Photographer Interview: Freddy Clark

Freddy Clark is a food, product, and beverage photographer, as well as a hobbyist of other kinds of photography.

I got to know Freddy’s work thanks to the Google+ On Taking Pictures podcast community (listen to it – it’s a great show), and I was excited to learn more about his work and his ambitions.

Where are you and what do you do?

I live in central New Jersey, outside of New York City. For my day job, I’m a Product Manager in Technology for an investment company. I’ve been a part time photographer, doing portraits, weddings, and events for about five years now. Recently I started a food/product photography business called Santé Photography. The goal is to have a focus on food and beverage photography for commercial work.

How did you get started in photography?

I had been doing family photos and videos since my daughter was born in 1998. Little by little I realized that the pictures meant a lot because of the subject, but I wanted to learn how to make them look more professional, so I started to read magazines and what ever I could find on line, over my crappy dial-up connection.

I taught myself how to edit digital video after I got my first video camera and then got a job at a local Photo/Video Studio. Officially I was doing the wedding video editing, but I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could about shooting video and stills. Over time I realized that I really enjoyed shooting stills more than video. I started second shooting weddings and things great from there.

What do you like about your photography?

Depends which day you ask me. Some days, there’s nothing I like about it.

You do a few different types of photography: products, portraits, still life. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

I try to keep my eyes open as I move through my day. I don’t really believe in inspiration. I think it can be a crutch for people. You want inspiration? Keep making pictures. Is everyone going to be brilliant? Nope. Ansel Adams said something like he felt it was a good year if you got a few good pictures from it. Look at the website of a photographer you really admire. You’re seeing their best, not their entire Lightroom catalog or hard drive like you do your own. You don’t see their crap, but you do see your own crap, so people think the good ones were inspired, but they are not. Just keep working.

Through the work, you will get better and maybe come up with a few that others can attribute to inspiration. The muses come to you when you are working. Not the other way around. I make pictures of things and people that interest me. If I like it first, then I’m on the right track.

What about food/beverage photography gets you excited?

The lighting. I’ve gotten the feeling that people look at product shots as less than artistic. Try doing a really good job lighting a few different reflective surfaces without having blown highlights or weird reflections. It’s hard to do. Not taking anything away from other photographers, but nailing the lighting on product shots will make you really know how to use your lights and make you better at portraits or even seeing light on the street. I find it to be a challenge.

What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?

The above mentioned lighting. That and trying to connect with a person or place. Lately I’ve been bored with pretty pictures. I’m trying to find another level beyond the sunset, the guy in a red jacket walking down the street or the pretty landscape. I’m not there yet…I’ve thrown out a lot of pictures lately, but I feel like there’s something right around the corner. I can almost see it, but I just keep missing it. Finding another meaning, another level another element. If it has good light and interesting to look at, sometimes that is enough. I don’t know, sometimes it seems like pretentious art gallery bullshit. Nailing the lighting on a product shot makes me happy, lighting a good looking plate of food does too. The rest of my photography, I’m looking for something else and I haven’t quite yet found it.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

I’ve been experimenting with some liquid motion photographs. It’s still a work in progress, a messy work in progress. Nothing ready to be shared yet, but getting there.

You can follow Freddy and see his work on Twitter and his G+ profile.