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ePHOTOzine Chats To Photographer Dave Kai-Piper

Dave Kai-Piper is a Pentax Ricoh photographer that shoots everything from models to weddings and gig photography.

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ePHOTOzine Chats To Photographer Dave Kai-Piper: Dave Kai-Piper 1
Image © Dave Kai-Piper 

How did you discover photography?
My path of discovery was though a high Street photography company called Pixi Photo. It was not a great match, and we soon parted was after a blaze of glory in a Milton Keynes office. It was a learning curve for myself and after all it was my first photography job and it did set my photography fire alight. I was a Professional Photographer and my path was laid down. So, as much as they did sack me, I thank them for showing me everything I didn’t want to do with my own photography.

From there I got a few little jobs working for a wedding company called Prestige Photography, then on to the music world followed by the fashion world. The rest is history I guess.

My very first notion how powerful photography could be, can be tracked back to a couple of words my mother once said to me, "you should take a photo of that, you might never see it again". These are words that echo though me today. But, I have kind of changed it "you should take a photo of that, you might never feel that again". Photography is more about feeling a purely visual experience. Over the years I guess the notion that people look with their eyes but feel with their heart is something I am quite interested in.

ePHOTOzine Chats To Photographer Dave Kai-Piper: Dave Kai-Piper 2
Image © Dave Kai-Piper 

When did you decide that model and portrait photography was the way forward for you?
I don't think that it is. At the moment, my website has 4 sections. Client, personal, music and landscape. At the moment, working with people and the environments they live in is pretty interesting to me, and it seems to be something people quite like to pay me to do. I might not stay working with people forever, but it sure has my focus at the moment and for the foreseeable future. I think I would love to really push into adventure photography in the coming years and really find some amazing landscapes. I am a big fan of the balance Joey L has with his work.

I have shot weddings, gigs, babies, models and everything in the middle. I find working with other creatives quite fun even if it is a challenge at times. All things said, I just want to make little marks on how I see the world today that will continue to give me a voice long after I am gone.

ePHOTOzine Chats To Photographer Dave Kai-Piper: Dave Kai-Piper
Image © Dave Kai-Piper 

Why did you choose Pentax Ricoh Gear?
At the moment I am shooting on a range of cameras. The Pentax 645d I have had some what of a love affair with for a number of years. It was more an object of desire at first. Expensive and sexy and something I thought I would never have.

More recently I have 3 cameras in my bag. The super sexy 645d is the work horse at the moment. I guess people usually state the sharpness and color and large files and all the tech that goes into a interview like this. But, at the of the day, the 645d makes me want to take photographs. It has my back, we are a team. At the other end of the scale I am currently using a GR as my pocket camera. The Pentax / Ricoh cameras share many color profiles and tonality ranges. The Kodak CCD sensor in the 645d is one of the most amazing on the market today and the GR, while using a CMOS sensor is one of the best and most compact.

The GR matches the 645d, on the website, at 72dpi, people will never really be able to tell which was which. So they make a cool combo. The GR is light, compact and will go everywhere with me. It lives in my pocket. Oh and it charges by USB and the battery life is amazing. Another great reason why it is the pocket camera of choice.

ePHOTOzine Chats To Photographer Dave Kai-Piper: Dave Kai-Piper 3
Image © Dave Kai-Piper 

How  would you describe your work and what do you aim to achieve with your images?
That's a tricky one personally for me, I guess many people put me in the fashion bracket, which I think is a slightly wrong way to describe what I do, or I should say, what I want to do. I have a wider outline I think, I would happily shoot something not knowing who the designer is or the season it is from. I would say I shoot a mix of fashion based portraiture and commercial, for instance I would be just at home shooting a punk rock gig and searching out stunning vistas like on my trip to the Blue Ridge parkway in Virginia. For me, it is all photography and all a way for me to share how I see the world or at least give my interpretation on the world.

Recently I have been starting to limit my personal work to simple head-shots (link to site). I have a great fondness for good, honest, classic portraiture. Shooting things with one light set ups and trying to capture people in new ways. Portraits can be the most complex images to shoot and I find the challenge very interesting. Each sitting is totally different and each sitting has its own story. To me a good portrait should raise more questions than it answers, quite the opposite to commercial imagery that is designed to be simple and usually gives a corporate message of some kind. I like the mix of shooting both.

What do i want to achieve? I guess that is an income I can live off at the end of the day. On a more artistic level, I want to create things that inspire people the way other people have inspired me. If I find that perfect balance, I would be happy.

ePHOTOzine Chats To Photographer Dave Kai-Piper: Dave Kai-Piper 4
Image © Dave Kai-Piper 

Can you explain how you'll go about conceptualizing and bringing about an image you think of to life?
This is pretty interesting subject to me. A few months ago I was asked by Future Publishing to talk at Photo Live. I was talking about creativity and how it relates to Fashion Photography. I took the idea that creativity is something of a learned skill and we can learn to refine our creative minds. I explained that there might be some myths about what being creative really means and how much planning and creative pre-thought goes into, what is commonly preconceived as 'being creative on demand'. I am rather geeky and love to save images, and document and store things I like. Building up visual banks that I can recall and blend into new images when on set. Putting energy into the every stage of the shoot is something I like to use as a philosophy.

I do like the idea of time and space, I try and avoid elements that might actively date my images, I like installing duality and subtext. I like to play with minds and emotions, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in confrontational ways, after all, as artists, we are meant to ask the questions, not answer them. 'The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.' - Francis Bacon.

If you had three top tips to give any budding portrait photographer, what would they be?
  • Try and understand what you like and why you like it, learn to know your own mind and what your own thoughts and feelings are telling you.
  • After learning about your own mind and your own feelings, try and think about how life is for other people. They are just as complex as you.
  • Spend time with people. Talk to people, be open and honest about what your intentions are and what you are trying to say about them. 
For more information on Dave Kai-Piper and his photography, take a look at his website, Ideas and Images.


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23 Sep 2014 6:53PM
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