Photography Since Day One By Kyle Willis
As many of you may know, I’m a photographer. It’s my passion, in my veins and I feel like it may be a family phenomenon. My father has been my true inspiration since I purchased my camera last December. When other family members told me to “put down my plastic toy and do something that would better myself,” I would feel offended but would ultimately brush it off and say okay just to make them happy. What most people don’t understand is there’s a difference between having a hobby and having a passion.
Ever since my parents bought me my first camera at the age of five or six I’ve always been fascinated by it. With my father being a professional, he always had the nice equipment and I fell into what us photographers call “gear hungry”. It’s when one drools over equipment that they don’t have and lose interest in what their current gear can offer them (at the time I had a little 110 film camera). This is actually hard to get past in my opinion but once you get past it, you regain your self realization that your equipment is actually very beneficial. Without being “gear hungry”, the focus turns to the images as opposed to the equipment used to capture them.
In the early stages I thought of photography as a hobby and that it wouldn’t get me anywhere. To be blunt I was clearly wrong. Taking pictures has brought me great joy over the past year and I anticipate it carrying on for many more. The investment that I made in December 2011 and January 2012 was the best choice I have ever made, but I can’t take all the credit, my parents contributed a significant amount. After that investment and what truly got me to where I am today was my good friend Daniel Quiyu. Before I had purchased my iMac I was actually leaning towards buying a PC because it was a lot cheaper. He offered to download the Adobe Suite onto my computer but he only had it for Mac, so that’s the reason why I have a Mac. Daniel has also helped me a bunch after that, even with videos. The first shoot I had with my good friend, a model Emmaleigh, was with a lens Dan let me borrow since I didn’t own one. Another time he let me borrow the lens was for my cousin’s wedding, which proved super useful.
I’m talking about the Canon 50mm f1.8; one of the cheapest Canon offers but yet my favorite lens I’ve ever put on my camera. Using it the two instances Dan let me borrow it helped me save up the money and purchase it. Now it’s on my camera 95% of the time. Using it on a crop sensor is a bit tight but I make the most of it.
Having a family member ask you to film their special day was one of the scariest questions I said yes to, but that answer was the best one I could give. Being on that side of the party was different indeed. Extremely fast paced and having to keep an eye open for the perfect moments wasn’t hard though. Since my cousin hired a professional photographer as well, he gave me tips and even when my flash ran out of batteries, he offered me some of his. I had never met this man in my life but he was extremely helpful with a lot of things. Even when I accidentally set my camera’s shutter speed faster than its maximum sync speed. He told me my minor mistake and it was quickly fixed. That wedding gave me so much more confidence in my shooting and I’m so thankful for my cousin asking me.
The next largest event I was asked to shoot was with Hurricane Productions. My first professional gig with an established group of people, literally the most nerve wracking situation I’ve ever been in. Since the party was upstairs, I actually accidentally shot photos of someone in the party downstairs, honest mistake. The place was beautiful and my eyes glanced at everything. Then I reached the top of the stairs and there were these huge set of white doors, which I was hoping where my destination was. Thankfully it was and Hurricane greeted and made me feel part of their family. When the party attendees started to arrive, that made me even more nervous. But when the lights went off and the strobes began to flash, that’s when the party really began. I had never seen so many people on a dance floor before with such great entertainers. I’ve been to sweet 16s before where the DJ would just stand behind his laptop and play songs but Hurricane really made it fun. Strato was an excellent DJ and Vincent and Nick were extremely helpful.
I am lucky enough to have friends that love being in front of the camera, especially Ryan Ramoo and Emmaleigh. Since they began modeling, I’ve practically built their portfolios and it’s been an amazing experience. The styles and locations we’ve been at have been great and the photos that came from those shoots are still my most viewed images to date. Shooting them so many times allowed me to become so comfortable that now are shoots are literally just hanging out and talking but still getting work done. I can recall my most popular image which is Emmaleigh standing on the pier of Assunpunk Lake in a pea coat in 30 degree weather. Props to her for being able to hold that pose.
Over the past year I’ve definitely developed an artistic eye. What helps the most is knowing what the photo is going to look like before capturing it. Personally, I’m a huge fan of making my images replicate film. However, I’m not such a big fan of very vibrant images with the exception of landscapes and some skateboarding photos. Practicing my photography skills during skateboarding activities is really when I started snapping away. My first purchase after my camera was a fisheye lens, a skateboarding photography necessity (this was before I started doing portraits). When that huge piece of glass came in the mail I was like a toddler in a candy store. I literally stared at it for a good ten minutes before I put it on my camera. The front element itself was about four times the size of the fisheye on my small video camera.
Having said that, taking photos has brought me to great new places. From taking my father’s camera without him knowing to working with the great team at Hurricane Productions, photography has done it for me. The amazing individuals I’ve met along the course of my journey have been so incredibly helpful I can’t even think of a way to thank them. Thanks to everyone that has given me support, the motivation it gives me is incomparable. The best thing I ever picked up was a camera.
Links to People Mentioned
Daniel Quiyu, owner of Cue Skateboards Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/frontsidedan
Daniel Quiyu Instagram: FrontsideDan
Cue Skateboards: http://cueskateboards.com/
Emmaleigh Hauck’s model page: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaleighAngeline
Ryan Ramoo’s model page: https://www.facebook.com/ramooryan
Hurricane Productions: http://hurricaneproductions.com/
See More of Kyle’s Photography