Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Jeffrey Green - Viva Las Vegas
Jeffrey Green relies on a minimalist collection of lighting gear and the latest digital cameras to photograph efficiently and to get the shot the first time
It's clear that being a member of the select group of top-level shooters in Las Vegas has worked out in spades for Green, but don't just pack up and move there looking to get a piece of the action.
“Vegas has been a great place for me and my career, but it's not necessarily a good place for someone new to the business,” cautions Green. “The really good work tends to go to just a few people who have been around and established themselves. Because I do a combination of interiors, portraits, architecturals and food, I have a bit of an advantage.”
Every so often we talk with photographers who lament that while they want to go all digital, their clients still want film. In Green's case, his clients are all digitally savvy. In fact, they're so digitally oriented, Green says that they don't even want retouched files.
“I do some simple retouching myself, but just basic stuff,” he says. “I'd say about 80% of my clients don't want any retouching at all. They'd prefer to do it themselves. Usually, I give them TIFFs and I'm done. That really works out well for me because I'm not much of a Photoshop guy. I know some photographers really get into it and they can do some amazing things, but I prefer to be more of a camera guy. I got into digital because the shooting side is better, not because of what I could do with Photoshop.”
The Simple Light
When Green approaches an interior photographically, he looks carefully at the light. “These places have hired some of the best interior designers and architects in the business. Then they have brought in top lighting people to create exactly the right atmosphere. I see it as my job to work with that rather than try to push my own interpretation on it. If anything, I try to enhance what's already there so it works as well photographically as it does to the human eye.”
That sounds like an obvious way to work, but Green relates a story that isn't all that atypical of the way many photographers approach interiors. “There was this guy who was brought in from L.A. or New York,” recalls Green. “He was working in one of the big lobbies here, and he had an army of assistants and lights and cables. They shut down the lobby for something like two days while he got the shot set up. In the end, he had this place lit in such a completely unnatural and bizarre way that you almost couldn't recognize it. I think that's just a case of a photographer coming in and doing a huge ego shoot. I'm sure he was well-paid, but to me he didn't do anything for the space.”
Green's lighting techniques have their origins in his youth, long before he was a photographer. Growing up in San Diego, Calif., he was doing stage lighting in high school and then landed a job as an assistant in a local portrait studio. Says Green, “After a while, I pretty much started running that studio. I did that for about a year before leaving San Diego.”
In the early 1990s, Green moved to Las Vegas, and he spent a few years simply shooting and building up a portfolio. “I knew I had to practice, and at the time, Vegas was a great place to be getting practice. I took that time, from 1993 to 1995, and I was shooting all of the time. My big break came when I got hired to do some work for an architectural magazine that had just relocated to Las Vegas. I started doing a bunch of shoots for them and suddenly my career was taking off. Because I was doing the magazine work regularly, I think I seemed to be much bigger than I really was.”
Today, Green still shoots plenty of editorial work in addition to the bigger-billing commercial work. There are 10 to 15 big-time shooters living and working in Las Vegas, and as the city has grown and matured, so has Green's reputation as a no-nonsense, efficient professional. The work keeps coming in, and increasingly he gets calls to shoot outside of his home city. A “keep it simple” mentality and an innate sense of style will continue to serve Jeffrey Green well.
To see more of Jeffrey Green's photography, visit www.jgreenphoto.com.
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