Zim Killgore is a photographer from California that has produced extremely creative photographs. Take a look at his portfolio and you’ll notice that every shot is unique and wow-inducing. PhotoWhoa recently had a chance to interview Zim about how he gets such amazing photos. Read our interview to learn from Zim and start taking more creative shots.
You have amazing color tones in your photos. How can a photographer develop this skill?
Colors are still a skill I’ve been trying to hone in on. I’m a firm believer of having everything in your control, especially color and tint tones. So depending on the location, or the clothes a model is wearing, I will set a custom white balance. To do that, simply turn the dial to K and go to the custom white balance menu to change the value around. After I get the desired tonal look at the shoot, I will enhance it with Lightroom 4.
Your work has amazing makeup (body paint) and interesting styling. Does someone help you with this or do you come up with everything yourself?
Before I was into photography, I was a painter. I still love to paint, so naturally I would bring the two together. My close friend Darshelle Stevens is a great photographer and loves to paint as well, so sometimes we collab on a shoot together. 60% of the time I have a concept of what I want to do, but I keep it open so if it doesn’t work out I’m not so stuck on that idea. To be honest, some of the best shots I’ve taken have not been planned, just went with the flow.
What equipment do you use on shoots?
The camera I use is a Canon 5D Mark II. The lenses I often use are a 16-35mm 2.8 L Series II and a 35mm 1.4 L. Depending on what I want the photos to look like, if I want a more natural looking style, I will use the sun and a two sided gold/silver reflector. If I want a more dynamic, sharp, avant garde look, I will bring out the two Alienbee 800w strobes with octobox soft boxes. As for the post work, I use Adobe Lightroom 4 and CS6.
Walk us through this awesome shoot (below).
This was honestly one of the most time consuming photos I’ve ever taken. I wanted to try my hand again at a black and white paint shoot, the previous one I had done was with Darshelle as the model, so I asked her if she wanted to collaborate on the new one. In my head I wanted a flat black painted model with smooth white shapes across her body. I also wanted blacked out eyes and black hair. I put a casting call out on my Facebook and a model by the name of Sabrina Gruner had messaged me. She had told me she had black wigs and I was ok with that because it would be easier to paint her if she had short hair anyways. When Darshelle and I started to paint, we split up body parts to work on and went at it. It took a few hours to get it all painted and like 15 mins of shooting. (Funny how that always works). After we had got the results, we had to think of what we both needed to do in post. I took literally the head and neck, while she took the body. It took us 10 hours each of editing the paint, background, blackening the eyes, dodging, burning and toning. In the end, we both loved the outcome and would do it again.
What do you do if you get on a shoot and can’t seem to get any good photos?
If its a personal project, I’ll just keep trying until I get it right. If it is a client photo shoot, I will take “safe” photos and then try to take some experimental photos by playing with lighting and poses. Typically the things that throw my photo off are the model not in a right pose, the light not casting correctly, a prop or set not setting correctly in the frame, or the weather. Most the time, I’ll just adjust accordingly and keep going, but there have been a few times where I had to reschedule.
What’s one aspect of your photography that you still want to improve upon?
I feel like I can never be FULLY satisfied with my photos, I’m always being inspired to try new things and the beauty of that is, I have a lifetime of ideas and dreams to bring to life. The most important aspect of photography I am trying to improve on is my imagination. Without it, I feel like I wouldnt be so driven to take photos because being able to show people what I can imagine, is what makes life so amazing. Colors are a high priority at the moment, lighting is a never ending battle and I’m constantly trying new looks. I’m currently experimenting with long exposure, trigger strobing, during the day.