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Full Transcript of Part 2 of the Interview with Diana Levine, pro photographer

Recorded in person at Studio Blue in Manhattan, New York
March 6, 2010
Jim Hopkinson, Wired’s Marketing Guy
Diana Levine, photographer

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Hi, this is Jim Hopkinson, Wired’s Marketing Guy, bringing you the marketing trends that matter. Welcome!

Today is Part 2 of my interview with photographer, Diana Levine – smile! [Camera clicking]

Jim Hopkinson: Hey, everybody, this is Jim; welcome back. I am here again with Diana Levine. We talked about photography last time, we talked about how she got her start as a photographer working for magazines, going freelance and all the cool celebrities she works with, and this is Part 2 of the podcast. And, we’re going to talk about the equipment she uses, how the internet and Facebook and new media has influenced her profession, and then some tips and tricks for photographers.

So, welcome, Diana.

Diana Levine: Thanks for having me, again.

JH: So, let’s go right to the equipment. How much of being a great photographer is the equipment? Do you need the best equipment to be a great photographer?

DL: I would say no; the biggest part of being a photographer is, especially when it comes to shooting people is connecting with your subjects. Obviously great equipment is amazing, and as a professional you have to have it, it’s something you need to have, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need it to take an amazing photo. I actually love it that cameras are so accessible now, and I’m excited to see actually what the next generations are going to come out with.

JH: How many cameras do you own now?

DL: Oh, God [LAUGHTER], I need to think about it.

JH: A dozen?

DL: Probably, yeah. […] digital.

JH: And what’s the progression you’ve made? I think we were talking earlier you had a 110 camera when you were younger [LAUGHTER] and then you eventually; how old were you when you got your first SLR camera?

DL: Digital SLR camera?

JH: Or regular SLR?

DL: OK. Well, yeah, my first camera was probably a little 110 camera, and then I got a little point and shoot 35mm camera as I grew up. My grandfather was a photographer, so I always had access to his. And, he passed away when I was in high school and actually got a lot of his equipment. So, the first SLR that I had was a Minolta Maxxum 9000 from my grandfather.

JH: I remember that. That was like a robot camera. Was that one of the first ones that had auto focus, correct?

DL: I’m not 100 per cent sure.

JH: A built-in, like, ‘Zzzzzzzzzzzz,’ Like you could…

DL: Yeah, it was awesome. So, that was my first SLR; I have a lot of his other equipment. And then the first SLR that I bought, I think it was the original Canon Digital Rebel. And, now those are very popular, you can probably pick one up for 500 bucks, or whatever. But, I remember at the time when I bought it, it wasn’t a pretty big deal that I was buying a digital SLR; and it was really exciting.

JH: You just blew my mind because, did that just come out around 1986, or so – the Minolta Maxxum?

DL: I don’t remember exactly, because I got it when my grandfather passed away, so I wasn’t there when he bought it, exactly. [LAUGHTER]

JH: Because I used to work in a photo department in a department store, and we’d get to play with all the cameras all day when it wasn’t busy, and I remember that Minolta Maxxum coming out. And there was a whole ad campaign behind it and it was very advanced for the time – which was pretty awesome. So, anyway, so what should people be looking for in a modern digital camera?

DL: There are so many different options. There are definitely different models that are popular at the time, and any specific information that I give you right now might be out of date in a week, it might be out of date in a month. A big camera right is the Canon 5D Mark II which is what I shoot with, and I think it was one of the first models that came out with video, as well as stills; and that has really totally changed the game. But in terms of what you’re looking for in a digital SLR, you want a decent amount of megapixels, you want, the sensor size is important. So, like I said, if you’re going into it professionally, that’s one thing; if you’re just looking to take great pictures, you can take great pictures with lots of different cameras. The biggest thing is what you do with it.

JH: Now I think that I’m maybe the typical consumer right now where I’ve got a small point and shoot, it does great pictures, it’s like a Sony T-500, I think it’s called. It takes HD video, it’s got wide angle and the megapixel count, the megapixels is totally fine for what I’m using it for, but I’m thinking about making that leap to getting a full DSLR. What kind of camera do you take around, do you carry a point and shoot, as well; what kind of one do you use for that?

DL I usually have at least two cameras with me. I have my SLRs and then I do always have a point and shoot with me, and I love point and shoots. I’m not afraid to say it, I love point and shoots. Generally, I get a lot of emails from people saying, ‘Oh, I want to start taking better photos, I want to get an SLR,’ and generally what I recommend to them is something like a Canon Digital Rebel which is like a starter SLR. It’s not too expensive, but it is an SLR and you’re going to get great quality out of it; and that’s generally what I recommend for people.

JH: What are things that you’re going to get when you move up from the point and shoot to a DSLR? Is it a lot of like the depth of field, like what; cause I know when I see pictures, and, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s a great picture.’ And, sometimes you can tell, I can’t pinpoint what it is, but you can tell that it’s the difference between just a regular point and shoot and a DSLR.

DL: Yeah, you’re going to get a better depth of field, you’re going to get a larger image, you’re going to get a better quality image, and the most important thing to me is you’re going to have control over it. You’re going to have control over your exposure; you’re going to have control over everything. Most of the point and shoots are fairly automated, although there are cameras that are coming out that are kind of both – they’re kind of a point and shoot, they’re small, they’re portable, but they also have control. And those are actually really fun, too.

JH: The dilemma I’ve had is that I’ve got the point and shoot, you can throw it in your pocket; that’s obviously what they’re for. But, is it going to be a hassle? I think, if you’re investing money in this thing in a better camera, am I going to bring it with me? They always say the best camera you have is the one that you bring with you. So, am I going to lug this thing around, am I really going to use it? What have you found with people, is there a lot of people that say, ‘I’m spending all this money on a good camera’ and then they never use it?

DL: Totally. And that’s actually the question I ask myself everyday, which camera should I bring? Most girls ask what shoes they’re going to wear today – I ask which camera am I going to bring. Definitely, that’s something to think about. If you’re a person that you know yourself and you’re probably going to take a camera with you if you can fit it in your pocket. You know you’re a real active person, then get the point and shoot. If you’re OK with schlepping something a little bigger around, obviously that’s a better quality camera.

JH: But I think the first question that people are going to ask when they’re going from a point and shoot up to DSLR is what brand to use. Now, with all due respect to Sony and Pentax and several other brands that are out there, for the most part the pros will use either Canon or Nikon, and sometimes fiercely defend one brand over the other. What’s you opinion between those two brands?

DL: That’s a good question, and a lot of people ask me that. And sometimes people are kind of competitive about it, but like, ‘Are you a Canon girl, are you a Nikon girl?’ I would probably say I’m both. When it comes to digital SLRs I do shoot Canon, but I do have a full set of Nikon lenses, so I use Nikon lenses on my Canons every now and then, and I have a Nikon adaptor for that. And, I have Nikon film cameras. So, I definitely would say I’m both, although when it comes to digital, I would say I’m a Canon girl. I love my Nikon lenses, I have an incredible 500mm lens from my grandfather; I love that thing. And, putting that on a Canon digital body is amazing. So, a lot of people will email me and say, ‘Oh, should I get a Canon or Nikon?’ And, I would say digital, I do lean more towards Canon.

JH: And I think what people have told me is it doesn’t really matter. Like at that level, if you are just starting up and kind of making the jump, if you’re not a pro yet, whatever camera you get, they’re so sophisticated now they’re going to take great pictures.

DL: Definitely, yeah.

JH: And so, personally, I’ve just been asking around and more people have said Canon than Nikon, and just for the sake of research, I said, you know what, ‘I’m going to go with Canon and eliminate Nikon, and just to cut my research down. And again, I’m not Gadget Lab, I’m not a pro, but I love doing research and I started asking people because I’m thinking about making this jump. And here are the model numbers I’ve come up with just based on my research, and checking out some websites, and kind of asking yourself, and some of the Wired photographers:

– A lot of people, like two or three people of friends that I’ve asked, actually have the Canon XSI; and that runs about $500-600 and it’s a great DSLR, but does not shoot video.

– So, if you are going to shoot video, the kind of the next step up is the Canon T1I which runs about $750, give or take, and that has video.

– The next one up there which kind of gets into the prosumer level where, if you can afford it, it’s a really great camera is the Canon 7D which runs about $1900, and then,

– The next step above that is what Diana uses is the 5D which also has video and it’s about $3300, is that about right?

So, that’s what I’m leaning towards and if I can find the money; I’m hesitant to make that jump if I can save enough money and get the 7D – that’s a really, really good camera, right?

DL: Definitely.

JH: You’re going to be able to do everything with that. If I want to get into it and take a class, that’s what you should do, but, I’m also thinking, you know what, you’re starting out, just get one that you can play with and then you can upgrade.

Another question I had in Seinfeld languages, ‘What’s the deal with lenses?’ So, of course, it’s [Seinfeld voice] ‘What’s the deal with lenses?’ I wonder if you can make the analogy, when I was buying stereo equipment in the past, people talk, ‘Which receiver should I get, should I get this receiver or that?’, and people would say, ‘You know what, the receiver’s important, but the speakers are what’s really going to affect the sound of it.’ Is it the same thing with cameras? You know, people are focusing on the body of the camera, how important are the lenses, as well?

DL: Lenses are incredibly important. Like I said, some girls buy fancy shoes and purses; I buy fancy lenses. The better quality of the lens is going to definitely affect your image. And actually I used to get made fun of because the first digital SLR I bought was a Canon Digital Rebel which wasn’t the highest quality digital camera but I bought top of the line lenses. So, I would have these really expensive, really high quality lenses on a less high quality body and people would, like, ‘What are you doing with that lens on that body?’ I think I was pretty smart about it because the lenses are going to stay forever; the bodies are going to change. How many different kinds of digital SLR bodies have we gone through in the last [several] years, but I’m still using the same lens to this day. So, certainly in terms of investing, lenses are definitely something that are good to invest in because they’re not going to change. I’m still using lenses that were being used in the 70s, and good quality glass is good.

JH: So, real quick, someone is getting a new camera, what kind of lens range should they get? I know a lot of them come with lenses, what kind of range do you recommend?

DL: I think a lot of the digital SLRs do come as a kit and I think they come with an 18-55 kind of normal lens. If you’re looking into getting an additional lens or something different, it depends on a few things. It depends on how much you want to spend, it depends on what you’re shooting, what you like to shoot. If you want to shoot some really wide angle stuff, you want to do mostly close-ups, if you want to do portraits, it’s totally different. So, I would say it depends on…

JH: Like if you’re doing sports you’d probably want a different lens.

DL: If you’re doing sports you’re going to want a very fast lens. You going to want something fast; and also with sports you’re going to want a body that can take a lot of pictures in a quick amount of time.

JH: And for zoom, I think I heard someone say, ‘If you want to get closer, you should walk closer.’ You could buy lenses that go up to 120 or 210 or 500mm, do you need extra skill once you’re trying to zoom in on things like that, with light and keeping the camera steady?

DL: Definitely, you do need to keep the camera steadier the farther you’re shooting. I do like shooting zoom a lot, so the only thing you really need is space.

JH: Alright. So, one of the things I had to decide on when I was looking at these different models is do they use video or not? Now, they’re doing 1080p, full motion video; is there a new relationship with the photographer in video other than, of course, your relationship with the cinematographer that you have [LAUGHTER], but talk about how having video based in a DSLR has changed the game.

DL: Certainly the relationship between being a photographer and a videographer, I’ve started operating for music videos and commercials, and that’s definitely opened up my world in terms of thinking, viewing, and working. And, I think that probably in the future it’s going to be important for photographers to be able to do videos, as well; as it’s becoming all in the same body, I think it’s going to be a skill set that is almost required. And that’s definitely up for debate, it’s not going to be true in all cases, but I think in a lot of instances, a lot of photographers are starting to do video because they have access to it now in the same camera.

JH: And, at least for you it’s one less thing to bring, maybe you’re bringing three cameras, anyway, but if you are getting a DSLR with video, you don’t have to bring that video camera. And, it’s probably a little different, and I noticed it because you told me that your boyfriend does video production using the Canon 5D which was amazing. And so when I was watching the clip about that Super Sweet 16, I noticed something like he’s not there holding this giant video camera, it’s not something on his shoulder or with this huge wide lens. So, at times people might not know that if you’re taking their picture or taking a video of them, right?

DL: Exactly. As of a few years ago maybe it was unheard of to be using an SLR on a video shoot, but lately they’ve been taking over. You know my boyfriend has shot pretty big projects on either this Canon 7D or the Canon 5D Mark II. I’m trying to think of some examples; we shot some MTV commercials for Justin Beiber, Beiber Fever, [LAUGHTER] and we shot those I think on the 7Ds. A lot of times we’ll shoot the video as the Red camera as the main camera, and then we’ll use a 7D or a 5D for either the B camera or B roll or for shots that we just don’t have time to get the red up and running, and we’ll use the digital SLR as the secondary camera. And for that we’ve done video for Fabolous and Jay-Z which was directed by Parris. We’ve done a Cresset Michelle video, we’ve done […] videos, we’ve done 50 Cent work.

JH: So, these are videos people are watching on MTV that are being shot with a DSLR?

DL: Yeah.

JH: That’s amazing. And does your boyfriend have a Red camera?

DL: We don’t own a Red camera, generally we rent those cameras, but we do have the 5D, we have a whole rig set up for it. When you show up it’s not a little camera, there’s a matte box, there’s a whole rig around it; so it looks a little bit better than just the camera body which kind of helps people. But, it is very new to show up to a music video or a commercial and be shooting on what looks like a still camera. And I think people are starting to get used to it. In the beginning people didn’t even know what it was and now people are starting to really get used to it.

JH: For people, who don’t know, Wired did a really in-depth article about the Red camera which is; can you explain a little bit better than I can? I know it’s like a very, very high end digital camera, like really pro level and they talked about major motion pictures using; they used to spend hundreds of thousands to rent these incredible super high quality movie-level cameras. But now, they’ve been able to cut budget and use this Red camera which is $15,000 to $100,000, which still is a lot; it’s nothing for James Cameron, but independent movie studios can use these $15,000 cameras, it’s not a big part of their budget.

Alright, let’s do a lightning round of all the other little things that come with the camera, because you think you’re walking out of the camera store, ‘Oh, I’ve got the camera, I’m done’ – there’s a lot of other little things. OK, memory card, what do you recommend on that?

DL: What I use, I use Compact Flash Extreme cards, but we also rent a lot of equipment sometimes and we’ll use different cards.

JH: OK, what about a flash. I know some of the DSLRs have that little pop-up flash, is that enough or do people need to buy an additional flash?

DL: It totally depends on what kind you’re looking for. I don’t even have a pop-up flash on my camera, but, I think it’s the 580X Canon flash.

JH: What kind of bag do you use to lug all these cameras around?

DL: My apartment is filled with bags, [LAUGHTER] so, like I said, some people pick out purses, I pick out which bag I’m going to use today. I have different bags for cameras, for lights, for stands. I know for my lighting equipment I think I use Tenba bags; in terms of my camera bag I think I use Lowepro – I have a backpack, I have a roll on, I have a sling.

JH: What about a strap? Is there a certain strap that holds it a certain way?

DL: For the bag?

JH: For the camera?

DL: For the camera, I don’t really have a recommendation for that.

JH: What about lights? Is there a certain lighting that once you start getting into an upper level you need to use?

DL: Lights really depend on what the shoot is and what kind of gear you’re going for.

JH: What about one of those like Frisbee, hula hoop things with the white kind of cloth thing that you hold up?

DL: The reflector?

JH: OK, reflector. Do people need one of those?

DL: Yeah, reflector’s a great tool, actually, because you don’t need light so that you can reflect the sunlight. That’s really a cheap and effective…

JH: Of course you need an assistant to hold this up or something like that.

DL: Yeah, but you can grab your friend.

JH: What about a tripod; how often do you use a tripod when you’re shooting?

DL: I don’t generally shoot tripod when I’m doing still work. We do have a Gitzo tripod; I actually have lots of tripods at home. Generally, we use that for video work and if there is a situation where the photos need to stay the same in terms of framing, then we will use a tripod, but generally don’t.

JH: What would you say is the most valuable thing in your bag, like the one thing that people wouldn’t think of that, you like, ‘Oh, I gotta make sure I have that, I’d be lost without it.’

DL: I always have granola bars or some kind of food in my bag.

JH: I’m the same way, because if I’m not fed, I’m not going to have any energy and everything is going to go down from there.

DL: And, cranky.

JH: OK, we’ll end the speed round for now. Now, tell us just like the darkroom like your grandfather had, now what’s most important is the ability to use Photoshop and now with video, to be able to use things like Final Cut Pro, how has that changed? It’s not only learning all the things about taking the picture, how much of it is important to do afterwards?

DL: I think it’s vital to the entire program knowing Photoshop. I started as magazine designer so I know End Design and all the design programs well, but, I think it’s a vital skill set. If you can shoot, that’s great, but you need to be able to provide the product in the end.

JH: How much time is spent, say a big thing like Kim Kardashian, how many hours did you spend shooting her?

DL: With Kim Kardashian, I think the shoot was three hours.

JH: And then how much time did you spend in Photoshop afterwards?

DL: It depends on each shoot, there are some shoots that I do that will have a professional retoucher, and that’s lovely, because I just provide the raw files and I go home and call it a day. If I’m editing, generally I would say if it’s a daylong shoot, I’ll end up spending a full day editing at home. Editing is a huge part of it, especially because I started as a designer/photo editor that’s kind of ingrained in me. I think it’s definitely vital.

JH: What’s the most common thing that you do? I’m assuming you’re not taking out red eye [LAUGHTER] because you’re the one preventing that in the first place, but, is it filling in shadows, or?

DL: It depends on what you need. Definitely filling in shadows is contrast and a lot of it is skin. Generally, I’m shooting people, so a lot of it is touching skin. Retouching is a whole other ballgame, whole other discussion.

JH: Cool. Let’s switch tracks here. Let’s talk internet, new media, Facebook. Let’s talk about marketing your company. How has the internet and new media helped you grow your business and how has that changed things for you?

DL: Social networking and new media has been incredible. I don’t even really know how I would have gone about being a photographer before the internet. Certainly the way that I do it, I have Facebook, I have Twitter, I have a blog and anytime I work on a project I try to post behind the scenes a photo, I try to post behind the scenes video, and I post the final product. And I think just keeping people in the loop of what I am working on helps market myself even if I’m not necessarily marketing myself in the traditional way.

JH: And I think the cool thing is, social media always comes down to being genuine online, not being fake, being yourself, and you partake in that; and that you document a lot of your life in both online and offline. Tell us about that.

DL: I do definitely document my life online and offline. I do keep it pretty separate. I don’t do too much personal stuff when it comes to social networking, but I do keep a very obsessively detailed scrapbook/photo book which is all of my photos from my family and my friends, and behind the scenes and photo shoots, and actual photos.

JH: Tell us the process how you upload that and turn it into a book.

DL: So what I do is I’m very obsessively detail oriented when it comes to archiving my photos, especially when it comes to backing up. So I take the pictures, they’re on my computer, I edit them, I sort them and then, you know I was a magazine designer so I use the same programs and the same design skill set to design these books. And I generally keep them all to 300 pages, so I do it as the day…

JH: Just a little page book that you throw together on the side. OK.

DL: [LAUGHTER] Exactly. I basically keep them going; I keep them updated as the days go on. I don’t do it all at one time. I do a shoot then update the book. I go home and visit with family then I update the book. And then I use Adobe End Design to design it and I generally use Lulu.com to print the book. It’s great software, I’ve used Lulu for years. I’ve used it for all sorts of different things and books. They’re good quality, they’re not that expensive for the product that you get, and I’ve been a big fan of Lulu for a long time. I love keeping these books because I hope that in many years I can look back and really relive the experiences that I’m having. As a freelancer every day is different, you’re meeting all these different people and it’s nice […] to look back on that and reflect on everything.

JH: It’s so amazing how social media has changed everything. Just think about all the places not only are two billion photos being uploaded to Facebook every month, but just think of all the places where you need a photo:

– You need it on your Facebook page
– You need one on your Linkedin profile that might be more business
– Maybe you have a blog, you have you’re an About page you want to do that
– You have meetup groups that you’re in
– You have dating sites that you might be on, and
– You almost need a different photo for each one of those things.

Any tips on how people should approach the different photos online?

DL: Definitely. That’s always a question mark how personal are photos should you put on Facebook. And I remember when I was at that Boston magazine I was looking for interns and I remember for every applicant I was considering, I would go on their Facebook page and see what they were up to on Facebook. And definitely the first impression you have of someone is their profile picture, their default photo. And it definitely will tell you a lot about a person; so, I would say when it comes to your Facebook picture, your blog picture, you should target it towards what you want people to see you as, it is your representation of yourself. So, if it’s a picture of you getting drunk and wild at a party that’s how people are going to see you. If it’s something calmer that how they’re going to see you.

JH: Well, we’re going to do a little experiment here and take a few pictures of me, it’s not often that I get a chance to have a professional photographer take my picture. So, we’re going to do a couple scenes, maybe I’ll update my podcast landing page, my photo there, and we’ll put that on The Hopkinson Report and do some tips for that. Any annoying trends or clichés you’ve been noticing? I was talking with my intern about all the different poses people do. There’s kind of the Squishy Face, what did he call it?

DL: The MySpace pose?

JH: Yeah, or the kissy duck face was one of them where you’ve always got the 23-year-old girls all squished together with like a pouty face, or; I got two personal ones: one of my rules is no squatting. Like you have a group together, you’ve got eight people and people will like kind of like squat down a little and then you get the picture back and they never, ever need to squat. It’s so rare, it’s like, ‘Why don’t you move three inches to the left because you always look stupid when you’re squatting.’ So if you’re out there – no squatting rule; any thoughts on that?

DL: I think the most popular […] is the old MySpace flipping the point and shoot around and shooting yourself picture. That’s always good, that’s a classic.

JH: Did you say that’s good or bad?

DL: I can go either way. [LAUGHTER]

JH: OK, here’s why, because that’s one on my favorites. I patented that back in the late 80s, I call it the ‘Hoppy One-hander.’ To the point where, and I know if I ranted about this before, that is a brand name for me now, cause I’d be in Seattle and I don’t know if it’s the length of my arms and here is how I would say that. Number one – you almost always put it in your left hand, because that means the shutter depressing, what’s the word for that?

DL: The shutter.

JH: The shutter, OK. So that’s going to be right closest to your finger. The second thing is that you have to put yourself on the far left of the picture. Then you put your arm out, you angle it in, and again, maybe my arm is a perfect focal length, but I take fantastic one-handed pictures.

DL: I’ve seen a couple of these pictures and you’re right.

JH: And so, I found out that, you know I lived in Seattle for a couple of years and after I left, my friend says they call it that. They like, ‘OK, like get together for the picture. No, no, no, I’ll take it. No, no, no, get in, just do a Hoppy shot. Just do a Jim shot.’ And that’s known because of my one-handed photography picture.

DL: It’s a glorious, glorious thing.

JH: Now what about if you shot Julia Allison and I’ve interviewed her, she’s on the cover of Wired Magazine. She uses the same pose in every stage photo, which is one hand on her hip and like kind of turned to the side and kind of thrust out. Is that a good look for people or is just for her? What are the thoughts behind that?

DL: She always looks gorgeous. If you have a pose that works for you – do it. Why not?

JH: Is there such a thing? Can you look at people, you know, the whole cliché is like, ‘Oh, make sure you get my good side.’ Do people really have a good side?

DL: Yeah, definitely; no face is symmetrical. And the fun thing to do if you’re bored is that open up Photoshop and take a picture of yourself; crop it in half, and then duplicate it and reverse it so you can see what you would look like if you were exactly symmetrical. And, most cases it does not look like you. So, no one is symmetrical, so there’s definitely good sides and bad sides.

JH: So, you must be constantly looking at what is a person’s best angle. So, let me self-deprecating for a second. I’m not going to say I’ve a huge forehead, but James Cameron has just announced that Avatar 2 in 3D is going to be shown on my head. So, if I have a big forehead how would you shoot that?

DL: It really depends on the person, but certainly with every shoot that I do, I look at the person, I see which is the best angle, and how they’re going to look best. Some people can be photographed from below and they look awesome, they look really powerful. And some people that’s just not a good way to go, it’s better to shoot from above, so angle is a really big part of it. What focal lens you’re on is going to be definitely important.

JH: What about, say they have a really big nose, how would you shoot that? Is it straight on so you don’t see the angle?

DL: Again, it totally depends on the person so I can’t exactly say though, I would say a big part would be shooting more on a zoom lens as opposed to wide angle, because if you’re shooting on a wide angle it’s going to accentuate anything – it’s going to make anything look bigger.

JH: Do people look better in a profile or straight on?

DL: Again, all this depends on the person, but…

JH : Everything depends, color or black and white? Do people always look better in black and white?

DL: [LAUGHTER] It depends again.

JH: Do they look thinner in black and white?

DL: I would say people look great in black and white, especially if people are self conscious about their skin tone or if some people think; a lot of people will tell me, ‘I’m worried that I’m too red.’ And, obviously black and white takes care of that; especially black and white helps if you have any skin problems and sometimes that will help that.

JH: What about the way to stand in a photo?

DL: How you stand is how you represent yourself. So it depends, do you want seem like a business person, do you want to seem relaxed, do you want to seem like an athlete? So it totally depends on how you want to represent yourself.

JH: What about smiling, what does it tell you, should your photo just be serious, should it be smiling, should you tell them, like, ‘You’ve got a great smile,’ do you want to emphasize that, how does that work?

DL: I like nice people. [LAUGHTER] So, I always like a good smile. It definitely depends on the person. For example, when I’m shooting Billy Corgan, he’s probably not going to want to have a goofy smile on, but if you want to seem, if you want to appear friendly, a good smile can never hurt.

JH: What about what to wear? So, let’s say I’m doing this, you know millions of people have millions of blogs now, that you go to that About page, it’s so important, are there certain things like should you wear
kind of coat, should you wear stripes, do loud colors not work well, do loud patterns not work well? What’s kind of the rule of thumb there?

DL: Again, if fashion is your thing, if you’re a stylist you’re going to have to show your style through your clothes. But, I’m always a fan of simple, dark clothes so you can really focus on someone’s face, and focus on who they are; but, if who you are is fashion, clothing, then I say go for it and be as loud as you want to be.

JH: Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to set up a little mini-studio here, and I’m going to pretty basic, a neutral colored shirt – white or blue, nice sports coat, take a couple of professional looking photos, something I can put up on Linkedin, or something. Then we’re going to hit the streets of New York and try to get something very New Yorker and busy and taxi cabs and buildings flying by, and we’ll put up the results up on thehopkinsonreport.com.

Diana, it’s been a pleasure having you here. Throw at us some information about where people can learn more about you.

DL: Sure, thank you so much for having me; this is a lot of fun. My website is dianalevine.com; my Twitter is twitter.com/dianalevine – not too creative. And my blog is dianalevine.tumblr.com. So those are all the ways to find me. My email and contact is on the website.

JH: And you said your boyfriend is a videographer?

DL: My boyfriend is a cinematographer.

JH: Cinematographer.

DL: He’s a DP – director of photography and his name is Matt Workman; and his website is just mattworkman.com.

JH: And what about any other projects that you’re working on?

DL: That’s me professionally. Personally, another passion of mine is raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s Research. My mom who is the best person in the world – I might be biased, but she has Parkinson’s, so we’re definitely active members of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Team Fox, and the Unity Walk for Parkinson’s. And my mom, my sister and I will be walking in the Annual Parkinson’s Walk on April 24th, so if anyone wants to donate to our team, you can go to dianalevine.com/parkinsonswalk or you can donate to michaeljfox.com anytime.

JH: OK, and lastly, let’s say you’re an aspiring photographer out there and you’d be like, ‘Oh it would be so great to learn from Diana’ and actually, now you have your chance.

DL: Ah, talenthouse.com is a great website and they’re hosting a creative invite to be my assistant on a photo shoot. So, that’s been really fun because we’re getting all these responses from people; so, if you go to talenthouse.com you can look for my creative invite and you can apply to be my assistant and I’m going to pick someone I think, in April. So it will be real interesting to see who applies; we’re really looking for like an aspiring photographers and people who are looking to get some experience and learn […] and it will be interesting to see who we end up with.

JH: Well, Diana, it’s been really great having you on. Everyone check out dianalevine.com for her great work and check out thehopkinsonreport.com to see how our photos came out. And, thanks for coming on.

DL: Thanks so much for having me, This has been a pleasure.

JH: This has been the Hopkinson Report podcast. I’d like to thank my guest Diana Levine. You can check her out at dianalevine.com. You can also check out the first part of the interview on thehopkinsonreport.com or on iTunes.

Thanks for listening.

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