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Interview With Photographer Nathan Gallagher

Interview With Photographer Nathan Gallagher - Nathan Gallagher talks to EIZO about his life as a photographer who shoots portraits and more.

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Nathan Gallagher’s career kicked off on the slopes of Vail, Colorado, when photographs of friends snowboarding made it into the press and led to a series of assignments in the worlds iciest climbs. Now based in marginally warmer East London, his work photographing people still takes in a fair share of sporty types, along with portraiture, action and lifestyle shots for an impressive array of clients.

Nathan Gallagher told EIZO about the evolution of his career, and how he takes a very proactive approach to developing projects.

Portrait

© Nathan Gallagher

You were an early starter! Can you remember what sparked your interest in photography as a kid?

My dad was a very active amateur photographer, a lab-in-the-bathroom kind of guy, and he let me play with his cameras and 'help' him in the darkroom.

People tend to forget that the word 'amateur' comes from the French for 'lover of', so I'm happy to say that I'm still an amateur myself!

 

Do you miss shooting on film?

On jobs I do. I still use it for personal work, but I miss the sound and feel and pace of a commercial film-based shoot. The trust in the photographer by the client seemed much greater too, simply because they had to wait to see the shot, Polaroid notwithstanding. I feel that the conversion to digital and its instant results have democratised the shooting process a bit too much sometimes.

Portrait

© Nathan Gallagher

Your work is very varied, how do you manage that in a marketplace that likes to categorise people?

I am simply watchful as to what I broadcast in terms of my work. You're right that clients want to categorise photographers - I feel this is simply born of the desire not to take risks, which is understandable. That said, I also believe it's not too much of a stretch for clients to realise that cross-contamination from other disciplines such as action in fashion or portraiture in product photography can be creatively useful and possibly help avoid homogeneity. 

 

What’s your working process?

Every job is different but if I can, after discussing an idea through with the art director or designer, I like to sketch up concepts (previously on paper, more recently on an iPad) to see if we are imagining the same image. Then if it’s the sort of job that requires a recce, I'll quite often take the recce photos and incorporate them into the initial sketches - at each stage getting closer to the final picture. There is something rewarding about only planning up to a point and allowing yourself some room to maneuver on the day, but there again, sometimes it can be nice to see a concept come to fruition exactly how you planned it. Variety, once again, is key.

Action photography

© Nathan Gallagher

Do you prefer studio or location work?

I think I like location work more, but that might be because I've spent a lot of time in the studio recently. In either case, I tend to work in a tethered manner. Clients like to see the image on a large screen, it helps them see the shoot, quite literally, from my point of view. I also like to light, no matter where I am.

 

Do you like to capture things in camera or do you play around with Photoshop and post-production?

Both. I am not precious either way. So long as the concept isn't compromised by the choice. Sometimes I see other people's work which has been post produced within an inch of its life and I get it - it was always meant to be like that and it has a reason to be so. Other times I think to myself 'that would have been better done properly in the first place.' I try to maintain this in my work, although I'm sure I'm guilty of being heavy handed in the past.

 

Portrait

© Nathan Gallagher

Do you do your own post-production and colour?

Most of the time I do. Colour is a lot harder than clients realise, and post-production is job-dependant. So each job is different. I have a nice EIZO ColorEdge CE240W which has seen me right for quite a while now. I'm going to invest in their new AdobeRGB gamutted monitors fairly soon too and keep my existing monitor for location work. 

 

How do you know when an image is ready to go out into the world?

Commercially speaking I am usually shackled by very tight deadlines for the scale of jobs that I do. I often have to turn around work in under a week after the shoot (or less!) so the decision making process is a collaborative one. I use an online digital contact sheet system for fast selection and approval from clients and take it from there. For my personal work I have to leave it alone for a good long while, then return to it later - if it's still as good as I was telling myself when I finished it, then it's on!

Rugby

© Nathan Gallagher

Nathan's Kit List:

  • Cameras - 35mm: Canon, MF: Mamiya
  • Lenses - Primes when possible and zooms when not
  • Lighting - Profoto packs and modifiers
  • Mac computers
  • Lacie external hard drives
  • Sandisk memory cards 
  • EIZO CE240W monitor 
  • Printer - theprintspace.co.uk is just around the corner from my studio, so I use them!
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