We first came across Joseph's work on Instagram, where we instantly fell in love with his genuine portraits and fresh perspective. We asked Joseph to share a little bit about himself and his work with all of you, so enjoy! He's a stellar photographer, and we hope you'll follow him on Instagram where you can enjoy his latest and greatest.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with photography.
I am a native Arizonan, and I both love and find great inspiration in the desert. I am a huge fan of rainy days, baseball, film, darts, and tacos. Been Married to my wife Natalie for 8 years and have one daughter Coral and a son on the way, Giuseppe. I got into photography all thanks to my father who, despite being in professional sports, has always had a very artistic side. While working with the Angels in the 70s, my father purchased a Minolta SRT 201 that he was actually unable to afford, and my Nana had to eventually pay off on his credit card. I still have B&W shots he took that I would have to say are pretty solid.
Fast forward to the days I can remember from my youngest days, and that camera was something I was always fascinated with to the point of obsession. I would play with it when he would allow me to, just moving the aperture dial and twisting the shutter speed selector and pushing the release for hours pretending to be photographing things around the house. There was something so magical to me about that piece of equipment—the weight, the mechanical actions, and the snap of the shutter. I was addicted to it all. Eventually when I reached junior high I was able to take Photo I in 7th grade, and my father gave me what was my holy grail. To this day I still shoot on that Minolta and have also immortalized it in the form of a tattoo on my inner left bicep.
When you shoot portraits, what's your general process? How do you capture your subjects so well and what are your goals?
I don't know that I have a general process really. Most of the time I get butterflies in my stomach before I shoot, even if it is with someone I have known for years. I seem to snap frames frantically without general focus in the beginning, and then as the shoot goes on I find a focus, and I am able to better asses exactly what I want to get out of the session. I think the fact that I try to keep things so candid and fun helps to disarm and relax the models I am working with. Ultimately, my goal whenever I shoot a photo is to produce something that I am happy with. Photography is my passion, and I enjoy every single thing about it—from the dark room to digital. I make it a point to try and come away everyday with one photo I am proud of. For anyone to enjoy my work or compliment anything I do with my camera is the ultimate humbling experience.
What gear do you use? Any suggestions for aspiring photographers looking to take better portraits?
My main digital rig is a Canon 5D Mark III and I typically use the 85mm 1.2 or 40mm STM 2.8 when in the confines of the studio. I also shoot on a Hasselblad 500C with an 80mm 2.8 and a Canon EOS 1V for my film bodies.
I don't know that my body of work exactly affords me the ability to dole out too much advice as I am still learning plenty myself. The best advice I could give anyone is to shoot daily and obsessively. Carry your camera with you everywhere you go and try to capture a single image that you are happy with daily. Also, you can always learn more about photography, so take classes, even if it is a Photo I course that you think you is below your skill level. I can't tell you how many classes I have taken just to gain insight from a different teacher/photographer.
I see that you often work with film. What do you love about film that you can't get digitally? Do you prefer one over the other? Especially for portraits?
What I love about film the most is this—you have to slow down. It forces you to put the brakes on what you're doing. There is also the unknown. You don't know what the film is going to look like when you get it back, even if you shot it in the best lighting circumstances metered to what you thought was the perfect exposure. I enjoy the grain and the fact that you can physically hold a piece of film in your hands. You can't just change your ISO on the fly either—you are forced to adapt to your situation and think about your composition as well. I am rambling on how much I love film, but I will say that I don't prefer one over the other. Like I said earlier, I just love photography. I tend to shoot film and digital at the same time and tend to always have the 5D and 500C with me in my car always. You will get a different feel from either format, and there is no reason to limit yourself.