Friday, May 14, 2010

Featured Artist: Lenny Garza


I have had the sincere pleasure of working with Lenny on two occasions thus far.  Our goal: To capture the allure and authenticity of the pinup era. To put it lightly, I was completely blown away by his talent and the finished product!  He brings to the table a professional attitude and trained eye but also a quick wit and a brilliant sense of humor that makes you wonder where all the time went once the shoot is finished because you were having such fun the whole darn time!  I would love to share with all of you, my dear friends, some insights from one of my favorite photogs:  Lenny Garza.  :::CUE APPLAUSE!:::

Q:  What name do you go by personally/professionally?

A:  Personally, I go by Lenny. Occasionally, I go by Your Highness or Your Honor, but I like to keep it informal, so Lenny is usually good. I haven't got a stage name or alias (at least not one that I'd want the authorities to know about); my company name is Photophisticate, but if anyone ever called me that, I probably wouldn't answer. 

Q:  Where do you call home?

A:  My house is in Burnsville, Minnesota, but I'm a native-born (and proud) Texan, so there's like this 10 foot diameter area around me (and any Texan) that 'becomes' Texas, so I'm always back home. And anyone within 10 feet of me is also in Texas, so technically, since I was at my daughter's birth, she's also a Texan.
"Freeze Turkey...Vulture"

Q:  What or who inspired you to become an artist?

A:  Everyone in my family was creative... my mom wrote computer programs (when computers took up entire floors), my dad played guitar, my cousin played piano, my uncle was a photographer... so I'd have to say my entire family is my inspiration, and being Hispanic, I have a HUGE family, so I'm never short of inspiration. I'm not sure I believe in talent though, because that implies some kind of separation between those with talent and everyone else. I like to think that everyone can be creative... it's how you react to whatever you create that determines your drive. I love music and photography, so that's where I spend a LOT of my free time.

Q:  Do you have any upcoming projects? Following that question, where do you see yourself in the next five years (in Photography Land) and what goals to you hope to fulfill?

A:  I'm doing a car/motorcycle shoot later this month. With any luck, I'll be able to put a calendar together that will (hopefully) make some extra money for me and the models. And in five years, I'd like to have been picked up by a national magazine and sent to different parts of the world (I'd be happy if they only sent me to the Caribbean) to capture images. My biggest project though is to learn. I want to know everything, but I know I never will. So I study, I play around and ultimately, I'll know stuff I didn't know before.


Q:  How would you describe your style?

A:  I like to think my style is more artistic than 'real', if that makes any sense. I like the images I get, but I have to modify them to match what I see in my head. Whether it's a photo of a model or a landscape, I have to modify it somehow. I've captured a split instant of time and space, so I feel a little guilty about making it different than what it originally was, but I also believe in making something your own. And to do that, you have to modify it. I'm not necessarily saying adding flames or explosions or something that extreme (although I HAVE done that a few times). I'm saying adding textures where there were none before, changing contrasts, things like that. I still want the photo to be 'true' to the moment, but I also want it to be my own. Or put a different way, if you play a piece of music, you add something, you slow it down a little, you play it louder or softer, etc. It's still the same song, but you've changed it.

 "Not the Grapes of Wrath"

Q:  The following images you provided are some of your personal favorites. Would you please share why?

A:  I've got a LOT of favorites, for various reasons. Some are of my own family, some are mistakes that actually turned out better than anything I could have planned, some are red (I LOVE red... it has such a cool sound) and some (to me, anyway) are just right - technically speaking. They're here:

 (This is one of MY personal favorites as well!)

Ooh...Look!  I made the cut!  Our love to Vargas!
:::I used a variety of select photos from Lenny's favorite works throughout his interview, but make sure to check out the Flickr site he provided to view the rest!  They are amazing!:::

Q:  What type of equipment do you prefer to shoot with?

A:  I don't think there's enough of a difference between brands (Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc) to say that one is better than any other at capturing images; one might be easier to understand in one area or another, but better? Probably not. The gear is just a tool used to get the job done; it makes it easier. The REAL gear that makes the difference is you... 'see' the image in your mind before you ever take it, then find the right perspective, lighting, etc to get you as close to what's in your head as possible. Any of the shots I've taken could have been made with any (and I do mean any) camera... it would have taken more or less work to do it though.
Q:  If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

A:  I wish that lens existed... it'd be able to zoom in REALLY close and zoom out to a really wide fish-eye type length AND it'd be really fast (both in focus and aperture). But until someone invents that lens (and becomes a multi-millionaire in the process), I have two favorites... a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens and a Nikon 60mm f2.8 lens. I use the Tamron for most of my portrait shots; I can get in close for head shots, then zoom out for wide angle perspectives. And the Nikon is awesome for headshots and macros. With the right lighting and a few filters, I can replicate just about any other lens I need (which goes back to better equipment being nothing more than a tool that makes the job easier... it's still up to you).

Q:  What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?

A:  I used to use a mouse to do all of my editing, mostly because before that, I developed my own film and didn't need a computer. So when I switched to digital, I didn't know any better and used what I was comfortable with. Then I discovered tablets... they're AWESOME! And coincidentally, my hand stopped cramping.

Q:  How important is Photoshop in your final images?

A:  Since I like to modify my images, it's an integral part of the finals. I don't always use Photoshop though... it's just a tool, and like all tools, some are better suited for a job than others. But the 'photoshopping' process is essential, whether I'm adding color, changing contrasts, creating a collage, etc... I can't just take a photo and leave it alone... I HAVE to make it my own.

Q:  What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?

A:  Each photo has its own 'feel', so I'm constantly using diffrent tools, plugins, processes, etc. Even photos from the same session will look different just because I can't do the same thing twice.

Q:  Name one photographer you would like to take a portrait of?

A:  While my uncle was a MAJOR influence for me, I never got to see him work. So it'd have to be him. But it wouldn't be a portrait session... it'd be more of a photojournalistic thing because HE was a photojournalist; I'd photograph him in his element, whether he's taking a photo of someone for an interview or shooting for a story. I wouldn't necessarily want him to just be sitting there, staring at me while I stare at him.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT HIS WEBSITES: - this is where I post some of my 'shareable' shots. Some are test shots, others are ideas, some are finals, etc. - this is my Model Mayhem page, where some of my better modeling shots go. - this is my 'professional' page. - this is where my 'saleable' shots go. it's mostly landscapes.

Thank you so much Lenny!  


1 comment:

  1. this is almost like seeing my name up in lights... thanks rachel!