Monday, June 11, 2007
Nick Vedros - Funny Business
Photographer Nick Vedros has an eye for style and a head for business
“My methodology has definitely changed because of the instant gratification,” he says. “It's like shooting instant captures as well as Polaroids. I love the Kodak capture software. I'm looking at the images bigger than 5x7 as they come up. You can see everything. You can zoom in hundreds of times to check your focus. The software has color palettes, so you can get a look that's similar to Kodak film, Fuji film, wedding film, portrait film, black-and-white, high-contrast black-and-white, sepia tone, etc. It gives me instant feedback when I'm shooting, so I can preview what an image would look like in a straight sepia, for example. Adapting it with that sepia look, I might increase the contrast a little bit in the actual lighting, so I'll move the light in closer. I can make adjustments on the set based on that essential information.”
Matters of business naturally influence Vedros' decision-making, but he thinks photographers aren't seeing the big picture when they lament the up-front costs required for a digital investment. As any good businessperson knows, it's all about the bottom line.
“You have to spend more for cameras, computers and other equipment,” he concedes, “but you can sell some of your studio space. My big studio had six shooting spaces—I would keep a set up while we waited for film to be processed, then we'd get client approval and finally strike the set. Now we don't have to. I ask the client, ‘Can I get 10 minutes of your time so we can pick the final image and make sure we have it? Then I know that I'm done.' You can send your models home, you can strike the set earlier—there's a lot of cost savings to shooting digital, contrary to everybody's belief.”
Vedros has made such a dramatic shift away from film-based photography that he has even sold his darkroom. Yet he doesn't get too emotional about the possibilities that come with the newest equipment. Vedros understands that with every revolution comes heartbreak, and the digital revolution is no different.
“There are probably going to be some drawbacks to digital,” says Vedros. “A lot of clients are probably going to say to somebody at their company, ‘Go buy a digital camera. We'll shoot it ourselves.' In the old days, you could buy a typewriter for somebody, but that didn't make them a writer. Owning a camera doesn't exactly give you taste.”
Although he doesn't have to worry about too many corporate lackeys being able to reproduce his signature style with a point-and-shoot camera, Vedros is affected by another pair of digital drawbacks. “Number one, digital isn't really designed for long exposures, like two seconds, three seconds, four seconds. I can barely get away with it, sometimes, at a half-second to a two-second exposure, but I'd never consider shooting a 15-second time exposure with digital. Too many artifacts, the shadows don't look right. It's really not designed for low light. Another thing is speed. Sometimes, I want to shoot eight frames per second, and I need that motordrive, which can really rattle through a moment.”
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