Our member of the week is none other than the fearless Nick Schale of 29 Pixel Studios, LLC. This man bravely worked his way through every cosplayer at Planet Comicon not too long ago. What started as a fun hobby for him quickly turned into a flourishing career in capturing people at their very best, be it a couple’s wedding day or some cosplayer’s years of hard work.
What got you into photography and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve always been drawn to storytelling. Drawing as a kid, graphics and video in college, and then photography. After buying my first DSLR for a big vacation, I told my wife, “This will only be a hobby.” Seven years later… it’s a decent part of my business.
What is your favorite thing to photograph?
Honestly, it’s shooting people that are into it and who trust my abilities. When I say ‘into it’ what I mean is, wanting me there… wanting photographs created. Most often, this is weddings. I love capturing the story of the day. I love being part of such an important day in this couple’s life.
Why did you decide to photograph cosplayers?
I’m a geek at heart. In 2014, last year, I went to my first comicon and brought one camera, one lens… nothing else (this is a feat for me). I had a blast taking photos of cosplayers. The week after, I posted these photos and got some new friends out of the event. One asked if he could buy a shot I took of his kid. Apparently he did not get a good photo and the kid wanted one for his wall. I said, absolutely not, he could not buy it, he could have it! As long as I got a snapshot of it on the wall.
Browsing my new friends’ photos I saw many without ‘professional’ photography of their hard work and saw a need! I felt like I could be part of the cosplay universe by offering something I do have experience with.
What type of camera do you prefer to use?
I use a Canon 5D Mark III, prefer fast glass, 24-70mm f/2.8L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 50mm f/1.4, 100mm macro f/2.8L IS, 16-35mm f/2.8L II. Couple canon speedlites, cheap cowboy radio triggers and Paul C Buff white lightnings along with an Alien Bee.
It’s also important to realize, it’s just a tool. I don’t care what hammer the architect used to build my house or the brand of pots/pans the chef uses when I go to a nice restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a gear hound, and some of this stuff is important when dealing with low light, or tight spaces… but it’s important to not get caught up in the noise, ‘this new camera is coming out, so your current camera is now useless.’
What is your editing program of choice?
Here is where I am a fanboy. For my business the Creative Cloud is the ONLY way to go. Too much goodness in there. I’m an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Photoshop and Illustrator (which means NOOOTHHHING except that I passed a ridiculous test) so my photos stay in Photoshop (CameraRAW). I do however recommend to every photographer asking which program Lightroom. Remember that Photoshop has been around long before digital photography, Lightroom was built FOR photographers.
What is the best advice you’d give someone who wants to get into photography?
Never, ever, stop learning. Learn to to identify constructive criticism and ignore the rest. People are quick to offer negative feedback to make themselves feel big and strong, often they forget at one time, they were shooting on full auto. If you are getting into it on the professional side, manage expectations. And most of all, have fun.
Have you considered cosplaying?
There is a strong reason I don’t. I have an addictive personality and have a strong feeling that this universe would consume me. This way, as a photographer, I can still ‘play’ with you guys! If I did… Boba Fett, Imperial Guard, Joker (one Halloween I did), oh… and of course Dr. Algernop Krieger.
What are your other interests?
I married the smartest most amazing person I could find and we have three year old twins, and they are such great kids. As a family, travel and just spending time together is our top interest. The other half of my creative world is Video/Film/Cinematography (I created and manage KCVideoCore). Also consuming movies. I really enjoy running my business 29 Pixel Studios, moved from part-time freelancing to full-time entrepreneur about two years ago. Reading business/self-improvement/technical books, and every 10th book is normally for pleasure. I love helping those that are at an earlier point in their photography careers.
If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
Hmm… Fett wouldn’t open up and remain a mystery, respect. Venom probably wouldn’t let me try him on…
I’m going to go with Tyler Durden. Maybe after a dinner conversation I will learn how to “Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO!”