The sensual allure of Leah Hilton magically ‘floating’ in a darkened bedroom first lead me to explore more of California photographer Steven A Thompson’s work.
Inspired by the black and white prints of my father (Photographers Mate in the USN) I can remember always being fascinated by photography.
Not only did I enjoy making images, I was fascinated by all sorts of technology.
Even then I fancied myself an artist and a technologist and loved the practice of using something as technical as the science of photography to create something as beautiful, interesting, or fantastic as a photograph.
Photography coursework providing a welcome respite from my engineering coursework.
I graduated The Ohio State University to become a sound engineer for Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco.
I continued to shoot and process my own black and white landscapes and portraits in my spare time throughout the Bay Area for several years and dabbled in glamour and art nude photography throughout the early 1990’s.
Unfortunately life got in the way (and girlfriends wanted their bathrooms back) and my photography hobby went on the back burner.
I turned to the world of point-and-shoot and drug store processing and generated a prolific collection of uninspired snapshots in sticky-page photo albums … That is, until I discovered digital.
Over the next few years I transitioned from a cubicle engineer in San Francisco to a field engineer in the post production Mecca of Hollywood, eventually landing in the world of film and television sound mixing and the early DVD revolution.
My exposure to new forms of digital image processing and ultimately digital photography inspired me to consider picking up a camera again.
The proverbial lightbulb went off and once again, without the smell or mess of a wet darkroom, I was in control from click to process to print again.
Today I am an active sports, landscape and especially model shooter.
I shoot for fun and to support my hobby and struggle with balancing the passion to explore my art while looking for opportunities that would allow my transition to self-employment based on my photography alone.
In the mean time I work in the Hollywood post production industry directing a group of engineers developing workflows for various image and file conversion processes.
I do a lot of pre-visualization before a shoot. I like to be prepared and have an idea of what I am after before even booking models or planning a shoot.
Things are allowed to change as the shoot progresses, but a solid idea leads to a solid start and, especially when working with a new model, I believe really helps to get the process rolling, instills confidence as well as facilitate a dialog that leads to creative collaboration.
I initially went with crop-sensor as most of my work starting out revolved around auto racing and aircraft photography.
Nikon’s incredible focus system and fast repeat rate were unsurpassed in this area and I found these features irreplaceable.
I believe that all of the major camera companies leap-frog each other anyway, so brand arguments are about as worthwhile as arguing religion, but Nikon makes great glass and has a great selection, and while bodies are pretty much disposable, my lens collection leaves me an avid Nikon user.
I find myself working mostly with the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8G ED AF-S as my go-to glass on DX.
It gives me great versatility in the limited space of my home studio.
In the field you’ll also find the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR (amazing value – super sharp), Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye Nikkor and the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM for Nikon.
I’m an avid Strobist, and have no issues creating light when it’s not available to me – or better yet augment natural light with my own level of control.
My bag is full of Nikon SB- speed lights, controlled by the Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight controller and RadioPopper PX triggers to give full iTTL control without the need for line of sight.
Triggers are RadioPopper JrX remotes that give me power control from the camera (I love them so much I wrote RadioPopper’s JrX reference app for the iPhone).
Creatively I enjoy stylized glamour and nude photography. Every shot is composed and lit with the full intent of creative post processing to achieve the look I’ve imagined.
For me, the process of photography doesn’t end with the click…the click is simply the beginning.
For more from Steve click here, or leave your comments below.
Images © Steven A. Thompson