Who are you and what’s your profession?
Hi I’m Damien Lovegrove, a portrait photographer, writer and trainer based at a converted barn and farmhouse in Somerset UK. I have a passion for beautiful photography and I will go to great lengths to create wonderful light. I don’t leave things to chance in my work and I love directing the moment. I suppose I’m the antithesis of a documentary or reportage photographer. I like to take control. I started making pictures professionally when I joined the BBC as a cameraman in 1984 at the age of 19. I’ve had many careers since then, all of them photography related.
What’s your rig?
I have owned all kinds of camera and spent more years of my life shooting on film than digital. I went digital in 2001 and In recent years I’ve had a Hasselblad H2 and a Phase One P25+ back with five prime lenses among countless DSLR kits. Now I’m in love with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1. It doesn’t get between me and my subject in quite the same way as an SLR does and this helps me capture the connection that I want in my work. The lenses are first class too. My working camera kit comprises:
- Fuji X-Pro1 body with RRS L bracket
- Fuji X-E2 body
- 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 60mm prime lenses, 18-55mm and 55-200mm zoom lenses
- Fuji X100 camera
- Gitzo monopod and RRS ball head.
Gathering dust in my studio cupboard is a Canon 5D mk2 with Carl Zeiss 21mm, Canon 50mm and Canon 100mm prime lenses. There’s a Nikon D700 kit in there too with 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm Nikon lenses but Julie my wife uses that kit for her boudoir photography. Julie uses Billingham bags and I use a Think Tank Retrospective 7.
Cameras and lenses are far less important to me than lights. It’s great light that makes the image and it’s a great connection that makes the portrait. At the heart of my photography are my Lupolux LED spotlights and the Lupolux Quadlight. I also have numerous Speedlights and the wonderful Elinchrom Quadra kit too when a higher ambient light level demands flash. Having said that, continuous light is the way forward for me, both in the studio and for interior portraits.
What hardware do you use?
I have a MacBook Pro 17” with the non glossy screen and a small WD portable hard drive. I print my work using an ageing but good Epson 3800 printer on Hahenemuhle Smooth Art paper. Print making is an important part of the craft of photography for me. Print critical tweaks are made by Luke my technical assistant and graphic artist using a Mac Pro with a 30” Cinema Display. I love the flat tones of the display as they closely represent what can be achieved in print. My latest book Chloe-Jasmine Whichello was laid out in Adobe InDesign and proofed on that Cinema display and the output is exquisite. I don’t have a desk, I never have had and never will. The thought of an in-tray fills me with dread. I have an iPad (3rd Generation) and an iPhone 5 that both serve me well for my social media life. I now find myself spending over an hour each day on Twitter and Facebook. Social media is now my main marketing tool and that includes my YouTube channel and blog. In days of old I used to exhibit at trade shows and spend vast sums of money on advertising to get customers. Both of those methods were expensive but fairly time efficient. Now my marketing is free but time consuming.
Luke has a Mac Pro with five 4 tb external drives and a Wacom A4 wide Intuos 3 tablet. We have four iMacs that run our office and database servers plus serve our admin and accounts needs.
What software do you use?
I use Adobe Lightroom 5 to edit and print my work. I spend between 10 and 60 seconds on each of my images. I dislike softened skin and false pictures. I love real beauty, lines, wrinkles and all those wonderful human things. I will remove temporary spots and do a little tidy up if the client requests it. I have Photoshop CS4 on my Laptop and I just seem to use it for batch processing the ‘save for web’ function. We also have a copy of Photoshop CS4 back in the office and Luke uses that to create all our web graphics. We have an extensive You Tube channel too and Luke uses Final Cut Express to compile and edit our videos for the web.
My life is very organized because our whole team use iCal extensively. Laura and Blaise are my PAs and they manage my life. They also look after our 13,000 customers using a bespoke database set up with Filemaker Pro. Blaise, Laura and Luke create and manage numerous spreadsheets in Apple Numbers and edit our main lovegroveshop.com website using Dot Net Nuke and Catalook software.
I have it easy, with just a couple of blogs to write for using a CMS. I use WordPress for my blog prophotonut.com and when I guest write each week for photofocus.com as it uses WordPress too. My personal photography site lovegrovephotography.com is also designed in WordPress so that helps when I want to update the 30 or so galleries containing over 2000 pictures. Luke used WordPress and custom code to create our other main website passionphotographyexperience.com
What would be your dream rig?
I don’t get a kick out of big and expensive so that rules out medium format and Leica. I can therefore pretty much choose what I want to use. Right now it’s the Fuji X-Pro1 system. It’s small, light and amazing. Client perception doesn’t bother me. It’s the pictures they will judge me on. Yes, I’d like changes to the Fuji X system and the amazing new organic sensor by Fuji and Panasonic can’t come soon enough. When it does, the whole APSC Vs FF debate will be a thing of the past. I’m always wanting new, I relish change and I’m excited by the future. I’ve never lost the spirit of a four year old and I’m as naughty now as I was then. I have fun in my life, lots of it. I have issues too, we all do.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
Never let a camera come between you and your subject ― Damien Lovegrove