Fstoppers Interviews Calvin Hollywood: Conceptual Photographer And Photoshop Master
When I hear the name, Calvin Hollywood, a few things instantly pop into my mind. Photoshop guru, Scott Kelby instructor, ‘freaky, amazing details’, and lastly ‘Calvinize’! Calvin is a master of digital art and his standing room only sessions at Photoshop World prove so. I had the chance to catch up with the intriguing and witty Calvin for an interview for an opportunity to see a glimpse into the mind of a digital genius.
FS: Hello Calvin. To start off would you tell us a little bit about yourself and the type of photography that you specialize in?
CH: My name is Calvin, and I’m a digital artist from Germany. Before I started my full-time and professional career in photography and retouching I was in the German AirForce for 10 years. I’m 37 years old, married and I have two beautiful kids. (Twins…a boy and a girl, 7 years old.) When it comes to my photography, most of the time I shoot sports athletes and artists from the music industry. I love to shoot people. I don’t care how old they are, what they look like: young, old, beautiful, ugly… I mean ‘not so’ beautiful…I just love to shoot people; and yeah of course, I love to retouch the images, as well.
FS: Can you tell us how you started your career in photography and the journey that you made to become one of the best Photoshop masters in the industry?
Believe me, even though you can love something it’s also possible to hate it because I can remember some nights when I just couldn’t figure out how something worked in Photoshop or how to do a certain task. At the time Youtube hadn’t been around that long and wasn’t all that popular which meant I couldn’t just go online and search for video tutorials. Because of this I turned to forums and community sites and from them I learned a lot! One of the forums I learned a great deal from was RetouchPRO.com.
2006 and 2007 were my years. Many magazines wrote about my work, Adobe contacted me plus many, many other companies. I was still in the Army at the time which made it very tough to handle everything though. My two kids were born, so every day I had about 3 to 4 hours for my Photoshop passion, 3 hours for my family and 4 to 6 hours left to sleep. I would say I wasn’t better then everybody, but what I was, was more hungry for success. In 2009 I made the decision to start teaching in English, as well. I remember one time I was flying to New York City to show Katrin Eismann my skills in retouching and teaching others; and it was on the plane while on the way that I learned what all the Photoshop tools were in English. Then, 3 days later I taught in front of her and 30 students about what I could do with Photoshop.
“News Flash! Photoshop goes Hollywood!Or should I say Calvin Hollywood. I recently came across Calvin´s work and I was totally blown away. Not only is he a great photographer, but he knows tips and techniques about Photoshop that are almost magical.If you´re a Photoshop user, then you should stop everything and take a look at some of his tutorials. Trust me on this one….”
FS: What do you prefer, shooting the images or retouching them?
CH: Kinda both. It depends on the model, the situation or the weather, but I like to do both. I’m not a retoucher for other people, and I’m not a photographer who sends his images to a retoucher either. I like to do everything myself and to give the images as much of my signature as I can.
FS:What is your preferred equipment that you shoot with and/or edit with, and why do you prefer to shoot/edit with it?)
CH: I don’t care much about the equipment. I need strobes because without strobes I can’t create my edgy style. Then of course I need a camera and Photoshop. Again, I don’t care about Canon or Nikon, lenses and all that stuff, but I know that many people do. At the moment I’m shooting with a Canon 5dmkII, most of the time with my 24-105 mm lens, and I use Hensel Studio technique lighting equipment.
FS: You are one of eight featured instructors on KelbyTraining.com, can you tell us why you decided to share your wealth of Photoshop knowledge with the public?
CH: Because I can’t find any reason why I shouldn’t share my knowledge. *19minutes later* I love to explain the way I work and I don’t have any secrets. I can make money with my passion, and I think that’s the reason why. By the way…I needed 20 minutes to answer this question.
FS: Photoshopfreaks.com is your website for all of your online tutorials. Can you tell us a little bit more about your site?
CH: This site is for all the Photoshop freaks out there who know all the basics in retouching. It’s where people can learn my retouching workflow on all different kinds of images. It’s not all about new techniques; most of the time it’s more about bringing all the techniques together. I try to upload a new tutorial every month/two months.
FS: If you were only allowed to take one lighting modifier with you on shoots, which would you choose?
CH: A big softbox. I can paint in the shadows later, but the most important thing for my kind of look is to have details everywhere. So, for me I think a big softbox is the best choice.
FS: What is your favorite aspect about Adobe Photoshop?
CH: What I really love to do is to use the tools for the things that the tool wasn’t designed for. It’s kind of hard to explain so maybe you guys can watch this tutorial to give you more of an idea as to what I mean
The basics are very, very important so don’t start with the freaky stuff. Learn all the basics because the freakiest techniques are all done with basic tools. Dodge and burn is what I really enjoy doing and my favourite adjustment layer is definitely selective color. I love the fact that I can use Photoshop to create something that isn’t possible with just your camera and some lighting. It gives me endless creative possibilities.
FS: If you could give any advice to an inspiring photographer, what would it be?
CH: To bring as much of your personality as you can into your work. There are so many great photographers out there and there’s always someone better. Someone with more equipment, more knowledge and more skill, BUT there is only one person like you and with your personality! So, my advice would be to be yourself and bring your own personality into your work…whatever you do.
I want to thank Calvin for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview.
Lastly, I really recommend checking out PhotoshopFreaks.com, where you’ll find all of his tutorials.