Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Frank Veronsky - No Compromises
From CD covers to fashion to whimsy, Frank Veronsky continues to dazzle with his unique approach to image creation
Fast-forward 16 years. After a stint as an assistant and working for a handful of editorial clients, today Veronsky is sought for everything from creative celebrity portraiture to vibrant photo illustrations. Along the way, he has refined both his technique and his creativity by working in some tricky situations.
“They let you be as creative as possible, shooting boring executives in boring rooms in exciting ways,” he says of the business magazines that gave him his start. “It was a great way to learn. I can't tell you how many times I was thrown into a conference room and was told, Okay, this is where you're going to take your picture. It's like a blank canvas. You have to come up with something that's very interesting in a room that looks like 100 other rooms you've been in. I considered it a challenge and it helped me with my creative eye—trying to make something out of nothing.”Some of Veronsky's favorite tools for meeting that challenge are Photoshop's Fade tool and the Opacity function in Layers. They allow him to experiment freely.
“What's nice about those two features is that you can change your mind,” he says. “I'll often go overboard on purpose and then fade back what I've done—just as one would in a recording studio on a mixing board, layering many tracks to come up with the effect you're looking for. Certainly, when I get an image on my computer, things will be somewhat spontaneous. I'm not a go-by-the-numbers kind of guy.”
Digital imaging doesn't just mean he gets better-looking images; it means he's more efficient in their creation. Says Veronsky, “Spending time in the dark was never my idea of having a lot of fun. When I shoot film, I shoot a lot of print film, and so I find myself in the darkroom a lot. It's just such a slow process, going into a color darkroom and waiting six or seven minutes for a print to come out, and then saying, Well, that doesn't look good—I've got to go back in again. You're sitting around, waiting and waiting, when you could do the same thing on the computer and have immediate results.
“Working on an image in the computer, to me, just offers so many more options, and it's just so much more civilized—so much more 21st century than working in the dark, exposing yourself to chemicals or, even worse, long bouts of time without doing anything. You see your changes immediately in front of your eyes. Although I enjoyed C-printing, and I still do it, now when I shoot film, instead of going to the darkroom, I tend to have the negatives scanned and work on the print on the computer. Everything in my portfolio that used to be C-prints is now from my Mac/Epson combination.”
Although Veronsky has been using digital capture for about a year now, he began working with digital files long before that. He has known that this is the direction in which his business must move. Perhaps surprisingly, he still hasn't made the investment in a professional digital camera.
“I don't own any digital equipment, except for a Kyocera point-and-shoot,” Veronsky says. “I rent. The Canon EOS-1Ds was the first camera to come out that I was comfortable photographing people with. Because there was always a problem with the lenses and not getting 100 percent in the viewfinder, I just didn't have the patience for that. Not being what I'd call a huge, big-time photographer, I can't just go out and spend whatever money I want.”
Veronsky may not consider himself a big-time photographer, but his clients certainly do. Because they trust him, he has been able to begin converting them to digital image files in lieu of prints, as well as the changes in billing that accompany it.
“The pricing is like the wild, wild West,” he says. “There are no rules, and everybody charges something different. Clients are probably a little afraid of that. It's different almost every single time.”
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