Please tell us about yourself as a person and as a photographer. Where did you grow up and what sparked your desire to photograph? Were you active with the photography department in high school? Where are you living now?
I can tell you, that I think I’m the luckiest guy on earth! I’m happily married, and I have one child who is a wonderful young man at the age of 14. I grew up in Newport Beach, CA where I developed my interest in photography. I was drawn to photography through the works of Ansel Adams. I taught myself the zone system and pursued creating the fine art silver print.
While attending high school, I participated in the school yearbook and school new paper as a photographer. I really enjoyed that experience, I just wish I knew what the hell I was doing.
I currently live in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, which is about 15 miles south of Denver.
Can you describe the defining moment or image that made you want to become a photographer?
I had a chance meeting one day with a well know professional photographer (Joe Baraban) and after spending a week working with him on an assignment, I knew that this was the life for me.
What was the first camera you ever owned and how did you come across it? Was it a hand-me-down, purchased at a garage sale, found on the side of the road?
My first camera was an “Kodak Instamatic 100”. I received it as a gift at the age of 8
What was your first paid photography job? Did you enjoy it? Were you scared? Did you make any mistakes?
My first job was shooting a model wearing a cowboy hat, holding 2 ski lift tickets. I was very scared! I made the mistake in shooting the assignment in my make-shift studio in my bedroom in the basement of the house I was living in. I should have rented a studio.
How did you decide to make photography more than a hobby? If photography is your full time job, how did you make that decision? What was your backup plan if the photography career didn’t take off? Any regrets? If you are not a full time photographer, what is stopping you? What is your full time job? Any plans to become a full time photographer in the future?
As I stated before, it wasn’t until I met Joe Baraban that I decided to make photography a full time job. I didn’t have a back-up plan if things didn’t work out. Starting a business is one of the hardest things you will ever do and also the most rewarding things you can do! I’ve been in business for 27 years with no regrets.
What was the last straw, the final decision maker to make you go digital? What do you miss about film?
I came to digital early. I bought my first digital SLR in 2000. My first camera was an Olympus 2500 CL. I had a huge file size of 2.3 Mega Pixels. I bought it to teach myself digital photography. I’m over film.
What is the hardest part of the job when shooting for a client? What is the hardest part of the job when shooting for yourself?
The hardest part about shooting for a client is shooting getting enough time to produce the quality images that they ask for or see in my portfolio.
The hardest part of shooting for myself is knowing when to stop. I tend to work it to much sometimes.
Do you try to help others learn about photography? If so, please explain how.
I educate others about photography through my blog, davidtejada.blogspot.com and through my lighting workshops “Small Strobes, Big Results”. I also teach at Santa Fe Workshops, Maine Media Workshops and for Nikonians Organization.
What and/or who inspires you in life and photography and why?
I get my inspiration from all sorts of things. Art work from the Masters, Photographers such as Jay Maisel and Arthur Meyerson. I love being up for sunrise and seeing sunset when ever possible.
Do you consider yourself an artist first before thinking about the job ahead of you?
I’m a commercial artist. I have a very good understanding of what clients need, and it is my artistic vision that brings their service or product to life. I am first and foremost trying to satisfy my own artistic desires with keeping my clients needs in mind.
What is the best advice you would give a photographer just starting out?
Don’t give up. If you are passionate about photography, have an eye, and you can’t imagine doing anything else for a living… I’d say go for it. This is a hard profession, but it is very rewarding.
The key to creativity is…
Being open to experimentation and being in touch with current trends in the visual markets.
What is your favorite camera that you have used or owned? What camera and lens combination do you use most of the time when photographing for a client? What about when photographing for yourself?
I’m a Nikon Pro Shooter. I currently use the D700 and D300. I use several lens on assignment, I use whichever lens I need to produce the desired effect for the given image I’m shooting. I have a fisheye, 14-24, 24-70, 80-200, 80-400, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.4, 300 f2.8.
What is your favorite time of day to shoot outdoors?
Pre-dawn, sunrise and sunset until dark.
How do you deal with rejection of your work, losing a job, not making a sale or a negative comment?
It doesn’t bother me anymore. After 27 years, I’ve had plenty of losses. Get over it!
Do you prefer RAW or JPG and why? If RAW, would you prefer a system that uses the DNG RAW format?
I shoot RAW.
How do you protect your camera when not in use? When traveling? When on the way to a job? What if it rains?
I carry it with me all the time. If I have to leave it anywhere, I use a PacSafe.
Do you clean the CCD yourself or send it away somewhere? If you send it away, where to and how much does it cost?
I do it myself.
What music sparks your creativity? Do you listen to that when shooting a job? Do you listen to music at all? Do you listen to what the client likes?
I enjoy Jazz. When a radio or iPod is around, I’ll listen to what ever the client likes. I’m easy.
What is your favorite band? Movie? Book? Museum? Website? Who is your favorite photographer? Artist?
Too many to mention.
What is your favorite photograph you’ve ever taken?
I can’t narrow it down to one.
What is your favorite photograph from another photographer?
Too many to choose from.
Is there something you always ask yourself or think just before you push the shutter button?
I look around the edges of the frame. Making sure there isn’t something that should not appear in the shot.
If you could take your art in any direction without fear of failure or rejection, where would it lead? What new thing would you try?
I am quite happy and comfortable where I’m at visually. However, experimentation with lights can lead you to new ways of seeing.
Thank you for reading the interview. This interview was presented to the photographer with questions asked by me and submissions from other photographers. The photographer is asked to answer only what he/she is comfortable with. If you would like to contribute to future interviews, please submit your your questions to me on Twitter, Facebook or on the Interview intro blog post, What would you ask a photographer?. Thank you for reading and enjoy the interview.