Welcome to another episode of Photographer Spotlight, this time I’d like to welcome Larry Pollock who is a very gifted photographer who shows astonishing product images and amazing landscape pictures. In this exclusive interview, you’ll find out what it is that makes him so good in his field.
1) Tell us about yourself, where are you are from, what got you into photography and how long do you have done photography?
Larry: I was handed a film camera when I was about 10 years old. I really enjoyed shooting and graduated up to a Kodak Signet Rangefinder 35mm camera in my teens. By the time I was 20 I was shooting with one of the first through the lens metering cameras, the Canon FTB. This camera got destroy by water in Alaska when I was about 28 years old. I was an amateur and didn’t buy another camera, other than point and shoots, until later in life. In 2007 I moved to Sedona Arizona and I just had to get a camera. Things had turned to digital instead of film over that time. I was always disappointed in consumer level DSLRs for what I wanted to do. When the Canon 5D MIII came out I purchased it right away and never looked back. I did landscape photography as well as chasing lighting images and learned to shoot the night sky. A series of events led me to shoot some commercial CD covers and my professional career started in photography. Landing a job shooting 3000 jewelry images propelled me into the world of product photography which is my main thing now.
2) How much time do you spend on photography on average?
Larry: I’m all full time. A one man show. So, I do all the work to get clients, bid, shoot and edit images. If I am not shooting for a client, I am out shooting landscapes or my own self-projects in the studio for my portfolio and to advance my skills.
3) What is the favorite photo you took and why?
Larry: This is a hard one to say. I have my top landscapes and top product as well as top model images. Each is special to me and all have been part of my evolution as a photographer. I can say that my image of the Milky Way core over Cathedral Rocks in Sedona is one of the tops. National Geographic purchased that from me 2 years ago for an article on Sedona.
4) Which gear do you mainly use / What is typically in your camera bag?
Larry: I shoot Canon. I still shoot the 5D MIII. My go to lens is the 24-105 f/4. Other than that I mix up what I carry depending on what I am doing. Right now the desert is awash in flowers so I carry my 100mm f/2.8 macro. I carry Lee Filters, a speed light, loupe, and I always have my Really Right Stuff 24L tripod with the B55 ball head. I am a firm believer in tripod use as much as possible.
5) How do you prepare for an image?
Larry: For product shoots or model shoots I do a lot of preparation. 90% of the time is spent in that and the setup. For landscapes, I prepare to go to specific locations for certain shot ideas, but once on location I make sure to look for all the possibilities both in front of me and behind.
6) Do you have guiding principles that you follow when you’re making pictures?
Larry: Slow down! This is my #1 rule in the digital age. So many set their cameras on multi-shot and shoot way too much. I treat it like the days of film where it cost you to take each shot. The other thing I always try to remember is “what is the story”. How can I tell it in one well-composed image?
7) How important is post-processing for you? Can you tell us what kind of post processing you typically do?
Larry: I know there are those who believe you should do little or no processing. Do it all in camera. I believe a shot is made in the camera and fixing it in Photoshop is not the mentality when I shoot. But, that being said, what we do is Art. A technical art. I don’t believe in putting limits on art. So I use the post processing tools to bring my vision to life. That may be converting to Black and White or blending a focus stack together. I shoot bracketed images (HDR) but want them to look natural. I have presets in Lightroom, actions and plugins for Photoshop from most of the developers. I use layers, blending modes, selections and luminosity masking and more to create my vision. I mix and match, choose what is right for the image I am working on. They are time savers. Who wants to sit in front of the computer when I could be out shooting?!
8) What’s the most challenging part about being a nature photographer?
Larry: Getting your gear and you on location! Gear is heavy and some places are remote. The older I get, the more I am looking at the progress being made with mirrorless cameras. I have not purchased one yet, but I am watching for the moment when I feel one of the companies has something that will do everything I ask of it as my 5D MIII does now.
9) Do you have general advice and tips for other photographers?
1. Take the time to truly learn your craft. Even if you are just planning on it being a hobby.
2. Stay away from the saturation slider!!! Just making pretty colors that your friends all go gaga over does not mean it’s a good image, or you are a good photographer.
3. Never be satisfied. Be happy with your current images but always work to improve. You are only as good as your next image.
4. If you are a pro or turn pro, don’t play “race to the bottom” on pricing. You only hurt yourself and the industry.
OK, I have more but will get off my soap box now…
10) What are your future photography goals?
Larry: To keep pushing and improving my product photography. Also, to ultimately have time and complete control over my art and do it my way. I want to travel, teach, and create around the US and the world. I have some other income sources that will allow me to be fully independent in the near future and I plan on being my own artist then.
11) Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Larry: Be patient with yourself. Never believe your own press and remember, there is always more to learn. Be a student of the craft and of light.
Find Larry Pollock on the Web: