Featured Artist -- Tyler McKinney (November 2014)

Tyler and I have known one another since we were about 5 years old. We haven’t had a substantial conversation in over 11 years. We meet in the Al Sabo woods to snap some photos, catch up on a decade, and most importantly, talk shop. With him is Josie, his always-by-his-side golden retriever.

For Tyler, photography comes down to telling the story. In a recent post on his blog, he writes, “We want to feel important and be remembered.” Capturing the energy which tells the story of the moment/day/emotion is what is most important in his work.

When did you start shooting photographs? What camera do you use?

“I had a disposable camera in my hand since age 10. I started off with film photography in high school and expanded to digital from there. I currently shoot with a Nikon D80. I had a D800 which was supposed to be the newest and best camera but it didn’t seem that much better than what I had so I sold it. ”

What’s your favorite thing to shoot?

“I like doing events. Anything that has a story. I try and make a story out of whatever I’m shooting. I like things that are different. I did one shoot with a guy who was a pop-lock dancer. Or one with my fiancé on a farm with horses. Anything I can go and do that has a movement to it and a story to be told.”

What would your dream job be?

“My dream job would be to do a behind-the-scenes movie on a movie set. You can tell a story about what’s going on, instead of shooting what you want the people to see, obviously—the movie, turn the camera the other way. What are these guys doing? How are they creating this? All the different emotions. Documentary style stuff, that’s what I wanna do.

I’m more focused on what’s really happening instead of what people want you to see--the product. What’s actually happening is way more interesting. I always watch the behind-the-scene’s clips when people post music videos versus the actual music video. That’s what sets artists apart. They’re more interested in how things are made. The process. There’s a curiosity there.”

What’s an obstacle you’ve encountered with your photography?

"I guess the disconnection from life that social media promotes. People have become tourists to their own lives. They don’t want to experience things anymore, they wanna show it off. #Mondaycoffee #newshoes #happiness.

Photography can sometimes disconnect you from the experience that’s happening. When I saw myself getting the same photos all the time I knew I wasn’t in the moment and needed to set down the camera in order to really see again.”

What are some pet peeves you have about photography/photographers/the industry?

“The number one thing that bothers me is the attitude that comes with it. ‘I’m a photographer.’ You don’t ever want an attitude as a photographer. I follow this guy on Facebook and he’s really informative but he’s so pompous. That ‘know-it-all’ quality just drives me nuts. I get it, you’ve experienced a lot of stuff as an artist, you’ve gone through it. But. You don’t have to be a dick about it. Especially if people come to you for help and you’re like ‘Oh, that’s a stupid question. Why didn’t you know that?’ I don’t get it. Why be stingy? They act like their information is gold or something.

The industry is so over-saturated at this point. I have a hard time calling myself a photographer. Anybody with a camera is a photographer these days—technology is so accessible. I can go to Wal-Mart and buy a professional camera. So anybody with a little bit of business sense can start a photography business. That’s a little bit irritating. It saturates the market so much that there’s not enough room for the people with real talent… you get this funnel effect where you’re all heading toward the same product. But at the same time, like you said, you have to find a niche, and if you can’t do that then you probably just shouldn’t be here."

"Although I guess I don’t really have a niche yet (laughs) other than the fact that I’m different... I don’t shoot babies, I don’t care to do portraits that much… That’s why I consider myself a commercial photographer. I love working with companies—they tell a story. But you’re not going to make a living off of that. Whenever I have these conversations I think about where I fit in.”

More peeves...

"I don't like when other photographers get smug about processing and say there are rules we need to follow. Who are they to say an image is bad just because the histogram isn't a perfect wave? I have a few over exposed photos that I meant to shoot that way, for example. Of course, there are many composition rules we should follow, like making sure horizons are straight (I hate Dutch angles), or trees or other objects coming out of a person's head. I’m also a firm believer in the rule of thirds, however, I won’t judge someone for shooting or editing something a certain way. There are plenty of things I’m not too fond of, but I like the idea of what they're doing and wish them the best at perfecting their craft the way they want to see it.

I wish people were more open to constructive criticism. I understand not enjoying someone bashing your work, but if someone is pointing out things that could be improved, we should listen. Too many people are good at giving criticism, but not receiving it.

All that aside, the end of the day, who cares? I like what I make, I respect the medium, I’m humble in the sense that I know my work isn’t incredible, and I’m always willing to help anyone who asks."

Do you think you have to have a fixed place in the industry?

“These days, yes. There are SO many people practicing photography. You do have to find a niche. I don’t have enough of a passion for senior portraits. To put myself in that bubble where I’ve got to hustle for those jobs, especially if they don’t speak to me. I don’t want to be boxed in. At all. So I’m looking for jobs that are a little off that main course. There are many jobs I’m just not interested in. Like the antique car show at noon. At noon. What am I going to do with those shots?”(laughs).

Any advice to other photographers?

“Don’t shoot anything that’s going to compromise your integrity to yourself or your art.”

Tyler McKinney Photography:







Thanks for reading!
To see the rest of the photos of Tyler, please check out my facebook page and website.
Josie says, "Stay Fresh!!"