Thursday, June 14, 2007
Kevin Foley - It's In The Light
Kevin Foley wasn't just an early adopter to digital, he went all in—and it's paid off in spades
We've spoken with plenty of photographers who are undertaking a switch to digital. The usual story is that the transition involves a certain amount of shooting both film and digital on the way to establishing a more overall digital workflow. If that's the usual pattern, Kevin Foley is charting his own course by going all digital all the time…and that's a chart he set several years ago.
Think back to the 1990s. In that period, the only digital-capture devices were low-resolution, extremely expensive, temperamental or all three at once. In the back rooms at photography seminars, the most influential professionals were talking doubtfully and in hushed tones about the viability of digital. At best, it would be many years before anything acceptable could be taken with a digital camera and, at worst, silicon could never replace film. At the same time, in an almost conspiratorial manner, the leading proponents of digital imaging focused on many of the dumber capabilities that the technology had to offer. This combination of factors cast a pale upon the technology as being useless for real image creation and inherently deceptive.
Amid such open hostility to digital technology, a few more clear-minded and visionary photographers came forward as vocal activists on the potential that was emerging for professional photographers. To this small group, it wasn't about cloning Darth Vader into a family snapshot at the beach, it was about increasing their business and making better photographs easier and faster than had ever been possible before. So when digital imaging was in its infancy, Foley was among those who saw that it was clearly the wave of the future. That vision has remained with him and has been a factor in his ongoing success.
Foley is a professional photographer based in Southern California. He shoots primarily celebrities and fashion, but his range extends beyond those areas when a client calls for something different. Photographing people is about the toughest assignment there is. Those pros who are genuinely good at it have a gift for working with their subjects. Photography is a collaborative process between the photographer and the model. If you're shooting a still-life scene, the model usually is extremely cooperative to whatever you want to do, but when you have a person in front of your lens, that subject can be a little more challenging to get along with. It's rare when a good photograph emerges from a photo shoot wherein the photographer and the subject aren't working together. Photographers who can't work with their models usually don't last long in the business. Foley has a knack for being able to engage with the people who come before his lens and he also has the rare ability of being able to put them at ease and make them a part of the creativity during the session.
We said that photographing people is tough. Part of what makes it so difficult is the inherent insecurity a person has when he or she is being photographed. Celebrities are no different and, in many cases, they even can be more insecure. Consider that an actor who's used to working in front of television and movie cameras for a living depends upon their image to pay their rent and to bring them work in the future. These people can't afford to have bad pictures of them floating around. Also consider that people who are comfortable performing a scene in front of motion picture or TV cameras aren't used to being frozen in the pop of a strobe and having that single instant lasting for posterity. They don't have any of their other tools of voice or motion to fall back on and that can make them very uncomfortable and high-strung.