Photographer of the week: Derek Galon
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The photographer of the week is the highly appreciated Derek Galon, whose incredible portraits are as meticulous planned as perfectly executed. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview. You will find more photos in the end of the article.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
So, tell me please – was the music my profession, and photography – a hobby? Or the opposite? Or perhaps both were starting to be my equal professions? I am not sure, but it was all certainly more than a hobby. In fact I don’t think I do have a hobby. I do lots of fascinating things as my work. I have no time, energy, or desire to do anything else. After studies I performed with my jazz group and kept photographing. Did I have other jobs?
Yes, I did plenty of odd jobs at one moment of my life, but they were always temporary. When we with my wife arrived in Canada during hardships of Polish Solidarity times, I had to be a pizza cook, delivery driver, cleaner, hospital helper, and so on. It was just needed to survive, never a “career” of my choice. Because of these low paid jobs, however, I had no time to practice my violin for a while – and I lost my skills. I don’t play any more. Things change in life, I accepted that and in turn it gave me more time for photography. Now I work mostly with photography and publishing.
I cannot, however, answer the second part of your question. My parents made me see the Art with the capital A. For me the Art is something very special and perhaps out of my creative reach. I may have an artistic profession, do artsy images and crave some recognition for my works – but it is not up to me to say that I do Art. Only others, those who know lots of real art, can decide if my work can be qualified as an art or not. I see I do progress with my works and I hope that one day my work will deserve such title. But it is not up to me to say.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
I also shoot other things my clients may require, and when travelling I do some documentary, nature, and street photography. Most of my photos one can see here on 1X are created in studio over last few years. I guess I started doing them to unwind, to relax after that hard work shooting for two big books and then designing and editing them. At first these studio photos were less complicated experiments, then the studio sucked me into creating more elaborated images. I created several series, of which the “Painterly” – a series influenced by old paintings - is the most successful one. It gained me Fellowship at Royal Photographic Society (UK), and won me dozens of top international medals. But other images also did quite well. It really is labour of love. What I try to say is – I don’t think I have vision. I can do quite versatile work in many styles. I believe in trying hard to keep the highest quality and to pay attention to details in my images. But it is not a vision, I think. I just do what I love to do, and express myself the best way I can.
Why are you so drawn by portrait photography?
Now portraits are one of my main subjects, yes. Once you start doing something and you put lots of thought into it, new ideas come to you easier than at the beginning, therefore my portrait work continues for now as a natural consequence of previously created images…
What is more important to you, the story behind an image or the technical perfection?
What is your most important advice to a beginner in portrait photography and how do you get started?
How to start your work? Perhaps assist a more experienced photographer to see his ways around it. Or perhaps shoot with an experienced model who will know how to pose and will take some of the deciding burden off your shoulders. I often think of all details well ahead of my session, sometimes making a detailed sketch, lighting diagram, list of props needed. By setting an image in your head, you make it easier to pull it through, I think. And the last thing – don’t be discouraged if a session didn’t work. There are so many things to go wrong, it is only normal that sometimes there is nothing to show from a potentially good session.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Is there is any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a big deal and why?
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
Is there anything else you wish to add, and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
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