GEORGE KAMPER

Have a Look through GK's Lens

Shooting out West: A Personal Project

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Growing up in Brooklyn, New York and working in the heart of New York City at the age of 14, left me with a comfort zone being around people, the streets of NY and the intense pace of life in the city. I began my career working for my Mom at Nathan’s Famous on 43rd and Broadway in New York City. Traveling into the city after school and on weekends by bus and subway and walking up and down 42nd street to get to the bus terminal (prior to 42nd St. being sanitized) was eye opening for a 14 year old.  I’ve always loved observing and there was no better place to watch and document the world go by than New York City . I remember “borrowing” with my Dad’s Argus camera and returning it to its place before he’d get home.

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I’ve had a fascination with the West for years and have been seeking and creating opportunities to create personal work in that environment.

The West inspires me. I’ve lived in cities my entire life, so it’s a huge visual treat to be in such beautiful open territory. I suppose it’s a combination of the color palette, the light and the vast openness. I admire the life of cowboys and the connection they have with their horses. It’s kind of like the connection I have with my Harley on a road trip.

Shooting this type of personal project allows me to capture an inspired authenticity in the moment, I don’t project myself into the scene or direct. It’s inspiring to forget about everything else and become the lens for a few moments.

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The Tanque Verde Ranch Personal Project came together when I found out  that EQ Magazine, where I am the photography director, had been invited to come out to Arizona to attend  a press junket for a  couple  of days along with several other editors. I reached out to our Editor and requested to go along for the ride and they accepted. I was fortunate to have most of my expenses covered by the gracious folks at Tanque Verde, and I picked up my incidental travel and meal expenses.

Since I now had a dual role of producing images for the magazine as well as for myself, I decided to shoot my personal work early in the mornings before the group gathered for their first scheduled event.

 

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I approach my personal work and client work a little differently in that I take the “fly on the wall” approach to personal work and impose myself very little, versus directing and controlling my commercial work to guarantee the client comes away with what they need. Both approaches have treated me well, and I’m hoping more clients can appreciate the “Let’s get out there and see what transpires” approach.

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I post most of personal projects on Facebook, Instagram, Behance, Workbook, Tumblr, etc..  Every once in a while I’ll post a commercial gig.

I also submit my work to various blogs.

I’ve been fortunate that clients appreciate my personal work and refer to it

when discussing an assignment.

The Tanque Verde shoot took on it’s own life at EQ, as the editor and publisher decided to run a featured multi page gallery of my personal images in the magazine and the EQ Website. They also had a separate story that included images I shot for the editorial.

Tanque Verde Gallery (Assignment Images)

 

 

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Letter From the Editor

 

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To see more of George Kamper‘s West Images go here.

To see more of the Tanque Verde Ranch go here.

I also had the opportunity to shoot Equestrian Polo Star and Model Nic Roldan for the Cover and Inside Story of this seasons Equestrian Quarterly.

 

 

 

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Equestrian Quarterly  l  Spring 2015

To see more of George Kamper‘s Equestrian Images click here.

When Life Gives you Lemons, make sweet films.

See what George Kamper comes up with when he and his family are forced to leave their home the day after Thanksgiving.

George Kamper didn’t allow a full blown flood in his South Florida home and a forced move to a hotel for almost two months to stop him from turning a bad situation to his advantage.

“I couldn’t believe it when the plumber told us there was a broken pipe in the wall and that there was water seeping under our cherry hardwood floors the day after Thanksgiving!

Watching the restoration team come in and tear out huge sections of solid cherry flooring while others razor cut four foot sections of beautifully customized sponge painted  plaster walls,  was almost more then we could take.

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In the aftermath with floors torn up and glue exposed, the fumes were overwhelming and we started to feel sick. I approached the insurance adjuster and explained the situation, which allowed us to move to a hotel (Some additional negotiation was required to move to a resort on the water, in the height of the winter season, on Ft. Lauderdale’s beach). We were able to find a suite that could accommodate the family, (George, Sherryl and two kids-Nick and Alex), with the additional benefit of a killer view. The down side was that at the time, we were going to have to move out of the hotel the day before Christmas with nowhere to go and without having any improvement on the house.

What would any self respecting photographer do in this situation….

Shoot, shoot, shoot.

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“I was in awe of the view we had and thought stills were great, but I wanted to tell a story, I came up with two time-lapse pieces and several sunrise shots as well as a series of images around the hotel to use as trade for additional room time and credit at the Tiki Bar.

I’d run back to the house every morning and try to work by an open window, feed the cats, check on the status of the repairs, then get back to the hotel to make sure the family was good and hope to grab some shots.

On the weekends I’d set up the cameras before dawn and shoot.

Attached are the time-lapses from our stay in room 916 and a couple of photos of work in progress.

All in all, we’re thrilled with the videos as well as the final outcome of the new floors and walls at our home.

 

Beauty and the Reef with Photographer George Kamper


I’m often awed by personal projects my advertising photographer peers shoot.  I’ve seen fashion shooters display documentary images shot in Nicaragua, still life guys shoot action and sports at the Olympics…And often, I’m more enamored by their personal work.

Being an advertising photographer has been a wonderful journey for me throughout the years. I’ve been fortunate to travel around the world and meet some interesting people along the way.

I’ve been producing personal work since the beginning of my career. It’s especially rewarding to have the opportunity to produce images with my vision and the support of a great benefactor or client.

I’ve been a scuba diver, lifeguard, lover of swimming pools and the water ever since I can remember. I also love a good challenge and often, I’m the guy the agency calls when there’s a challenge that needs a creative approach and solution due to a difficult environment, logistics or tight budget.

A year or so ago, I came up with the idea to shoot some underwater imagery. Not of fish and coral, but of people, playing sports, fashion, or dancing. I hadn’t yet decided what the final scenarios might be, first I had to do my homework.

Shooting stills underwater sounds easy. Grab your Go Pro, jump in the ocean or pool, and there ya go!  Well, that may be  true for some, I wanted to shoot a story with higher quality, more thought out, with an awe factor that would leave people asking how were these done?  And, at the end of the day, I wanted to end up with a stunning and unique series of images!

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I faced several challenges, most importantly; I had to come up with an idea that hadn’t been overdone. Though I love long flowy fashion, and how it looks when shot underwater, it’s been done. I wanted my shots to be more than that.  I wanted the images to have an organic quality and not feel cliché’.

I came up with the idea to shoot underwater wrecks coupled with dancers, athletes, or to create a lifestyle situation on the wrecks with models. Once I came up with the general direction, I handled this shoot just like I do my advertising shoots. I began by doing extensive research, homework, and practice.

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First I had to learn to shoot underwater, with and without tanks and diving gear, in a pool and in the ocean. I needed to practice in the environment with camera housings that were new to me and of course, I needed a muse that would be willing to put up with me. As I do on most of my shoots in one capacity or another, I tapped my wife to pose for me and a neighbor to allow us to shoot in their pool. Here’s a couple of my “practice shots” utilizing my wife Sherryl, my always willing muse.

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Secondly, I had to come up with a way to gain access to underwater wrecks and procure the gear needed to shoot them. I also realized the wrecks were in water over 100’ deep in some instances. To prolong my dive time safely, I needed to get Nitrox certified along the way.

I wanted a great fashion stylist with access to interesting wardrobe and props. Both props and wardrobe would be subjected to saltwater or chlorine, which could potentially ruin them.

We needed great make up and hair and knew this would be a major factor to contend with, both for aesthetic and technical reasons.

Additionally, I needed talent that would be good with holding their breath, opening their eyes underwater and acting naturally while contending with being in the water for prolonged periods of time.

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After a year of homework, gathering the right gear, testing in pools and the ocean, I had the opportunity I’d been looking for.

I was asked by an editorial client if I’d be interested in photographing members of the Miami City Ballet for an editorial UNDERWATER. We had talked about doing an underwater fashion story in the past, but I wanted it to be more then girls swishing around in gowns.  I presented the publisher and editor with my idea and a couple of practice shots of my wife, combined with the wrecks. They loved the direction, and we were on!

I knew that the dancers could give me the right form I was looking for and that they are very disciplined with control of their bodies, but I had no idea if they could work in the water.

I followed up with them sending over a “How to Guide” to holding your breath for longer periods of time, and asked them to read up and practice.

The day of the shoot finally arrived, I had decided to shoot the wrecks prior to the dancers, keeping in mind how I would like to position the dancers in post. I decided that shooting the dancers in a pool in Miami, and editing them into the wrecks, would be the safest way of producing this. Additionally, we had a very small editorial budget to work with. Hiring all the support services I would need to get my dancers 100’ down and onto a wreck in the ocean, while safely posing, wasn’t the right approach in this instance. Even so, shooting around and under the water is not very forgiving. Every aspect has to be thought out as little mistakes can exponentially grow and become major issues.

Our shoot came off seamlessly. We used the sun as our main source throughout the day with strategically placed reflectors to maintain an organic consistent look to match what we were getting in the ocean on the wrecks.

I take my hat off to my retoucher Christine Craig, who is much more a partner in vision, than a retoucher. We’ve been working together for over five years, mostly over the shared networked internet tunnel we have created so we can each see what the other is working on in real time.  She’s lived in various locations around the northeast since she started as my intern in Miami and has since settled in SC. Christine had been excited by the idea of shooting underwater from day one. We did research and tests to come up with the best approach to match our vision. She’s the kind of girl that doesn’t give up easily and every time I challenged her, she exceeded my expectations. I’m lucky to have her and so are my clients.

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OVERALL BEST EQUESTRIAN MAGAZINE IN AMERICA

This past week at the American Horse Publication Awards Competition in Charleston, SC, EQ won first in 4 categories!

Equestrian Quarterly earned the Best in Excellence award in the category of publications with circulations of over 20,000 for the second consecutive year.” Equestrian Quarterly is absolutely striking,” the competition judges commented.

First Place for Best Cover-Photography by George Kamper

“Lyle Lovett cover from the winter issue caught the judges’ eyes as the standout for first place in Publication Cover Page with Circulation Over 20,000. George Kamper, EQ’s Director of Photography contributed the stunning portrait of the mega-star and reining enthusiast that the judges described as both gritty and gorgeous”.light2First Place for Event Coverage

Photographed by George Kamper “The cover montage is magnificent,” continued the judges. “The irregular cut out of the Palais against the black background literally smashes the boundaries. The eye swings around the page spiraling into the center.”hermes“Once again, we are overwhelmed by these honors,” said Equestrian Quarterly’s publisher, C.W. Medinger. “I have to thank our talented editors, Stephanie Peters and Jill Medinger and our director of photography, George Kamper for their incredible contributions to EQ.”

See the whole story: http://equestrianquarterly.com/american-horse-publications-recognizesequestrian-quarterly-with-multiple-awards/

 

Chasing the Light

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George Kamper recently spoke at a ASMP Chapter Event about his new approach to photography. Here is just a snapshot of what he had to say:

I was a product of the one and only perfect shot, angle and lighting in my advertising assignments. Now I’m going back to my roots; enhancing available light, utilizing the sun, shade, reflectors and shooting in much more of an editorial approach.

I’ve been utilizing my new approach to shooting for over a year now and its really starting to resonate with clients. I’ve refocused my skills; my approach to shooting and the way I use light. I like my lighting to feel organic and less artificial. I also like the idea that when utilizing available light I can move more fluidly around set. Reflectors and small handheld devices allow me to deliver more variety and capture more authentic moments. Without the huge crew and gear, moving in between locations is faster than ever. We can complete what may have taken a couple trailers, 20 people and 5 days to shoot in less then half the time.

It’s amazing how much freedom reveals itself when you’re only focused on your subjects and not all the stuff that’s slowing you down. I’m not saying I’ve forgotten or don’t want to light; I’m saying my lighting is a lot bigger (the sun) and not getting in the way. Don’t need all the typical lights, cables, stands and sandbags! I stay focused on what’s important and know how to make beautifully lit images without all that extra gear and the cost of having extra assistants on set. Our clients are saving big money and it creates a more intimate, less intimidating environment for our subjects. I will always have the 20 plus years of big lighting production experience, I’m just taking that knowledge and cutting out the middle man, passing the savings onto my clients and showing the world how beautiful available light can be when you know just how to tweak it.

 

My latest work is all done with wonderful clients, a great crew and light that is heaven sent.

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To view more of George Kamper’s new work CLICK HERE.

The Miami Biltmore Experience

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New York and Miami based lifestyle and travel photographer George Kamper was recently tapped to produce a photo library for the highly renowned Miami Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
Steeped in History, “The Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida does resemble the finest in classic Mediterranean architecture, it is neither an Italian palazzo nor Iberian castle. Instead it is the centerpiece of George Merrick’s vision of Coral Gables as an elegant, stately suburb, which he called “The City Beautiful.”

Here’s what George had to say about the experience:
We felt at home in this venue having photographed here on several occasions, including the Miami Tourism campaign, which focused on Miami as a sexy lifestyle destination in a Mediterranean setting.
The shoot was coordinated by the Hotel’s head of marketing and came off without a hitch! We worked together seamlessly. I am so impressed that Danielle was able to bring her prior experience as a model and coordinator to our shoot. Needless to say, having the Hotel coordinate the shoot could have been a little risky from a production and coordination point of view. Danielle has amazing taste and was able to cast models, coordinate wardrobe through their on site store, handle all the scheduling, as well as make great suggestions while on set!
“George is a gifted photographer with years of experience in fashion, lifestyle, travel, and tourism” said Danielle of their experience on the shoot.
“He has highly skilled technical abilities and a discerning eye. George is cool and calm, hard-working and relentless in his pursuit of a great shot and his client’s best interest”.
I brought in my crew, a digital tech, 2 assistants, and a great make up artist. The rest was left to Danielle.
Not only did they put us up in beautiful rooms and suites, but they allowed us access to the restaurants on site, the pool, and a little leisure time to catch our breaths at the end of the shoot. Some of the final shots came from our scouting and attending the sublime, “Sunday Brunch at the Biltmore”.

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New York Times 5.20.2014

We coordinated the final selects and retouching between Danielle, her agency and ourselves. Working in partnership with the Hotel, we could freely speak up and make suggestions, help select final images and make suggestions for crops and retouching.
We shot roughly 6 to 9 scenarios a day, mostly with talent. Began our days at daybreak and ended just after sunset. Almost all of the shots were lit with one portable flash, and reflectors. We’ve been working in a new way, usually finding the light instead of manufacturing it. This approach allows us the advantage of producing a variety of perspectives and allowing the shots to look more organic.
We had originally reviewed some loose layouts, but during the shoot we started with an idea, and ran with it. We shot everything from a heroic shot of grandfather and his grandkid on the famous Biltmore golf course at dawn, to kids underwater and a multigenerational family enjoying the grounds.

To see more of George Kamper’s The Miami Biltmore go to georgekamper.com

George Kamper captures “Lyle Lovett, the Renaissance Cowboy”

Photographer George Kamper‘s latest work inspires nostalgia of the Old West. Equestrian Quarterly asked George to shoot the supplementary images to an article on singer Lyle Lovett titled “Lyle Lovett, the Renaissance Cowboy of Texas.” George also received the title of Photography Director on the magazine masthead.

Here is what George had to say about the experience:

“I photographed Lyle for the Equestrian Quarterly cover and feature story in Katy, Texas. He was very gracious, warm and friendly. Lyle was competing in a “Reining” tournament so we would have to catch him between his rides to interview and do the shoot. I shot with available light and reflectors, taking time to source a few choice spots where I thought the light and backgrounds would be flattering and interesting. We ended up with several looks and had some great shots for the cover and feature.”

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This was also a feature on Workbook’s blog which can be seen here.

New Surf Series

This is a new surf series I shot over winter break. You can also view them at georgekamper.com

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