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Warner's own style emphasizes textures and details in a way that draws viewers into a scene. Warner prints some of his favorite images on Water-Resistant Satin Cloth from LexJet, which he describes as “awesome.” Not only does it produce outstanding image quality, but the cloth can be stretched and/or displayed without a protective clearcoat. The fabric has just enough translucency so that the images appear to glow when backlit from either artificial or natural lighting. Warner says this image of fog crystallizing on the branches on a cold morning looks particularly amazing when the printed cloth hangs in a window.(Photo: ©David Warner)
If you’re trying to make a name for yourself as an artist, you can’t just emulate the work of well-known photographers. Still, it can be fascinating to learn what makes other photographers tick—who they are as people and why they shoot the way they do. You can also pick up ideas that can help inspire your own creativity.
Curiosity about how other photographers think is what prompted landscape photographer and LexJet customer Dave Warner to start LensFlare35.com, an online community that is helping both amateur and professional photographers stay informed, network, and leverage tips and techniques. Having established himself as a photographic artist, Warner is quickly becoming skilled in the art of multimedia communications. Although he continues to capture new images and make prints that he sells in galleries and online, he now sees himself more as a podcaster who shoots photographs, rather than a photographer who produces podcasts.
“I looked around at others who were doing photography podcasts, and realized that in order to deliver the kind of shows I was interested in producing, I would need to focus the bulk of my time on podcasting,” states Warner. “That’s not to say that I don’t shoot! I take a camera everywhere I go.”
Since launching LensFlare35.com last May, he has posted hour-long interviews with 42 photographers and filmmakers from disciplines ranging from photojournalism and nature to wedding, portraits and sports. The site includes wide-ranging talks with long-term pros (such as former White House photographer David Hume Kennerly) as well as young photographers (such as 22-year-old Gabby Salazar) who are doing interesting things with cameras.
Initially, Warner only interviewed Canon shooters and Canon Explorers of Light, because most of the digital-photography content on other sites seemed focused on Nikon users. But he has since branched out, asking each of the photographers he interviews who they would like to see interviewed next.
Because photography clients may soon expect a single professional to deliver both stills and video, Warner has started interviewing filmmakers so all imaging professionals can learn from each other and develop the broad spectrum of skills they will need in the future. So far, Warner has done 16 ‘Quick Hit’ shows with filmmakers who use HD DSLRs.
Adirondack Workshops: For one-on-one and small-group instruction, Warner has access to gallery/studio space in a renovated factory in the small town of Dolgeville, NY. Some photographers he has interviewed have accepted his invitation to present their own workshops there. Sandra Pearce, who Warner first read about in In Focus, will be conducting a class on painted portraits from Sept. 12-14 and Canon Explorer of Light Jennifer Wu will be leading an Autumn Adirondack Color Workshop Sept. 29-Oct. 3. (Photo: ©David Warner)Unlike national parks where photographers stand elbow-to-elbow shooting the same landmark, Warner says the breathtaking scenery of the Mohawk Valley and Southern Adirondacks offer boundless opportunities for fresh compositions. With 6 million acres, the Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous US, greater in size the Yellowstone, the Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined. (www.adirondcackworkshops.com)
In the 10 months since he opened LensFlare35.com, Warner has become an accomplished interviewer. He allows time to establish rapport with each subject so that each podcast will seem less like an interview and more like a casual conversation that happens to have a lot of good information.
For each interview, he does at least two to three hours of background reading and talks to friends of the photographer he is about to interview. He then prepares 20 to 25 questions that he sends to the subject the day before each interview. Warner tries to think of questions that each photographer has never been asked before.
When you scroll through the list of podcasts on the LensFlare35 site, you can download a PDF showing what questions will be covered during the interview. You can also view a slideshow, in which the photographer describes the story behind each of his or her posted images.
Earlier this year, Warner started adding live content. In one session, a panel of experts talked about “Social Media, New Media, and Marketing.” Another popular show focused on the fusion of video and still photography.
“The live show format is pretty wild, because we take telephone, Twitter and chat questions throughout the show,” Warmer says. As traffic to LensFlare35.com surges and Dave Warner’s name has become recognized by many of the famous photographers he seeks to interview, he admits that “Things have happened a lot faster than I ever imagined.”
He attributes this partly to providing good, honest content with limited advertising. Because Warner puts the interests of his audience first, his sponsors and advertisers have been rewarded by the rapid growth in the size and enthusiasm of the audience to which their ads are exposed.
Uniquely Qualified: Dave Warner’s own background has prepared him well for this new role as podcaster. He has been a photojournalist, art-gallery owner, air-traffic controller, and a pioneer in building websites and developing e-learning sites. He has the entrepreneur’s innate gift of being able to build new ventures from scratch, with a clear vision of how the business might evolve over time. It doesn’t hurt that his wife specializes in marketing and public relations and they talk strategy over the dinner table.
The major technical hurdle Warner faces in his quest to become a nationally known podcaster is that he lives on three acres of rural, lakeside property near the entrance to the Adirondack Park. While the location is ideal for photography and live workshops, it’s not-so-great for producing vodcasts and other new forms of multimedia learning. Currently he must rely on broadband satellite for transmitting files and can’t use Skype, VOIP, or other new advances in telecommunications.“I’m going to have to continually evolve additional ways to deliver content,” he says. “iPads, iPhones, and other technologies have created a thirst for media-rich content and that’s what I intend to provide for those who will listen. In the meantime, I might just have to climb up the telephone poles near where I live and string some high-speed cable just to keep up with what I want to do.” (Photo: ©David Warner)
Wherever they have lived, Dave Warner and his wife have been actively involved in making community leaders aware that artists can play a valuable role in stimulating economic growth and vitality in regions that have been hard hit by the closing of manufacturing plants.
Why a Photographer’s Story Matters: When the Warners ran an art gallery in Texas, they learned that art doesn’t sell itself. Dave observed firsthand that people were more likely to buy art when they knew more about the story behind each piece or had connected with the artist personally. He also discovered that when an artist finds a style that resonates with customers, the artist can earn more money by sticking with that style for awhile before branching off into new directions.
When Warner shows his own photo prints in a local gallery, he strives to be outgoing and personable. Some customers who see one of his photographs on canvas still aren’t sure whether it’s a painting or not, so he explains how the piece was created. As a photographic artist, he creates each print himself, coats the canvas, and sometimes adds brush strokes to highlight certain areas. Then he stretches the canvas himself, using stretcher-bar kits he purchases from LexJet.
He says that with the stretcher-bar kits, creating a 24 x 36 inch piece of ready-to-hang art couldn’t be easier. But in the eyes of the buyer, says Warner, “They are getting something special, something handmade.” (www.DavidWarnerStudio.com)