired than ever.
Was there a particular image or photographer who inspired you to pursue this path in the arts?
It wasn’t a specific photo that did it for me, but there were some photographers who I found from the beginning that really inspired me to keep doing what I was doing. To name a few, I drew from @trashhand and his street work, @jude_allen and his edits, @jesseherzog and @bleeblu for their portrait work. I still look to these artists for inspiration daily.
Have you ever considered what career path you would’ve pursued had you not chosen photography?
Before photography, the automotive industry had my heart. Although I still share a passion for the car scene today, I am not anywhere near as invested as I once was into it. I had a car that I loved to work on and take to car meets. I worked in a garage where I learned more about the automotive scene and was able to work on my car in the downtime I had. I was at car meets and shows every weekend, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted my career to be, but I knew that I wanted it to involve cars. I was already into photography at the time, I would take my camera to the car meets and shoot lots of photos of my car at the places I would drive to. Then, one day I blew the motor on my car and lost a lot of passion for the car scene. With more money and time to invest into something different, I soon discovered the real world of photography and all the amazing things you could accomplish with a camera. In a way, I owe it to the car scene that I became the photographer I am today.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I’ve been taking pictures for about 7 years now. I started out just messing around with a Canon Coolpix that my family owned. I took pictures of my car, my dog, and random adventures that I went on. I was having fun with a camera so I started researching more about cameras and gear. Eventually, I bought my own camera. It was a Canon Rebel t4i with a stock lens. I used that camera for years, inevitability falling in love with photography. Today I shoot with a Canon 5D mark II and a variety of lenses.
What types of photography do you do?
I do street, landscape, portrait, and even freelance work, but my favorite type is street photography. I love busy cities where I can capture candid street portraits and architecture shots.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
If I’m being honest, my biggest setback is myself. I am usually the only thing holding me back from taking the shots I want. I am also very hard on myself regarding my own work, which is something I’m learning to accept and deal with.
Of the photos you’ve taken – which three are your favorite?
I don’t have a favorite photo yet, but I do have some shots that stand out to me.
Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?
I do my best to stand out by being true to myself and my work 100% of the time. I do my thing and try not to worry so much as to what others are doing. There is always going to be someone who you think is “better” than you, but as long as you stay true to yourself, you will stand out. Try to develop your own style and don’t listen to the norms. Break rules.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Shoot whatever you want. Don’t listen to anyone. Don’t shoot something for the wrong reasons, do it for you and you only. Probably the best advice I could give someone starting out in photography is to have fun and to not give up.
What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?
Not really a specific moment, but I think one of the funniest things about being a photographer is the strange looks you get while shooting in public. Nothing better than receiving weird stares as you lay on the sidewalk to catch a heater. It never gets old.
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
I want to thank my family and close friends for supporting everything I set my mind on. They really lift my spirits when I’m down about my work or doubt myself as an artist. I also want to thank the photography community on Instagram for always being there to support each other. I’ve really met so many awesome people through that app who have changed the way I think about art.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
It comes from the heart. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds, that’s where being a great artist stems from. My philosophy has always been to just put my heart into my work and stay true to myself. If I can stick to that philosophy, then I would consider myself a “great” photographer no matter what level I’m at.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
Rude, unprofessional clients.
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
Have a normal conversation.
How do you express yourself through your photography?
I express myself through my photos in the way that I take them (composition and perspective) and I use my edits to almost convey a story. My photos are something I hold close to my heart, they tell where I’ve been, who I’ve met, things I’ve seen and emotions I’ve felt.
What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
To not get frustrated thinking that your work isn’t where you want it to be. Shoot for yourself, not for what you think people want to see. I used to take photos just cause. My main advice would be to not give up, and to learn something new about your craft every day.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
1. Shoot every day ( – you will get better).
2. Learn your camera gear inside and out so that you can work it like second nature.
3. Have fun ( – shoot whatever makes you happy).
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring models?
1. Be yourself.
2. Don’t try so hard to “act natural”.
3. Study the art of posing. (Photoshoots are collaborations, not one-sided situations with a photographer barking orders. The photographer can only go so far to make you look good, you have to bring expression and creativity to the table as well.)
What kind of gear do you have? What’s your favorite and why?
Right now I shoot with a Canon 5D mark II. I have lots of glass, but my go-to lenses are the 14mm, 35mm, and 50mm. There is no “best” lens or camera. All gear has its pros and cons and is all preference-based. Personally, I am a Canon fan, I know how to work the gear and I trust it to get me the photos I want. Find what fits best with you and stick with it.
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Lighting is key in photography. You’ve obviously heard that golden hour, (sunset/sunrise) is the best time to take photos of any kind. I love to shoot sunset, and sunrise if I can get myself out of bed in time. Another tip is to break rules. When I was learning photography, I was told to not shoot directly into the sun and to avoid harsh light. I say screw that. On a bright sunny day, you’ll find me pointing my camera right at the sun when shooting. Shooting towards the sun can create sun flares and warm tones on your photo. You can also get some cool haloing effects when shooting towards the sun with a subject in front of it.
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
You won’t find your editing style overnight, hell, I’m not even sure if my style is set in stone. It takes time and many hours spent messing around in your various editing software to really pick up a workflow and style. My advice would be to stay away from buying presets (filters). I still edit all my work from scratch. I believe that every photo is different and has to be edited accordingly. You can’t just slap a filter on a photo and expect it to look good, each photo should be worked on one at a time until you like the final product.
What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?
Photography for me has changed the way that I look at everything. I obviously appreciate art and artists more now, but it’s deeper than that. I look at everything and everyone I see in ways I couldn’t previously. My mind now sees things in shapes, I see shadows and light, I see things I used to walk past every day and not notice.
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
I enjoy writing, I dabble in graphic design, and I could probably beat you at your favorite video game.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
Not scared of much although I’m not a huge fan of heights.
What will you be doing five years from now?
Hopefully 5 years from now I will be traveling the world and supporting myself full-time doing what I love.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I guess I’ll know once I do it.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Climb a crane.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Drew, here’s some contact information:
Drew, thank you so much for the candid interview!