Focus on: photographer Bruce Hudson of mystudiomentor.com
Bruce Hudson holds the degree of Master Craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America and is one of only forty active members in the prestigious Camera Craftsmen of America. He is a much sought-after speaker to professional photography organizations, and he has lectured on behalf of Fuji USA, H&H Color Lab, Capri Albums, Mamiya Cameras, Excel Frames, and Marathon Press in 49 of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and New Zealand. He has created over 20 educational videos and DVDs and has written for Rangefinder, PP of A Magazine, STUDIO Magazine, and many others. Bruce’s students consider him not only a "Master Photographer" but also a "Master Marketer and instructor".
What was it that lit your photography spark? Do you remember a particular camera, course, mentor, roll of film?
It was my private trumpet teacher Roy Cummings, he was an amateur photographer too. I remember being at his house in 10th grade and watching the print appear out of the developer for the very first time. Seeing his passion for not only the art of music, but the art of photography got me hooked!
You can go anywhere in the world for an epic, week-long photo excursion by yourself without any issues of money, time, family or travel. Where do you go and why?
Tuscany! Wait, been there, done that already, but I would go back again in a heartbeat! There's something about the Tuscany region of Italy that calls out to me and my photography. Literally everywhere you turn there is art, simply amazing!
Share with us another photographer whose creative eye you admire.
Ken Whitmire from Yakima, Washington. He taught me how to put all of my creative and personal elements together to produce outstanding, large family wall decor. Creating and selling 40, 50, 60, even 70 inch portraits is what our studio is known for and it was Ken who pioneered this concept for me many years ago when I studied with him. His artistic composition, lighting, natural posing, and client interaction is something to be envied. At 80 years young now, Ken still has more passion for portraiture in his pinky finger than most photographers have in their entire bodies. Attending his International Wall Portrait Conference should be a required school for anyone serious about the profession, this guy is amazing!
What kind of shoot is your bread and butter -- and what's your passion?
Creating large family wall decor is both my bread and butter and my passion. It's intoxicating finding out what a family's lifestyle is like (the essence of who they are), creating a customized and personalized piece of art that conveys that, and having the family proudly display my work in their home. To me and my clients, it's more than just a photograph, it's a family heirloom that generations to come will enjoy and cherish. This was my passion from the beginning of my career, thanks to Ken Whitmire and his class in 1984. As for the bread and butter, large wall decor is what our studio is known for and it accounts for more than half of our studio's revenue. It is extremely rare that a client does not walk out with investing in at least a 30 inch canvas print.
Tell us about a recent shoot that affirmed how you approach photography.
I recently photographed an amazing woman named Teresa who is battling cancer. She touched my heart in ways I haven't felt in years. The story is to long and complex for this, but you can read more about her and see some of the images I created for her here.
How do you capture someone's soul and tell her life story in just a few short sessions? Us as photographers, especially the new ones, need to understand our role as image makers, we are charged with the task of capturing a person's soul on camera. You never know your image is going to be the last ever taken on someone. In Teresa's case, it probably will be. It's a tremendous honor and a heavy burden to bare, but it's one that all of us need to remember when photographing our clients, it's more than just a snap shot. Teresa's story is actually going to be featured in Rangefinder Magazine in an upcoming issue.
What do you do to 'warm up' when a shoot begins? To get to know your subject, and to put them at ease?
For me, the warm up begins way before the session does. At our studio we require a pre-portrait consultation prior to ever booking a session. During the consultation we go over:
- Showing them all of the possibilities via a slideshow
- Asking questions about their motivation for the portrait, style, where the finished portrait is going to hang, colors, mood, feeling, etc.
- Educate them about portraiture, why we are different, pricing, how they will see the images after (projection), we leave nothing to chance or assumption
- Schedule a "go-see" at their home to see where they are thinking of hanging the finished portraits. We also coach them on clothing, get a feel for their home, etc.
This entire process is designed to build rapport and to get to know one another before the shutter ever clicks. I'm all about building relationships with my clients and getting them excited. When people trust you, they relax and the expressions come through naturally. That trust comes from building that creditability in their minds, especially with affluent.