Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Impressive Impressions Photography


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen. 
DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the telephone is Gene Urban of Impressive Impressions Photography. Good morning, Gene, welcome to the program.
GENE: Thank you for having me. 
DAMIEN: We are happy you are with us today. Hope you’re doing well, sir.
GENE: I’m doing very well.
DAMIEN: Good deal. Good deal in deed. Well you have an incredible background as a photographer, Gene. How did you get started in photography and what type of photography work do you specialize in?
GENE: As far as getting started in the business in photography, I started many years ago and when I was out of college I had a degree in business and went to the Navy during the Vietnam era and had a great ability to be stationed in Southern Spain, and my jobs there involved some intelligence photography and it was always an interest of mine and came home after the service, went into New York City and went to a very renowned school back then called Germaine School of Photography and after graduating there and got an additional associates degree, I started on my apprenticeships and back then the right way to do this was not to dive in and learn, you know, by the seat of your pants which seems to be the approach today, but a good well-seasoned photographer usually did apprenticeships and still does and did a few apprenticeships, one in the studio for two years high ranking, high quality studio and then also went to learn the rest of the business in a professional color lab. Then in 1977 we opened our business. That gives us 33 years; this January it will be 34 and became an aspiring photographer. Today I am a distinguished fellow of photography, master of photography, photographic craftsman and many other accolades which are proud on my end, but to the customer they really generate and turn out to be that we are highly respected and do very well at what we do and that is mostly people photography.
DAMIEN: So you started off back in the days of film. 
GENE: Yeah, we were all film photographers and that made us excellent photographers. Now when you are a film photographer you had to know how to light and you had to know how to expose. You didn’t get a second chance. It was nothing to look at the back of the camera. You had to know in your heart that the image was there and exposed correctly and going to be able to be printed perfectly. We made real photographers photographers.
DAMIEN: No Photoshop back then and then doing the color lab as well learning the other end of how the process worked.
GENE: Yeah, and I am also a master printer and that carries over into Photoshop today. I get a lot of Photoshop people who are in there doing things, but really understanding how it’s going to translate on to paper whether you are coming through a lens in the darkroom or coming through a desktop printer, it has a lot of similarities and you have to understand the translation from one to the other. That’s what makes a fine and excellent product at the end of the day.
DAMIEN: Now you also do what you call designer photography, what is that?
GENE: Designer photography, on our website if you went there to, we talk about that, but it’s a whole approach of creating images that are designed for each individual that comes to our studio. Obviously, we have styles and we have abilities that are very vast and very renowned, but what we want to do is hit the target. So we work hard at finding out what we have to do, what we need to do to make this customer happy and that might include color scheme of the room it is going to go in. We need to know the size before we get to that point of executing and taking the photographs. We need to know about their past history of photographs and photography of whoever the individuals are in there, and then we need to know what kind of outcome we really are projecting whether it is a light, very comedic type of fun thing for a family room or whether it is much more traditional and posed, so to speak, but done very well so it’s a beautiful, executed traditional photograph for maybe the living room. Designer photography is an approach really to coming and trying to make sure that the outcome is going to fit exactly the needs of the client.
DAMIEN: Where  is your studio located at, Gene?
GENE: We are in Rockaway, New Jersey. We were located for over 30 years, 32 years in Clifton, New Jersey, and we recently moved as the trends went and many of our clients were moving west in north Jersey where we do most of or all of our work. We started about a year and a half ago, we realized that we need to be a little more centrally located in the state, the northern part of the state so we moved here to Rockaway, New Jersey, and we have a beautiful new studio right here in Rockaway Borough.
DAMIEN: Are you a solo photographer, or do you carry a crew with you when you have shoots?
GENE: That’s a great question, and I think most photographers need to have an assistant with them. It helps expedite the creation process and keeps the photographer focused on doing what they are there for and that is creating great images rather than fumbling with equipment and pulling out lenses and so on. So yeah most of the work we do does have an assistant or two with the operation of the day.
DAMIEN: Now you are involved with the Professional Photographers Association of New Jersey. How did you get involved with them, and how does being a member of a professional photographer organization make a difference for clients?
GENE: That’s a great question. First of all, I got started as a young pup when I first started my apprenticeship. The studio that I started with was very involved. They immediately had me coming to many of their meetings and I joined and started a long process where currently I am the president of the Professional Photographers Association of New Jersey for 2010/2011. It’s been a long process of helping and learning and mentoring with other photographers to the point now where I’m the mentor and have a lot of prodigies who follow us and I help aspiring photographers etc. But PPANJ is the state organization and PPA which is the Professional Photographers of America is the national organization, and I am proud, there I am a master of photography, photographic craftsman, and I am also a certified professional photographer which is similar to a CPA and the association that certifies us has high credentials and gives us extremely strong, rigid grounds that we have to earn for that particular accolade.
DAMIEN: Now you have apprenticed, you have done the lab work, you’ve been in the business for a long time now, what is the best advice you can give to another aspiring photographers, Gene?
GENE: The best advice would be to understand that you have to take this as a, first of all, as a career choice, and you have to give it a lot of devotion just as an actor or a dancer or a theater person does to the craft and the art that you’re hoping to master. So you have to look at this as a long approach that is going to take a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of practice and pick the right mentors that are going to help you get there. There are a lot of mentors in the industry that you can become an intern with in many studios and in several studios at the same time. So that’s really the key, I think, to an aspiring photographer. Understand that you have to get an education about photography. You have to really learn photography in it’s technical form and then you have to find people who will help you learn the practice of photography.
DAMIEN: When you hear a lot of people use the terms that a photographer has a really good eye, that a photographer knows his composition, that photographer really knows the right f-stop speed or the right focal length or the right this or the right that. Gene you’re your opinion, what is the single most important “skill” a photographer needs  to capture that perfect shot?
GENE: Well assuming that you are dealing with people and that is what our business does mostly is people photography. 90% is that type of photography which I can talk to you about later, types of things that we do. And about 10% is probably light commercial which means architectural and maybe table top photography for clients that have small business whether their gears or jewelry, we do very well on table top type photography, but probably the single most important thing in capturing the right image is communication. While you are doing the sitting, while you are creating the sitting, communicating with the client and getting the confidence of the client and getting the energy and the motivation and the relaxation and all of the things that are needed to get to the point they are hoping to in this final image is probably the most important. The technical issues you should have, you should know your cameras, and your lenses and all of that, and that goes without saying. It’s really the communication part so that when the sitting is finished you know you have what they want and what they are going to expect to see and that probably is the answer I would give to anybody that would ask a question like that.
DAMIEN: You have the studio, so I imagine you have a lot of people coming in to use the studio for shoots, and of course you do lots of location shoots. What is the best  piece of advice can you give to your clients for both a studio and a location setting?
GENE: Well let’s go with the studio first. We do all kinds of studio photography and that goes from seasonal which means Valentine’s Day photographs, Summer, In-studio fantasy, beach scenes to the fall fantasy, pumpkin harvest scenes and so on and these are done very high end, very high end props, etc. So whether it is seasonal or whether it is traditional, we do a lot of public relations photography which is the realtors, your doctors, lawyers, dentists, and all the professionals who should have a good photograph for their website and for the business correspondence. 
DAMIEN: The corporate head shot.
GENE: The corporate head shots. That all fits into that PR range certainly, and then we do a lot of maternity photography and glamour photography and fashion photography and fashion also includes the cross between PR which is the aspiring model to the aspiring theater person to the aspiring dancer, etc., etc. The best advice I can give for anybody who is coming for any of these kinds of studio situations that I just mentioned is to make sure that they are extremely well prepared as a good resident photographer would have probably made many, many suggestions. Come in with clothing that is well pressed or well steamed. If you’re public relations and you think a suit is the appropriate thing or a fine blouse if you are a female, it should be in the color realm the photographer suggests. If it’s full lens portraits, clothing that fits very well, not baggy, not too tight. Hair and make up whether male or female is extremely important. These are things that semi can be handled later on in the Photoshop world, but they are best addressed right from the get go. So being prepared is an absolute key. We do a lot of children’s portraits and children meaning all the way from 3 months to 10 years. We like to break down the children portraits. We have the early children which is from newborns to 3 year old mark and then from the 3 to 7 and then 7 until 10 and then you have your pre-teens 11 – 13 and then your teens and your young adults. There are probably about 6 categories there, but the kind of photography and the approach we use is very important to each one and is very different for each one, and being prepared exactly for what they need to have as an outcome, and again back to that communication issue of photographer and client being on the same page 100%.
DAMIEN: Are the location shoots, is the advice the same?
GENE: It’s very similar. Again, as far as locations. We go to homes, estates, offices for many CEOs and business owners, especially if they have impressive offices. If this is part of their showcase and part of their story and part of their business success. We do to many people’s vacation homes. We’re here in New Jersey so we do a lot of shore portraits and if they have homes down at one of the many vacation resorts in New Jersey on the beaches, we’re there.   Parks. We do a lot of park photography. We have great ones here in north Jersey, the Verona Park, Labyrinth Castle, the Free Lachaise, Arboretum. We have Gateway National Park down in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. These are all almost studio sets for us. We’ve been working with them for so many years that we really know them well and have a lot of nooks and crannies in each one of them that we’re able to get sensational, very realistic and very specialized type of backgrounds or sets that are very mother-naturish in design. And then, of course, we do a lot of weddings so a lot of our catering halls in this area are designed for wedding photography and they have beautiful sets on the premises. We do a lot of work here in north Jersey at Seasons. Another sister location to that is the Venetian in Garfield. The outside props that they have put in, and I say props, just beautiful little waterfalls and gazebos and many of them are imported from Italy and so on and so forth are just incredible sets. They are like shooting in one of the big hotels in Vegas many of them. The Westmont Country Club in West Patterson and the Valley Regency in Clifton, New Jersey another great place for wedding sets.
DAMIEN: Now you have been doing this a number of years now. Have you noticed a change in trends? Are people looking for more traditional poses when they come to you now, or has the scene really changed?
GENE: That’s a great question and the idea is that most people come and many times you hear I want something different, I want something contemporary, and that’s what we want too. We don’t want to look like we’ve started 33 years ago and are taking the same kind of photographs, but the ironic part of this is that we always try to go back and in every thing we do, we do some very traditional situations posing and or expressions and so on. To many peoples’ shock that’s some of the first pictures they order and they like. Contemporary photography is great, it looks great, but quite often the traditional master type photography is the one that they turn to for a first choice and I’m always amazed at that and they are too, because they think that they came for one thing. They are very happy with the contemporary portraits, but somehow the traditional artistry of a great master’s portrait, and when I say that that means using the traditional lighting, the traditional tilts to the head, the traditional curves of the body, you know, artists have been doing this, painters and everybody for the last several thousand years and even though people think you can be all vanguard and change a lot of this, people wind up looking their best and feeling their best when they are presented in a timeless traditional type of image configuration.
DAMIEN: If someone is looking for more information, Gene, about Impressive Impressions Photography, where do they go? What is the website and contact information, address phone number?
GENE: We are located here, as I said, in Rockaway, New Jersey, at 50 West Main Street, in Rockaway Borough 07866. You can get us on our website which gives you a lot of previews into our styles and different types of photography at The email address is That and our phone number of (973) 664-0002 will get you to the right place and give you all the information you’re going to need to make you a happy client here at Impressive Impressions.
DAMIEN: We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Gene.
GENE: It’s been my pleasure. I look forward to continuing with a long and happy career here with all the wonderful people that have brought us to be one of the top studios in the whole north Jersey and even tri-state region.
DAMIEN:  We’ve been speaking with Gene Urban of Impressive Impressions Photography of Rockaway, New Jersey. You have been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, everybody thank you for joining us today and have a great afternoon.  
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