First things first… tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a Los Angeles based photographer/artist with a wide range of specialties. With over 20 years experience shooting concerts, sports, portraiture, fine art and studio photography. I am also graphic artist with expertise in branding, advertising, design and layout. My background began with vintage movie poster photography; and quickly became expert in photographing antiquities at Butterfield and Butterfield for the better part of the 90’s. With a strong film background and working primarily with 4×5 view cameras I have worked on everything from very Rare Furniture and decorative arts, Rembrandt and Picasso’s to the Batmobile, I Dream of Jeanie Bottles and Elvis Presley’s personal items. While at Butterfields I logged thousands of hours in the darkroom, printing and processing film and prints for catalogs which aided in my understanding of processing in Photoshop. I am currently responsible for all guitar studio and reference photography for www.FrettedAmericana.com, as well as being responsible for all advertising and imaging for the company. With multiple projects going on, I still find time to work on personal fine art works and concerts. Some of the bands I have photographed include, Tommy Lee, Zakk Wylde, Motley Crue, DAUGHTRY, KISS, The Guana Batz, Black Label Society, Phil X and The DRILLS, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Alter Bridge, Slash, Tremonti, Tiger Army, Nick 13, No Doubt, The Beastie Boys and many others.
You recently won a Guru award, what was that like?
This was my second GURU nomination. I was up for a GURU a few years back and did not win. Last year I took a chance and took Alan Hess and Scott Diussa’s Pre-Con live concert class at PSW 12, and won! It is very hard to judge yourself and your work when you’re around the kind of talent from NAPP members and PSW attendees. So to say I was proud to have been a part of the contest and actually win the best of show is a huge understatement, and it’s been a very busy year for me since!
This year when I was notified of the GURU nomination, I was excited and a little more confident…. Until I saw the competition. As the images flashed on the screen my heart sunk and my head bowed.. there were 2 awesome pieces submitted in my category and I thought to myself, damn, and whispered to my Brother “at least I got nominated” Then Larry Becker says the Guru Winner is…. Dustin Jack. I was surprised and so excited that I jumped up from the side stage missing the staircase all together!! I accepted the award shook Larry’s hand and made my way backstage only to be greeted and congratulated by Alan and Scott… It was a good day!
What made you decide to enter?
This was my 5th year at PSW Vegas, as frightening as it is to put yourself out there it’s just as exciting. You’re completely vulnerable and open to criticism, but that is when you learn the most. Without critique you don’t allow yourself to learn from mistakes and make adjustments and grow. I’m always trying to challenge myself and my work, entering the GURU challenge is a good test, not to show off your talent but to see if you can stand with your contemporaries. I’m not sure if it’s scarier to win or simply to submit.
Tell me about the image. How and why you created it.
I was asked by Tommy Lee, whom I have had a long standing friendship and working relationship with, to do a studio shoot with himself and his partner DJ Aero for promotional photos for their side project. I spent 12 hours working with one assistant and a make up artist. The title of the new CD was called MSND (Move Shake Now Drop). My concept was for a two part shoot and composite the images. The first stage was to go to a massive soundstage and photograph a few HDR shots of a huge concert screen with images Tommy uses in his live set. We ended up shooting around 30 screen images from two angles, one tight and one longer room shot. We had around 300 image files before we started the artist photos.
The second stage was to go back to Tommy’s home studio and use his live room to set up a portrait session with each artist, and a third session to photograph the duo together. I knew from working with Tommy in the past that I had work very quick with him, he does not love doing photo sessions. I shot Aero first and had pretty good success and was confident I had what I needed. Tommy Lee is a true professional! When he comes in for his session he is tremendously charismatic and like when the stage lights come up for a show, he turns it on; my shy friend just like Clark Kent in a phone booth, becomes the most notorious and legendary rock drummer on the planet. He breezes through the shoot with very little direction from me, but I noticed when I told him to throw on his sun glasses he was FREE and started having fun and gave me some really interesting poses and expressions. Tommy knows what he wants, and knows how to play to the camera. We wrapped the session with the duo just basically hamming it up and messing around in front of the camera, I knew that the gold was in the individual sessions but was still pretty sure I had a few of the guys together that were going to be pretty sweet. It wasn’t until I started processing the images and making selections for the composite that I started to put the concept of combining these three photos together.
What tools did you use?
The gear I used on this shoot were Nikon D700, D800 and a D3. 4 Photogenic heads and soft boxes. Edited with Lightroom 5, and Photoshop CS6 on a Macbook Pro 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7, Wacom Intuos touch with a dual monitor setup.
(If you have any behind the scenes images or elements that we could show, include those as well.)
Are there any special techniques you used in creating this image that our members might find interesting?
The first thing I realized was that the image worked MUCH better on a plain white background and not one of the HDR backgrounds I had chosen, which meant there was nowhere to hide when it came to extracting Tommy from the background.
The knockout of the image off the background was complicated because of Tommy’s hair and I spent a good deal of time trying to keep the integrity, It had to be seamless. I did some small touch ups removing shirt buttons that looked out of place and some minor touch up on the skin. I actually did the final background work and clean up with my laptop screen laying flat down on my desk in a backward L shape. Looking straight down I lifted the computer and angled it away from me. This allowed me to pick up almost a negative image so that anything that was not perfectly trimmed or removed was visible in black. I then was able to see imperfections in the solid white areas and clean them up. One of my favorite elements in this image is the reverse album art reflection image in the sunglasses blended in on individual layers. The last thing I did was add some NIK software a little color FX pro and Viveza to give it just a little more pop!
Where would you like your work to take you in the future? Vocationally or Artistically.
I am very fortunate to have a career in photography, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t keeping time with a camera. I really love the studio and what I do with collectibles, fine art and rarities. I have had some of the rarest items in the world pass in front of my lens. I’m one of the few people that gets to do what I love. I would like to further my visibility as a concert/music photographer. I’m very interested in showcasing my work, commercializing, monetizing and continue to challenge myself. I love to learn and be inspired and really enjoy passing on this amazing craft to a new generation of creative people.
Sometimes when you take a class or attend a seminar you go home not quite sure if you’ve taken in what you’ve experienced. I was always pretty confident in my abilities as a photographer, and using Photoshop since its infancy felt like my skills were above average in edit and design. As the NAPP team emerged and expanded so did the talent they made available. For me, instructors like RC Conception doing inspirational HDR work, Joel Grimes and Matt Klowkowski setting a new standard in what you can do with composite images, and Alan Hess’ consistent and amazing live concert photography, sharpened my skills refined my talents and inspired me to be creative and get out and work hard. That being said, I would also like to thank Scott Kelby, Dave Black, Scott Bourne, Ben Willmore, Corey Barker, Scott Diussa, Julieanne Kost and Frank Doorhof who have all influenced me. My goal as an artist/photographer is to have each photograph I make stand on it’s own as a piece of art. The ultimate compliment is to have the artist you photographed hang your work in their home. So next time the NAPP team roles through town or you are on the fence as to attend one of the Photoshop World events, even to the most seasoned Photoshop user, you can always learn something new. Whether it’s a technique you forgot about or an eye opening style changing event.. Don’t hesitate, It’s worth every second!
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