In lieu of our newest collection launching we wanted to take a moment to get to know REFINED Co’s newest partner and friend. It has been a wonderful journey getting to know Tec over the last couple of years and learning his work from the inside out. A beautiful partnership evolved, and in turn our first Kodak Portra inspired editing collection.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background and what led you to photography?
Currently, I live in Nashville with my wife, Chelsea, and two young children, Pax and Lake. I grew up in Northern Michigan and we try to get back as often as possible. My love for photography developed when I was traveling through India and Nepal when I was 18. Before the trip, my parents gave me a 35mm camera and I shot exclusively with it throughout the trip. This experience allowed me to fall in love with the art and I knew it was what I wanted to pursue. I came back home for school and quickly realized it wasn’t my thing. A few colleges and some student debt later, I decided to move to Nashville to intern with photographers I admired. I assisted seasoned photographers for a couple of years and then began branching out on my own. I started in the commercial photography world of music and slowly moved into weddings, while also keeping my commercial clients. To this day, I still keep a balance of wedding and commercial photography, though my commercial work has veered into lifestyle, editorial, and travel photography.
What are your go-to gear, film, and editing tools?
My go-to camera is—of course—my iPhone since it’s always with me. When I’m shooting my kids, I love having my Polaroid i-Type handy. For weddings and commercial jobs, I bring along my Contax 645 as well as my Fuji GFX and Leica Q. I try to keep it as simple as possible without bringing too much gear with me.
When it comes to editing, I typically wait until my film is back from Richard Photo Lab before starting the digital editing process. Then I organize both the digital and film and send it off to Refined Co., who color matches the digital to my film. I then go through the job to make sure everything is buttoned up and ready for the client to see.
When starting out as a film photographer what led you to choose Kodak over Fuji?
I’ve always been partial to the look and feel of Kodak film. I love the warmth and contrast it brings to the image and the realness it produces is something I’ve never been able to capture with other brands.
Do you have a photography muse or favorite thing to photograph?
I love working with people, so I’d say portraits are one of my favorite things to shoot. I think that’s another reason why weddings and I just click—it’s a day full of people, and people that are excited and anticipating this huge, life-altering moment that I’m there to capture. It can really be a day full of all the best things: love, joy, and goodness.
How did you creatively adapt during the pandemic stay-at-home orders?
After being in lock-down for about three weeks, I realized that we needed a visual reminder of what we were doing, how we were living, and what we were sacrificing for the greater good. I offered contact-free portraits, wherein I drove through different neighborhoods in Nashville and photographed couples using a drone, from the distance of my car, on their front porch or lawn. After photographing about 70 families this way, we were able to donate 100% of the proceeds to the Caregiver Support Fund at Vanderbilt. These will always be some of my favorite portraits because of the story they tell. I’m hopeful they’re used by the families I photographed to jog their memory when they’re asked about this past year in another forty or fifty years.
What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?
Delivering the final images of a wedding to the client is always such a joy. Knowing that these photographs are the ones they’ll pass around for generations is such an honor and one that I don’t take lightly. I think the combination of this responsibility and reward is another thing that keeps me engaged and loving the job of shooting weddings.
If you were to teach your younger photographer self one thing, what would it be?
As soon as you can, hire your weakness. Over the years my biggest headache has been finding the right accountant. I truly believe it’s vital from the beginning to have someone you can trust with your best financial interest in mind, and someone who wants to see you grow and prosper.
What led you to connect with REFINED’s founder Marta Locklear for editing assistance and eventually collaborate together?
My workflow has always included digital files and in the last few years (as cameras have gotten better) I’ve started to shoot more digital. That led me to find an editor because one of my weaknesses is editing and sitting behind a computer for hours. I was introduced to Marta through KT Merry and I’ve never looked back! She now does all of my editing and I couldn’t imagine this job without her.
What is your best post-processing tip?
I guess this is another “hire your weakness” tip. Editing and post-process work isn’t my favorite thing to do, so my tip is to hire it out. Ha! But if you don’t mind that area of the job, find a preset or editor that will keep the entirety of your work consistent; keeping the visual flow of a day seamless is imperative to being able to present work that’s predictable, in a good way. If I’m shooting both film and digital on a job, I want to be able to show the whole day and the film and digital be able to sit side-by-side and work together to tell the story—not be a distraction if they look so drastically different from one another.
2021 goals and inspirations?
I want to shoot more passion projects: unpaid, just-for-the-fun-of-it shoots. I’m trying to carve out time to do at least ten this year. I’ve done two so far, so help keep me accountable!