Richard Photo Lab

Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Greg Finck

On today's edition of "Les Projecteurs du Photographe"... it's Greg Finck! Greg is a fine art photographer based in Paris, France, creating timeless images with an editorial approach. Between hosting his very first workshop for photographers, and getting ready for wedding season, Greg took some time to chat with Richard Photo Lab about his work and passion. So, grab your café and croissant, and spend some time getting to know Greg!

Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?

Greg Finck: From what I remember, I have always had a camera in my hands. My dad was passionate about photography, and we had a darkroom at home. The first camera he gave me was a Rolleiflex SL35E, with a 105mm f2.8 lens. It was so great focusing with that 35mm viewfinder and playing with the depth of field! I then spent hours in the darkroom, processing my own negatives and making my own prints. I miss those great darkroom times, the red light, and the smell of chemicals.

R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big one... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

GF: Even though photography has always been my passion, I come from a business background. After studying business in France and the US, I worked for 10 years in the Marketing Department of a giant US company. I started shooting weddings because friends asked me to, then friends of friends, and all of sudden I got hundreds of inquiries.

I didn’t plan to go full-time until I attended a life-changing experience two years ago. I went to the Feather & Stone Photography workshop in Provence. After that experience, I decided 1) to switch my whole business into film, and 2) to go full-time. These guys made me realize that I could live of my passion and that there was a market–even in Europe–for film wedding photography.

Image by Greg Finck

R: When you aren’t shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?

GF: I travel a lot for weddings, and I try to document my travels. I’m not very comfortable with editorial travel photography yet, but I try to work on it. Apart from that, I absolutely love shooting my three-year-old daughter. I value all of the "souvenirs" as she grows up, exactly how I love looking at my dad’s photographs from when we were kids.

R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?

GF: I guess the secret to that is to carefully pick the jobs you do and to always shoot for yourself as well as for the client. There is nothing worse than going to a job you don’t want to shoot, or to work for clients you don’t have a fit with. I try to force myself to only take jobs I want to shoot, even though that leads to some stress along the year. It would be much easier to book the first jobs that come my way, but that would be a nightmare in terms of creation and energy. What’s more, I always shoot a wedding or a job for myself first, and then for the client. The magic is when you manage to match both visions.

R: What is your favorite camera?

GF: The Contax 645 + Carl Zeiss 80mm f2. There is not a single job when I’m not impressed by the quality of the images that come back from the lab. This camera is a gem because of its extreme softness and the buttery, shallow depth of field offered by the Zeiss lens. I can’t believe that company didn’t survive the digital revolution given the success of that camera today. Apart from that, I love shooting my Hasselblad 500C for the square format and the method of shooting and taking my time. But, it isn’t really fit for paid jobs.

Image by Greg Finck

R: What is your first memory of shooting film? Why do you continue to shoot it as a pro?

GF: My first memory of shooting film is practicing on my friends from school. I brought them to my home, hung a large white sheet my Mom gave me, placed some (very bad) lighting, and tested myself with my first ‘studio’ portraits. I extensively shot black & white at that time, as I wanted to be able to process my own negatives and prints in my darkroom and didn’t know how to do it with colors. I mainly shot Ilford Pan 400 and Ilford FP4. I now shoot it as a pro because film is the only way to accomplish my quality standards in terms of image look. There is no way I can achieve my style or keep a consistent look with digital. What’s more, film has helped me tremendously to optimize my workflow.

R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab(s)?

GF: The first element is consistency of one’s style. Communicating with the lab really helps to define your look as a photographer. You can’t compromise on photo quality when you deal with high-end clients, and your lab needs to deliver a very consistent result on all of your photos. As soon as you’re not happy, you should let them know! The second reason is workflow optimization. I personally hate spending hours of editing behind my computer. I pay my lab to deliver client-ready images... I want to be able to just download my scans, sort them, suppress the doubles, and deliver to the client.

Image by Greg Finck

R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals? We wanna know the quirky, weird stuff.

GF: I always prepare for my shoots a lot. I scout locations, try and find some new amazing places. Especially for Paris, where I get a lot of couple sessions, I scout and scout again so that I don’t always go to the same locations and get bored. I hate shooting sessions with automatic mode on. The weird thing is that I will create "one-pagers" for my shoots, with the details of the places I want to go to and the photos I can't miss. This helps me to not forget anything, even though I must admit I might look a little like a control-freak.

R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?

GF: Sweet.

R: Chocolate or vanilla?

GF: Chocolate

R: Dogs or cats?

GF: Dogs.

R: Urban or rural?

GF: Urban.

R: Vintage or modern?

GF: Modern.

R: Biggie or Tupac?

GF: Pearl Jam. Always.

R: Warm weather or cold weather?

GF: Warm weather.

R: Early bird or night owl?

GF: Early bird.

R: Crossword or Sudoku?

GF: OMG... Angry Birds!

R: Breakfast or dinner?

GF: Dinner (or breakfast with champagne).

R: Batman or Superman?

GF: Spiderman.

R: Historical Non-fiction or SciFi/Fantasy?

GF: Historical Non-Fiction.

R: Comedy or drama?

GF: Comedy.

R: Truth or dare?

GF: Truth.

Image by Greg Finck

R: What song do you listen to to get pumped up?

GF: I’m a huge Pearl Jam fan (duh... they still exist) and listen to them constantly. Rearviewmirror really pumps me up. It’s a song full of meanings and signification to me.

R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?

GF: I’ve worked in an office for a corporate company for 10 years. That’s probably where I’d be right now if I weren’t a photographer. But OMG, I’d be bored!

R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?

GF: I’d be able to transport anywhere in a second. How cool would that be? And how much time would I gain in my travels? Oh and yes, no jetlag (jetlag kills me)!

R: What is your favorite word, and why?

GF: "C’est mythique" ("that is awesome"). I say that way too often. I guess it’s just a linguistic tic.