It is with great pleasure I have the opportunity to interview a personal friend and colleague, Ron, of Ethereal Pixels for GlamModelz Magazine. He is one of the most encouraging individuals in the modeling industry today. He often shares his technical expertise with models and photographers that are striving to visualize and reach the next level. One always feels encouraged after speaking with him. As I’ve followed Ron’s work, what is apparent is the gradual development of a highly unique and individualized style. His fingerprint is evident on every image that he produces. What is equally as unique is his degree of professionalism and rapport with the team with which he works. His reputation is beyond compare.
Let’s get started Ron! Tell me about your background. How did you get started in Photography? Ron: My roots in photography go back to my youth. My father was a part-time professional photographer who inspired me with his love for photography and the amazing ability of the camera to capture the beauty of the world. We had a full professional darkroom in the San Francisco home that I grew up in, literally steps away from my bedroom. Starting in my early teens, I began working in the darkroom with my father, learning both film developing and printing. We also had a small studio and lighting setup where I began to learn the artistic power of light.
As a teenager and through my years of college and grad school, my cameras were never far from my side, often shooting portraits, glamour concepts, and reflecting my love for the outdoors through landscape work. I took numerous photography courses during my years of school, and even was invited to attend a Yosemite workshop with the late, great Ansel Adams when I was a teenager. I also spent many years working in San Francisco photography stores to help support myself while attending high school and later my attendance at UC Berkeley.
GlamModelz Magazine: Why Glamour /Beauty? What other genre’s and styles interest you? Ron: The glamour and beauty genres reflect my appreciation for the beauty of women and the never-ending challenge of working with different personalities, human forms, and the lighting challenges to create memorable art.
My roots in photography really began with shooting landscapes, and even today, I’ve always got at least one camera and a bunch of lenses with me on every trip I take… never knowing if I’ll be there to capture a unique sunset, rushing white-water on a river, or some other magnificent occurrence of nature. As a result, I always try to bring that passion for the outdoors to my work in the glamour and beauty genres. I much prefer to shoot onsite, whether it is out among nature, or at some intriguing, highly-textured setting. It inspires me to do my best work. While many prefer the static, controlled environment of a studio, I seem to rise to the challenges of shooting in a more dynamic environment. The ever-changing light conditions make me a better photographer, as I am constantly adapting, improvising, and learning to use these conditions to my advantage. In the end, it is my hope that the model and I end up with images that are artfully conceived, well executed technically, and visually intriguing… images that standout from the norm of the genre.
GlamModelz Magazine: What or who inspires you as a photographer? Ron: I am inspired by the challenge to constantly improve my skills and to shoot visually stimulating images in visually stimulating settings. Often, the more challenging the shoot, the more engaged I become, and the more I am inspired to produce my best work. I am also inspired when I work with models who are engaging and creative, who contribute to what should be a collaborative process during our planning and the actual shoot. Hmmm… I bet I sound like I’m just a bit “Type A”. LOL. I guess that I’ve got to admit that I am!
GlamModelz Magazine: What challenges do you face in this industry? What would you change about it, if you could? Ron: I am very fortunate, and yet find myself sometimes unfulfilled by the fact that photography is not my primary source of income. The positive aspect is that I’m not confined by the demands of producing an income from my photographic work to a level that would keep me living the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. On the other hand, I don’t get a chance to work fulltime living one of my life’s greatest passions.
I would not change anything about the industry, but might change the road I traveled down in my life where I took that heavily academic route through UC Berkeley, law school, and then getting an MBA. I clearly succumbed to parental pressures and expectations to become successful in their eyes, yet not always in synch with my inner desires. I learned a life lesson in the process… that the greatest happiness in life comes from finding a way to live your passions.
GlamModelz Magazine: What equipment is essential for you as a photographer within the modeling industry, to capture your “best shot”? Ron: I tend to be a bit o f a minimalist in my approach to shooting models. Since I primarily shoot onsite, I am usually working with some element of natural light. The key is to understand the light and work to compliment it in the creation of my desired art. So, my most essential equipment is probably my hand-held Sekonic flash meter! Beyond that, I’m almost always shooting with at least one primary light, and often two additional lights to achieve the desired highlights and mood. I tend to use a wide range of light modifiers to tailor the light appropriately for the desired result. I also would never underestimate the importance of purchasing the best quality lenses one can afford. I cherish my investment in optics, and view my lenses as being essential to creating quality work.
GlamModelz Magazine: Paid vs. TF* shoots – What are your views and preferences? Ron: I always am looking for paid assignments that are challenging and aligned to my artistic interests, however I am very open to TF shoots with high quality models that bring the same level of professionalism to their work as I commit to bring to mine.
GlamModelz Magazine: How would you best describe your personal style? Ron: I am a perfectionist at heart, yet try not to let that get in the way of my creative energies. I am easy going and have a good sense of humor, yet I’m highly detailed in my approach to photography and my relationship with models. I would rather err on the side of discussing a shoot in too much detail, rather than later find that there was insufficient detail resulting in some sort of misunderstanding. One of the early life lessons that my father taught me is that, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” This has shaped many aspects of my life and my photography. I always give everything I undertake my best effort. I may not succeed, but I always know I tried my hardest. By the way, I ALWAYS try to have a good time during a photo shoot, and to make sure that the model does, too!
GlamModelz Magazine: What are your goals for your photography? Other goals? Ron: I am always striving to improve, to learn from the best in this business, and to be inspired by others. I am a voracious reader of photography books, and photographic websites, as well as attending workshops with some of the best photographers in the world when the opportunity presents itself. I guess one could say I’m on a life-long quest to be the best that I can be and to always challenge myself to learn. I hope that I am able to make photography an ever-increasing commercial aspect of my life, and that I can earn enough from my professional photographic work to reduce my need to work in the other professional areas of my life.
Other goals… to be the best person I can be; the best life partner to my beautiful wife; and the best father I can be to my two incredible sons. They are the true centers of my being.
GlamModelz Magazine: What qualities should Models/MUA’s/Stylists, etc have to work with you? Ron: I expect that everyone that I work with brings their “A game” to their work. I can’t ask anything more of anyone other than to give their very best to every endeavor they undertake, including shooting with me.
I have very little tolerance for people who don’t respect my time, or the time of others. This industry is unfortunately full of models, stylists, and I’m sure “photographers” who cancel at the last moment, don’t show up on time, or think its ok to turn a shoot into a social outing with girlfriends or boyfriends. I cherish the time I have to create my art. I show up on-time and ready to shoot and I expect the same of other professionals.
GlamModelz Magazine: Tell us about your biggest accomplishment to date or what makes you most proud. Ron: Clearly my biggest accomplishment in my life is being an involved and committed father of my two sons who I am so very proud of.
In the realm of photography, I view accomplishments in terms of goals that I set for myself, and my ability to execute the vision that I have in my mind for a given image.
GlamModelz Magazine: What advice do you have for new/amateur photographers who want to shoot with models? Ron: Well, it seems like so many new, amateur photographers want to shoot “glamour”. I use that term loosely because it seems that simply shooting a woman nude is considered “glamour” photography by so many. In my view, the most important sexual organ is the mind, thus the real art to glamour photography is to shoot images that stimulate the mind, often leaving something to the imagination or offering a unique perspective on the subject. It is so much more difficult to do this well, and so much easier to merely shoot someone without their clothes on. So, my advice is never to lose sight of what is “art”, and to never convince yourself that a mere snapshot of someone with their clothes off is worthy of being defined as art. I’m sure that comment will offend some readers. Oh well!
GlamModelz Magazine: Any advice for models? Ron: I always recommend that models are realistic about their careers and that they maintain a broad perspective on their goals for their lives. Long after the beauty of their youth begins to fade, they will need to have an education and career that can carry them passionately through the balance of their lives. Most importantly, act professionally, and do what you say you’re going to do. I often find myself becoming a long term friend with the models that I shoot , and often find myself in the role of coaching them on the broader aspects of life… whether it’s about modeling, staying in school, their other jobs, or sometimes how to handle a renegade boyfriend! LOL.
GlamModelz Magazine: In addition to photography, do you have other skills/interests/talents in which you excel? Ron: I’ve always been an avid sports enthusiast… from skiing, running, cycling… to golf. In my college days, I ran ski programs and worked as a ski instructor. I’ve even had the opportunity to heli-ski in the Canadian Bugaboo Mountains. Last fall, I cycled for a week through much of the French wine country, travelling up and down rolling and sometimes steep terrain to reach scenic villages. I also have played golf since I was 12 years of age and have often dipped into the single-digit handicap range when I have sustained time to play. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a jock, in addition to being a photographer!
GlamModelz Magazine: What other interesting facts would you like GlamModelz readers to know about you? Ron: Well, what you see is what you get with me. I don’t have time in my busy life for pretense or interaction with others on a less than honest basis. I find that I can sleep soundly at night by knowing that my integrity has been preserved.
GlamModelz Magazine: Thanks again, Ron , for taking time to share with our readers about your passion!
Dave of GlamModelz Magazine.