Rick Craft

Who are you?

My name is Rick Craft, I am originally from Virginia Beach, VA. and currently reside in Los Angeles, CA. I moved across country in 2011 to continue my photography/film career and have been non-stop busy ever since!

How did you get into photography?

This could be a long answer depending on how much page space you will let me take up ;) But the short version leaves some to the imagination. I started out photo editing around 15 years old. I had a copy of photoshop and I would play around with it every day. I mostly edited landscapes and tried to re-create company logos in the editor. I was self taught and enjoyed playing around with colors, all while adding a somewhat eerie effect when I could. From there, I started editing photos for a photographer around 2009. It let me explore a completely new realm with model subjects. I picked up a few other editing gigs from there but wasn't quite satisfied with the content. I decided to pick up a camera so that I could bring some of my ideas to life! I had no intention on becoming a photographer at the moment, I just wanted to expand my photo editing skills. I caught feelings for photography and we've been together ever since ;) But in all seriousness, my photography is still just as much about editing even to this day. I plan everything around my edit, I spend more time with that part of the process than I do with pre-production and shooting!

What’s your favorite color?

Ah, the illusive favorite color... I guess I would have to say my favorite color as a child was blue. I still love blue, but i've learned to appreciate every single color for its own feel/respective use. Every single photo I take has a favorite color behind it, but I don't feel that I gravitate toward any specific color without reason. I will pick the color that means the most to me in that photograph, and color correct around it with uses of complementary/triad color scheme etc.

What does photography mean to you?

Photography is an outlet for me. Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves and this is one of mine. To me, photography is a chance to tell a great story within one frame. I am always creating characters/ideas in my head, sometimes they are linked to personal experiences, and sometimes from observations. Being able to convey these characters/emotions via photos has been a huge challenge and personal growth!

What is your favorite type of photography?

I enjoy anything with a story. If someone puts more thought into a photograph than "here's my selfie" or "back-lit booty shot in black in white", I can appreciate it ;) I also tend to gravitate toward photos with a strong color palette, and when used correctly it can make an image jump out at you before you even realize what the photo contains.

How would you describe your photographic style?

I would describe my style as story-driven with a cinematic touch. I generally shoot my photos in landscape orientation much like film. Since I also direct and shoot in the movie industry, I think a lot of each side carry over into the other. I actually use photography as my testing grounds for new film ideas/looks! It's easier for me to play around with lighting on my own, than to try new things when you have 45 people waiting on you, so that really helps to nail down certain looks. Stylistically, I also like to use vibrant colors in conjunction with slightly dark themes. Not overly obvious, but I like to create a beautiful photo with eerie undertones to make the viewer feel something and wanting to know more behind the story.

Where do you get the ideas for your pictures?

I am inspired by everything around me. Some ideas come from experiences, some from recurring dreams and I am also inspired by each models look. I usually come up with a theme, a character and then reach out to a model that will help sell that idea. Casting is very important to me since story is a main focus. I am also inspired by locations, sometimes I will drive around and look at things during the day, then I will drive the same exact path and look at the locations at night. You get a totally different feel for both, and that helps develop an idea and the mood necessary for conveying it.

Why you shoot people and not things or nature?

I personally enjoy shooting with people because I can direct it. I like having control over the setup, and pulling emotions from the model/actor to really help create a new world. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being out in nature and can appreciate a beautiful landscape, but I rarely pull out my camera for those, I just take it in and think of how I could use this as my stage. I believe that nature photography is about capturing existing beauty and being an observer. I like taking locations that people have seen before and making them into my own world with its own set of rules, its own look and feel. I enjoy photos that can take you away, and make you think about this new universe that is created by the photographer/model vs. thinking about how something is exactly in your own reality.

What's your secret recipe for great portraits?

There really isn't a secret, and to be honest, I feel like a recipe is for disaster! I have met many people that have the standard and their go-to setups, and not to say this doesn't work! But since I shoot more for creating art than for commercial success, I steer away from having a single fix for lighting/framing :) I will say that having a confident model really helps. Depending on what you want to come across in the photo, you need someone that knows how to relax in front of camera, or intensify, whatever is needed. To me, that is one of the biggest parts because no matter how great your lighting/framing and editing skills are, if the model looks nervous, you can instantly tell. That being said, I guess the recipe could be more on the front and back end for me. Front end being, building a comfortable relationship with the person in front of camera. Not that you have to go out to brunch and do each others nails, but you need to make sure that you both understand what you are trying to get out of the shoot. It would be counter-productive to have one person looking for beauty shots while the other wants to create a horror look. The back end, editing. I can't stress enough how important this is to me, I can change lighting, makeup and fix several things in post, so this is essential to my portraits!

Who is the most challenging person you've tried to photograph?

Ooohh this could get me in trouble haha. I can't really say there has been a challenging person, but challenging situations arise all of the time! Recently, I was shooting on location at night. It was a chinese restaurant in hollywood that had an awesome red neon light on the window that created a nice key. Working in low light conditions is tough on it's own, but with this one, we didn't realize we were also working against the clock... The photoshoot required 2 photos, one of the girls face for a reaction, and the other was the wide shot that established the location. We got the close-up, and when we got ready for the wide shot, the light turned off! It never came back on, and we had to go with it. The hours that went into re-creating the light effect in photoshop hopefully go un-noticed, but that was a huge challenge for me!


This interview was originally published on BehindTheCamera.co.


Rick Craft

Rick Craft is a Photographer from the USA.