This is the first of a series I wanted to start, profiling my favorite photographers. I’m going to kick this off with Dylan M Howell. He’s a Portland Oregon wedding photographer that has been inspiring me for many years. I’ve been following his work since about 2011 or so, when he was still shooting with Sara in Boise, Idaho. What impresses me most about his work is that you can see his quiet personality in the images. They have a peaceful feeling to them that isn’t often seen.
Below is a question and answer with Dylan. He was kind enough to take time from his busy holiday schedule for the interview and I thank him!
How long have you been a photographer?
Dylan: I’ve been into photography for a very long time, I’d trace it back to my 7th grade photography class. There was also a very long period where I was into BMX and was able to get one of the first digital cameras (I think it was my dad’s for work). The camera took floppy discs in the side and each floppy would hold about 20 small jpeg photos. My best friend and little brother would make jumps and spend the day taking photos of each other. Then I had a very early version of photoshop at home, I still remember the day I found the clone too. I made my friend look like he was 30 feet in the air on a jump instead of 6. We took it down to a local bike shop and tried to get him sponsored.. I can’t remember if that worked or not. haha.
To answer your question better, I’ve been shooting weddings since 2010. I was getting more and more into photography due to other hobbies, and to take product photos for a bicycle wheel company I had started. I had a friend getting married and she hired me. Off to the internet I went, googling everything I could think of about weddings. Gear reviews, tutorials, photo processing, etc. It was an incredible few months of preparation, shooting every day and working on my skills the best I could. I also started buying as much gear as possible. I was definitely on a budget, but I started with a Canon 7d and 5d classic. For lenses I got a used 24-70L, a used 70-200 f/2.8, and a 50mm 1.8.
I’d been stalking so many photographers work. Picking it apart every day, looking over their blog posts and websites like crazy. I had a huge list of bookmarks that I’d open on a daily basis. The wedding day came and I had a blast shooting it, the photos turned out nicer than I’d imagined, and they even got featured on a blog! Something I’d never expect for my first time out. It snowballed from there, it’s been quite the journey.
What do you consider to be your greatest skill?
Dylan: That’s a hard one for me. Maybe it is just the typical artist answer, but I don’t “love” my own work. I feel that I’m very proficient across the whole of a wedding day. There isn’t much that can come up that I’m not prepared for or thinking about in advance. I guess that is just experience, but I feel that I’ve made a major effort to be well-rounded on a wedding day. I want to capture the “boring” photos just as well as the ones I’ll post on social media. I think my biggest skill has been in marketing my brand, I’ve always done pretty well with getting eyes on my work.
What skill are you working on currently?
Dylan: I’m always trying to find ways to quickly make my clients comfortable during portraits. If anything, I feel that I’m not a “creative” photographer. I need to work harder at ingesting more art in my life. I also need to stop looking at each situation and taking the safe shot. The first shot I see. Sometimes my second photographer or the client will recommend an angle or something and then I get the best photo of the day.. I need to get out of the “easy mode” of doing the first thing I see. Or looking at a scene with the same eyes each time.
What’s next after photography?
Dylan: I think I’ve been asking myself this question since I started. Photography sometimes feels like it is too good to be true, and other times it feels like an overwhelmingly hard job with super long hours and too much travel. I think the best thing I could do right now is outsource the parts of the job that take up my free-time, like post-processing. That is the one change I’m looking forward to in 2017. Other than that, I have a few business ideas I’m going to pursue. I’m also finding more ways I can give back to my community and help others.