Beyond The Lens – Connecticut photographer David Westlake is a photographer with great experience and a lot of stories to tell and we are on our quest to discover his amazing journey, one question at a time. I recently got in touch with the photographer to let him know I was interested in doing an interview and he kindly accepted. I’ve been following his work for about two-years and have grew into becoming a fan while covering news on other rising talent. He has collaborated with dozens of models in the New England area. I was also able to get him to reveal some of his favorite models to shoot with.
The interview consist of around eleven questions and digs enough to give everyone an idea of Westlake’s life, through the eyes of the photographer. He gave power advice to combat terrible feed back, how to begin as a photographer and how to prevent your work from being stolen. Check out the awesome interview below!
Internet Hollywood: When was the day you came to the realization that photography was something you wanted to do in your life?
Westlake: Around 1968 I found my dads old Ciro-Flex TLR in the closet. I went to the corner drug store and bought a roll of 120 and shot some pictures. My uncle had a photo shop and taught me how to develop and print. Watching the image appear in the developer was like magic……I was hooked.
Internet Hollywood: Is editing pictures as good as you do them as hard as it looks from a beginners eyes? I noticed a lot of people get discouraged from imagining how much work it will take to pull it off.
Westlake: I really don’t do a lot of editing. I play a bit with brightness And contrast and touch up dust if I scan b&w negatives. I’m kind of old school. I work really hard to get it right in the camera.
Internet Hollywood: What would you say is the most challenging photo shoot that you had to do that turned out great even when you thought it was going to turn out bad?
Westlake: About a year ago I did a shoot with Krystal Lee. It was about 5 days after I had a motorcycle accident. I had two broken ribs which were quite painful. I only brought one digital camera and one film camera because I didn’t want to carry much. The flash shoe on the film camera didn’t work so that was out. After about 10 shots my Canon 7D stopped working. The owner of the studio loaned me a Nikon and I shot about 30 images and gave up. I went home and took some pain pills and crashed. When I edited the next day I ended up with several really good images. Even though I was in a lot of pain and had TWO cameras crap out it wasn’t a total loss.
Internet Hollywood: How does a photographer recover from bad feed back that may have damaged their reputation?
Westlake: Art is subjective, some can look at a Jackson Pollack and see a work of genius. Others see a drop cloth. If someone doesn’t like my work that’s ok. If somebody says my work sucks I’ll accept that as their opinion. If they can tell me why it sucks and offer suggestions on how to make it not suck it can be a learning experience. On a personal level I treat people with respect and act professionally. That is more important to me than whether or not everyone likes my work.
Internet Hollywood: Have you ever imagined yourself being in one of the photo shoots you did?
Westlake: No, I like to stay behind the camera.
Internet Hollywood: What would you say is the easiest way to begin as a photographer with no experience?
Westlake: Sorry, I was in several meetings. My best advice would be to network and find a mentor. If you can afford it hire an experienced model like Isabel Vinson and let her know you’re new. Develop a thick skin and be willing to accept constructive criticism. At least with today’s digital cameras you can instantly tell how you’re doing.
Internet Hollywood: What would you say is your dream photo shoot?
Westlake: I’m pretty old school. I’d love to do a shoot in a mansion or a Caribbean island using an 8 X 10 view camera.
Internet Hollywood: How long do you imagine yourself doing photography before you put it to the side and focus on something else?