Jeff Rojas is an American Photographer based in New York City. His primary body of work includes Portrait and Fashion Photography, although he’s directed misc. fashion films and commercials. Rojas also frequents as a photography instructor and has taught on various photographic platforms including: CreativeLIVE, WPPI, PhotoPlus Expo, Gulf Photo Plus and APA.
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What made you want to be an educator in the photography field and where can we see more of your work?
I have always felt that instructors and teachers for some rhyme or reason, overcomplicated things. I felt that I've always had a knack for filtering the important information and cutting the excess... In my experience, most people don't want to know EVERYTHING about a subject. They simply want to know enough to be able to get by. Mastery truly comes from experiencing something, not theorizing it.
I've taken that approach with teaching photography. I purposely filter all the nonsense and focus on the fundamentals. If you want to learn more about photography, the business of photography or retouching, then look no further: www.youtube.com/sajorffej
What type of equipment do you currently use and what advantages do you get from these products?
My EIZO CG247 is one of the staple pieces in my editing workflow and tethering workflow. I’m going to admit that until I started using the EIZO, I was really unhappy with my color management workflow. There were times when I’d deliver images to magazines only to see the final printed image was a completely different color temperature than what I was seeing on my color calibrated Apple Monitors. No photographer should ever go through that experience.When you’re using an EIZO, you can feel comfortable knowing that what you see is what you get. That’s definitely a benefit when you’ve got art directors over your shoulder, watching every image.
How subjective would you say equipment choice is? (Will what works for one photographer necessarily work for another?)
Every photographer is going have their own preferences when it comes to gear, but that doesn’t mean that their choices are always the best. Before I invest in any gear, I always ask myself how is that purchase going to save me time doing my job or how’s it’s going to save me money in the long run. Now, when you’re working for yourself, time is money. The less time I spend trying to calibrate screens or making sure my client’s images exactly match what I’ve edited, the more time I spend with new clients. That’s what works for me.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I find that the source of my inspiration changes over time. These days I found myself studying Annie Leibovitz’s work. That sounds so unoriginal, but I sincerely love how she captures people’s emotions. I respect that. Most photographers want to control their subjects, and she just let’s them be who they are naturally. It’s empowering.
Do you prefer digital to film when shooting?
Oh the purists are going to hate me for this one. My love of photography started with digital. I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot film, but I’m sure that it would benefit me to invest time learning to.
Are there specific techniques that are always a part of your workflow?
My workflow is pretty standard these days: 1. I light my subject. 2. Find the right white balance. 3. I jump into Adobe Lightroom and tether it accordingly. It’s really that simple. In the event that I’m planning to shoot an image in black and white, I still find the correct WB and shoot RAW in the event that I change my mind later on
Do you prefer studio or location shooting? Why?
I’ll admit that I LOVE photography so much that it’s hard to choose, but if I had to, then I’d say in my studio. At this point in my life, it’s like a second home. It feels comfortable and I can blare the music as loud as I want to. That really changes the tone of the shoot.
There seems to be more and more successful women in photography than ever before, what are your thoughts about the trend for women in the photography industry?
Most of the people I admire as photographers are women. I think that when it comes to shooting women’s fashion, a woman will have the upper hand. She understands the styling and the makeup. That seems absolutely foreign to me. I think that’s why I shoot more men than women these days. I’ve learned from the greats.
Are there any noteworthy highlights/challenges you have experienced in your career history?
Absolutely. It took me a couple of LONG years to establish the creative team that I currently work with. Finding prompt and reliable help isn't as easy when people are freelancers.
What advice would you give a newcomer who is just beginning their career? (Any Do’s and Don’ts)
DO: Respect the photographers who laid the foundation for you. Without their sweat, you wouldn’t have a job. However DON’T let those photographers walk all over you.
DON’T: Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you something isn’t possible. DO focus on making it happen.
DO: Invest in your business, which also includes educating yourself. DON’T blow your money away – save for a rainy day.
Photos courtesy of Jeff Rojas