I was very fortunate to have had an instructor, mentor and friend, Mr Don Bishop that helped me along the way. My junior year I was selected to participate in an internship with NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration - in their photography department at the Marshall Space Flight Center. After graduation I was hired on permanently and spent 25 years shooting as an Aerospace and Underwater Photojournalist. It was a great career documenting the Space Shuttle era, photographing dignitaries, shuttle programs and diving with the astronauts. In 2000 I took an early out - retirement and opened my own Commercial photography studio - dK-studio -full time.
Do you consider yourself: Pro, Semi Pro, Hobbyist, Amateur, Something Else?
Considering I have made my "fortunes" (insert starving artist) and my sole career as a photographer, I guess I would have to label myself a PRO. Even though I am more enthralled with the passion that I have for what I am so blessed to do on a daily basis, I still have to collect a pay check. After 30 years I am very thankful to get up every day and hit the ground running.
How did you find Model Insider and what do you like best about it?
I teach as an instructor for a group called Supershoots and some of the students and models were very active on your site. I saw that, in time, they were getting some recognition through your contests and felt a bit of pride that I may have in some way helped improve their skills to the point that they had elevated the quality of their work and were wining the contests. I gave it (MI) a look and liked what I saw; the ease of the site, the portfolios and the group dynamics. So I joined and began utilizing all the tools that were available to introduce myself to the community.
What gear do you use?
No offense or judgement... I have been a Canon shooter since college and a MAC computer user since my early days at NASA. They just "fit" for me. No matter the gear, you still have to "see" the image and click the shutter at the precise moment.
What is your usual genre? Favorite genre?
Not to sound trite but after 30 years in the business, I am "still" all about what ever it is in front of my lens at that moment. I love the challenge of corporate work, the creativity of fine art and the serenity of nature and the ocean. I am comfortable with any or all. I think you have to wake up every day, knowing that you will approach each and every aspect of what you do with the same passion and enthusiasm. Of course, there is nothing better than collaborating with a beautiful subject.
How do you find models to work with?
I would like to think, that at this point in my career, that my reputation and the quality of my imagery draws models to me. I hope my imagery speaks for itself and that my ever changing styles make models enthusiastic about wanting to work with me. I am constantly reviewing model web sites like MI, looking for new faces. I also meet models from around the country at the workshops I teach. I can assure you though, there is no greater validation than one model referring you to another, it is the highest compliment. I feel I have been truly blessed to have collaborated with some of the most exceptional women and men in the industry with a common goal of creating incredible images.
Do you provide styling and makeup? Do you work with a preferred MUA?
Given the specifics of most shoots I am currently involved in, yes, makeup and styling. I think that surrounding yourself with talented individuals greatly increases the success of your shoot and I love the collaboration of a "team". If you are wanting to take your photography to the next level and get models to work with you, having a good MUA at your disposal is invaluable.
My preferred MUA, in the Huntsville area, is Ms Sylvia Smith of Pro Makeup Artist (http://promakeupartiststudio.blogspot.com/). Sylvia and I have had a long term relationship and basically are in each others head. She is the absolute best at what she does and is highly respected by her peers. She is destined to go far. Having said that, I have been blessed to work with some truly remarkable ladies (and my apologies for those that I do not mention) including Kate Carroll from Minnesota, Lauren Coleman from Miami, Alta Makeup from LA, Kristine Franks from Phoenix and Candace Corey from NYC. Their vision is amaZing!
Where do you see yourself going in the next year, artistically and business wise?
I hope I continue to grow as a photographer both artistically and professionally. I want to continue to teach and give back to the profession that has given me so much in return.You are never too old to learn. I hope I die with camera in hand.
Do you shoot both in studio and on location, and do you have a preference?
I am as comfortable in the studio as well as on location. Working for NASA all of those years put me in many different situations that I had to master. I love the controlled environment of a studio but I also embrace the elements of shooting outdoors. For me, it really is about what I want the image to say, what I want the impact to be, and the choice of "where" to accomplish that comes readily by choice.
Do you have your own studio? If not, do you find this a limitation?
I did have a studio while working for NASA and then for a number of years when I opened my studio full time. A few years back I closed the studio, moved to North Carolina on the Outer Banks and opened an art gallery. That did not quite work out the way I had hoped for so I have moved back to Huntsville, AL and looking to reopen a studio in a new location. I think it is invaluable to have a place that you feel comfortable in and allows you to create, whether somewhere in your home or a permanent studio. Given the nature of my clientele, a studio is of most importance.
Do you travel?
My profession as a freelance corporate and editorial photographer, along with instructing around the country in these workshops, keeps me on the road and in airline seats allot. But at this point in my career I would not want it any other way. I have a love relationship with Southwest Airlines.
If you are a paid tier member, would you offer a few words on the value you get from your membership?
I am not a paid tier member, currently. I do have professional relationships with a few other web sites that I have had a long term relationship with. I find these web sites invaluable for networking. I would suggest that it is up to each individual to determine their direction and find the best tools to accomplish those goals. Utilizing all the tools that a web site like MI offers could be the difference in your success. I do strongly encourage it.
Anything else you'd like to tell the Model Insiders about yourself?
I think the best thing I can say is that I can think of no other profession I could have chosen that would have given me more joy than what I have been doing. I wake up every day counting my blessings and I do not try to take myself too seriously. I have been blessed and I thank the lord for that. Also, I have been told by quite a bit by friends and peers that when "they grow up they want to be just like me!!" Well the real key is to NEVER Grow UP!!!