PHOTOHYPE: The most influential names in the photography world - Interview with Tom Medvedich

TH - First off can we get a quick bio? Name, Occupation, Age, Home Base.

TOM - My name is Tom Medvedich. I'm a photographer based in NYC and I'm 29 years old.

TH - What was the one thing that sparked your interest in photography?

TOM - When I was a kid, I really liked the idea of capturing something the way I saw it in my head. I took a photo class, failed it, and then took it again a couple years later.

TH - Do you remember what your first camera was and what do you use now as your main setup?

TOM - The first camera I used was what my high school supplied us
with- it was some Minolta from the 70's or 80's. They were really old, but really solid. They definitely don't make them like that anymore. I got a Canon Elan 7 when I shipped off to photo school in California and I was a ride or die Canon guy for a long time. I had a 20D, 10D, 5D i, ii, and iii. I recently switched over to Nikon with the D800 because I was looking for a sharper image and better quality images in general. I really love it. It's a great compromise between getting near medium format quality and not spending a fortune on a camera setup.

TH - How long have you been in the Photography business?

TOM - I shot my first magazine job in 2005 while I was in school and I continued to shoot little things here and there while I was assisting for a few years after I graduated. I started to really make the transition to shooting full time in 2009 and then in 2010 I was shooting 100%. It doesn't seem like a long time on paper, but there have been plenty of long nights and carrying heavy equipment in these past few years.

TH - Name one thing you love the most and hate the most about working in the Photography business.

TOM - Luckily there's a lot of things I love and not many things I hate about the business, or I'd probably be doing something else with my life. I think one of the main reasons photography appealed to me as a career path was the freedom to choose your work and ultimately control your schedule and your life. That's not true for many careers. I'm in a great place now where I love all of my clients and I can shoot only the jobs that I'm interested in taking on. The only downside to having your own business is that it's all consuming. I see my friends getting home from work and they can turn their brain off and relax for a few hours before bed. It's hard to not envy that. My schedule is a little different because I work while I eat breakfast, then I'm on a job for 10 hours, then I work when I get home until I go to bed. Luckily I'm a workaholic.

TH - Your client list looks like a compilation of the Fortune 500 list, Looking back can you pinpoint one brand that you have worked with that you still pinch yourself about?

TOM - Over the course of my short career, I've been really fortunate to have a lot of great opportunities. It's not one specific brand or job that makes me feel like that, though. I've met some really great people in the business (including my fiance) and traveled to some amazing places. I really wake up feeling lucky every day, no matter how tired I am.

TH - The celebrities both in the sports and entertainment world you have worked with seem to be a who's who of anyone that makes a lasting impact on their specific genre. From Blake Griffin, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony to Rick Ross, Pharrell Williams, Spike Lee and Busta Rhymes just to name a few. Do you have any behind the scenes stories you can share when working with these greats?

TOM - There's almost always a story when you shoot someone who's a public figure. Spike was funny– we had just brought the gear into his office. We didn't even really have our jackets off yet and he stood under the light and said "You're ready, right?" So even though we weren't totally ready, we just started shooting since the lights were at least in the right place. I got about 35 frames in 4 1/2 minutes. I love those shots.

Rick Ross is always a character. I've shot him a few times and I've always left with a story for sure. The latest time was for a magazine called Kings of the Game that Reebok did with SLAM and XXL. We were shooting him with Swizz and Tyga and everyone was goofing around and having a good time. Ross was dancing around with a fox fur around his neck and pretending to walk it like a dog.

TH - Do you have any other public figures you are dying to work with in the future?

TOM - I guess everyone's got their wishlist. I would love to shoot Jony Ive because I'm a huge Apple fan. I think it would be amazing to have that portrait under my belt. He's a person that's really shaped the technological landscape for this period in time. Richard Branson is a really inspirational guy. It would be great to shoot him on his island. Chris Rock is one of the funniest people to walk the Earth, so that would be incredible. There's a lot of business personalities that I'm interested in shooting. I feel like my people work will move towards that in the future.

I've also got my still life wishlist. I'd love shooting jewelry and watches, so I'd love to work with giants like Rolex and Cartier because their products are so precise and amazing. There's tons of other companies I'd really love to shoot for, but those two are definitely at the top of my list. I'm just getting started with my career so who knows where it'll take me. I'm enjoying the journey.

TH - If you would have to choose between shooting product shots for high profile brands or working with your celebrity clientele which would you pick?

TOM - Although I lean way more to the still life side of photography, I love shooting people. Each has it's pros and cons. I learned so much when I came up assisting on car shoots and I will forever be a still life guy in my photographic soul (whoa, I know). I love being able to get really technical and control light on a product to get it super dialed in. On the other hand, I love setting up some lights and capturing a subject's expression and body language to tell a story.

For a long time, the older guys I worked with told me I was crazy and that I would never be able to shoot both still life and people at the same time in my career. I always thought that was an old school way of thinking and that if I could prove that I was capable of doing both well, then people would hire me regardless. So far it's working out well and I have a comfortable balance between the two.

TH - You have a special gift of being able to jump from one category of photography to another and still be
able to keep that high quality look and feel regardless if it shooting still products or capturing the true essence of the person you are working with. Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring and up and coming photographers out there?

TOM - Thank you, I appreciate that. The best advice I can give is to find out what you like and run with it. Make mistakes, try new things, see what works for you. When you get into something, you really explore it and keep doing it, and you will get better and better. Also– get good at writing emails. Photography is more than just taking pictures. That's the easy part.

You will have to negotiate contracts, email people all day every day, and do that all while being "a creative". Also, stay in touch with the people you like on jobs. People move around and that's how opportunities pop up. My motto is simple and effective; Work hard and be nice to people. That's really what it comes down to.

TH - Who was your main influence coming up in the photography world?

TOM - I really love Avedon's work. His black and white portraits are just unreal. I love Boogie's work. He's still around, still killing it. I love Weegee, too. He was a real pioneer. If anyone out there wants to be inspired to shoot, check out those three guys and you'll be shooting before you know it.

TH - Any future projects you can hint at that you have on the horizon?

TOM - I just recently shot a couple of cars in LA for Gilt Groupe that they collaborated on with Infiniti, Thom Browne, and Zac Posen. That was an incredible project and we had a great time on that one. I also just did another job with Reebok that I'm really happy with. I can't say anything else about it at the moment, but I'll be sure to put the images on my site, blog, and social outlets when I'm able to show them. As for what's on the horizon, there's always something up my sleeve, so stay tuned because I've got a dope project I'm cooking up.

TH - Where can everyone reach you on social media and contact your for work?

TOM - You can catch me on Instagram and Twitter: @tommedvedich and tommedvedich.com

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