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Clay Cook
Louisville, KY
Followers 601 Karma 936.2
Staff Writer, Photographer, Filmmaker
Clay Cook
Member for: 1 year 1 month

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Gear List
  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L II USM
  • Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite
  • Profoto D1
  • Paul C Buff Alien Bee B800

I listen to Lady Gaga and Lamb Of God. I love to blog.

I’ve always connected to people through language, art, film, music and
creativity. I started performing music with 4 friends on stages and local clubs at the age of 16. By the age of 24, our act “(intheclear)” had grown to sell over 20,000 records and toured all across the nation.

Over the course of that musical career, I not only honed the craft of recording and performing live, but also graphic design and video editing. By the time the band split in 2010, I had designed hundreds of flyers, edited many photos and cut up tons of video footage. People started to pay me to do the same for them and my creative career flourished.

It wasn’t until December of 2010; I received my first DSLR camera as a gift. My love for photography blindsided me and began to snowball over everything in its path. I began shooting all in sight, from people and animals to beautiful landscapes; I wanted to capture it all. I’ve been blessed to know many creative people from all walks of life and have learned to mold and shape my vision of photography through their inspiration. And, many late nights on YouTube.

Now, with a sharpened eye and field experience, I’ve recognized my natural ability and true passion in fashion, commercial and lifestyle photography. Using the knowledge I’ve gained, I am not only able to capture the vision, but also manipulate it into art, bigger than life.

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Michael Palma's picture

I just recently came across your POV series on YouTube. Thanks for posting them! Love your lighting set-ups and will be trying a few of them soon. Keep up the great work :)

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you Michael! Really appreciate that!

Clay, hope all is well. I see such a medium format effect in some of your shots. I'm getting ready to upgrade from my P1 P40+ to either the IQ250 or 260. Any insight? I know the 250 is more flexible as a cmos but full frame sensor in studio (most of my use) will be hard to turn down. Any insights from your side?

Christian Webb's picture

Making it my business to Follow, shout out and say "thanks" to the main people I look to for inspiration and general guidance. You're most definitely on that list. Appreciate your work man and the tutorials you do. Wishing all the best and continued success.

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you so much Christian! That means so much to me. Cheers!

Vicky Papas Vergara's picture

Your work is gorgeous Clay! Love it! :)

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you so much Vicky, I just looked through your portfolio and all i can say is WOW. It means a lot coming from a talented creative like yourself. Cheers and hope to cross paths soon!

Chris Adval's picture

I just listened most of your interview with togtools, (great interview BTW), some followup questions about it if you do not mind? If not here they are...

- Networking (for publication as a goal);

> Do you simply find any public events like photo related conferences (i.e. photoplus) and network with editors? If so, is it strictly these conferences?

> I know you mentioned going to launch parties but isn't this more private normally?

> In today's world what would you do to get the editor's attention to your work, like use social media and message them your photos or send links to your work/articles, etc.?

> I've seen some photographers invest hundreds to thousands in campaigns to getting the attention of magazine editors such as sending them postcards, flyers, and other goodies simply to get their attention, have you done this or what you think of this?

- Shooting Style;

> I've seen some of your fashion work on your instagram, some is half in the studio and environmental. Just curious which do you prefer and love doing the production and seeing the results, environmental portrait shots or in the studio?

> I'm not sure if you ever had, but do you shoot for composites? If so, is your focus primarily on composite shooting or non-composite shots? If not, how do you compete with composite shots? (as the advertising/commercial world right now prefer a lot more composite photography for that more "impactful" feel)
- Collaborations;
> You mentioned this in the interview but I wanted to clarify when you say collaborate meaning you did not pay "USD compensation" to the other artists correct and was more of a trade agreement right? If so, I wonder did you simply tell them it was for your portfolio or/and other usages like advertising your business or marketing campaigns for a possible sell of the image for license usages?

- Self-Portrait or Other Photographers shoot you for your profile pics? (just curious) and if other photographers do you direct them as to how you want it done specifically or you tell them do their own thing?

I know its a lot, but you're my current highest inspiration, you love dramatic lighting, I love dramatic lighting, you love advertising/fashion and editorials I love that too. Oh and you're a canon user ;) lol... I may sound I want to be like you but its not just trying to learn from you to build my own self image and brand.

Clay Cook's picture

Hey Chris,
I'll try to answer these questions the best that I can.

I network everywhere, not just public events or launch parties. I network even when it's not my objective to network. Keep a stack of business cards handy, you never know when you might need it.

Launch parties are never a private event, some are ticketed and may cost an entry fee, but they are usually always open to public.

With an editor it's better to know them first before sending your work, it will have a greater impact. They are hounded with portfolios quite a bit, so get to know them on a personable level if you can. If you can't then be formal, but find something unique to you that stands out. Never contact an editor via social media, email.

I've never had to invest in advertising to get the attention from certain people. Word of mouth and reputation gets you the attention. Just work hard and shoot.

I don't prefer either or, I love studio and I love shooting on location. It's whatever the aesthetic calls for. I have fun with both.

I do shoot composites often, usually with large groups or if I'm in a confined space. Every shot I deliver has to be top notch, I treat the composite the same as any other shot. I may have to put more time into the composite, but at the end of the day the client just sees a good photograph. They don't care how you did it.

I do collaborate often, meaning no one makes money. Everyone does the job for free. A stylist pulls the clothes and I keep my end of the bargain by delivering images for use in their portfolio. There are tons of artists itching to collaborate.

I always have another photographer shoot my headshots and profile images. I may light the shot, but I can't see through the glass, that is up to the photographer to pose me accordingly.

Thanks again and I hope this helps!

Chris Adval's picture

Thank you that was very helpful! 1 last bit if you don't mind, when you mentioned
"If you can't then be formal, but find something unique to you that stands out. Never contact an editor via social media, email."

Please clarify? Formal but not digitally contact them, so purely networking in person as the best option? In my case where editors are nowhere near (sadly) do you recommend I send postcards/mailers, or making a trip to NYC from time to time (which I can do for these networking events and its only a 2-3 hr drive each way)?

Anonymous's picture

You're awesome Clay!! My biggest inspiration on photography at the time :) Congradulations and thank you so much for the great work you put in this world!

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you Alvaro! That means a lot to me! Cheers.

Hugo Deneweth's picture

Talented photographer, with a great passion! Love your articles and behind the scenes on You Tube! A great inspiring for me to learn more about fashion photography! Thank you for sharing!

Clay Cook's picture

I really appreciate that Hugo! Thank you so much for following and watching my work!

Branden de Haas's picture

You do great work!

Clay Cook's picture

Thanks Branden!

Kirk Marsh's picture

Hey Clay- Thanks for posting up some great articles and beautiful work as well. Really inspiring stuff man.

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you so much Kirk! Means a lot!

Julien Kauffmann's picture

Hello Clay ! Really love your pictures and your articles ! great inspiration for me ! I have always been working as a concert photographer, but your works convinced me to try studio portraits. After reading almost all yoru articles and after reading your blog, i attempt a single light portrait and your advices are precious ! Not perfect, but i really feel satisfied of the result. Again, thank you ! And contineu to inspire us !

https://fstoppers.com/photo/30274

Clay Cook's picture

Awesome Julien! Thanks for following what I do! Great lighting here. I would tone down the re-touching, but you've got yourself a great image. Keep it up!

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