West Eal is a lifestyle, portrait and wedding photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. Originally from California, after 10 years as a chef West gave up the kitchen for the camera after buying a used Canon T2I at a pawnshop for $60.
Clients include Phoenix Fashion Week, Google, Enterprise, ABC News, Chrysler, and T-Pain.
I would describe my style of photography as…
A dynamic view of my mind! As a child way before I could read I used to thumb through National Geographic magazines. And using only the photos as a reference I painted amazing stories that I wished I could be a part of.
My favorite piece of gear is…
My imagination. The reason why I say that is because all the gear in the world can’t make you a great photographer. Your imagination is what pushes you from a guy with a camera to a photographic artist.
What image are you most proud of from your photography portfolio?
In August of 2017, I decided to re-create a photo of a famous painter named Frida Kahlo using my wife who was pregnant at the time. What makes me so proud of that photo is that Lindsay Adler which one of the best fashion photographers on earth and one of the reasons why I wanted to be a photographer liked the photo on Instagram. Not to mention the official Instagram page of Frida Kahlo also liked it as well. Being recognized by your idols is the is the most amazing type of motivation a person can receive.
My dream gig would be…
Getting a call from Jay Z (the rapper) and having him ask me to shoot a photo spread for him and him giving me complete creative control. Corny, yes but maybe a guy can dream.
What’s your most memorable shot or shoot, be it challenging to capture or interesting subject?
When I was a chef as a stress relief I would walk up and down Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona with a crappy canon T2i I bought from a pawn shop. I met a homeless man that called himself “Tim the Bear”. Tim told the most wonderful stories about this life before becoming homeless. What made this photo so memorable was that Tim once was the Curator of the Phoenix Zoo but this mental illness (schizophrenia) ruined this entire life and lead him to be a homeless man living on the street.
My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…
That is a hard one! In the studio, it has to be the TetherPro USB 2.0 5-pin Cable but on location, it’s the Case Air Wireless Tethering System! Trying to rely on the LCD screen on the back of your camera will make a fool out of you most of the time. There have been hundreds of times I thought I had the shot and the get back home only to find out it was either over or underexposed. Those 2 pieces of gear keep right where I want to be. But most important of all is that it gives you the chance to wow your client in an instant. They can see your work on a larger screen the second you shoot it. Ultimately cutting all the guesswork. Tether Tools simplified my workflow.
What’s on your photography gear shopping list?
I have been looking at the Canon 5D Mark IV but most likely the first thing I would like to get would be a set of Profoto B1X lights. In addition to those two items, Wacom makes a nice tablet for editing.
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…
Rely on your IMAGINATION more than your camera. Nowadays beginner photographers think that an app or a new camera will make them better so they go out and spend money on the “new and shiny” forgetting guys like Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange had cameras that were worst then our cell phone cameras and made historical and thought-provoking imagines. Take the money that you have for the new and shiny and buy advertising or tutorials from CreativeLive.