Enlightener Interview Series — Greg Gorman
From its origins of World Press Photo Award winner Wolfgang Peter Geller over 33-years ago, SOUNBOUNCE has grown as the world standard when it comes to quality, premium-class light enhancers for professional photographers. SUNBOUNCE takes great pride in its German engineered products as it does in those photographers that use them and over the years, Geller noticed some of these professional photographers and has hand-picked them as “Enlighteners” to represent how photographers synergize with SUNBOUNCE products.
These enlighteners were picked on their expertise in photography plus how they spread the gospel of photography to others as it’s important to Geller that all photographers help and learn from each other. When it comes to lighting, Geller’s goal is to provide premium-class light enhancers for every photographer, plus to help all photographers improve upon their craft, so I’ve started to interview the SUNBOUNCE Enlighteners and will share their thoughts here to inspire you and other photographers.
My first interview in this series is with professional photographer Greg Gorman. His photography partial credits include national magazine features and covers in Esquire, GQ, Interview, Life, Vogue, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Time, Vanity Fair and many other publications and he’s photographed celebrities to include Elton John, Sophia Loren, Al Pacino, Michael Jackson and many others.
Gorman, who helped Geller develop the SUNBOUNCE SUN-CAGE first picked up a camera in 1968, and has never put it down since, and according to Gorman, “Those that know me, know the story well about how I borrowed a friend’s camera back in 1968 to photograph Jimi Hendrix in concert in Kansas City.”
Now Gorman, whose photographic style is defined by the relationship between the hard shadows and bold highlights in his photos — a more directional lighting approach— will tell you, “A great photograph is often one that doesn’t necessarily answer all the questions but leaves something to the imagination wanting the viewer to revisit it over and over again.”
He’s able to capture his great photographs because he knows how to build rapport with his subjects too, “I try and spend as much time prior to putting them in front of the lens getting to know them and trying to come up or down to their level to win their trust and confidence. I will spend time with them while they are in hair and make-up as well as sharing a meal prepared by my personal chef prior to the start of the shoot.”
Now I’ve known Gorman, a connoisseur of wine, for many years and he does like a good meal but his Sony camera and great glass matters too, so when I approached him about his favorite lens he said, “I shoot primarily with a 70-200mm because I’m constantly changing focal lengths, always favoring the long side. Usually I prefer to carry my depth of field on the face, so I stay with a high f-stop, but the long lens drops the backgrounds out of focus so that is rarely an issue.”
While a great camera with a great lens helps, ultimately a professional like Gorman must execute with their skills and talent to create a great image and that includes the mastery of light. “I look at each face as a work of art and approach the lighting from the perspective of what I want to play up in the highlights and play down in the shadows to best accentuate or hide, if that may be the case, the features of the person in front of my lens.”
As a SUNBOUNCE Enlightener myself since 2004, of course I had to ask Gorman about his favorite go-to SUNBOUNCE gear and he responded with, “Probably a Silver/White MINI, which I use the most but of course I enjoy the entire line-up from my SUN-CAGE to the SUN-SWATTERS. They all hold their own unique purpose and are always part of my go-to gear on almost all of my shoots! As you well know. Plus of course the black reflectors which are essential for my subtraction of light!”
You know a pro when they mention the subtraction of light as it’s just as important as the addition or manipulation of light in the creation of a great photograph, something many “new” photographers have yet to learn. Speaking of new photographers, I asked Gorman what advice he’d give new photographers and his answer didn’t shock me.
“Find another gig! Today with the onset of cellular phone cameras and the obnoxious ‘selfies’/Photoshop and Social Media, everyone is a fucking photographer and they all think they’re the best thing since chopped liver. I don’t mean to be so cynical, but today, much of the current trends in photography are bereft of content and overloaded with graphic production.”
Now that’s an honest answer and one reason I respect Gorman so much as a friend and a true professional photographer, so I had to ask him If there was one thing he could change in photography what would that be?
“To roll back the clock in some ways when photography was a bit more-pure and a bit less precise. All the new technology is fantastic, and I totally embrace it, but somehow I feel the importance of the original capture is lost with the comfort of modern technology!”
There you have it from Greg Gorman, who earned a Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography from the University of Southern California, and now you know why Geller chose Gorman many years ago to provide input on SUNBOUNCE products and future products, plus to put them to the synergy test.