Monday, February 08, 2010

Photo of the Day - Guest Blogger #1:

me at players

Today I'm excited to have our very first guest blog here at Tim Darby Photography and that guest blogger! Man if you think you've been bamboozled by stopping in today, wait until you read the interview! A photographer friend of mine and I were discussing the best way to go about a possible guest blog entry and he suggested that I use a format similar to that of a very talented photographer - Crash Taylor who does a monthly interview of some amazing wedding, portrait, and fashion photographers. I loved the idea and although I'm not a wedding photographer I have had a blast reading some of his interviews. Admittedly I have adapted some of his questions for my first "interview" but the questions will change as the guest blogging moves on and new guest bloggers sign on. I figured I should put myself through this process before I actually cause any of my friends or other professional photographers through it sooooooooooooooo here we go:

The Basics:

Who are you and why are you here?

I'm Tim, and I'm here because this is my blog? I’m an attorney by day and a photographer by night (and weekends). I love both and don’t consider one more of a passion than another. One pays a bit more but like my pets, I love them all the same :-)

Where are you from?

Lakeland Florida.

Something or some things that most people don’t know about you?

I am 1/8 native American – Choctaw to be specific. I was a page in the House of Representatives for a summer in Washington D.C. and then an intern the next summer. I lettered in basketball at the University of Florida (as an equipment manager). I have seen a ghost. Those facts should confuse/amaze you for a bit haha.

Where’d ya go to school?

Lakeland Senior High School (Go Naughts) then went to undergrad at UF (Go Gators!) and then law school at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville.

Did you go to school to become a photographer?

Haha, not even close but my majors were almost as useless. In all seriousness – no. I went to school for Political Science and finished in 3 years so I turned my minor of Criminology into a second bachelors. I have yet to take any structured class on photography.

How long have you been shooting?

All my life. I always used to follow my grandfather around as he took photos but I have been a serious photographer since 2006.

Why did you get into photography?

My grandfather was a huge influence on getting me started in photography. He was always the family photographer at events and I loved the Canon A-1 he always had strapped around his neck and the colorful strap. The older I got the more interested I became not just in his camera but what he was taking pictures of and how he was doing it. He gave me that Canon A-1 before he passed away and it is one of my most prized possessions. Still works and shoots great!

What do you shoot most? What kind of photographer are you? Feel free to add photographic evidence as you see fit!

1. Whatever is in front of me when I fire the shutter

2. Mediocre at best

Kidding, sort of. My photography has always been about what is going on in my life and the beauty/interesting things that I see or are going on around me. What I shoot most has taken quite a shift in the last year or so.

When I initially started taking photography seriously I focused on my surroundings in Jacksonville and shot a ton of landscape and wildlife.

In Loving Memory

Laying Low

I also did a few downtown shoots at night of the lights and buildings.

Jax cityscape with Modis

Black & Blue

We had the opportunity to take some amazing trips (cross country road trip and then a trip to, Chicago and then Alaska) where I had a vacation within the vacation getting to shot in some amazing places all over the country.


Road Trip Day 4 5-17-08-276

Road Trip Day 5 5-19-08-128

I’ve always loved sports and had an interest in shooting sporting events but gaining access to the field or floor is always difficult for a new photographer to get a chance to gain that oh so valuable experience. I was blessed to have the opportunity to assist the Florida Times-Union and their photographers during the Players Championship for the last two years and I have learned SO much from working with them.

TPC Round 4-228

TPC Round 3-279

TPC Round 4-114

After shooting a sporting event at that level I was hooked and was again provided with the opportunity to help Gator Country and their photographer Tim Casey shoot some University of Florida baseball and basketball games. I even had the opportunity to shoot the NCAA Super Regional baseball series last year and have had a blast while gaining unbelievably valuable experience.

0902Miami v. UF Baseball037-250

USM v. UF Baseball - Game 2-279

This summer another amazing opportunity arose and I was hired to work for the University of Florida to shoot the 2009 football season. I shot all home games, the UF/UGA game in Jacksonville, the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. If it sounds awesome, it’s because it was awesome! :-) I learned a ton while enjoying the ride and I look forward to doing it all over again next year!

I also anticipate a shift to baby photography and portraiture in my very near future.

How often do you shoot?

Not as often as I would like. Since I started shooting football games almost every Saturday my weekend time to explore and find great new locales in and around Lakeland to shoot has been limited. Having a full time job also eats up a lot of my time to shoot but I like to try to get out the gear at least once or twice a week.

Lets see some of your work!

I share images on this blog Monday through Friday so I will spare you for today. For some of my most recent sports shots check out my member page on

Who's sports photography inspires you?

Really too many to name that I really appreciate but Bob Rosato’s and Bill Frakes' sports photography is unreal. There are tons of photographers and friends who inspire me daily. Hopefully you will get to meet some of them as guest bloggers soon!

What sport have you not yet photographed that you really want to shoot soon?

It's probably a tie between hockey and bull riding (which just so happens to be on TV right now) with a Swimming event closely behind. All 3 would provide some really cool experiences and compelling shots.

Most challenging thing about photographing sports?

Getting everything 100% in focus with athletes running all over the place with 90,000+ fans screaming the whole time makes it pretty tough. Timing and being in the right place on the sidelines is also crucial. Being a fan of sports is tough too, sometimes you get caught up in the moment and forget you've got a job to do. There's a very fine and dangerous line between shooting and enjoying an event

Best feeling in the world as a sports photographer?
The absolute best feeling is seeing an amazing play through the viewfinder and then when it's all said and done looking at the shot in the LCD or on the computer and knowing you absolutely nailed it. All of this going on while all of the screaming fans are so loud that you can't hear your shutter firing even though it's inches from your ear and then seeing the shot used somewhere and that excitement and the chills come back like it's happening all over again.

How do you learn while you shoot?

I have a few tricks I use to make sure that I am learning something new on every shoot. I obviously blog about some of my experiences but I also keep a journal where I put more candid thoughts (curse words and incoherent rambling) of things that I have learned or experienced while shooting. From lighting conditions in different stadiums to camera settings, to small things like the most comfortable way to sit or what to do when it rains I write it all. I write about things that went right but more importantly what went wrong, how I can fix it, and things I need to work on. If you write it down and check back on the journal often you'll be amazed how much improvement you will see.

Another great way to learn is to talk to the other pros doing it and ask questions. Don't go crazy and hit them with a 1,000 question guest blog entry on the sidelines because that will prevent both of you from doing your job and annoy the other photographer but if you are wondering about something or have a question, ask. What's the worst that can happen? Most of the time you can tell who is interested, or at least ok with talking and who is not (headphones in). The photographer community in most areas is really kind and always willing to help and educate.

Read sports publications and look at the photos and see who's work is making the front page/big mags. Sooner than later you'll recognize names and then pay attention to who is at the event. If you get to talking with another photographer you can ask if certain photographers are there and if they are pay attention to what they're doing. It's amazing how much I have learned by just watching. Also when you're looking at the photos that are getting used/published pay attention to the composition, sharpness, and how things are framed/cropped. Compare some of your shots from the event to others you see and see what is different. One last tidbit in the stalk the pro sports shooter paragraph - look to see where everyone is positioned on the field. If you are all alone on the sideline during the action and everyone is gathering somewhere else (and you didn't just fart) there may be a reason for it. This isn't always true and amazing shots can come from anywhere at any time but there are also some pretty prized pieces of real estate on the sidelines and you need to keep an eye on where those tend to be and try to figure out why. Refs positioning as well as players/coaches on the sidelines have a lot to do with where the best angles to shoot from are.
Never forget though, if you're shooting from the same vantage point of the same subjects, you've got to find a way to make your work stand out.

The Equipment:

Nikon/Canon/Something else?!?!?

All of my digital gear is Nikon and I shoot with a D300 and D80 with a plethora of lenses.

Are you a gear hound? What's on your photo gear wish list?

If you don’t have eyes on new equipment you’re not a photographer. That’s not 100% true and I’m no gear hound but with the advances they are making in camera bodies and lenses it’s hard not to have your eye on something. I’m looking at a Nikon D3 or D3sfor next season and if the right opportunity arises for a 400 2.8 I may jump on that as well. Fingers crossed!

What is your favorite piece of photography gear other than your camera?

I’m a huge fan of my Think Tank Speedfreak for shooting sports and hiking with photo gear. They have an unbelievable line of gear so check them out!

Like the golf challenge where you're only allowed to use one club in your bag, if you could only use one lens for a shoot which one would it be and why?

Really depends on the situation since I shoot so many different things but I’d have to go with my 300mm f/2.8. I LOVE it.

Favorite specialty lens or effect?

I really have a good time shooting with my 10.5 fisheye but don't use it enough. I need to make that change.

How do you light? Au naturale?
Artificial light? On camera or off? Big strobes?

For sports stuff I usually go au naturale but will carry an SB-900 with me for post game activities and it'll have to be on camera. Not much other than that unless I’m doing a scheduled shoot or I’m at home. I do my best to get the flash off camera as long as I'm not running around on a football field. No big strobes b/c no big money and that's not my full time gig. Maybe someday.

What digital darkroom software do you use? Any other software important in your work flow?

I’m a huge fan of Lightroom and I’m looking forward to the release of Lightroom 3. I also use the LR Morgify plugin and GIMP to help with watermarking (still no idea why this isn't part of the Lightroom software). iTunes is also essential to get me going and help creativity while I am stuck in the office editing. Foo Fighters, Lightroom and some coffee can help me get through any 1,000 image editing session.

What digital darkroom tools, plug ins or presets do you use the most?

Honestly probably just exposure and lighting adjustments for sports stuff. I did just get some amazing new custom presets from my buddy Doug Levy that I have been checking out and I love them!

War Stories:

Most memorable project or shoot you've been involved with?

Definitely shooting this past football season for UF and being able to document Tim Tebow’s senior season from the sidelines. The SEC Championship in Atlanta and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans have been the biggest stages I have gotten to shoot and it was AWESOME!

Have you ever had any disasters while shooting? Lose or have equipment break? What happened?

Nothing too big. I’ve lost lens hoods and front caps for my camera bodies during scrums on the field post game – that stuff can get crazy, especially for a short guy! I've donated lens hoods to the St. John's River, a lens hood and lens cap to a customs line in Vancouver, Canada, a top LCD was cracked when I accidentally dropped my D300 back in the bag, donated a front cap to the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana during a post game scrum and an LCD protector to Tim Tebow's cleat (also during the post game circus). Haven't been completely run over on a football sideline but I have been next to guys who have been cleaned out and it doesn't seem terribly pleasant.

Missing a shot of a good play during a game stings but it's not a disaster and if you worry about that then you’re certain to miss the next one. So I handle that by forgetting about it and focusing even more without forcing the issue.


If you could shoot with any professional photographer dead or alive who would it be and why?

Can't pick just one so I'll start with the living.
Joe McNally. He’s brilliant, has had some unbelievable experiences during his photography career, and has an awesome sense of humor, he's a great writer and blogger, and I think we’d both have a fun day. YOU HEAR THAT JOE? CALL ME! Haha, seriously though, one of these days when the schedule is right and I actually have some money I plan on going to one of his workshops. I can't just pick one so I'll pick a dead one as well - definitely Ansel Adams. I'd love to just sit and watch him and see where he would take me to shoot. What a thrill!

Name a photographer you would like to take a portrait of?

Might as well keep the Joe McNally lovefest alive…Joe! Some of his self portraits and updates that he posts on twitter are second to none.

Where would be your dream shoot?

For sports it would have to be the Super Bowl or a college Basketball or Football national championship game. If it was a travel or landscape shoot it would have to be in Glacier National Park or Antarctica. Two places I will go to before it is all said and done.

If not a photographer or lawyer, I would have liked to be…

A professional golfer.

First thing you would do if you found $10 million dollars?

Pay off all of my student loans. It’s not pretty. Then some photo gear of course.

If you could be any other kind of photographer what kind would you be?

I think it would be an amazing experience to shoot in a war zone and be a conflict photojournalist. These photographers are so brave and brilliant and are in a position to photograph the best and worst elements of humanity and share them with the world. If my wife wouldn't let me shoot in an environment where people tend to shoot back, I'd also love to explore underwater photography. As if photography wasn't expensive enough, imagine trying to waterproof everything. Ha.

Movies, TV, Music, Books & Mags (oh my!):

Favorite movie?


Favorite TV Show(s)?

Oh man, this one may get some ridicule. I'm into some reality TV:

Survivor, American Idol, America's Got Talent, Amazing Race and many more.

And some of my favorite non reality shows are: Arrested Development (RIP), The Office, Mad Men.

Photography publications you subscribe to?

Digital Photo Pro
Popular Photography
Outdoor Photographer

(I have an addiction to magazines so there are a ton more that are non photography)

Other Magazines you subscribe to or get on the newsstand:

Sports Illustrated
ESPN The Magazine
National Geographic
Golf World

Best photography book you’ve read?

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.

Best non photography book you’ve read?

Oh man, too many to mention. I love to read when I have time.

What’s next in your book queue?

Lots of baby books.

Favorite kind of music?

I love it all from Gershwin to Foo Fighters I'm pretty open to great, creative, musicians.

Favorite musician or group right now?

Probably between the Foo Fighters and The Black Crowes - too hard to choose.

What's playing on your iTunes right now?

The Black Crowes - "Wounded Bird"

Websites, Blogs, Tweets & Tips:

Have any favorite websites or blogs that you check regularly?

Sports Shooter Big Picture

Doug Levy

Zach Ancell

Velvet on Holiday

Belong to any professional photography associations/groups?

I’m a sports shooter at Need to join NAPP and really want to learn about any other organizations/groups I may be missing out on.

How do you market yourself and your work?

One of my employers does a really great job of helping me market by publishing a ton of my work! Other ways – my member page, facebook fan page, blog, etc. but I need to get better at marketing myself and my work.

Do you advertise?

Other than the above mentioned sites no not really.

Do you have a website or a blog? Hit me with some links!

Well, this is my blog so I don't need to link to that. Here are some others that you may be interested in:

My website
My Facebook profile
My Facebook Fan Page for photography
Follow me on Twitter
Follow my photography on Twitter

Whew, I think that's all for now.

Any must follow twitter accounts?

Joe McNally
Doug Levy
Zach Ancell
Photo Attorney
Moose Peterson
Popular Photography
Photo District News
Nikon Rumors
Lens Pro To Go
Nikon USA

To name a few...haha.

Is your website/blog a big part of you getting clients/meeting other photographers?

Well, my real business is our law practice and we’re currently working on it. Once we get it up I’ll let you know. As far as photography, the web page and photo blog is key. The more exposure and more shots you have available for people to see the better.

What is the best way to get more people to view/talk about your work?

Well this is one way that I have considered doing it for a while - guest bloggers! The more people I get to know the better and will lead to great exposure for everyone involved. Social networking is a great way too (facebook, twitter). Finally - take awesome photos and do a great job for clients and people will talk about your work.

The Future:

What goals do you have as a photographer?

Get some shots in Sports Illustrated and other magazines/books.

5 years from now I will be...

Shooting more sports, (hopefully still) for UF and of my son doing whatever it is he chooses to do in his life (or at least as much of a choice he has as a 5 year old).

10 years from now...

I hope to be a much more experienced and well rounded attorney, photographer, and parent (wow that last part is crazy to say).

#1 on your bucket list?

Traveling to and shooting on every continent.

Wrapping things up:

Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?

Started to take it seriously earlier in my life.

Is there anything you are still learning either in your profession or in life?

Patience and how to manage my time now that I’m in the “real world.” Neither are going to come easy.

Which five words or phrases would your friends likely use to describe you?

1. Happy
2. Laid back
3. Funny
4. Hard Worker
5. Fair

Any advice for fellow photographers that we haven't already discussed?

ALWAYS have an open mind and ask questions. Stick close to the photogs you know that they know what the heck they are doing but stay out of the way. Work your butt off and take any and every opportunity and make the absolute most of it. Get to know other photographers while shooting and on line – the good ones are always more than helpful. When you have success pay it forward to others trying to learn/be successful.

Who could you not live without?

My parents, my wife Brittany, and our son Riley who I will hopefully get to meet in less than a month.

What is your biggest fear in life?

Not doing my best at whatever it is I am doing.

I’ve learned the most from…

My family and friends.

Thanks for stopping by today and putting up with my first "guest blog" entry. Be sure to stay tuned for our non-Tim guest blogger and for some more photos of the day. I assure you the next guest bloggers will be much more interesting and more talented and I just can't wait! Have a great Monday and I hope to see you back here tomorrow!

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