Eric Doggett is a professional photographer and artist based in Austin, Texas. His work can be found at www.doggettstudios.com.
I would describe my style of photography as…
My style of photography, especially regarding holiday cards, is completely centered around humor. I am using humor to tell the story of a family. The beginning is usually already there (for example, a family that loves movies from the 1980’s, or loves the outdoors). I’m taking that story and adding a little holiday spin. In the end, I want a family to look back and say “Yes – this is our family!” I want to create an image that captures that family, for that year, in a funny and memorable way.
How did you get started with tethered photography?
When I first started shooting for local magazines and commercial clients around 2008, I tried wireless tethering with my Canon 5D Mark II. It was a painful experience to say the least. I had a background in web development & networking which helped me get it working after a lot of trial and error. But it was a special pain that I would wish on no one.
After a year or two of that, I decided to give wired tethering a try, specifically with Tether Tools. At first I was worried that I would be giving up the “wireless freedom” I enjoyed. Actually, the opposite occurred – I gained freedom. I was no longer trying to configure network settings on a shoot, or wondering if I was too far out of range from the laptop to transfer images. I could see the full-size RAW image on the laptop instead of just a JPG preview. Everything just worked!
Since then, I’ve taken my laptop and my Tether Tools setup to almost every shoot I’ve done, including holiday cards. It’s as much a part of me as the camera at this point.
My dream gig would be…
My dream gig would be to use both photography and other mediums (painting, drawing, etc.) to create truly unique images that resonate with people. Humor would of course be a big part of it! It’s something I’ve been slowly working towards over the last year with the creation of www.FineArtByEric.com, and it’s a big part of where I find myself right now.
My favorite piece of gear is…
I have a Profoto Pro B-3 kit from a few years ago that I absolutely love. It’s rock-solid and I’ve never had an issue with it. Other than that, I would say that my sketchbook has been getting a lot of use lately. If I do something interesting with lighting, or I have a new idea for a shoot or painting, it ends up in a sketchbook. My only problem is that I have about 4 sketchbooks, and I can never remember where I wrote something down!
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…
The best advice I can give is to recognize that it will take a while for you to define your style. I’ve done a little bit of everything: newborns, seniors, weddings, commercial, editorial, advertising, you name it. It took years for me to decide what I liked and didn’t like. Eventually, everything combines and your style comes out of that. For example, I light and process Christmas card shoots like I light and process my editorial/advertising work. I needed those experiences years ago to help build my style today.
How did you get started doing these Christmas card photos?
For our 2009 family Christmas card we wanted to go beyond the standard ‘family in the grass in front of the house’ card. How many of those cards do we see every year? And how many end up in the trash on December 26th? We knew we didn’t want to do one of those cards, but rather something with a little personality. Something that would stay on a refrigerator into the New Year.
My wife, Lisa, came up with the idea of the 1950’s diner. I walked into a local diner and asked if I could take a background shot for our holiday card. I did a lot of work in Photoshop to remove the contemporary signage/etc. I photographed our family in the garage, did the compositing work, and sent it out. The response was great! Everyone loved it, and that’s when I started to think of holiday cards as art pieces themselves. When you think about it, it’s one image where everyone in the family has input, and the result is a slice of time – who they are as a family for that particular year. Many of the families I work with will order a canvas of the final image without any text, and it will be part of the holiday decorations they put up in their house each year. How cool is that?
How has tethered photography helped you as a photographer?
It sounds really weird to say that having a wire running from the camera to the laptop has brought me freedom, but it really has. I can’t imagine shooting without it. Clients love seeing the images as we shoot. We laugh at them, improve them, and enjoy the whole process. And that is the biggest benefit for me – the relationship-building with my clients. Tethering has contributed to that more than any other piece of gear!