Q: First of all, we want to congratulate you on winning our Monthly Contest CPC Portrait Awards! How does it feel to be a winner?
A: It feels great! I entered to see how I would compare to other photographers and was surprised and happy to win first place.
Q: Can you introduce us to Jerry Stevenson? What is your background? Where do you live? How old are you? Do you do photography as a full time job?
A: My photography studio is located in Upland, California, USA. I am a retired secondary art teacher. I have always been an artist, focusing on the human figure in painting, drawing and sculpture. After retiring from teaching I transitioned into photography fulltime.
Q: We cannot wait to hear more about the winning photograph! Were you working on some particular project when you took this photo? How did you come up with the idea to photograph the subject in this timeless way?
A: I met the young man in a restaurant I frequent. He was eating dinner with his parents. I knew immediately that I wanted to photograph him. I approached his parents and gave them my business card. His mother called me several days later and arranged a photo session. In preparation for the session I went to a local costume shop and rented the hat and bowtie; his mother provided the suit and shirt. The young man was a real pro in front of the camera. I got many good images from this photo session but “Daddy’s Hat” is my favorite.
Q: Do you have an official education in photography?
A: I do not have an official education in photography, although I do have a Masters in Fine Art Degree (M.F.A.) from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.
Q: Where and how do you learn photography?
A: When I first began photography I took courses at a local community college to learn the basics. After that I developed my skills as a photographer through many workshops and tutorials with photographers that I admire. I also constantly experiment with different lighting setups and photograph as much as possible.
Q: How did you get your start in photography? What were some of the most important things you found along the way in relation to the development of your photography?
A: I began as a studio artist, not a photographer. I had an idea for some drawings that I wanted to create but I needed source photographs from which to work. I took a photography class to learn lighting and was hooked from that point on.
I have learned that failure is not permanent; it is just one step in the learning process.
Q: How would you define your photography in a few words?
A: I specialize in the human form, specifically portraits. I only photograph one person at a time. By working one on one I get to know and interact with the subject and hopefully capture the essence of who they are as a person.
Q: Who are your favourite photographers?
A: My favorite photographers who are working today are John Gress, Joel Grimes, and Lindsay Adler. They are masters of lighting. I am also influenced by the Renaissance masters, especially Rembrandt.
Q: What inspires you?
A: The creative process. Very often I work late at night; for some reason that is when my creative juices flow best. I shift into an intuitive mode and go to it. Many times I have created a piece of artwork out of a photograph while in the “zone” and have no idea how it came about. There is no better feeling. It boils down to trusting your instincts.
Q: What is in your camera bag? What camera body and lenses do you use?
A: My camera body is a Canon EOS 5Dsr. I have many lenses but my go-to lens is the Canon 70-200 mm .
Q: What about lightning?
A: I use Profoto lights and Profoto and Elinchrom softboxes.
Q: Do you edit photographs in Lightroom or Photoshop? Do you have some favourite actions/presets that you are using for edits?
A: I begin editing in Lightroom then finish in Photoshop. I use the filters in Nik Software.
Q: What is your proudest moment as a photographer/artist?
A I have many, but two of my proudest moments would be earning my Master of Photography degree from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and being accepted as an Associate in Portraits in the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP).
Q: Do you have any advice to offer us fellow photographers and artists about photography?
A: Follow your passion. Don’t allow others to define who you are as an artist: define yourself.
Q: Can you share some of your favourite photographs from March’s Monthly Photo Contest at CPC Portrait Awards?
A: “Wilow Catkins” by Alicja Lelonek-Ball, Poland
“Eliana” by Naomi Mawson, Australia
“Girl in Green Dress” by Magda Constantin, Romania
“Girl and the Cat” by Melanie WINTER, Guadeloupe