Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Gary Bilbao Photography


Welcome to the More Photos Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs worldwide. Also brought to you by; finally, and e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen.
DAMIEN: Welcome to More Photos Radio, my name is Damien Allen and joining me today on the phone is Gary Bilbao of Gary Bilbao Photography of Lincroft, New Jersey. Good morning, Gary, welcome to the program.
GARY: Good morning. Thank you.
DAMIEN: It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Now you are a board certified photographer, a member of the PPA, PPANJ, and the WPPI. What is the difference in being a board certified photographer, and what do you need to have such a certification, Gary?
GARY: A board certification is with the PPA which is sort of the umbrella group of the PPANJ, the New Jersey state run one, and the certification is a pretty hefty test. It is about a 200 question test. You have to get, I believe, a 75% on it. It was surprisingly hard. I thought it was going to be a cake walk for me, but after I took it I was like, “Man, I’m glad I studied for this.” It’s nothing to be taken lightly. After you do take the test, if you do and from what I understand, most photographers who don’t pass it, they take it several times. I was lucky I was able to pass it on my first shot. So right after that you have to submit prints for review from 12 different shoots. So in other words you can’t have one shoot with 12 prints, you have to have 12 different paid shoots. And if the judges or board members like that, they certify you and the certification lasts for I believe 4 or 5 years and then you have to resubmit prints again to show you are still an active photographer. It’s a pretty serious certification. It isn’t given out lightly.
DAMIEN: Technical questions? What F-stop you use? What type of lighting?
GARY: Everything from that, well when I took the test, I took it almost 5 years ago, it was sort of general. They had even questions on film and dark room stuff. But now I heard they changed it to be specific to your expertise. So if you are a wedding photographer, they will put most of the questions for a wedding. If you are a fashion or a commercial photographer, the test is geared for that. Once you classify yourself, they give you a test in that field. So the one I took was pretty broad. It was everything from filters to Photoshop to dark room, dodging and burning. It’s pretty involved.
DAMIEN: Now you specialize in weddings and fashion and architecture. How long have you been a photographer, Gary?
GARY: I’ve been a photographer since grammar school and turned pro about 10 or 11 years ago. I used to work for TWA and got laid off. Then I just started doing photography gigs and it rolled into weddings and the fashion and the architecture stuff is new. Fashion is mostly I have on my website really is to attract the high school seniors and stuff like that. I want to photograph like fashion models. The architectural stuff is pretty good. It’s gotten busier everywhere, but around central Jersey; I’m getting a pretty significant amount of work from the realtors. A lot of houses on the market. I’m in an area where there are a lot of houses around the Remsen, Homedale, and Culsneck area. So those homes sell for multi-million dollars and they want to have a professional photographer come in and shoot them so I’ve been pretty busy. It’s all work I do during the week versus the weddings on the weekends. I’ve been busy all summer. It’s a good thing.
DAMIEN: You started off for TWA. What got you interested in photography in the first place?
GARY: Photography was always a hobby of mine. When I was in grammar school, I had a little Kodak print kit they sold at my local photography store. I would get my Pentax camera and a Willoughby’s in Manhattan. I make my negatives, I make contact prints, you know, and drop them in the developer and magically there was an image. It was the greatest thing. I’ve been doing that as a hobby almost all my life. For the wedding stuff, when I worked for TWA, I did a lot of traveling. When I had a chance to leave TWA, it was a good thing because my wife was trying to keep me around the house a little more, keep me off the road. She said, “Why don’t you take the buyout and see if you can find a job locally.” So there was nothing locally I liked, so she actually pushed me to start shooting weddings. Digital was just getting popular then and what I did with the airline was I worked on computers. So I have a big computer background so it was an easy transition for me. From the computers to actually making it work. That’s how I got into the wedding stuff.
DAMIEN: Now besides the wedding and the fashion and architecture, what other services do you provide?
GARY: I have a studio in my house and I’ll do head shots for some of the realtors when they need to do business cards and stuff like that, but if I have a family that doesn’t mind shooting in the studio, I’ll shoot them. Most of them want to do environmental, they want to go to the beautiful parks we have around here. That’s really it, but mostly how I make my money is with the weddings and now with the architectural photography.
DAMIEN: You mentioned a studio and you mentioned location shots. Do you have some favorite locations you like to do shots, Gary?
GARY: Yeah I do. Around here we have some beautiful parks. We have Homedale Park that has a beautiful lake and actually this time of year the fall time of the year is beautiful to shoot down there. The trees are changing colors and reflect in the lake. It is ideal for a family portrait. We have another park called Deep Cut Gardens which is favorite for wedding photographers. You go over there any Saturday afternoon, and you will see the limos lined up. You need a permit for Deep Cut if you want an hour for the run of the park. So if anybody at the formal pond which is very nice, if you have your permit, you can go there first and they have rose gardens and these beautiful, funky trees. It’s just a really nice place to shoot. And we have some of the colleges here too. There are quite a few places to shoot. Even to do a little bit more inner-city stuff, we have Ridbank, New Jersey, which is right by one of those outdoor cafes. Summer time it is a great place to shoot. Engagement shoots turn out well over there.   It’s a pretty good area, along with the beach. Probably most of the weddings I do are beach weddings. The beach is ideal from families to weddings to engagement shots. The beach is always there for that. There’s a lot to do down here.
DAMIEN: So many locations, different services, between the wedding, fashion, and architecture. What do you find that makes the best type of photography to create a photojournalism style or maybe an elegant portrait style?
GARY: The weddings are more fun and obviously everybody is all dressed up and they are all psyched for the photo shoot. I find that the best, and with digital the creativity is through the roof. As you can see on my website, all of the effects, the stylizing, that’s really what separates one photographer from the other. There are photographers that go down to the beach and shoots; it’s just that everybody comes up with different results. The digital part, along with Photoshop and Lightroom, and how you shoot all plays together for the creativity and the style of photography that you do. Weddings are not stuffy wedding stuff anymore. It’s almost leading into fashion. That’s why I have a lot of fashion stuff on my site. It’s because a lot of the brides identify with that. As far as the posing, it’s not standing next to your husband staring into the camera. It’s more of something that you would see in like a Vogue Magazine is what they are looking for.
DAMIEN: Now you have won an international award. Can you tell us little bit about the process of the print competition, Gary?
GARY: The process is with the PPANJ, I’ve worked on the print competition committee. So I get real insight on how the whole thing is structured. What you do is you sign up online and, I think it’s like, $15 a print, and now you submit your print electronically…a few years ago we had to have a 16x20 print and you send that in and everybody including myself would be handling these hundreds of prints that came in and put them in different categories, but now you go online,, you sign up for the print competition, and you submit your prints electronically. They go into a category, they get divided into different groups, we have our print competition conference which is once a year in October, it’s coming up soon, and there is a projection room. You go in there and sit down, the chair of the print competition has all the prints on his computer and he projects it onto a screen. There are 7 judges I believe that sit in front and have scoring and you want to get an 80 or above which is a blue ribbon and 79 and below is not a blue ribbon. And the blue ribbon is really the one you want because it gives you merit points which leads to level of expertise in the PPA like a master photographer and stuff like that. So print competitions say a lot about what type of photographer you are.
DAMIEN: Well what is the best piece of advice you can give a couple planning to hire a professional photographer, Gary?
GARY: In a photographer, I would say if they are certified and they are with an organization that you can check on, that is probably the best technically to go. Other than that, brides usually go to a website, see the style of photography you do and email you. Occasionally, they will call you, but everything is done electronically now. It’s amazing how many brides book me without ever speaking to me or met me just through a series of emails. I suggest that they at least talk to the photographer and see his style, go to his website, see if you can go to other sites that he is associated with that makes ratings, and contact other brides that he has shot. It’s funny how many people consider themselves a wedding photographer because they bought the equipment, they put the camera in pay and they go shoot a wedding.   To them they shot the wedding, here’s the wedding, everything seems to be exposed ok and often brides are disappointed with that as a certain mannerism a special photographer has to have at a wedding. There’s a certain way of coaching the bride, because she doesn’t know where to stand, how to face, how to pose, that kind of stuff. And if it is your uncle with a camera, it is going to be just snapshots. I would suggest any bride to do their homework, do some research, and the PPA website is a great face to find qualified photographers.
DAMIEN: There are a lot of area to cover when you are doing a wedding. Do you work alone, or do you have other photographers on staff?
GARY: I work alone many times. Sometimes I am hired out by another photographer. There are studios in the area that double book and they will call me to see if I am available and they will hire me to go shoot. I work alone there. Brides that book directly with me, depending on the package, I’ll bring an assistant. We’ve been expanding with the video since these DSLRs do video now; we are able to get this kind of unique, funky type of video shots with our lenses that videographers don’t often get. I’ll put an 85 1.2 lens and I’ll shoot a video at 2000 ISO with just a lightened room of a couple dancing and it just makes this beautiful look that videographers don’t get. The background just has this beautiful mocha blur to it. We’ve been dabbling with photofusion. Where it’s a slideshow with a combination of video clips and it is stylized photographs. I have actually a sample on my website under Photofusion. My table of contents actually says Video and stills, Photofusion. You click that and you can see a sample of it. The brides love it. The new brides, the more younger people, are gravitating to something like that more than an album, because with a 12 second Photofusion, you can put it up on your website, you can put it up on Facebook, and you can even put it on your Droid or IPhone. I have a Photofusion wedding which lasts only 12 – 15 minutes on my Droid and I go and show people. I just click it on, I put it down, you hear the music, you hear their wedding song, you see all the video clips, and it’s not two hours of video. I don’t know who would ever sit through that. But it is just little video clips and it’s quick, like I said it’s only 12 minutes, it can be up on Facebook. We are getting real busy with just that one little service that we do.
DAMIEN: Well you have some awesome photography on your website, Gary.
GARY: Thank you.
DAMIEN: Could you kindly give the listening audience the website address and the other means to contact you if they are interested in seeing or discussing hiring you for an event?
GARY: Sure. It is and my email is and my phone number is (732) 530-3633.
DAMIEN: Now besides working with the Photofusion, is there anything new coming up for Gary B. Photography in the rest of 2011 and 2012?
GARY: I’m hoping to expand the architectural stuff a little bit more. It’s amazing how working with architectural shots improved my flash photography. It’s almost like you do one type of flash photography with weddings and then all of a sudden I do architectural stuff and it is like a whole different level of flash photography. So I’m really nailing that down now, the architectural stuff is coming out beautiful and I’m getting great compliments on it. I’m getting a lot of referrals from it so I’m hoping to expand on that in the next year or so.
DAMIEN: Very awesome stuff. We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today and discussing Gary B. Photography with us.
GARY: Thank you.
DAMIEN: We’ve been speaking with Gary Bilbao of Gary Bilbao Photography of Lincroft, New Jersey, and you have been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, everyone thanks for joining us today. We’ll catch you next time.
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