INTERVIEW: Chris DeLorenzo, Photographer
We're starting off a new series on here that will be monthly interviews with photographers, film makers, business people, designers, and anyone else who makes great creative work happen. We know it's all about the process, and we'll be talking with these people about how they got started and what they do now to make sure they are always performing at the highest level. If you want to be a part of this series, or know of someone you think would be great we would love to hear from you. Send us a link at firstname.lastname@example.org. - Now, we're incredibly excited to start this off with the great Chris DeLorenzo. Let's do this.
WES JONES: I first came across your photography through Instagram and immediately loved everything I saw. For those that’ don’t know of you yet, give us a rundown of where you came from and when you first started making pictures?
CHRIS DELORENZO: Thanks Wes! For the past year I have been living in Los Angeles, CA. I’m from a suburban town in New Jersey, where I started having an interest in photography around 9 or 10 years ago. I was always into drawing and art but with photography I think I could express my ideas better. With the help of my super supportive parents, I was able to shoot all the time. They would drive me so many places and looking back It’s amazing how much energy they poured into my passion. I don't come from a specific background of surf or anything like that, so I kind of just captured what I loved, with my concentration on simply creating beautiful work.
WJ: When did you realize that you wanted to make this more than a serious hobby?
CD: I really can’t remember a specific time. It was almost like I had known the whole time this is what I was going to be doing. It was pretty cool that way. When it came time to figure out my post high school plans, it wasn't a question of photography as a career or not, but rather how I was going to achieve that. At the time I was looking into a school in California called Brooks Institute, and ended up moving there but not attending the school. Photo school really isn't for everyone, but it can provide a great education. I think I was really self motivated and knew that I could force myself to shoot/learn every day. I wanted to jump right into the industry and would rather intern and assist than sit in a classroom.
WJ: The best thing about your pictures is that no matter what the subject is, there is an underlying quality to each photo that makes it distinctly yours. How do you approach a job? What’s your process for working with a client to work out the creative?
CD: I believe that style is crucial for any artist. It’s your identity and brand. In terms of working with others, I think you really need to be a good listener and collaborator. You need to bring your ideas to the table, while respecting their needs. You have to exude confidence every second you are around your clients. Clients almost always know what they don't want better than what they do want, which is totally understandable. This is the reason they hire photographers. Sometimes it’s more about being a great people person (mind reader) than button pusher. I think I try to meet their needs and then go a step further. If you under promise and over deliver, it’s exponentially better than vice versa.
WJ: Following that how do you work on set, we’ve talked about where we think the commercial industry is heading in regards to aesthetic, so to capture those more gritty / raw images do you let things be loose and see what happens, or are these shoots more calculated beforehand?
CD: This process is still evolving for me, but I think that the vibe is calculated beforehand, and the actual imagery/poses are natural and uncontrived. I do a lot of self reflecting on this. When I see my shots are becoming too contrived I know I need to change something. The problem usually lies in my source of inspiration, the “why” being the photograph. Planning out hero shots can definitely help you, but I believe some of the best images are those candid moments where beauty effortlessly appears in the poses, light, or expressions of the subject.
That retro film look is pretty in right now, and I have much respect for people who nail that look. I just don't see myself creating images like that. Im so passionate and almost obsessive about achieving deep tones and electric colors in my images.
WJ: Much of your work is with models / people and everyone is of course different, but how do you collaborate with them in order to achieve your vision for the project?
CD: I think having an idea of the story you want to portray is crucial. Capturing a pose or composition is really only half the battle. The power of a single photograph can be immense, but more often than not, telling a cohesive story with multiple images is much stronger. It sounds cliche but keeping it as real as possible is the best way to shoot. Nothing becomes forced when they are actually having fun or laughing at jokes being cracked.
WJ: This is a pure indulgence but whats the breakdown of your gear kit? And I know you recently got an underwater housing, what are some of the different challenges that come with shooting from the water and what do you hope to be doing with this new medium?
CD: I'm totally a gear head myself. I know a great camera doesn't make the photographer but I’m a strong believer that you need to have the best tools you can get your hands on. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III with 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses. I use the 100-400 occasionally for surf, with a tripod and a Manfrotto fluid head and some Neutral Density filters to cut the light. I have an Aquatech surf housing which is an incredible tool which literally opens up worlds for shooting. My computers are all Mac’s and I use a Wacom tablet for retouching. I carry my gear around in a few Pelican hard cases, and some backpacks for smaller excursions.
WJ: Your portfolio has a great breadth of work and an already recognizable style. How are you looking to grow both creatively and professionally?
CD: It’s funny, when I think I’m happy with my portfolio, 6 months later the images are completely changed. It’s a crazy, but healthy process. I love shooting natural light, and hopefully will continue to keep that a main focus, but I want to explore more with artificial light to stay well rounded. I’m also collaborating with designers, videographers and artists to involve myself in these other fields that I really enjoy. Aside from that, traveling is huge on my bucket list right now. It sounds cliche wanting to travel, but theres nothing more refreshing than exploring the unknown.
WJ: That's awesome Chris, I'm excited to see what new projects you work on this year and of course hoping something comes up that we can work on together. For those that want to know more about you or see some more pictures where can they find you online?
WJ: Thanks, Chris!