Your name: David Valera
City, Country: Los Angeles, California, USA
Website or Portfolio Site: http://davidvaleraphotography.zenfolio.com/p249590092
Preferred Social Network Account: https://www.facebook.com/davidvalera
What is your name?
David Patrick Valera
When did you begin listening to The Candid Frame?
Couple of years ago after I took my first street photography workshop and have been listening ever since.
How long have you been shooting and what inspired your interest in photography?
I've been shooting on and off most of my life. I was 6 years old when I had my first experience with a camera shooting my mom's Kodak Instamatic 44. I remember loving to expend the flash cubes, they looked so crystal clear and perfect, then after use, get all bubbly and distorted. It wasn’t till later I realized these little black boxes make pictures. Then I proceeded to take all the family vacation photos. I shot film throughout high school and college with my trusty Nikon FE2, taking a few classes here and there, spending countless hours in the darkroom developing B&W film. My first experience into digital photography was in 1994 when the Apple Quicktake 100 was introduced. I was so excited I had the ability to easily connect to my home computer and instantly, see the images I just took in all their 0.3 MP glory.
When my first child was born, I realized the numerous P&S cameras I had were not able to capture the unwillingness of the subject to sit still and pose. I know, how selfish of her. I decided to invested in my first DSLR, a Canon 20D and from there, my passion for photography became reignited. I consumed as many online photography websites and all the photo books I can get my hands on to learn as much I can technically as well as creatively. Back then, there certainly wasn't as much information available as there is today. YouTube content was still 6 years off from being conceived.
Do you have a preferred genre or specialty of photography? Why?
I’ve tried many genres of photography from, portraits to landscapes to weddings to studio editorial. I would definitely, dare to say, street photography is my preference and the purest form of photography I enjoy the most. I truly get excited and filled with childish amazement when I see a great street photograph captured. I wonder what was happening leading up to the split decision when the photographer decided to press the shutter and see all the elements come together in artistic harmony birthed from a world of absolute chaos. I equate this to the new genre of auto racing called drifting. The object is to get into a reckless, almost out of control situation but to control what you can takes loads preparation and years of experience to anticipate great moments. When I see a moment unfolding, everything seemingly slows down and the only thing that matters in the world is my eye, the camera and the framing. The end result is judged on the basis of style (approach and attitude) and final execution. When everything comes together, light/shadows, textures/shapes, compositional elements, etc - it’s nothing but synchronized magic. Being able to connect with the world in this manner, invigorates me with a sense of breath, a sense of life.
What subject matter, themes, ideas do you like to explore or inspire your photography? Why?
I see myself as more and opportunist and photograph whatever captures my eye. I gravitate towards people in public spaces going on with their daily lives. I'm in the process of reworking my website and hopefully start project based collections to help push me in a more disciplined process of photography. The newly found community and friendship of street photographers in L.A. has certainly allowed different avenues of inspiration I never would have thought of. For me, to keep things fresh and engaged, I have to keep learning and growing in new directions.
What creative or professional goals do you have for your photography?
I certainly don't feel like I'm quite there yet but I will pursue the possibility of publishing my own book on my experiences of the rejuvenation of downtown Los Angeles and how it is rebounding into a liveable, likable environment. Growing up in L.A., I used to call it No-Town, Downtown as it sat through decades of decline. Of course this type of change is coming at a cost to the thousands of displaced homeless and other individuals getting priced out of their once affordable housing.
Back to the book, I enjoy the tangible experience of perusing a collection of photographs in book form cover to cover. It’s like listening to an entire album from the first song to the last song. There may be great stand alone songs but the wholistic experience is greater than the simple sum of their parts. I think books are the best way to get the most out of a photograph and/or series of curated photographs other than being at a gallery exhibition.
Do you have an interesting story or anecdote for one of the images you have submitted in your portfolio?
“Peeper” is about a little kid who was running back and forth on the mezzanine level of a gymnasium making a nuisance of himself during my daughters orchestra recital. It wasn't till afterwards I downloaded the image and viewed it on screen that I realized he was wandering back and forth in a room clearly noted “girls locker room”. I think it expresses a sense of playfulness and an endearing moment of childhood innocence amusing himself from the evening’s seemingly torcherous event. “Peeper” was selected by the Los Angeles Times and featured in “SoCal Moments”. I had lots of people commenting on how pervy the little boy was and “what was I doing there in the first place with a camera” and he’s too young for that. Really people? I think if those were your first reactions to the photo, there are some personal guilt issues you need to work out for yourself.
Do you have any personal projects that you have or are working on that we would find of interest?
One project I am working on is titled “Shooting Newton”, a collaboration with the Newton Division of the LAPD located in South Central Los Angeles. The project came about with my participation in the “You Are Here 2” exhibition “Shoot A Cop” at the Think Tank Gallery earlier this year.
What is your favorite piece of equipment, software or accessory that makes a difference in your photography? Why?
Adobe Lightroom is definitely the most important tool I use for my photography. I'm not the best at organizing myself but LR forces one to keep your image library tidy and easy to find with folder collections, keyword tagging and metadata. Post processing is mostly done in LR and the modules are designed to streamline a photographers entire workflow.
What tip or suggestion has best helped your development as a photographer? Why?
Stop spending so much time behind the computer, go out and shoot. It's the “real life” experiences and connections that make us who we are, not gear review forums. Also, no matter where you are in your photography, whether you just picked up a camera or a veteran shooting for agencies such as Getty Images, there is always something new to learn. Keep informed and educate yourself everyday.
Which episode of The Candid Frame photography podcast would you recommend to others? Why?
I enjoy listening to Zack Arias Episode #197 and his general outlook on photography and life in general. Zack has a very practical approach to his business and willingness to be open with his mistakes and experiences. Zacks description of Jack White’s guitar performance (paraphrased) “there was something different, he played with such intensity and passion, it blew my mind.” “Jack’s playing isn’t clean or perfect or technical. He plays with cheap equipment and minimal gear but it has such soul, such grit and life.” I, myself, want that for my photography being organic and truthful with all its technical imperfections but has meaning and relevance. The real world isn’t perfect, but I hope my images provoke emotional responses and curiosity not just in photography, but in life.