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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | July 11, 2020

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Day in the Life: Dave Fox

Day in the Life: Dave Fox
Harry Fritsch

We had a chat to Gold Coast based photographer Dave Fox about how he’s keeping positive and productive in the time of coronavirus.

The Creative Issue: What does your daily routine look like under self-isolation?

Dave Fox: I start my day with a nice cup of coffee and watch the news on TV for about 15 minutes to keep up with what’s happening. After waking up a bit, I go to my office where I reply to messages on Facebook, Instagram, and email. With those tasks out of the way, I turn to studying photography.

Instead of going to a famous museum or art gallery, I follow many of the world’s best photographers on Facebook. I like to analyse their photos: what is it about a photo that makes me like it (or not like it)? I wonder, did the photographer get the model to pose that way, or did the model bring her A-game and just killed the pose.

I try to figure out where the key light is coming from and if they used reflectors or additional lighting. The four keys to a great photo, in my mind, are lighting, pose, composition, and expression. Most often, it’s actually the model’s expression that makes the photo so outstanding which illustrates that photography is really a team event. You can get all the technical stuff correct, like lighting and composition, and even the pose, but if the model’s eyes and face don’t break through the clutter and capture your attention, the image is just another photo.

After I’ve spent 30 minutes checking out the photos on Facebook, I then post my own photo on Facebook and Instagram. Lately, I’ve been posting two on Facebook and one on Instagram each day and for now, these photos are from the vault. By mid-morning I’m hungry, so I’ll grab a bite to eat and watch a bit more telly, then it’s back to my office for more studying.

I read books and watch tutorial videos. Getting through these videos can take me a long time because I’ll watch it for a while, then I start thinking about applying something I’ve learned, and I’ll go have a play with my camera or lighting equipment. I’ll do some testing, and often create a strategy document…then I’ll go back and watch some more.

I love lighting so when I learn something new, I’ve got to go try it out or create diagrams in Adobe Illustrator (I’m also a graphic designer) with various lighting ideas for my next shoot. When I finally put these plans into action, I find it interesting they rarely produce exactly what I was expecting, and I end up having to work out why it’s not working the way I envisaged it would, modify things, and eventually get the results I’m after.

In the evening, I will have dinner with my beautiful wife Dawn and watch TV (Masterchef at the moment). And sometimes we will watch a movie together before I go back in my office to continue the same until the early hours of the morning. Next morning, I start my day with a nice cup of coffee…

TCI: How has COVID-19 had an impact on your work?

DF: My business has been shut down; however, this weekend (May 2-4) I have two photo shoots. They are both outdoor shoots and I will be staying at least 1.5 metres from my client at all times. I’m going to see how these shoots go and if I feel that it’s safe and successful, I will start doing more of these to get the business going again. Australia is indeed a lucky country with so few new cases. It’s easy to think it’s safe out there now, but you still need to be careful and follow the rules to help make sure we keep this thing under control.

TCI: How are you pushing forward with any current projects?

DF: I just created a new website, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My original website was created by a programmer using WordPress, but I never understood how to update it or change it. After trying to get in touch with this programmer numerous times, I realised it was time for me to learn how to do this myself.

Since I have an account with Adobe Creative Cloud, I was able to use Adobe Portfolio to create the website and it cost me nothing. Now, when I want to add or remove photos, I know how to do it myself. My next projects are SEO, BLOGS, and a business plan.

TCI: Is there a new hobby or talent you are trying to pick up while staying at home?

DF: No. I’m happy to just stay focused on trying to become the best photographer I can. I do have a large TO DO list, and I’m crossing things off that list as I complete them. I also want a new camera so I’m doing a lot of research into the mirrorless cameras which will need to work with my existing glass (lenses). I believe the prices will come down as the financial crisis deepens, so I’m hoping I might be able to save some money by waiting a few months.

TCI: Any advice for other photographers to stay positive in these strange times?

DF: Take advantage of the time you have now to study, practice, and experiment. For me, I just have to keep my brain occupied and challenged. This is a wonderful opportunity to get some of those long-term projects out of the way and tick off items on that TO DO list: like clean and organise your office, buy a new light modifier and practice with it.

I have a mannequin’s head with hair (wig) that I sometimes use when I’m experimenting. After your experimental shoot, tear it apart. Why did it work or not work? What could you do differently? What are your weaknesses? Now’s the time to work on these things.

Don’t forget, there’s a world of education online, and much of it is free. You just have to search for it. Here are a few sources that have helped me: CreativeLife, Roberto Valenzuela, Sue Bryce, Lindsay Adler, Tony Corbell, Joe McNally, Bambi Cantrell, Joel Grimes, Erik Valind, Felix Kunze, Joe Adelman, et al.

TCI: Is there a piece of entertainment – be it a film, tv show, book, artist etc. – that you have found to be a great escape from all of this stress?

DF: Ha…my wife and I love watching Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. Staring Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Ann Margaret, and Sophia Loren. These movies are classics and will have you laughing over and over again. Another classic we love is Top Gun.

TCI: Where do you see the Queensland photography scene once all of this is over?

DF: When this is over – and nobody can really tell you when that will be – things will slowly return to what was normal. People will start working again and have the money to invest in headshots and family portraits. Weddings will need photographers. Events will need photographers. Companies will need photos for marketing material. As social distancing restrictions ease, and as more business engines start to turn over again, the need for professional photography will increase.

Photo Credit: Dave Fox Photography