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Why You Need to Always be Steeped in Art

It was my first portrait booking outside of San Francisco. Never before had I been flown in for photos but New York City is my hometown and I was lucky enough to know the brother of the firm. I didn’t know the people, had never been to their offices. But they sent me some photos of their space and I could see right away they had good light.

I was nervous. I always am before a shoot, but this time there was a lot at stake. I had not done this many portraits in such a short amount of time, and I had no idea what the set-up would be like. But Dave, the CEO, has a great aesthetic and as soon as I walked in I saw these chairs. Mid-Century modern. Not quite quite wing-backs but broad across the tops and in wonderful colors. That’s when I remembered David Hockney.

I’m a fan of David Hockney. Especially his painted portraits of people (mostly men) seated in these beautiful chairs. I had long been inspired by him to simply sit people in an interesting chair, in good light, and engage them with the camera. This was the perfect opportunity.

Over three days I did portraits for forty-three people. At the time this was a record. I still consider it some of my best work and my favorite team portraits/corporate portraits’ gig ever.

What I learned was to trust my instincts, my intuition, and my luck. Let things just unfold. Accept grace. Don’t try to control a situation, give up control and just nudge things along when you can. I will be forever grateful for that opportunity, and if I go on to have a career as a photographer I will look back at the DBI gig as a seminal moment when it all came together - my connections, my karma, my talent, my roots, my luck. This is why it’s important to be steeped in art.

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