PQs Blue & Strong
photography "DJ Jarak" Wysocki
model Nikiya Garza
wardrobe Hanes, Vibrant M.I.U. and Chalotte Russe
I have worked with many models in my years as a photographer, but none of them have been as enjoyable to work with as Nikiya Garza. I've done 4 sessions with her so far. Nikiya is still very new to modeling but she shows the dedication and pride of a seasoned professional but without any of the ego or presumption.
Nikiya likes to change her hair around and it always looks amazing but when I saw her sporting blue and that she was in the best shape ever, I knew I had to work with her yet again. I used to be limited to whatever locations came up, but now, thanks to a new friend, I have a large, well-lit warehouse to do my shoots in. My indoor work has never looked this good but I also have my fine subject to thank for that. Please enjoy my interview with Prolific Quarterly.
How do you get yourself inspired for a photo shoot?
I'm always inspired. The concept of working with attractive people who want to take time out of their busy lives to work with me, some of which actually pay me? What could be better?
What’s your useable-to-unusable ratio when you review images from a shoot?
I prefer my photos to be crisp. I sometimes shoot intending for the entire image to be in focus and sometimes I use a closer object focus, which brings the subject into full focus while giving the background a bit of a blur. This is always easier when shooting in a large space with the nearest wall or object being far off in the distance. If I shoot a photo intending for it to be used in a photo manipulation, which is what I'm best known for, full focus is best. To properly remove the original background, the lines need to be as fine as possible.
Can you describe what your post-process workflow is like?
That's really complicated. Almost impossible, actually. No two photos are ever the same, even if from the same set. There are always subtle differences in how light and shadow interacts with the subject, how their hair and clothing lays... the entire post-production process is more or less unquantifiable. So, I'll give you the basics.
I scroll through all the photos from a set, deleting any blurry or noisy ones I know I'll never be able to use. Then I organize each photo by subject name, date and set. Then I choose my favorites to edit. I open them in Camera RAW to perfect the lighting and color and then I shape them to a ratio of 2003 : 2592, which is the closest between the photo's original size and the ratio required for a full page magazine print.
These days, I typically send my photos off to my friend, Salden Eltagonde, who is a far better retoucher than I. In my opinion, is the one of the best high-end beauty retouchers in the world. Check out his work. It's outstanding. However, if you want photo manipulation, there are few better than I considering that I don't even own an illustration tablet. Oh, I wish I did, but the ones worth having are so expensive.
On the topic of gear: do you think it matters when trying to make that great picture?
Many photographers will claim that it doesn't matter but that's just them being full of themselves. In truth, it depends on what you know. If someone hands you a Red Weapon 8K S35, a $49.500+ camera, and you don't know how to use it, your photos will be garbage.
On the other hand, almost anyone can figure out to use a point-n-shoot. It also depends on lighting. There are photographers who've won major awards shooting with a smart phone just because they were masters of lighting. Being honest, I know crap about lighting compared to most photographers. The only reason my photos are as good as they are is because I'm a master of post-production.
What advice do you have for the folks who want to get into photography but maybe can’t afford equipment?
Learn your lighting and learn your camera. Many bicker over which is better, Canon or Nikon. Actually, they're both great. Just different. And they're also not the only options. Just the most advertised.
If you Google “best camera”, the order will be different every few months, depending on the most recent models released. There are far better cameras on the market than either Canon or Nikon. It's just that many of are far too expensive for most to afford. If you want a Red and don't work for a major studio... like Marvel or Warner Brothers, you better be prepared to sell your house.
What advice do you have for photography enthusiasts looking to go professional?
Don't. I'm sorry but don't. Part of me wishes that I never got into photography. Maybe if I did, I'd be able to afford things. I know this isn't the answer many of you were expecting nor wanted to hear but I'm nothing if not honest. The only reason I'm still a photographer is because I love it. What many don't realize is, being a freelance photographer is a full-time job. You're not just a photographer but the post-production, advertising, legal, financial, and public relations departments all rolled into one. In the end, you spend maybe 20% of the time shooting photos and the rest at your computer. My circulation sucks because of how much time I sit on my ass. But if you love it, do it. Just don't expect to get rich.
There are only a handful of studio jobs to go around and that is how photographers make money. I've actually been making some pretty decent money by focusing more on my design services lately but I don't think I'll ever give up photography. I love it too much.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Don't let the better work of others discourage you. Once upon a time, they were where you are now. Keep at it. Practice as much as you can and be sure to watch plenty of tutorials. YouTube has many.
Finally where can people follow your great work?
*Photography & Artwork: