Richard Photo Lab

Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Pete Halvorsen

Look who's in the limelight... it's Pete Halvorsen! Pete is a commercial and travel photographer, mixing his love of photography with his love for humanity and the environment. His breathtaking imagery gets him noticed around the world, with his Instagram feed earning praise from publications including Business Insider, Buzzfeed, Elle Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Grab a snack, get comfy, and get to know Pete with us!

Richard Photo Lab: What first sparked your passion for photography?

Pete Halvorsen: While getting my film degree, I became more interested in the still frame and the exciting challenge of telling that story without movement. Like many photographers, the logical next step is to use your dad or granddad's film camera. So, the Minolta SR7 became my weapon of choice; it was already "educated", having traveled with my dad on his tour in Vietnam in 1966. Living in Los Angeles presented me with a target rich environment. Having a background in the entertainment industry made the crossover easier. A number of those relationships turned into clients once I started shooting professionally. They were people who already trusted me as a person and now they had a reason to trust me as a photographer.

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?

PH: I was encouraged to pursue photography as a profession by friends who had been in the industry. I respected their opinion and when they said they had faith I could succeed, I believed them. When I started, I remember the first few times I introduced myself as a photographer... it still brings a smile to my face that I do this for a living.

Image by Pete Halvorsen

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

PH: The beach. I was told when starting out, "shoot what you know, what you love". I haven't stopped. I also enjoy taking candids of my kids; once you've worked with kids..."difficult" talent on set is easy.

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

PH: Social media has been a big bonus for me in this area. I feel that mediums like Instagram, Flickr, 500px, etc. allow creative professionals to not only shoot passion projects but have an audience for them. It also has blurred the line between that balance; some people in that audience are the same people who will hire you for future jobs..

R: What is your favorite camera?

PH: While I love my Mamiya RZ67, I have to go back to the "Dad Story" and the special feeling of using the same camera your father used. Photography is art to me, and the relationship to your tools is an important part of the process.

Image by Pete Halvorsen

R: What is your favorite type of environment to shoot and why?

PH: Villages in rural areas. There are so many stories to be told, from the young child excited to see themselves on your camera display to the old chief who has earned every wrinkle on his face. I love the unpredictability of this type of shooting. You throw the game plan out pretty quickly, but it's exciting dealing with all different types of personalities and conditions.

R: What are some of the environmental causes you're involved in?

PH: I've worked with many local initiatives through awareness campaigns. I held a Beach Cleanup in Manhattan Beach, as well as an InstaMeet for Earth Hour. I recently teamed up with Finlandia Vodka shooting content for them and their #4PureWater campaign. I'm a strong supporter of Heal The Bay and pretty much anyone who wants to keep our oceans clean and habitat thriving.

Image by Pete Halvorsen

R: Why do you think it's important for photogs to print their work?

PH: Because until we all have the new 40 inch iPhone+++, you can't truly appreciate the image on these tiny screens. There is a historic quality to printing an image, as well, removing the lines of code and pixels which make up the image we see on screen. The feeling of signing a print is also a great moment, even if you're just giving it to Mom for her birthday.

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

PH: I have about 10 of my favorite images in an album on my phone. They range from landscapes, still life, fashion, and action sports. But, each image is a piece of what inspires me to shoot. I'll take a moment and flip through the images, let that just sink in.

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

PH: Sweet.

R: Dogs or cats?

PH: Kids.

R: Vintage or modern?

PH: Vintage.

R: Biggie or Tupac?

PH: Tupac.

R: Warm weather or cold weather?

PH: Warm weather.

R: Early bird or night owl?

PH: Night owl.

R: Crossword or Sudoku?

PH: Crossword.

R: Chocolate or vanilla?

PH: Vanilla.

R: Urban or rural?

PH: Rural.

R: Breakfast or dinner?

PH: Dinner.

R: Batman or Superman?

PH: Batman.

R: Historical Non-fiction or SciFi/Fantasy?

PH: Historical Non-Fiction.

R: Comedy or drama?

PH: Drama.

R: Truth or dare?

PH: Truth.

Image by Pete Halvorsen

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

PH: Roar, by Katy Perry. (This is just between us, right?)

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

PH: 2nd baseman for the World Champion San Franciso Giants.

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

PH: I would have the power to absorb all the other super heros' powers, leaving me as the ultimate and only super hero in the universe.

R: What is your favorite word, and why?

PH: "Rad". Because it sums up life in one syllable. Also because it sounds cool.