Featured Photographer: Craig Minielly

Craig Minielly • Part One

Photographer / Nikon Ambassador / Industry Consultant

Yousuf Karsh Lifetime Award / International Commercial Photographer of the Year

Vancouver, Canada

Find him on Instagram or his website: AuraPhotographics.com

When did you decide to become a photographer?

I was 13, when I decided to become a photographer. Wandering around town taking scenic shots, then capturing a marine rescue in progress that ultimately was published in the local paper got me hooked on photography. I loved doing darkroom work shortly after that.

What was your photography education?

My photo education was pretty much hands-on experience working as a young press photographer for five years. Then I received college training for the technical elements of lighting, composition, optics, posing and location considerations for commercial, industrial , and advertising assignments.

Did you come up thru the ranks doing lots of assisting or just start out on your own?

I never had a chance to do any assisting, I would’ve loved to have done so. I started up on my own, I was always busy with clients, and I’ve been working at it ever since.

What do you consider yourself, pro,  working, amateur ?

It started for me as a hobby, and I’ve been working professionally at it for over 30 years. However the passion for me is still as it was when it was a hobby in the very first place.

What is it you are passionate about shooting?

I love telling a story with an image whether it’s with a single person in studio showing off their different personalities, or with my subject in their location as I create the story of how they integrate together…I get a kick out of being able to elicit an emotional response from the viewer when they see my images.

Do you feel like you have a particular style and if so what is it?

My style has been described to me, as having a strong sense of the Hollywood / Playboy style… making use of intriguing compositions, posing, lighting,  and with an obvious rapport & interaction with my subjects.

What do you think sets your work apart from others in your genre?

I’d like to think that my work has a unique element to it through the use of light and capturing the personality of my subject, rather than just recording a photograph of what they look like.

Do you remember your first few shoots and the fear, nerves, and trepidation of working with models? How was that ? and what did you do to get past it?

Oh yes, I remember being nervous and excited when I started photographing models – I was 15 lol… . I would laugh and mess with my equipment, all the while talking and creating images with them, while  I got over my nervousness & excitement. I still get excited and nervous at times on sets,  but more so excited about the image creations that I can see happening at the time.

When your shooting do you like working with a team and everyone collaborating or are you clearly the captain and its your look, idea etc?

I’ve done both… working solo with just myself and the model or with stylists, and also with the whole team where we had art directors set up in three cities with live feeds happening as we are shooting an ad for Vogue magazine. Simple is generally better , although it’s nice to have a team that could be part of the fun and creative process.

What do you consider your greatest strength in photography?

My greatest strength? I’m guessing that would be flexibility, for being on location, with styling and lighting…  being open to image opportunities without being stuck by technical limitations.

Do you create any other art?

I would say I do many forms of art, but all with the camera. Underwater fashion, Nature from the great outdoors, the occasional Photoshop creations…, many image styles creations are possible through a number of subjects because my range in client assignments are so varied…  I love the range of possibilities available, in fact I thrive on them.

What is your creative process? how does an idea grow and mature into your final image?

If I’ve got a creative process, I would say that it’s an image that rises from my imagination then germinates on some level … all before I’m able to bring the camera, lights, model, location and setting creations to pull them all together. It’s always a work in progress’s, and I’m always open to where it may end up, even if it’s not what I originally was thinking.

Are you an “in camera person” or a “post production person” ? how much time in post do you spend on any particular image?

I don’t take much time to post-processing because my motto is ‘Being nude is a natural’. It would be funny if I did much post processing. It would be fake. I process some because a clearly skin is very important for nude photography and sometimes I change a color to fulfill what I imagined.

Wine, beer, spirits or other?

LOL – is there an all of the above answer?

Generally do you create for you? for a client? for a commercial purpose?

I’m always creating for me, I guess you could say my trick is letting my clients think that I’m creating for them, even when I’m getting them to actually dance to my ideas.  Solid layouts are ok too, because sometimes its nice not to have the pressure on.

How do you feel when a client chooses an image or images and loves them wants to show them off worldwide?

That hasn’t really happened… I never show clients the images until I do my initial edit, so even if someone selects an image that wasn’t my first choice, I look at it again and try to see it with their eyes… usually I realize that there was something there that I missed, so generally all the images that are created, are all intriguing possibilities to be shared.

What was your single worst mistake you have made in your photographer journey?

If I had to select the single worst mistake, I’m not really sure… I imagine it would be getting stuck in a bad groove where I wasn’t getting enough time for myself, and getting overloaded with client work, and letting my enthusiasm become strained while dealing with the workload.

Describe your work in 10 words or less

Styled.. intriguing… storytelling… personal… thought-provoking… striving for an emotional response and engagement with the viewer.  Oops

I love the underwater images, what motivated you to take that step?

Do your homework every time before your shoot but don’t forget to free your soul while you press the shutter. Shot only the right image. More quality, less quantity.

Make sure to catch the second half of this interview and more stunning images in two weeks.

Ten Questions for Craig Minielly

What is your favorite word?

Let’s go! Is that a word? lol…   I always love new possibilities, so I’m always open to them.

What is your least favorite word?

Lineups. Don’t do them, will do anything to avoid them, love to spend time and break away from the pack.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Light, wherever it may be as it comes into a fresh location that I haven’t photographed in before. I make it up as I go along, and I’m excited as anyone else to see the final possibilities

What turns you off?

Loud, obnoxious know-it-all personalities. I just find them like nails on the chalkboard to my personal mental health.

What is your favorite curse word?

“Hmm…. I could say lots of things, but they all start with the letter F”

What sound or noise do you love?

I think I could say I love the caramel tones that come from a cello. For a sound, I would say rain drops & thunder rumbles from a storm, as I’m below decks on my boat.

What sound or noise do you hate?

I hate the muffled beating base of cars driving by with music cranked way too loud

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would be a diver, either commercially, or as a scuba instructor… Anything to get underwater and spend time there as much as possible.

What profession would you not like to do?

Anything that was routine or day in day out… the same thing without variety, that would drive me mental. Even 9 to 5 would be a challenge, I don’t think I could do it.

If God exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Great to see you dude, beer’s on ice!” What he would probably say… “Sorry dude, wrong door”.

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