Photo mantra: “Can’t teach vision.”
First camera: Canon Powershot
Last camera: Sony a99
What some photographers may see as a way to pay the bills, James Drakeford sees as a field of limitless possibility.
Not only a shooter, he is a designer as well, and often takes a product from A-Z—the Z sometimes being an exotic locale, or a world he’s created to give said product a newly imagined life.
It’s through his lens that lifestyle product photography becomes reinvented. We see a pair of shoes, and he sees a chance to travel to the moon…
My father was the first person I ever saw with a camera and my mom is my biggest cheerleader. Aside from them, I’m influenced by people in general—I love what human subjects can add to a frame. I don’t have a top 10 photographers list or follow any famous photographers work closely. I’ve seen lots of work from lots of artists; I try to learn from all of them without subconsciously mimicking their style.
It’s like a game to me, and you score by making the products look desirable. I love finding ways to create images that show products (and people) in their best light. And the most fascinating piece of product photography is the infinite ways to tell the story of a subject. They are just shoes—but how many different ways can you possibly take a photo of the same thing without being completely redundant? But there are so many different aspects and angles of approach—from the details of the product itself, the location in which the product is shot, to the color palette of the scene and how it interacts with the product.
Being multifaceted is important. I feel like the more abilities you possess, the better off you are. I like being able to create my own concepts and stories while also being able to bring them to life visually. I don’t have to ask for help very often. I can just wake up and go.
I like shooting in Columbus because there are so many different neighborhoods filled with people from all walks of life. You can find just about any demographic you’re looking for. The rapid growth of Columbus makes way for lots of photo opportunities, both professional and personal. It’s interesting to watch what’s happening in the Short North and Franklinton; the gentrification creates a good amount of juxtaposition, which I find to be intriguing to the eye.