Fandom Photographer Spotlight: Taylor from Light & Grace Media
We’re back with our Fandom Photographer Spotlight! Today, we’re shining a spotlight on Taylor from Light & Grace Media!
Nerds and Beyond: How long have you been doing photography and how did you get started?
Taylor: I have been taking photos for about as long as I could physically hold a camera. I remember as a young kid having a terrible kids camera that leaked light horribly – I still have the photos from it, they’re comically terrible, but to me at the time they were cover worthy photo shoots. Whenever I would go on a class field trip, I’d make my mom buy me a disposable camera and couldn’t wait to get them developed. Eventually, I think my family got tired of constantly developing disposable cameras, so I received my first point and shoot as a present in elementary school. My late grandfather, whom I was incredibly close to, was also an avid photographer, and encouraged me in it from a very young age. I’m very thankful for that, as I think I have more photos from my ‘perspective’ growing up than most kids my generation – before smartphones came around. My grandfather helped me purchase my first DSLR when I was in college, and was always willing to let me borrow his equipment. I constantly had a flash unit or lens on loan from him. I really started taking it seriously after that, I took a photography class and started to discover I had something of a talent for it. It was around that time that I also started becoming more involved in fandom and had events such as conventions that I wanted to take photos at.
Nerds and Beyond: What originally inspired you to start doing fandom (cons, concerts, etc.) photography?
Taylor: My first convention after purchasing my DSLR was Vancouver’s Salute to Supernatural in 2014. I took my camera along, just because I wanted photos for my own memories. I started posting some of my better shots online for my friends to see after the convention, and was completely surprised at the outpouring of support that I received, that I thought that maybe this was something I should keep doing. I submitted a photograph of Misha Collins that I took at that convention to a competition, and it ended up being selected by a panel of judges to be exhibited in a show at the Louvre Museum in France. Around that time, I was also starting to get personal requests for shoots, that I started to think, “ok, fandom seem to really be supportive of my work and like it… and also actual photography judges seem to think my work is good”, and that I should continue to work on and develop my skills to get better and better.
Nerds and Beyond: What fandom(s) are you most known for photographing?
Taylor: Supernatural, by far, though I’ve definitely started to branch out more recently into general concert/event photography, shooting officially for Rhett & Link’s Tour of Mythicality and Andy Weir, and I’ll be shooting a show for Hank Green later this year. I still shoot unofficially now for pretty much any event I attend.
Nerds and Beyond: What equipment are you usually using?
Taylor: Usually my trusty Canon Rebel T5i and lately, I’ve been renting Canon’s 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. It’s a beast and incredibly expensive (which is why I rent rather than buying), but a lot of fun to play with.
Nerds and Beyond: Which events are typically your favorite to photograph?
Taylor: That’s a difficult one. I love shooting conventions because that is where I feel most comfortable, the strongest and most at home in my skills. However, I love the dynamic nature of meetups and events because they tend to lead to more diverse photos, however I get much more stressed out about making sure I get good shots. With conventions, all the action is in front of you – there’s not a lot of surprises. With events, you have to be constantly on guard and ready to capture those photo moments happening all around you. Shooting portraits is a lot of fun but definitely something I have to prepare a lot of mental energy for to make sure a portrait shoot goes well, that I don’t often have the energy to do portraits as often as I’d like.
Nerds and Beyond: What would you say right now, is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?
Taylor: I think it’s a tie, between a photo of Rob [Benedict] I took while photographing the GISH registration livestream in Los Angeles where he’s holding his guitar, and what I’ve dubbed the “Louvre Photo” of Misha.
Nerds and Beyond: If given the opportunity are there any celebrities that you’d like to work with?
Taylor: Of course. I have a couple projects on the horizon that I feel like will help make me feel more comfortable in that kind of portrait space. It’s a lot of pressure. But eventually, yes. I have plenty of pipe dream photo shoot ideas that I’d love to see come to fruition, but I don’t want to jinx them. I think I’ll retire when I get to photograph Sebastian Stan.
Nerds and Beyond: Are there any other photographers who personally inspire you or whose work inspires you?
Taylor: Jerry Ghionis and Chris Schmelke. Jerry’s Youtube classes taught me so much about posing and natural light photography. Schmelke has always been incredibly encouraging of my photography and has always been willing to offer advice. I love his use of natural light in his photos and his sense of timing.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you have any advice, tips, tricks or words of wisdom for other photographers/aspiring photographers?
Taylor: It is not about the camera. I truly can’t emphasize that enough. Go check out the wedding that Jerry Ghionis shot on an iPhone if you don’t believe me. Good equipment will make a great photo better, but getting a great photo is about you as a photographer. I cannot stress enough the importance of learning about the exposure triangle and getting off auto and into your custom modes. Your camera is a big dumb smart machine, and it will try hard but fail you often in Auto. Learn to understand how shutter speed, exposure, and ISO work together and you’ll start to see immediate improvement. Get some composition skills in there and you’ll be in good shape. Photography is much more about lighting, posing, composition, and storytelling than it is about your camera. I’ve shot entire commercials on an iPhone for broadcast on television and you’d never be able to tell. Your phone is much more powerful than you know!
Nerds and Beyond: Do you have an online store or website where we can see more of your work?
See a few more of Taylor’s photos below!