Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Doug Gordon for WPPI


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all of their internet needs world wide. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here’s your host, Damien Allen.  DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen and joining me on the telephone today is Doug Gordon of  The Doug Gordon Workshops and Patken Photography, Long Island, New York, and Lindenhurst. Good morning  and welcome to the program, Doug.
DOUG: Hey, Damien, how are you? Thank you for having me.
DAMIEN: It’s a pleasure to have you, sir. I hope you’re doing well there in the wonderful state of New York. 
DOUG: So far, so good. It’s a little cold, but we’re hanging in there.
DAMIEN: In deed. You’re going to be speaking at the upcoming WPPI Conference.  Could you tell us a little bit about the topics you’re going to cover.
DOUG: Well we’re really excited. This will be, we’re one of the only speakers this has ever happened to. This is going to be our 11th straight year speaking for them, and we have always prided ourselves on change and diversity, and I think now more than ever it’s extremely important, because one of the things that is going on in photography is everybody, because of the age of digital, is picking up a camera and saying, wow, I can be a wedding photographer and how do we separate ourselves now. That’s going to be one of the major things we cover. It’s very simple. We need to learn to pose. We need to separate ourselves. When I first started shooting, I’m 36, 20 years ago already, you know, posing was in, it was the big thing and everybody posed. Then it became photo journalism, now it’s kind of going back. If you don’t know how to pose, you’re in trouble. So basically, I’m going to try to bring you into my world of posing and light and it’s really separated us and helped to catapult my studio to one of the leading studios in the country. We are very fortunate. We do over 1000 weddings a year so we’re going to be dealing with lots of live posing and showing you everything from what I call my slow posing techniques which is basically the art of making the body flow together, change poses, very quickly and rapidly, almost like being in an another state where you don’t really have to think or worry about it, it just kind of comes to you to more of a sexy side of posing and most important kind of adding my background in fashion and glamour to what we are doing. It’s just going to be very hands on, a lot of posing and a lot of detail and even more so than that, we’re going to be working on different types of lighting. Not the same typical on-camera flash lighting that everybody is doing. We’re going to be working with video lights and showing how to light dark situations and just really create and capture the emotion and feel of what photo journalism is, but not really shooting photojournalism. We’re going to show how to shoot like two photographers in one a main and a second shooter just by posing creating the moment.
DAMIEN: What day and times will your workshop be held during the conference and where can the participants find you?
DOUG:   I’m really excited. For the second time I’m going to be the opening speaker for WPPI, and this is the first time in the 30 year history that this happened. I’m going to be speaking on Sunday from 2:30 – 4:30 in rooms 313 – 316. So it’s going to be just a great program and from all of our sponsors we’re going to have a ridiculous amount of free giveaways for the crowds and stuff. Probably almost $25,000  worth of giveaways from our main sponsors which include Adaramor, Super Book, Bay Photo, and Image Quick and just a whole bunch of other good stuff in there so it’s really exciting.
DAMIEN: What do you hope your participants to your workshop are going to take away at the end of it all?
DOUG: Well the big thing I want them to take away is how easy posing can be. I think one of the things now is that photographers have given brides and their subjects the impression that they have to take all day to do posing, and that’s not the case. It can be quick and easy as long as you have a plan and the know how to make it flow together. And the importance of posing, it’s crucial no, because what happens a lot of times is photographers go to weddings and they expect to see one thing and it doesn’t really happen. Brides come in, they look at your portfolio in the lab or the studio, and say wow, this is what I really want, but the truth is if you’re a photo journalist, a true photojournalist, you can never guarantee to your clients that you’re going to get those results. There are too many variables that happen at weddings and if those variables don’t occur at the wedding that you’re at, you’re not going to get what you showed them, what you promised them. By posing, you are able to create the moment. You are able to create the story. I’m a firm believer that when you create the pose, that’s when the naturalness of the moment really starts to occur, and I think if people can bring that into their everyday photography, it is going to change everything about the way they shoot. More importantly the way they are portrayed by their clients.
DAMIEN: How long have you been a photographer, Doug, and how did you get started with WPPI?
DOUG: Believe it or not, like I said before, I’m going on 20 years. I started photographing weddings on my own when I was 16. I was very fortunate I trained with my dad, and it wasn’t like I was training, honestly, I’m a avid baseball player, but I didn’t get to see my dad that often, he worked all the time. He had a regular job and did weddings on the weekends, and the only time I got to see him was to go do weddings with him. At that point it was exciting in the 1980s to make $75 a day, you know, as an 11 or 12 year old goes working with my dad. So I kind of learned from him and then it was real fortunate, he was smart enough to introduce me to legendary photographer, Monte Zucker, which kind of opened and changed my world forever. I studied under Monte for 10 years. It was 10 of the most exciting years training wise I could have ever had. As much fun as I had with baseball. It was nothing compared to learning from Monte. He was so passionate about what he did and so detailed and meticulous. He made learning fun, and you know, between him and my dad as mentors, it was just incredible and after a certain amount of years with Monte, I got really fortunate, and Monte said, you know, I think you know enough, you should start learning to speak and lecture. And there was no better person to learn from than him, and there I was. He introduced me to the right people and away I went, you know, I started speaking at WPPI like I said 12 years ago and it’s just been an incredible ride. They changed my life completely. Just a wonderful organization and the learning I have had at their conventions, just their members and attendees has just been so good to me over the years. I feel really fortunate to have been a part of the convention all of these years and to celebrate their 30th anniversary as their opening speaker is just even better.
DAMIEN: Now you do several educational workshops with the conferences and with WPPI, and the website itself shows a lot of impressive poses. How do you keep a subject enthused and natural looking so you can get the right picture, and could you give us some tips on what we should do on this?
DOUG: Well the big thing is you can’t, one of the things I see with photographers the more I tour and lecture and the more I kind of watch photographers, I notice they aren’t very hands on. They don’t really talk to their clients. We’ve become so obsessed with being unobtrusive we forgot to be personalities behind the camera, and as you could imagine being a 16 year old, I really wasn’t very good. You know, I had to sell myself completely on personality. This business was built on personality. It was built on customer relations. It was built on personal relationships. I think one of the biggest things is convincing people that you know what you are doing; you have a plan. Photographers start to say, hey what do you want to do now, or what are you thinking? It just doesn’t work. People hire you for your professionalism. They hire you for your knowhow, and honestly, I explain to my clients all the time, they’re going to remember weddings, their events, through my eyes, my feelings, my emotions. Everything I am as a person. I want tell that story in a way. I try to keep my subjects’ minds off of the shooting by constantly talking to them, putting in poses, constantly be sarcastic, making fun of them, talking to them, you know, especially when I get into the fashion side of the wedding. You’re beautiful, you’re sexy, you’re hot, you’re glamour, all of that sort of stuff keeps people interested and if you do that, if you talk to them and get their mind off of the fact they are posing, you’re going to get the results you want, always. One of the reasons I always stuck with posing rather than being a photojournalist is as a photojournalist I don’t really have an opportunity always to make my subject look better. For one reason or another people look better for different reasons whether it be, you know, one eye is smaller than the other, or they have a bump in their nose or a crooked smile, or whatever it be, as a photojournalist I don’t get to hide that. I don’t get to make it look better as a guarantee. As a posed photographer, I can look at these things and really make them change them for the better. My goal as a photographer isn’t necessarily as they are or as the world is what it is, but kind of what I want it to be. I’m going to put them in the most uncomfortable positions they have ever been in in their entire life, but the one thing I can assure them is I’m going to make them look better than they have ever looked and that is going to really keep them enthused so if you move quick, and you keep them going, and you keep it exciting, they’re always going to do what you want to do. I’m a firm believer in the absence of real leadership. People are going to listen to whoever is talking. So I always, always am the person who is talking.
DAMIEN: What’s going to be new for Doug Gordon in 2010? Are there going to be more workshops and conferences? Do you have any new projects coming up?
DOUG: We have a whole bunch. We’re going to be doing pretty much about a 35 – 40 city tour. We’re working out the final details now going throughout the U.S. and Europe. I’m super excited about it. We have a couple of huge studio workshops which are always my favorite, because people love coming into Long Island to my studio, because they really get out here and work the studio. Our main studio is over 18,000 sq. ft., 2 floors, as you can imagine it’s quite impressive especially to photographers who are just beginning to come in and see this working operation studio. Seeing 30 and 40 moving around, and then we get to do all sorts of touring that we do. We go into New York City for a night time shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, depending on the time of the year like this past December we went and photographed at Rockefeller Center and people had a great time with it. We go on a class trip to a baseball game, like I said, I’m a huge, huge baseball fan. So we take a limo bus into the baseball game which is all paid for by me obviously as part of the class fee so it’s pretty good. We’re releasing a whole bunch of new products this year. I’m super excited about educational DVDs, we just recently released a bride alone fashionable slow posing DVD, and I am so pumped up about it. It has over 60 poses on it and it’s the conditions that we did it in; we went from everything from a simple home kind of look to working indoor/outdoor lighting to a snowstorm to using video, but it’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal DVD. I’m so proud of it. We released a new posing guide which kind of, you know, I really like the look of it. It’s kind of a wicked wedding sort of theme, and it has sexy stuff in it. It’s got a little bit of a traditional family posing and everything, you know, and a core, a reinvented this year, and changed, I’m just really excited about what’s going on, because this is the year of change. This is the year of evolving. Our studio just when I thought it couldn’t take off any more, we’re set to have another record year, and we’re celebrating our 25 anniversary this year as a studio so there’s just lots of good things going on around, and I’m really looking forward to the year and what it has to hold for us.
DAMIEN: Well if someone from the listening audience is looking for more information on what’s going on with Patken Photography or with what’s going on with Doug Gordon and Doug Gordon Workshops, how do they get a hold of you? What’s the website and contact information they would need.
DOUG: Well the best place to go is our teaching website, you know, because it has our blog which is updated all the time. It’s and we have our blog there, and we have our educational store. There’s plenty of articles, there’s tutorials, and a bunch of things to look up, and there’s a link to our studio site and everything. Just anything they need, they can find pretty much right there.
DAMIEN: Alright we thank you very much for joining us today, Doug;
DOUG: I appreciate it, Damien. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing everybody at an upcoming event.
DAMIEN: We encourage our listeners to attend Dennis Craft’s workshop and to attend the WPPI Conference in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada, March 8th – 10th, 2010.   You’ve been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen. Everyone have a great afternoon.
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