Last week we featured Blake Sommers in our Sports series and today we get the opportunity to get to know Blake a bit better. His sports photography has really caught my eye and it appears he shoots portarits as well. Have a look at his links at the end of this interview.
Tell us a little bit about you?
Well I’m 20 years old (almost 21), I’ve spent the majority of my life playing in the outdoors and really enjoyed it. I have WAY to many hobbies! Kayaking, climbing, motocross and so many more things that love to take all my money.
Where do you consider home?
I live in Spokane Washington and have lived here most of my life. I also feel very at home in the mountains, sometimes it’s nice to get away from all the technology we are surrounded with every day and just spend a little time in Gods creation.
Usually an interesting question is the Education one. Did you attend school for Photography?
I did not, after doing a shoot with a friend a while back and really enjoying it I saved up a little money and went to the local camera store and bought a Canon T3i which I actually still have. It serves as my backup body for the time being.
How long have you been a photographer?
It was just about 1 year ago that I picked up a camera.
What or who got you started in photography?
Close friend of mine Brian Jamieson brought me along to go shoot at a local skatepark here in Spokane. I think he let me use one of his cameras to try things out. It was shortly after that I decided to go buy my own camera and thats where it all began!
How would you describe your style?
Hmm, thats tough! I think others could answer that better than I can. I just do what I think looks good, it’s hard to put a name on that.
What is your current gear setup?
Canon 7D is my primary body and the Canon T3I is my backup. I have a Canon 70-200 F4L and a Canon 50 1.8. For all the lighting gear I have a Canon 430Ex II, Alien Bee B800, Paul C Buff 64 Inch PLM, 45 Inch Apollo Orb, and a Paul C Buff Beauty Dish.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
I use the Pixel King Triggers for all my off camera flash work. (Which is the majority of my work) They have been wonderful! No miss fires to date and they are super cheap! Love it!
What is your favorite lens and why?
If I am outside it’s my 70-200 It’s so sharp and focuses so fast. Very close behind that is my 50mm. It defiantly suites my shooting style.
What lighting equipment do you take on a regular shoot if any?
For a portrait shoot I will usually take my B800 with the beauty dish in front of it and a vagabond mini to give it some power. If the shoot requires it I will usually rent a few more lights. I’ve been very happy with all the alien bee units.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer? How about software?
If I had it it would be a Wacom Tablet! I have used them in the past and it was super helpful for retouching. Since I don’t have one I’d say Lightroom 4/Photoshop.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
Very, all my retouching is done in Photoshop.
Are you a Mac or PC lover?
Mac, I had so many issues with Pc’s in the past and I just got fed up. My iMac has been awesome!
Do you plan on buying any new equipment in the near future and if so what do you have your eyes set on?
Oh gosh, this might take a while!
Canon or Sigma 50 1.4
Canon 100mm Macro
Few more alien bee’s
Canon 6D (I wanna be on a full frame body so bad!)
Ill stop there haha
Your work really inspires myself and many others to pursue photography in a wider degree. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
Well thanks! I think if you a passionate about what you do and pursue it with everything you have your going to see “Amazing images.” Before I picked up a camera I was the farthest thing from a creative individual. I didn’t look at the world through an artists eyes. Shortly after I started shooting that all changed, I see the world so much differently now. I can’t count the number of almost times I almost gotten in a wreck because I was starring at some ridiculous sunset thinking how I could shoot it. I don’t watch movies for entertainment anymore, now they are just a great place for me to find inspiration in the cinematography.
What has been your most memorable or favorite project and why?
I think right now the urban shoot we just did! I’m super stoked on the pictures I got that night and I worked with an awesome group of guys to make it happen. It’s just so nice when everything comes together!
Is there a photographer you would love to say you got your photograph taken by?
Peter Hurley! He is the one that inspired me to work on head shots and I have found so much inspiration through his “Art of the headshot” video. He opened up my eyes to the possibility of being able to take something so traditional like a head shot and make an extremely powerful image out of it!
Do you have or ever use an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on an projects?
Yes, Lacey La Duke has been a HUGE help! She just helped me shoot a wedding in Spokane in December. http://ladukephoto.com/
Do you have a website and/or blog you visit often? How about forums?
I spend a lot of time browsing on 500px. When I was starting out the blog “strobist” was a HUGE help.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about being an artist?
In the beginning it was settling into a style. I’m now at a point where when people book me for Senior Pictures (Or anything else) they know what kind of photos to expect. I always find myself praying that God would give me the strength and courage to keep working hard, its not an easy industry to be in sometimes.
What do you think of the current state of the photography industry and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
I’m worried but at the same time it’s very exciting. I do see a industry thats full of “fake photographers” the people that will shoot a wedding for 200 dollars then add a white vignette to the image… As irritating as that is it gives me and others a chance to show the public what “Professional Photos” actually are.
If I wasn’t a photographer, I would have loved to have been a writer or film director. What would you have been?
I’ve always enjoyed helping people so I’d see myself in some form of ministry work or a teaching job.
Is there a particular person in your life that you could say has taught you the most out of anyone you know?
In terms of photography Mike Franklin has been a huge help! http://spokanefamilyphoto.com/wedding/
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Jesus Christ baby!
What is your greatest fear?
Having my gear stolen. (But thats what insurance is for)
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Get my family all situated financially, there are some awesome ministries that I would give some money too and then buy the necessities I need for photo work and save the rest for later in life.
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
Exactly what I am doing now
And the last question, if you had one wish…
That my photos would evoke emotion in people when they see them. Some more creative people in the world would be sweet too!