DPP Home Profiles Gary Land - In the Right Place

Monday, October 8, 2007

Gary Land - In the Right Place

Working with people who are short on time and don't necessarily love a photo session, Gary Land gets the shot fast, then spends the time placing his subject in the perfect 'background'

Where The Magic Happens
Land wouldn't be where he is today if not for his time at Reebok. The job not only provided income and benefits for his growing family, but it allowed him the freedom to experiment with his photographic techniques. More than anything, he learned to hone his craft flying solo.

“Back in the day when I was working for Reebok, it took years for them to even let me have a photo assistant,” he says. “So I used to do all my own lighting. They didn't understand it. They weren't in the photography business. They were used to hiring out people. They didn't know what it took.”

Land quickly learned it all, refining his lighting abilities to the point that he could shoot subject and background independently and match them up in the computer. This “plating” technique is a staple of his repertoire today, and it stems from a time early on when he enjoyed fooling around on the computer.

“A lot of the stuff we're doing now is layers and surrealism and plate work,” he says. “I had been doing that for years, but just doing it for myself because I thought it was cool. I thought it was cheating, so I never really took it seriously. And then I remember looking through a book of Sacha Waldman and Jim Fiscus, and I was like, ‘You know what, they're making a living doing this. And I like doing this, so I'm going to start doing this again.' Sure enough, I just started playing with shooting people on white seamlesses and bringing in backgrounds and ideas and things like that. And I've gotten pretty good at it at this point.”

In And Out
Land is also a master of understatement apparently. He's so good at compositing people with places that many viewers, this interviewer included, don't readily realize that he doesn't actually photograph rap stars on the street or football players with jet airplanes behind them. His forte is photographing these busy people quickly, where they're most comfortable, and putting them exactly where he wants on his own time.

“These people hire me because these athletes and celebrities have such crazy schedules,” Land explains. “They come in for like 10 or 15 minutes, they don't want to be cold, they don't want to be hot, they want to have their dog there, they have all these needs. So my whole deal is I'll come to them, I'll shoot them in a hotel room, it doesn't even matter. I've shot people in their hotel rooms and dropped them onto beaches. If I get a shot of somebody wherever they feel the most comfortable, it's going to come out better.”


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