A few weeks ago I had an idea that made me very excited. I got the idea to start doing an interview series on my blog. ‘The Greats’ is the title that I have selected for it. I want this to be something that is both insightful and fun. The main focus will probably be photography, but I also want to do interviews with people that I respect from all walks of life. For the first one, I chose someone that I consider a pioneer, and a big reason I do what I do. For those of you who don’t know Kevin Beasley, I hope this glimpse makes you a fan for life. I will be honest and say that Kevin and I do not talk on the phone or hangout on a regular basis. We do, however, communicate via Facebook. I’ve had the pleasure to meet Kevin in person once, during a Louisiana Tech football game. He is a super duper cool guy, and very down to earth. He is located in Ruston, Louisiana and is considered by many to be the pioneer of the photo journalistic style in North Louisiana and the surrounding region. He is an amazing photographer that I think rivals the best in the world in the wedding photography world. I’m proud to call him my friend. This is getting a little long, so I’ll cut to it. Ladies and gentlemen, my interview with The Great, Kevin Beasley.
**note** – This is my first interview so I wasn’t really sure how to do this. Eventually I would like to do these in podcast form, but this is cool for now.
A lot of people have labels for your style of photography, how would you, personally, describe it?
-To the core I am a wedding photojournalist. In the same sentence I will also tell you that I am an idealist. At a wedding I make it a priority to shoot what I can without a lot of interaction with the client. It is always my objective to record things as they are so that they are remembered as they were. As for everything else I strive to explore the new in the old, to find the fresh in the stale. So what is my style of photography? Could I say KB style?
Nikon or Canon? And is there a reason why?
-I have always admired the wedding photojournalists before me. They all used Canon, so I decided to purchase Canon. Since then I have learned to strongly dislike the ergonomics of Nikon cameras when compared to Canon. Canon cameras make sense, are simple, fast, and easy to use. Canon lenses are quiet and fast (F 1.2!).
When did you discover photography, and what sort of formal education, if any, did you have in the photographic arts?
-Since High School I have always had a desire to learn the camera. When I went to college I had an opportunity to work with Party Pics at Louisiana Tech. It was through Party Pics that I learned the basics of flash, cropping, and shutter speed. The rest I learned on my own. I hung out with enough Tech students to gain the basics of print making. The rest of my knowledge was gained in personal study and occasional seminar from respected veterans in the industry.
Personally, I know you to be the ‘originator’ of the ’style’ that comes from the North Louisiana region, how does it make you feel to know that people think of you as a ’style originator’?
-I am flattered and honored. I have worked hard and continue to work diligently to remain pure in the traditions of this art. I have had to learn to embrace technology and adapt to its use in the everyday processes of what I do. With that said, it is my goal to see the work that I produce be seen, not as a fad or a style of a particular time, but hopefully something that would remain standing once fads and trends are revealed and pass away.
Keeping with the North Louisiana ’style’ of today, what are your thoughts on the talent and look in North Louisiana? Personally, I find North Louisiana to be a hot bed of wedding photography talent. It’s really remarkable, compared to the big cities of South Louisiana.
-I am surrounded by some amazing talent. I am glad to be a first hand witness when others in my area experience growth and gain respect in the art and from their clients. I think the rural areas offer greater opportunity for shooting and learning. What frightens me most is the amount of photographers starting out with little or no experience. This is how a lot of us begin. However, the amount entering the market is far greater than ever. The real issue, possibly, is the lack of background study of the rules or traditions that came before each of us. It is those building blocks that make a foundation. Many enter the market and try to emulate without really knowing why something is done a certain way or why one way is better over another. Then the process repeats itself over and over and then you have a mass market of photographers without a foundation that shoot like one and other.
We’ve talked a few times about the state of photography today, and how competitive it is. In those talks, you mentioned twice, there are more female photographers. I understand what you mean when you say this, but can you explain in a bit more detail for those who may not understand what you mean?
-In the days of film, if you wanted to compete professionally as a professional photographer, that meant the use of a medium format camera and medium format film. Medium format cameras were expensive, large, heavy, and very technical to use. These factors alone made it difficult for the majority to begin shooting professionally. With the digital cameras of today, the results are instant. The cameras are very affordable and they are light and easy to use. I believe this has allowed women to rise up and explore their creative side. In an industry dominated by technical men for so long I see women comprising the majority in the class room, workshops, and seminars now.
You are also known for your Underwater Brides, which is something I have yet to see anywhere else, how did that idea come about? Are you starting to get more requests for it, having done it for a period of time now?
-Underwater brides came out of the competitive desire within me. I was trying to find the limit of the medium. I wanted to push it to the extreme and shooting underwater was the most logical choice. Instead of thinking about what others were doing, I was contemplating what others were NOT doing. I found photographers shooting in the water yet none were willing to go under.
Are you a photographer that looks at other photographers for inspiration?
- As I mentioned before I am an idealist. In simpler terms I want to remain pure in my own creativity. I would like for my efforts to be the result of my ideas influenced by God, my experiences, and my thoughts and not the results of other photographers work. I do visit my friend’s blogs on occasion. Friends like Henry McCoy, Matt Adcock (Flash Flavor), and Kelly Moore. I do so to keep up with what they are doing or not doing.
If so, who are you inspired by?
-If you know me then you know that I have always been a fan of Denis Reggie. I am drawn to his ability to get the shot unnoticed time after time. He will always be my greatest inspiration.
How often do you visit the Matt Lange blog? (you don’t have to answer that)
-I did not know that you had a blog. ha ha. I visit your blog when I receive notice via message or email.
Let’s move away from wedding photography, I know you are a sports fan, have you ever considered picking up sports photography at some point, as a part of your business?
-Funny you should mention picking up sports b/c that is what I have been doing as of this past year. While most of my shooting of sports is purely recreational, it keeps me polished and on my toes. I have shot supercross, motocross, football, and baseball. I do not see making sports photography part of my business. It is a way to keep my shooting and timing up to par.
You look a great deal like New Orleans Saints head Coach Sean Payton, have you ever used that to your advantage? I know I would.
- If I could use the fact that I resemble coach Payton to get me in to shoot some of the Saint’s games, you bet I would use it to my advantage! I had the pleasure of meeting him and shaking his hand at the Saints training camp last year. He and Drew (Brees) really impressed me and I got some great pics with the both of them!
LSU or Louisiana Tech?
- Tech Tech Tech! Come on I am a Bulldog alumnus. We are witnessing the Bulldogs make their mark as the “Other” successful football program in Louisiana.
Are there any hobbies that you have that people may not know about?
- I have a bunch of hobbies. Too many in fact. I ride stand up jet skis, fly r/c planes and helicopters, ride motocross, and I fish. Just to name a few.
What is the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?
Have you seen Pineapple Express? If so, what are your thoughts? People seem to have a love /hate relationship with that movie.
- I have not seen it. But I have heard both love and hate for it too.
Finally, do you have any tips for aspiring photographers out there who may be on the fence about going fulltime, no matter what genre of photography they do?
- My best advice to anyone trying to go full time would be to “double dip” as long as they can. That means to keep and work their current job as long as possible while pursuing their photography career. Keep your debts as low as possible. Buy used equipment. Get insurance on all your gear. Please, please, please pursue your own ideas. Respect other photographers and their ideas by not copying them and their ideas.
I hope you guys enjoyed this read. I hope it’s the first of many to come. I strongly suggest you guys head over to Kevin’s site and blog. It truly is amazing. Kevin, I hope you don’t mind me posting a few of your images. The are excellent.
Hey, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am, in fact, still alive. Things are getting crazy hectic as the wedding approaches. Also, add in the fact that I was VERY sick last week, and now Chelsea has it, and it makes for not good blogging. That is also the reason some of you haven’t gotten responses to your emails. I think I am all caught up as far as those go, now. When things become more normal, the bloggin’ will start back up. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up. The top sports images posts are still coming.