Darcy Evans of Darcy Evans Photography has been a Simply Color Lab customer for years and we finally had the chance to meet him in person at WPPI in Las Vegas last month. He came to the booth and introduced himself and told us about the the two silver distinction awards he won in the WPPI 16×20 Print Competition…but he was disappointed in the points given for one of his favorite images.
That same image was one he ordered as an Art Wall. When Adam Fried, Founder and CEO of Simply Color, saw the Art Wall in production he emailed Darcy and asked to take some images of it and possibly use it as a product sample. Of course Darcy agreed and was hoping against hope that we would make a duplicate Art Wall for display at the show. So imagine his second disappointment when he came to the booth and it wasn’t there. But there was to be a bright spot in his day…when he pulled out his phone and reminded Adam of the image, Adam directed him to another Art Wall display in the booth and there it was. So despite what the print judges thought of his photograph, it was a huge hit with our marketing department and and even bigger hit with every customer who came through the booth. Darcy was as happy as a kid on Christmas and after admiring his work, proceeded to take photos of his Art Wall on display.
It was our pleasure to introduce the photographer behind the Art Wall image to several customers standing there admiring it as well. It is these small moments that make our day here are Simply Color Lab.
Always on the lookout for photographers with this kind of passion for their work…Darcy Evans Photography is our studio of the month. And as an added bonus he has agreed to share some insights into his latest project which SLR Lounge did an extensive write up on…recreating the famous Dogs Playing Poker painting. Hard to believe but this is not a composite image. This is one shot.
SCL: Tell us about how you started in this business and what your plans are for the future.
DEP: I first picked up a DSLR 4 short years ago. I decided to buy an SLR after using a point and shoot on vacation in the Dominican. I really liked taking photos and thought it would be nice to have a better camera. I have zero artistic ability with my hands so the camera allows me to capture the way I see the world. Like everyone I started by shooting everything in sight. Driving my friends and family crazy. I poured myself into tutorials, workshops, YouTube, etc. It seems I had discovered a buried passion.
About 2 years ago I was taking my own dogs to the dog park and I decided to bring my camera with me. People really reacted to the images and I realized how much I love shooting animals. I have always connected with dogs and it is my goal to bring this connection out in my work. I decided to focus my hobby/fledgling business primarily to pet photography. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I have discovered a passion, a drive, a motivation for waking up every day. It has been a steady growth over the last two years. Two months ago I was laid off from my day job so I have decided to take the leap and make my pet photography my full time career.
Recently I won two silver distinction awards in the 2015 WPPI 16×20 Print Competition, have had an article featured on SLR Lounge, and been featured on a local news channel! I have also been commissioned by a local photography school to teach Pet Photography. My 1 year goal is to double sales from last year. I plan to do this by improving my photography and with various marketing strategies. My 3 year goal is to become globally known for my pet photography.
SCL: You’re a pet photographer, a unique and growing field, can you tell us about your shooting space and must have gear.
DEP: 6 months ago my family purchased a larger home to accommodate the growing business. I now have an office where I do consultations and sales sessions. The entire basement is dedicated to studio space. I had some friends help build a 15 foot wide infinity wall for the primary shooting space, I have 3 shoot areas available to use.
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III for my portraiture and a Canon 7D Mark II for my action work. I never go to any shoot without my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 Sport. I was a dedicated Canon “L” lens user until the new Sigma Art and Sport lines came out. These two lenses are simply incredible. In my studio I use 3 different brands of strobes with mostly StrobePro modifiers. I would love to become sponsored at some point by a lighting brand.
SCL: How did you get the idea for the Dogs Playing Poker Project and more importantly how did you get the shot?
A little over a year ago, I was having drinks with some fellow photographers and one of my friends said to me “Hey, you know that painting of the dogs playing poker? You should do that!” Well that, as they say, was that. I spent the next couple months mulling over in my head logistics, set design, lighting, cast and post production.
I knew I wanted to shoot this as a single image. I wanted the challenge of accomplishing this in one single shot, rather than a composite of several images. I spent hours looking at the famous painting by artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge.
First order of business was casting – I have a client who has a large pack of dogs who are very well trained. I pitched her the idea and she was thrilled to be involved. She set to work training her dogs to sit on chairs and place their paws up on the table.
I spent days scouring online classified ads looking for a suitable poker table. I searched several hardware stores looking for the right wallpaper. Once all the props were gathered, I cleared a spot in the studio and built the set you see in the image. Overall, I spent approximately $500 and 30 hours in preparation for the shoot.
The time had finally come to do the actual shoot! The dogs arrived and everything was set. In my plan, I had included more props such as drinks on the table, a couple alcohol bottles a cigar, etc. Working with live animals as much as I do I know that not everything can go exactly as planned. There were too many moving parts to the images to include some of those things. Safety of the animals is ALWAYS my first priority. I simply adapted and managed to still get images I am very happy with.
I imported the RAW file into Lightroom using an import preset with mild sharpening and color calibration for my camera. I cleaned up some stray hairs and such, adjusted exposure and brought up the shadows. I then used NIK Color Efex Pro 4’s “detail extractor” tool to get the sort of HDR look I knew I wanted. Lastly, I added two exposure gradients to mimic the light fall off in the original painting.
AFTER ALTERNATE VERSION
Gear Used and Camera Settings
Camera: Canon Mark III
Lens: Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L IS USM Zoom Lens
Light Sources: Lightrein LR4 and Lightrein LR8 Strobes
Light Modifiers: StrobePro Beauty Dish and Shoot Through Umbrella
Shutter Speed: 1/160th
Focal Length: 32mm
I’m currently selling a limited run of this image as part of an Indiegogo campaign, to help pay for an emergency surgery for my dog, who got a toy lodged in her intestine. If you’re interested,please check it out here
SCL: Because it hasn’t been that long since you were new to this industry yourself, can you tell us what was the best thing you did starting out and what piece of advice you’d give someone just getting into photography or branching out into an new area of photography?
DEV: PRACTICE. There is so much to learn about this dance of light and shadow. When we first start to post images on social media, we get people commenting “you are amazing” “you should be a pro”. This ego stroking can make it tempting to hang out a shingle and call ourselves professional photographers. It is important to become technically proficient and be able to shoot under pressure in any situation. There is a huge difference between a snapshot and a photograph.
Secondly – PRINT!!! Photos in print take on a life that a computer screen just can not convey. My work took on a whole new direction when I started printing my images. Simply Color Lab makes my work come alive. The look on my clients face when I reveal their artwork is a moment I treasure. I secretly rejoice when my clients cry when they see their pieces.
Darcy Evans Photography, www.DarcyEvansPhotography.com