|Nicholas Alan Cope
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Raised in Maryland, Nicholas moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and attended Art Center College of Design. Since graduating, Cope has worked for a number of commercial and editorial clients, while also working on personal projects. His work has been featured in Interview Magazine, Conveyor Magazine, Unpublished Magazine, The Wild Magazine, DigiFoto Magazine, ButDoesItFloat, 500 Photographers.
I received a BFA in photography from Art Center College of Design in 2007.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Preproduction is everything. If I prepare properly, my shoot should be a foregone conclusion. Nearly all of the decisions have been made and all of the materials have been gathered before I wake up the morning of the shoot.
What was your first photography job?
Shooting a combination of product and architectural images around Los Angeles for a book for HBO.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Focus on two things: what you’re interested in and what’s going to make you money. Ideally, you want two books—one commercial and one personal—but the tricky part is to have them work in unison. It’s tough when you’re in school because you’re both figuring out the technical side and finding what you’re interested in. If you manage to do only one thing in school, it should be to build a strong personal project. If you create a strong personal project, it will inform and shape your commercial work.
What inspires you about photography?
I don’t think it’s photography that inspires me; it’s just a means of creating. I’m not terribly romantic about photography, and although it’s extremely important to me, I’m interested in other mediums. I’d love to expand into sculpture somewhere down the line, but at this point I haven’t accomplished all of the things I want to with photography.
What makes you go out and shoot?
Everything I do is planned, so if I go out to shoot or set up something in my studio, it’s because I’ve already spent time scouting or gathering materials for the shoot. When I start a new project, it’s because I have a visual concept in my head that I want to express. It could be something as simple as a set of shapes or quality of light.
What do you like best about the whole process?
Making something better than what I envisioned. Even with all of the prep work, sometimes I get something unexpected, which is always exciting.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Leica Summicron-R 50mm ƒ/2, Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8L Macro IS USM, Canon TS-E 24mm ƒ/3.5L II, Gitzo Tele Studex Giant tripod, Linhof ballhead, Speedotron 4803CX packs and 102 heads, Epson Stylus Pro 3800, and tons of foamcore and Plexiglas®.
What do you think it takes to be successful in today’s challenging and competitive marketplace?
I’m still trying to figure that out. I think refining your work and personal brand are important. Maybe even more important is the need to be friendly, outgoing and confident. It’s kind of silly, but being accessible and fun to work with is probably the best way to get repeat clients. I’m always trying to improve my book and my dealings with current and potential clients.
To see more of Nicholas Alan Cope’s work, go to www.cope1.com.