Fstoppers Interviews Swim and Lifestyle Photographer Joey Wright (Semi-NSFW)

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Fstoppers Interviews Swim and Lifestyle Photographer Joey Wright (Semi-NSFW)

Joey Wright is a swim and lifestyle photographer based in Florida. Despite only picking up a camera a few years ago, Joey is a already regular contributor to SI.com with clients ranging from Callaway Golf, the Atlanta Falcons and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and is recognized as a Wescott Top Pro. He's also really, really likable.

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Can you tell us about yourself and your photographic background?
Let's see, how should I get started... My name is Joey, I'm a Virgo, and I like short walks on the beach with my camera in hand. Oh yeah, I also shoot people for a living (snap snap, not bang bang). Now I'll back up a few steps in the story...

After years of doodling in my textbooks, I decided to pursue a college degree in graphic design. After a few years in the workforce honing my design skills within a cubicle, I picked up photography as side hobby. What started as a hobby, quickly turned into a little extra income and before long, a full-time career was in bloom. I primarily focus on swimwear and commercial fashion, but trust me when I tell you, I've shot a little bit of everything to get here. If you have time for the full story about the evolution of my career, you can check out this article I wrote a couple years ago when asked to guest blog on Scott Kelby's site.

What kind of gear would we find in your bag?
My absolute favorite, "don't leave home without 'em" items include:
Nikon D800 - Unbelievably priced for the quality it delivers. Not as rugged as my D3s, but the extra pixels are great for commercial gigs and portfolio work. Medium Format, shmedium format... I'll save that money for a down-payment on a house and continue renting a Phase One one when needed.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII - because I get lazy at times and the zoom let's me go from full length to three quarter shots without getting up. It also happens to be super sharp and can survive a drop... or three. Oops
Nikon 85mm f/1.4 - for those times when I feel like getting a little workout and moving my feet. Honestly, the 85 keeps you at the perfect distance for portrait work - not too far to break the connection with your subject and not too close to creep them out. It's also the sharpest lens I own and the 1.4 aperture can give me an extra ten minutes of shooting time as sunset nears total darkness.
Westcott Large Scrim Jim Kit (fav modifier for outdoors) - This bad boy can provide me with shade on-the-go, convert the sun into a giant softbox, or bounce a some fill light when needed... all depending on which fabric I throw on it. You can see plenty 'behind-the-scenes' photos of me putting it to use on my new facebook page (wink, wink): https://www.facebook.com/joeywrightphotography
Westcott Large Stripbank (fav modifier for studio) - I've heard my friend and fellow photog Erik Valind call these the "photographer's scalpel", in that it's the most precise and surgical piece of equipment in our gear bags. When you have a few of these at your disposable, you can create great key, edge or fill lighting in tight spaces. A must have in my opinion for anyone shooting in the studio.
With all that said, I'd like to stress that no particular piece of equipment will automatically produce great photographs—because at the end of the day, it’s not the arrow… it’s the Indian. If you'd like to see a full list of the gear I use, click here.

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Do you prefer strobes or natural light if so what kind?
My simple answer goes something like this: I'd rather be at the beach than in a studio... therefore, natural light wins. With that said, I don't mind mixing it up and enjoying some studio AC after enduring Florida's exceptionally humid weather for weeks on end. I also enjoy the challenges presented by each situation: In the studio, you have full creative control and must start from scratch - a true testament to one's creativity while requiring some extra tech skills. When shooting outdoors, you're forced to embrace many factors that are completely out of your control, because Mother Nature doesn't give two s**ts about your shoot.

Where do you find the majority of your inspiration (both inside and outside of photography)?
To be honest, it's not really inspiration that I find myself seeking lately... it's motivation. Receiving paychecks in the mail, turning the beach into my office and traveling to amazing locations aren't bad motivators, but they aren't the most important. I'd say my biggest motivation comes from striving to make my parents proud... proud that their son is doing something he loves and getting paid to do it. I get my most excited when I'm dialing home and ready to tell my folks about my latest gig. Together, all of the above keeps me hungry.

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Can you take us though your workflow from shoot to post?
While I often work in a variety of situations for a variety of clients who all require specific catering, I'd prefer a few things remain consistent during my shoots. I like to share my expression and posing preferences with each model I work with, regardless of experience level. Once I give my pep-talk, I allow them to show me what they've got without my input. Sometimes, a model will bust out all the right moves, allowing me to shut up and simply shoot. Other times, it's obvious that I need to step in and give full direction. In fact, there are hundreds of blackmail photos on my assistants' phones showing me getting in there and doing the poses first. A model recently complimented my back arch... to which I humbly replied, "My uncle is John Cassablanca" (obviously, not true).

Another important note about the way I shoot - I don't "spray and pray". I would rather spend 20 minutes posing a model to get a few great shots rather than letting someone flail around like one of those inflatable dancing guys at car dealership, while hoping the stars aligned at some point for a lucky capture.

When it comes to my post processing, I start in Lightroom and narrow down to a solid image selection after about three passes through the entire batch. Next, I do my color correction in the Develop Module before heading to Photoshop for the pixel-polishing. On an average image, I'll spend about 15-20 minutes with the healing brush before another five minutes of dodging & burning. After five more minutes of fine-tuning with the clone stamp and liquify tools, I've saved and closed a single-layer PSD to be exported later in other file formats. Whenever deadlines permit, I prefer to visit the retouched images in Lightroom one last time after taking my eyes away from them for 24 hours. That's usually when I catch mistakes from the homestretch of a ten-hour editing session. To most, my techniques would seem surprisingly simple, yet laboriously detailed.

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What is your favorite thing to shoot for yourself?
Believe it or not, my answer to this has nothing to do with swimsuit models. Shooting a breathtaking landscape is my therapy. Mother Nature requires zero posing, wardrobe, makeup, etc... only your camera, tripod and a few bazillion photons streaming from our nearest neighboring star.

What do you do on your down time?
Downtime, what's that!? I work, eat and sleep... but don't pity me, because I work with swimsuit models, eat well and make sure to get my eight hours of rest most nights. Before photography, I did stand-up comedy for a few years at local venues. It was my creative outlet outside of my graphic design day job - that is, until our main comedy club closed and the local scene died. A few months later, I picked up my first DSLR to start a new hobby and the rest was history.

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What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far and what do you think was your breakthrough image?
My most memorable moment was when Sports Illustrated first reached out to me a couple years ago and I've been providing them with content for SI.com ever since. Let's hope the next call from them will be to shoot the annual swimsuit issue. :)

As far as my breakthrough image is concerned... I'd like to think that it has yet to come, that way I'll always have something to look forward to.

What is your favorite part of being a professional freelance photographer?
For me, not knowing what tomorrow will bring is what keeps me most excited. I've had 9-5 jobs my whole life up until recently, and I don't miss the routine schedules that typically make today very similar to tomorrow and the next day and so forth. The excitement in a freelance career is knowing that the unknown lies ahead. Each new gig comes with meeting new people, visiting new places and taking on new challenges.

"If you don't build your dreams, someone will hire you to build theirs." ~ Tony Gaskins

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What is your best tip for post-production?
The "Art of Photoshop" is knowing when to stop!

What do you think is the future of photography?
The future of photography? I'm really not sure... but I hope it involves less updates from camera manufacturers so I can stop having to choose whether to spend my money on new gear or food & rent.

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully shooting for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and Victoria's Secret campaigns... I'm coming for your job Russell James!

Hopefully NOT adding to some awful photographer stereotype by driving a van, eating at Hooters by myself, handing out business cards to the waitresses and offering free shoots.

Thanks for taking the time to read and be sure to check out more of my work at www.joeywrightphotography.com and follow me on Instagram and Twitter

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26 Comments

impressive work!

Thanks Rick!

Joey is the man! Been following his work since I first saw him on D-Town.

Thanks Brian!

Nice post, great images ... and the Semi-NSFW made me laugh! :)

Thanks Helmut! I'm sure there are plenty of stuffy work environments where women in bikinis might not be considered appropriate. Just glad I don't work in that environment anymore!

Wish that was my lifestyle! ;)
Great image's, but where does the NSFW apply?

Thanks @sandervdveen:disqus!

The NSFW applies to my workplace.

4th picture from the bottom - whats going on with her foot?? anyone else see that

I think its backwards, looks to be a retouching mistake or she is ridiculously flexible.

It's not backwards, but the angle is incredibly awkward... Should have angled her foot just a tad more to make it more obvious, as it does look like it's facing the wrong way at first.

this is kinda typical when they stand on the ladder where pressure is put on just her toes . I've seen this couple times. her expression is good.. I don't mind the legs. though I would like her to have more open eyes with the expression

@disqus_W3JWH861nl:disqus, @disqus_aaron:disqus, @disqus_DwTODBubHq:disqus & @janarcheebloch:disqus - The strange appearance is simply a matter of her having a relaxed foot in which the toe is pointing at the camera, rather than stretched and pointing back (which is my usual preference). This shoot, however, was not shot under ideal circumstances in which I could take a little more time posing the model. We were out in 30mph tropical storm winds getting sand blasted while wind howls and crashing waves made it impossible to give verbal direction. In fact, the model and hair stylist thought I was crazy when I didn't cancel the shoot that morning! Either way, it doesn't bother me enough to put that image in the digital graveyard but it's a valid observation nonetheless. You can check out that entire shoot here if you'd like: http://www.joeywrightphotography.com/2011/12/19/ella/

BTW, thanks for reading my article!

nicely done...and lucky dawg :-)

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