Wayne Simpson Profile
After a long hiatus, we are continuing our photographer profiles here on Canon Rumors. I always find it great meeting photographers that are living the dream of doing what they love for a living.
I met Wayne and his wife last summer when he was visiting my area of Ontario. He, his wife and soon to arrive child will be leaving the Calgary, Alberta area and setting up shop here in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario. I had seen his work previous to meeting him and always thought he was a great photographer. I am looking forward to heading out and shooting the wonderful shorelines in the area and helping him any way I can to build his wedding photography business in Southern Ontario.
Wayne is both a wedding photographer and a landscape & nature photographer. Earning a living in either requires a lot of work, dedication and know-how. Most importantly, I think you have to love doing it.
Main Website: www.waynesimpsonphotography.com
Nature Website: www.wsimpsonphoto.com
Email: info [at] waynesimpsonphotography.com
Wayne will be serving the Southern Ontario area, Collingwood, Owen Sound, Kitchener, Waterloo, Toronto & Guelph.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Okay, I’ll try to keep this short! I’m a self taught photographer who grew up in Kettle Point & Lindsay, Ontario. I come from a graphic design background which has helped me a lot in my photography and my marketing. I married the love of my life (and accountant) in 2007. My wife Candice and I often work together to shoot weddings and portraits. When I’m not photographing people, I love to shoot landscapes. We have lived in Calgary, Alberta for about 10 years but will call Owen Sound, Ontario home again in the spring of 2013.
When did you first pick up a camera?
I would say I was about 12 or so. I don’t know what camera it was but I remember I was hooked right away! I ran around the house firing that thing like crazy! I think the film got too expensive so my parents eventually cut me off!
What was your first digital camera
My first digital camera was a Sony F707. It was a really weird camera now that I think of it!
Do you ever shoot film?
Nope. When I got to be serious about photography I was working as a graphic designer and needed the photos to work into my projects quickly – digital was perfect for that.
List 3 photographers you admire – past and/or present.
Darwin Wiggett, Joey L., and Michael Levin
Any formal education in photography or business
Nope, no formal training at all. I started out working as a graphic designer for an energy company and basically learned under fire when they asked me to start photographing the CEO at events! Eventually I did very little graphic design and I was the corporate photographer as well as the CEO’s personal photographer. There was lots of pressure to learn fast in many challenging situations. I bought my gear gradually while working with the company’s gear and started my own business once I had everything I needed.
Are there any books or web sites that helped you learn?
I have learned from countless places, but here are a few of the main ones:
If you weren’t a professional photographer, what would you like to be doing?
I would “like” to be an artist… but I’m not sure anyone would buy my paintings!
EF 85 1.2 II… that thing is pure magic!
What's in your bag on any given Saturday?
Well, Saturday is usually a wedding day so there would be lots in my bag! Here are the main items:
- EOS 1D X
- EOS 5D Mark II (and a second EOS 5D Mark II for my second shooter)
- EF 17-40 f4L
- EF 24-70 f/2.8L II
- EF 50 1.2L
- EF 70-200 2.8L IS II
- EF 85 1.2 II
- EF 100 2.8L IS Macro
- 580 EX II flashes (x4) and other various lighting and modifiers.
What does your computer & software workflow consist of?
I keep things pretty simple… I’m a simple guy! I work on a Mac Pro using Bridge to sort and Photoshop to process the files from raw to finish. That being said, I am considering integrating Lightroom into my workflow.
If someone gave you $3000 today to spend on photography equipment, what would you buy?
I would use the money towards another Elinchrom Ranger. More lights = more fun!
Besides your camera, what is a must-have at each session?
My Elinchrom Ranger and Deep Octa. Although I can do a session with just a reflector, I love to give my clients some more dramatic well-lit shots as well.
Which is your most-used lens?
I would say my 70-200 2.8 IS II is used most. That lens is great for portraits and candid shots. The image stabilizing is crazy good and always amazes me!
Is photography your only means to an income?
Yes, photography is all I do! I feel naked when I don’t have my camera!
Do you do destination weddings?
I haven’t done a destination wedding yet, but would be open to doing them.
Where's the coolest place you've ever shot?
I would say that the coolest place I have shot was in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. I did some shots of a bride and groom way back in a field on a hilltop overlooking the valley with the mountains in the distance. There were rolling green hills as far as the eye could see and elk and bear in the distance on the hillsides. I’m not a very religious person, but I felt like I was standing in heaven – I have literally dreamed of this place! It’s not very often that you see a place in your dreams and then find yourself standing in that place!
Best business decision you've ever made?
I married an accountant!
Do you have any employees?
No, not at the moment. My wife shoots with me most of the time, but once in a while I will hire a second shooter when she is unable to help. In the next couple of years I can see maybe needing an employee.
Do you outsource any part of your wedding business?
The only thing I outsource is album design. Coming from a graphic design background I would end up investing far too much time so I distance myself from the design process. Our album company does a far better job of designing albums than I ever could!
Do you spend money on marketing?
Yes, we do some online marketing, however word of mouth is the largest source of work for us.
Wedding photography is a very saturated market, how do you differentiate yourself?
Yes, it is really hard to differentiate yourself as a photographer these days. I feel that my photographic style is what sets me apart from other shooters. My work has been described as “evocative and stirring” which I think is a great compliment. I like to create shots that communicate mood, emotion and a sense of place. I think this is achieved through strong composition, interesting light, and using natural surroundings effectively. The same things apply to my landscape work – I feel this explains why the two go together so well.
One piece of advice you'd give to aspiring professional photographer.
Respect the photographers who came before you and learn from them. You can adapt what you learn to your own style and that will make you a stronger photographer in the end.
What's the most important thing in getting a good landscape photograph?
For me, the most important thing is the quality of light, with a strong composition being a close second. Some of the best images are those with great light creating an interesting mood.
Who are your landscape photography inspirations?
I gain inspiration from lots of great photographers, but the main ones that come to mind are Darwin Wiggett, Guy Tal, Ian Plant, Samantha Chrysanthou, and Michael Levin.
Biggest mistake aspiring landscape photographers make?
Following other photographer’s work too closely and not be true to their own vision. It’s great to gain inspiration from others, but I think it’s important to apply that inspiration to the way you see the world.
What lenses do you use to shoot landscapes with most often?
At the moment, I use my Canon 17-40 f4 for about 75% of my landscape work. Other than that I use the 24-70 2.8 II and 70-200 2.8 II for most of the rest. I only use my 100 2.8 IS Macro once in a while but I’m trying to use it more to add some macro to my portfolio.
Do you use filters when shooting landscapes?
Yes, I still use filters. Some people argue that you don’t need filters now that we have Photoshop, but that’s simply not true. Filters are a must if you want to be creative. For example, you can’t do a 30 second exposure in mid day if you don’t use a neutral density filter, and you can’t show rocks under water if you don’t use a polarizing filter to cut the reflection. Sometimes I will blend exposures for dynamic range instead of using a graduated neutral density filter, but that’s only when I’m in a hurry or the weather conditions make it too difficult to use the filter. I prefer to get it right in-camera as often as possible.
Favourite brand of filters?
I like Lee Filters the best. Singh Ray is also pretty good.
What tripod/ballhead do you use?
I use a Gitzo 3541 XLS with a Really Right Stuff BH 55LR ball head. I have also added my “Swivel-Pro cable release hang-o-matic rotating de-tangleizer (patent pending). I had a cheap Manfrotto setup for a few years and that worked okay for the most part, but this setup rocks!
Do you sell prints?
I do sell the odd print, but print sales are a very, very small part of my income. People love to look at landscape photos… but prints don’t sell as much as you might think. This is common with other landscape photographers I talk to.
Do you sell any landscape photographs for stock?
Yes, stock sales are where I make most of my earnings from landscape shooting. I’m not getting rich by any means, but it’s a nice addition to my main business of “people photography”.
When you move to Ontario will you go out shooting landscapes with me?
I was going to ask you the same! You bet!
Name one public figure you would like to take a portrait of?
I would say Johnny Depp because he is a cool guy and a little off-the-wall.
I’ve learned the most from…
Trial and error!
Something you’re still learning?
What am I not still learning? Every day is a learning experience and that is what keeps me going!
What is your greatest photographic fear?
Sharp sticks at eye level!
Something photographic that is overrated?
That processing style where one thing is colour and the rest of the image is black and white… I can’t take it anymore!
Something photographic you’re saving up for?
Okay, here is the list:
- EF 300 f/2.8L IS II
- TS-E 24 f/3.5L II
- EF 14-24 2.8L … if it ever comes!
- More Elinchrom lighting
Biggest Photographic Pet Peeve
Crooked horizons and cartoonish HDR photos!
Your favourite film (movie) of all time?
“What Dreams May Come”… I dunno, call me weird!
Kings of Leon and Zac Brown Band.
Beer… and maybe salmon!
Favourite sports team?
I’m not a huge sports guy, but I do get into the odd Flames game… when there isn’t a lockout!
Favourite part of shooting weddings?
The unpredictability… it’s also my least favourite part of shooting weddings!
Do you drink scotch? (I'm always interested in new whiskey buddies)
Yes! Whiskey in general is my second favourite food (next to beer)!
If someone said ‘how can I be the next ‘Wayne Simpson?’ What would you say?
That’s a funny question because I’m still not comfortable being me! I’m constantly looking at my work and feeling that I could do better. So, I guess I would say to never settle for what you have done, but rather think about what you could do better next time. It’s not always an easy way to think, but it’s a sure way to constantly improve!
Thanks to Wayne for taking the time to answer our questions. I'm definitely looking forward to going out and shooting in the spring!