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The After Mac

Interview with Dominique James, fashion photographer

by Jayvee on June 14th, 2006

For the next part of our interview series, I’d like to introduce you to a good photographer friend of mine, Dominique James. DJ is one of the more prominent fashion photogs in the Philippines and he’s got so much to say about photography, fashion and Macs. DJ had a lot to say so I’m chopping up this interview into three parts.

For those who still don’t know, please introduce yourself and tell us what do you do for a living?

Hi! My Name is Dominique James. My first name is Dominique, with a q-u-e. And my family name is James. Don’t ask me how I got that kind of family name. I just did. Friends call me by my first name, Dominique. Strangers mistakenly call me by my family name, James. Those who are really close to me call me DJ — which is the initials of my first and last names.

I’m a photographer by profession. I’ve been doing photography for the past 15 years. About 80 to 90 percent of my shots are about people. Celebrities, in particular, are mostly my subjects. At this point, I must have already photographed majority of the Philippine celebrities, models, socialites, and politicians. My photographs typically appear in billboards, print ads, magazine covers. It also pops up in a lot of other unexpected places.

I cannot imagine doing anything else. Photography is my life, my passion.

Give us a glimpse of the setup in your studio, including all the fancy gadgets you have lying around the floor.

My studio setup is actually very typical. We use a Manfrotto permanent and portable background support system with about a dozen different solid colors of seamless paper. We have a couple of Manfrotto heavy-duty tripods that serve as support and dock to whatever camera we happen to be using for our shoot. I typically shoot hand-held and don’t usually use the tripod for shooting except as a dock to securely place the camera when on standby.

We use a 12-head Broncolor lighting system with a wide array of essential light modifiers (e.g. barndoors, snoot, etc.) . We have about a dozen or so cameras, both film and digital. My DSLR workhorse is the Fuji FinePix S3 Pro, and we attach to it a “beloved” array of well-chosen Nikkor lenses (both prime and zoom lenses) that have been collected through the years. We also have the Fuji FinePix S1 and S2 as our back-up camera units. We use the reliable pro-grade CF cards of Lexar, Sandisk and Ridata. Compared to other camera brands, we love the Fuji FinePix because of its outstanding skin tone rendition thru its dual CCD RAW format. We also have both Medium and Large format cameras. My favorite Medium format cameras with Phase One digital backs are Mamiya and Hasselblad.

Through the years, we’ve amassed a lot of “props” that we regularly use in our photo shoots, and we have several that proves to be quite really useful and helps us in creating the right portraits. We love using these as “enhancements” but not necessarily to replace the essentials of making sure our subjects project the right kind of image and facial expression (to begin with). Two of these essential props are: a basketball and a bridal tulle. We also have several types of fabrics. To keep the mood, we play music from iTunes software and from the iPod thru our JBL Creature II speakers. We love listening to music while shooting.

I’ve come to own a whole gamut of accessories and equipment such as bags, cases, rechargeable batteries with chargers, extension cords, cleaning solutions, cleaning fabrics, and even non-photographic accessories that eventually proves to be very indispensable.

But the studio setup is simply half of the digital arsenal nowadays. Any self-respecting professional digital photographer today pays just as much attention to his digital post-production setup, equipment and workflow. In this case, the center of our digital darkroom and workflow is the Apple/Mac computers as the platform. We began migrating to an all-Mac system less than 2 years ago, and our biggest regret is that we didn’t do it any sooner. We should have been on the Mac platform to begin with, and right from the start. I found out that, and it became really apparent, that for anyone who’s into creative work should be fleshing out things with the Mac.

While PCs can do the job, Mac just have the edge when it comes to the creative process. There’s some connection there somewhere that Mac-based users are inspired to produce higher quality creative output. And productivity is really high on the Mac. We use the Mac computers (and among those that we use, I particularly love my all-around portable tool, the 17“ PowerBook G4), and connect them seamlessly into an internal network, into an Internet network, into an array of devices from numerous models of Epson large format and desktop color printers, Epson photo scanners (with film adaptors), external HDDs, CF card readers (both FireWire and USB), USB Samson microphones, iSight webcams, and anything and everything. It is truly an awesome productivity machine that allows us to do what we want to do, and accomplish our projects on time and with high quality.

To be continued

POSTED IN: Interviews, Jayvee's Posts

2 opinions for Interview with Dominique James, fashion photographer

  • Juan
    Jun 15, 2006 at 4:10 am

    great interview jayvee. can’t wait for the next part.

  • DJ
    Jun 15, 2006 at 6:16 am

    Thanks Jayvee for the wonderful interview. It’s an honor to be featured in your widely-read blog. I’d like to thank J. Dennis Arceo for the portrait he took of me with my 17″ PowerBook G4. This was taken during our photo shoot at the Philippine Fashion Week ‘06 held at the NBC Tent.

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