Ross Whitaker talks to PhotoVideoEDU about metering light, the value of a proper college-level education, and how he made it as a photographer.
- Brooks Institute of Photography, 1972-75
PhotoVideoEDU: What is so important about having a light meter?
Ross Whitaker: My assistants come from schools across the nation, and one of the first things I tell them is, "All light is 'available'; some of it you have to plug in." Understanding the nature of light and having a tool to measure it is essential to describing a subject with light.
PhotoVideoEDU: Why do you use Sekonic?
Ross Whitaker: Sekonic is my light metering tool of choice because the meters are dependable and accurate.
I shoot a load of chrome film and there is no room for error. When my client goes to print, they want to see detail in the highlights and shadows. Sekonic is also innovative—speaking of which, when I first got my L-358 and wireless PocketWizard radio triggers, I said, "Where have you been all of my life?!" No more sync cords—and with small children around that is one less thing to worry about.
PhotoVideoEDU: You have a strong business, a list of top-notch repeat clients, and work that is in demand. How did you get to where you are now?
Ross Whitaker: What it took to get to this point was a proper college-level education, five years as an assistant, and a whole lot of hard work.
PhotoVideoEDU: What are your subjects?
Ross Whitaker: I am a busy commercial photographer and I create advertising photography. I photograph babies, families, and a small, carefully chosen number of book projects.
PhotoVideoEDU: Why do you use a light meter in your studio?
Ross Whitaker: It gets very active on a daily basis. For example, a casting call for a typical baby shoot can have over 200 children waiting for headshots. When the action starts, the exposures have to be dead-on because time is money and re-shoots from bad exposures come out of my pocket.
PhotoVideoEDU: How did your formal education prepare you for the real world?
Ross Whitaker: Photographers solve problems. That is our job. My school prepared me by teaching me how to approach and solve problems to get the job done.
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