Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Daniel Lozada. Read on to learn more about the production of his photos.
How long have you been a photographer & how did you begin your journey?
I've been a photographer since the fall of 2012, but only began to really pursue it seriously during the summer of 2015. My field study in college was media and I learned how to shoot and edit commercials. In 2010, I was hired by a non-profit to fill a Creative Director role. I invested in a Canon 60D kit with my limited post-college budget and went to work story boarding. I was their entire creative department, so I had to wear a lot of hats. After two years of frustration, I realized on the drive home that I just worked my last day with that organization before telling anyone. On that drive, I looked at my camera in the passenger seat and made the decision to try my hand at photography. After going through the beginner phase ranging from bad senior photos to not so great newborn shoots and a few dive bar concerts, I find myself now living in New York City pursuing a new stage of freelance photography.
How would you describe your photographic style?
I try to find a personal connection with my subjects. If I'm just myself and try to get to know them, it makes it easier for both parties during the shoot. Too many people, male photographers, for the most part, make things weird. DON'T BE WEIRD. Just be YOU and be there to work and create and be professional. Other than that, I like symmetry ( sorry Rule of Third enthusiasts ), observing how the models move and natural body language when I'm not shooting to try and bring something natural that translates on camera, and clean edits with close to the natural colors in my portraits. When it comes to conceptual shoots, I have a more cinematic vibe to get that movie still feeling.
What is your favorite genre to shoot? What tips do you have for shooting some of your favorite genres?
I don't shoot this as often as I'd like to, but it's definitely conceptual. Gregory Crewdson is a huge inspiration and I'm a big movie buff, so I like creating a story to capture but leaving enough mystery so that the audience has to fill in the blanks with their own interpretation. Create a pitch with the story you want to communicate. Include location idea, wardrobe styling, when you're looking to shoot and who else will be involved. You don't have to have a big budget. Use your friendships and family to help donate things you can use. Goodwill is always a photographers best friend. Intentionally scout for your story. Don't scout someone who isn't willing to look less than their best or literally get dirty. You want people who will really buy into your vision and the role they will play.
What advice or tips would you give to other photographers regarding finding their style?
They say your first 10,000 shots will be your worst, so shoot often and get that out of the way. Your style can be influenced by what you expose yourself to, so follow the right verified photographers on social media and then see who they follow and spend time falling down that rabbit hole. Go to bookstores and look through photo books and magazines. Online streaming resources like CreativeLive, Skillshare and YouTube also helped me early on and still do to this day.
Do you own multiple cameras? Which is your favorite?
Yes, it's always a balance of too many, but still not enough! Lately, my favorite has been my Bronica ETRSi medium format camera with a 75mm f2.8 lens. I feel like I'm a director when I use that camera due to the look and feel.
What gear are you hoping to add to your collection?
I'm looking to save up for a good lighting kit. I sold my old kit shortly after I moved to New York, but now I find myself really needing one again with the work I've been doing lately.
This photo was shot in Central Park using my Bronica ETRSi medium format camera with Kodak Portra 400. The lens that was used was a Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8. The shot was captured on an overcast and muggy day, using natural light, toward the end of June 2018. We were casually walking throughout the park and conversing about life and insights of the model and photographer industries. We found ourselves near the Central Park boathouse and saw a patch of trees and greenery, on a small hill, where there was a perfect opening of light. Martha has a Marylin Monroe inspired look and this was clearest in this photo. We've shot a few times and I always look forward to working with her whenever she's in town. No post production other than removing a few dust scratches after receiving the scans from the lab.
This was taken in Tribeca as we were walking to Washington Square Park during a warm February day of this year. The camera used was my Fujifilm XT-2 with an XF35mm f/1.4 Fujinon lens. Imani had about 3 inches on me so I used the tilted screen on the back of the camera to my advantage and raised the camera above her head and shot at a downward angle using natural light with the help of a reflector to fill in the shadows cast under her chin. If you zoom in you can actually see the reflector in her eyes.
This was a conceptual shoot most recently captured during my visit home to Cleveland, Oh in mid-July. This was shot again with my Bronica ETRSi medium format camera paired with a 75mm f/2.8 lens. It was my first concept shoot done totally on film using two rolls of Kodak TMax 400. This was shot at the far end of a beach on Lake Erie during golden hour. You can see the full set on my website under the title of 'Dikhotomia' in the menu. I can't say enough about Steph and how she was willing to get dirty and uncomfortable for the shoot. It goes back to casting your characters correctly. Shout out to my assistants Samm, Allie and Lorenzo for believing in my last minute vision to make it happen. I took them out for ice cream afterward to celebrate. It was a good time. As far as post-processing, there was a little shadow brightening if her skirt.
Here we have one of my favorite concept shoots during August 2016. This was shot on a Fujifilm XT-1 using a 35mm Fujinon f/1.4 lens. All props involved, I think I spent maybe $20 at local thrift shops and the rest of the props were donated by friends. It was shot at a 4-second exposure to maximize the use of the lights that were being used. A monolight on Madeline in the background and three flashlights on Naudia in the foreground ( two iPhone flashlights taped to the tv screen and one normal flashlight on the top of the tv set ). Sidenote, Naudia broke her arm a couple days before the shoot and I had her keep the temporary cast on to add to the oddity of the story. Post processing was done in Photoshop and Lightroom.