Honey, Drip, Face, Drenched, Sarah Richling

Beauty and Fashion Photographer GD Whalen of Asheville, North Carolina

Honey, Drip, Face, Drenched, Sarah RichlingGD Whalen is a photographer of fashion and beauty residing in Asheville, North Carolina.

I became drawn into the beauty of GD’s images, particularly through my attraction for his successful use of various body decorated makeup themes, which recur in his works.

Through this decorative pallet and GD’s creative eye such wide-ranging variety of look and mood are crafted that we the viewer are often left wondering, How can this be, … is this the same girl? 

GD started in photography when he was a still a kid.

” … first camera was a Kodak Instamatic with one of those flash cubes on top.

Bling Girl, Bling Body Decor, Large Bling, Bling Stuck on body, Bling glued to skin, Bling dress, Bling ShoesJust felt natural to me.  Edward Steichen was the first photographer that really impacted my thought process.  He and Edward Curtis both had the ability to light and shoot their subjects to bring out the personality within the person.

Lighting is so important to establish a mood in any image.

Yellow Green Eyes, Metal Helmet, metal Mask, mask eyes, metal spiked helmetBoth of those photographers were light magicians.

window Light, pink dress, blonde, basin, grass, looking out windowToday Photoshop has opened creative doors that never existed;  but, if you look carefully, you will see that light, the manipulation of light, is still the bedrock of any good image.

Composition and content will attract the untrained eye but light will lock an image into your memory.

Light is still the essence of any good photograph.

I’m not a total gear junkie.

I am a concept/idea junkie.

Sarah Richling, Net Veil, fishnet veil, black fishnet veil, beautiful blue eyesI absolutely believe that you need the gear, good gear is fine, great gear better.

However, I think great gear with bad concepts equals bad work.

Rope Collar, Blonde, Rope around neck, brass hoop earrings, green eyesSo, I do not gear shop to make a bad picture good.  I gear shop to make a great picture – better.

I shoot Hasselblad and Nikon these days.

Was a Leica shooter for years and years.

G String, Suspenders, Hat, Black, beauty, white ribbonsAlso did a lot of large format work.

I just can’t get away from sensor space.  Large sensors, large negatives, to me, bring out pieces of an image that just aren’t possible with 35mm.

35mm is fantastic for quick editorial type work.  Movement work as well.

But 50 Mega Pixel sensors and 4″ x 5″ negatives are where it is at for me.

Give me space.  Give me lots of sensor and grain space, and I am happy.

Obviously, there are some great 35mm shooters.  I just happen to love that extra space of large format.

Whenever I meet a photographer that talks about his gear first it always worries me.

Cigar, Martini, Brunette, Sofa, Dark Gray, Black, boots, leather, sweater, decolletageThe gear is a tool to get the vision in your head produced.

The gear can’t do anything to help you be creative or visually inspired.  What it can do is get you the shots that lessor gear can’t get.  But that is more a rationalization than a fact.

I am a believer that images, impactful images, are a result of the creative brain and not the equipment.

The equipment allows you to take the picture but it certainly can’t do it by itself.

Imagination and inspiration can come from so many different directions.  I will typically talk to clients, models, art directors, etc and try to get a feel for what/who they are.  What are they trying to sell and who are they trying to sell it to?

Coffee Bean DressWe covered a model with coffee beans because she LOVED coffee.  Just adored coffee.  She totally bought into the concept.

Blue Eyed Asian Look, blue kimonoGear can’t come up with ideas.

The photographer is creator of the shot.

The gear is just a tool to get that shot.

I do however believe that any shot, all else being equal, will be better with better gear.

I just don’t think better gear can ever make a bad shot good.

I love watching the faces of models light up when they buy into a project.

I know I have done my job when my vision becomes their vision.

But, I am also always surprised and excited when someone else energizes an idea.

I don’t know how many times a model or observer has enhanced an idea with a simple addition of a prop, piece of jewelry, clothing, etc.

Implied Blonde, seated, sitting, on a stool, shiny black pants, black bootsRarely is a picture the 100% result of a photographers imagination.

Collaboration, open collaboration, or the lack thereof, is one of the great mistakes any photographer can make.

Images have to bring in the viewer.

There has to be a connection at the pixel level from the image to the viewer.

Colors, angles, composition, even black and white vs color can make a huge difference … many people have made simple, yet extraordinary, suggestions that have helped move an image from a shot to a piece of art.

Open communication breeds better work than demanding does.

Bottom line, I love what I do.

Jimmies Candy Dress, blonde, rainbow colored eye lashes, gray eyes, gray blue eyesI love ‘seeing’ the world in reality and in my head.  The ability to mold those two dimensions together, into one image, is what I live for.

Photography is my resource to do that.”

To see more from GD,  click here.

Images © GD Whalen



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