JPG Member Interview: Bill Gekas
Posted by David Ozanich — 5 Apr 2011
This week for the JPG Member Interview we're talking with Bill Gekas of Melbourne, Australia about babies, digital photography and more.
You seem to love photographing kids - it reminds me of Anne Geddes (though much less cloying). Are they yours?
I've shot many children in different environments but only the work I display publicly is of my young daughter in different situations. Although I don't see her as my daughter once I start shooting or viewing the finished image, she's just a metaphor, she can easily represent any child portrayed in the scene.
What makes children such good subjects? How do you relate to them when photographing?
Young children are very photogenic when you add the element of fantasy or mystery to a photograph by careful lighting, simple props and appropriate clothing. We all know how many of us cringe when somebody says "Take a look at this child photo". It's usually followed by a "Oh No! Not another kid photo".
With this style of creative child portraiture the response is more like "Oh Wow! Show me more!". It's all about taking it to another level, and that comes with pre-planning, some vision and not just dressing the child in colorful clothing and placing them in front of a white seamless. I like blurring the line between fine art and portraiture, creating something deeper.
I think we can all relate to children as we've all been there in our lives, but unfortunately many of us seem to forget that very easily and that's where we sort of fall before we even begin.
You say on your profile that you love digital photography. Did you start with this technology, or did you learn on an old fashioned film camera?
I learnt the technicals of photography shooting 35mm film from about the mid 90's onwards using an old Pentax ME-Super slr. Digital came quite a bit later on for me sometime in 2005 when I realized that digital sensors were catching up in quality and resolution to 35mm film. As much as I enjoyed shooting film I never enjoyed the b&w chemical darkroom side of it so digital just seemed so liberating in terms of cost, workflow and post processing possibilities.
What do you use Photoshop for? And maybe you don't use photoshop, but what programs or apps or whatever do you use?
Photoshop is a necessary part of my photographic workflow but it can just as easily be any other post process software. I try not to manipulate my work to the point it becomes digital art, I still want it to be and look like a photograph and in most cases only use the most common tools within the program. I'm no stranger in taking the saturation to a fairytale level or using diffusion. All these tools are at our disposal so should be used when appropriate. The key is to do it properly and not sloppily which can really show in the finished image. Work the finer details as good as you can at magnification 300% and no one will ever notice it at 100% or print level.
Any tips for someone looking to better take advantage of their digital equipment?
No matter what equipment or software we have at our disposal, the old adage of getting it right in camera as best you can still holds true in this digital age. Shoot raw and don't be scared of pushing those dials in your PP software all the way up only to turn them down to appropriate levels. All that matters is the final image and not how we got there.