From an illustrator to a highly sought after photographer, New York-based image maker Lloyd Parks could shoot a paper bag and make it look good. The 35 year-old photographer doesn’t limit his style – one day he could be shooting portfolios for gorgeous models, the next he could be creating surrealist works of digital photography and art. Banks didn’t become this talented overnight; here he explains much of his journey…
What is the central ethos behind 43studios?
43studios is built on and thrives off the dedication to its client(s) through hard work, quality as well as its ability to understand their needs. Whether dealing with a corporate entity or a small business, we deliver by working together step by step and ensuring that the outcome is the desired one. 43studios focuses on giving clients the celebrity look and feel in their photos and artwork. Image is everything – so building one for an individual or helping to keep it strong is my main focus.
When did you decide to become a photographer?
Becoming a photographer was actually decided for me. I am an illustrator/designer by trade. However the need came about to take photos due to clients submitting their own – which were usually tattered, cluttered with individuals and other mess. This was at a time when digital cameras were almost brand new in the industry. I bought one and started taking the photos to accompany my designs. Seeing how well it worked out for me, I got a bit more interested and voila! Here we are today. An artist without much control over what he or she is creating isn’t much of one.
What is your favourite part of the photography process and why?
My favourite part of the photography process is the editing, that’s no lie. However at the start of each and every shoot, there’s an exhilaration of pulse, thinking and concentration. I love the rush and feel of the shoot especially if the models or subject is what I want. As professionals we all have our skills and talents, but you never really know what you’ll get – and that is damn near exciting to me. Because if I get what I want, then I can do whatever I like to the photo or prepare it as it is for use in print or on the web.
Do you have a signature style?
My signature style would be the editing that I do – the way I can couple art with photography and make a statement or produce a feeling through the piece that I have created. I also love using water brushes to create decayed and destructive effects. I love to do it. But if you want my style in a nutshell, it’s creating different things everyday, thinking outside the box and following what the photo or projects tell me. Some photos beckon to you to do this or that.
What is your favourite type of photography and why?
My favourite type of photography would be portraitures. Capturing an individual like no one else has done so that the essence or feel of that person shoots out of the photo, and eye-candy is another type that is now becoming the biggest selling thing. It isn’t just about the sexiness or flesh, but the way subjects look or pose can attract the viewer’s attention as much as their attire and curves. A woman’s body is God’s masterpiece – it can tell a story for eons.
Could you tell us about your career and describe a favourite project that you once worked on?
My career has had its share of ups and downs like most. But it has been quite something. The demand and productivity keeps me so busy that I am either editing or shooting 7 days a week. I currently shoot mainly for Sweets Magazine, however other publications and online sites use many of the models and works created by myself. I am mainly about the work. I focus my career towards excellence for the future. No project is too tough for me to take on. I do not see problems in general, only solutions. Now if you ask what makes my job harder or tougher then I would have to say it is often the lack of professionalism and experience of the model.
What was it like for you when you were first starting out?
I had to work my butt off to get into print and I had to do a lot of pro-bono work to fit in and get recognized – lots of talking and promises and learning who to trust and who not to. There weren’t many obstacles, but there were plenty of users and abusers with everyone seeing how great your stuff is and working out how they can get a piece of the pie for nothing. But despite all of that, my success and achievements are based on the individuals who I shoot. The models take my name everywhere with them and not just on their photos – I am given acclaim and respect when they mention my name. So through word of mouth and viewing my work you can add it up and see that they were not leading you on about me. Most of the photographers and models who were already well known really didn’t offer much insight, help or advice. Somehow when people make it it’s like ‘Pheeeww I made it so everyone else find your way.’ Me? I’m different and I give back, because I know how hard it was without any help.
How do you think that the industry has changed since you began as a photographer?
The industry is now very much about who can get a nice digital camera and start shooting. Skill, quality and character are a very intrinsic and integral part of this job. And it’s now lacking.
What or who is your photography/design influences?
I think the greatest influences in my life when dealing with what I do are the other artists and creative minds – both those who are well-known and those who aren’t. I want people to feel good too, because art in any form reaches people in ways you cannot even fathom. I think that the old masters and many who took chances on them were the greatest component of what built Lloyd Parks into what he is today. For instance, the Medicis – they were the godfathers of the renaissance. They saw what others couldn’t see and brought the artists, sculptors and everyone else together to create a city of art. It transformed lives. It captivated an entire world and taught us valuable lessons. So here’s to the creatives and those who respect what we do and think enough to give us a chance to express it.
Have there ever been any obstacles in the way of your success? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
The most important aspect of creating is creating not what you think something should be but what you feel inside. It isn’t always the case when you have to follow guidelines, but overall, I feel that artists need freedom to do what they do. Everything we create is like our children. As artists we are emotional and very sensitive to certain things that may hinder our progress or stop our growth – so the most important thing is only follow the things that make you, you. I kept hitting my head against a brick wall until my art spoke for me. Blending it, or adding it into the photography defined my style and it’s so much easier when you do not try to suppress what’s inside of yourself.
What’s a hot tip?
Knowing how to communicate and getting the best from your subjects. If you’re not much of a people person, photography might not be your cup of tea.
Words by Annika Allen