I have been so fortunate & honored to have such a great photographer to work with for the past few years.
He has been more than helpful and more than enthusiastic whenever I would bring up any kind of photoshoot.
He absolutely LOVES photography, and you can see this from all the posts on his Google+ and other social media, in which he has over 30,000 fans.
His photographic discipline reaches across several fields including landscapes, animals, modeling shoots with many amazing women, plants and flowers, self-portraits... although his main passion within the art is studio portraiture, which is clearly evident from his website, www.paulhowardphoto.com.
I interviewed him about this passion of his, and being a (former) photographer myself, it was quite insightful. Approaching 60 years in age, his tremendous passion for photography is written all over his face.
AM: How did you get started in photography?
PH: "I got started backwards, kind of. I loved it when I was in my teens, I was going to go to college for photojournalism, which didn't pan out, and I dabbled in my 20s. But being film and having a young family, it wasn't financially feasible to pursue.
When I turned 50, I lamented that I hadn't kept it up. My wife told me I could start anew, or keep complaining until my pension came in. I bought another camera and started again."
AM: What are some of your proudest accomplishments and what are you doing now that is exciting?
PH: "It's very cool when you get published in the paper or on a website or place in a competition. But the biggest ones are still the one on one thanks from a client.
And that's still the most exciting."
AM: Did you set specific goals?
PH: "Actually, no. When I started photography again at 50, I bought a reasonably cheap Canon Rebel and decided I'd shoot whatever caught my eye and, if I kept it up after six months, I'd expand from there. But no specific goals aside from seeing if I was still interested."
AM: What would you say are some priorities in your life now and in the past?
PH: "I think just to keep moving forward, to keep coming up with new ideas and new ways to do things. I guess my priority would be to keep it fun. The moment anything you love becomes a burden, it kills your passion for it."
AM: Are there any mistakes you've made to learn from?
PH: "Oh man, every day, all the time. There is always something new to learn technically or creatively, but that's all part of the process. If we didn't mess it up on a regular basis, we'd never find out anything new."
AM: What equipment do you use right now on a regular basis, and do you have any pieces of equipment you would consider your "secret weapon"?
PH: "My equipment used is dependent on what it is I'm doing. For walking around use, I use the Olympus OM-D E-M1, together with Olympus and Panasonic lenses. That setup is small, quick, easy, and light!! For studio work, portraits, events, I am using a Canon 5D Mark III and a series of Canon lenses.
My "go to" lens for people would definitely be my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. I LOVE the look it gives for portraits! But if I have a secret weapon, I suppose it would be the Petzval 85mm Art lens. It's touchy, manual, tough to focus, but produces the softest, most beautiful and unique bokeh that I've ever seen! I use it rarely, but the shots from it are just magic!"
AM: What motivates you?
PH: "I think my biggest motivator is the people that I photograph. I never thought that would be the case. I've been fortunate to have a number of photo subjects who hadn't been in front of a camera before and actually had a serious lack of confidence about how they looked to others. I firmly believe that there's SOMETHING indefinable about everyone. Something they don't usually see themselves, but can be seen by others.
I certainly haven't been able to do it every single time, but more often now I get at least one image that shows how I'M seeing someone, something past that outer layer. When I show that to the person having their photo taken and they just freeze for a moment because THEY see it... that's magic!! And that motivates me to want to do this again and again."
AM: How has the industry changed since you got started?
PH: "Even in just the seven years since I got serious about this again, the number of people who have access to and actually publish (via social media) photos has grown exponentially day by day, which has tremendously devalued the art - and I do feel photography is art - produced by professionals. It makes it difficult for them and anyone aspiring to be professional to actually earn a living doing this. Cameras have become really inexpensive and really good in their image quality. Snapshots will always just be snapshots, and those people don't have a desire to become professional anyway, but the millions of photos uploaded every day make it so much harder to find the real quality work amongst it all. Even big name magazines like Time have now dropped their rates and, apparently, their standards, as they "can get photos anywhere". It's not helping those with a passion to create great stuff.
Although there is some GREAT amateur photography, it puts me in mind of 'an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters....'. "
AM: Are there any memorable turning points or connections that really made a difference in your career?
PH: "Photographically, it was one particular photo session. There was a young lady that it took me three years to get in front of the camera. I had photographed people before, but I never really did a portrait session or "model shoot". When I saw what I was getting from her and out of the camera is when I thought THIS is what I want to be doing! That completely changed the way I looked at my own photography."
AM: What was your (childhood) dream and are you living it right now? (or working towards that)
PH: "I'm downright envious of those people who say they knew they wanted to do what they're doing now back when they were five years old. I wanted to be everything at various times, a lawyer, a photographer, a priest, an astronaut, a spy, you name it.
Today, I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. For the moment, I'm loving being a photographer!"
AM: Do you have any suggestions or MUSTS for me?
PH: "DO IT! If an opportunity comes up, take it. I have a lot of missed opportunities because I was too hesitant. I don't have regrets, there's no point in that, so I'm reincorporating some of those things that I passed up earlier. But you can't do that with the once in a lifetime ones. Just do it.
There will still be things that get missed for a multitude of reasons. If they do, they do, and you carry on without regret. "
Here are a few photos from this past year.
Check out more of his photographic masterpieces by clicking here.