Hi Tony, Welcome to 121 Clicks. Please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in Photography?
Thanks! I’m glad to be here. I’m Tony Hoffer and I live in the Philadelphia suburbs with my wife (and business partner) Amy. Together, and with a few others, we make up Hoffer Photography. About 5 years ago, we were both working 9-5 jobs and both of our mothers started volunteering me to shoot photos for a few people. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but the work came out well enough to keep going. In 2007 I shot my first wedding, with Amy’s assistance. Within a little over a year I left my job to pursue photography full time and Amy followed shortly after that.
From Hoffer Photography you are providing Personal, Commercial and Wedding Services. How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of feel do you try and create in your photos?
I think most people would describe our work as fresh, crisp and fun. Our first goal is always to reflect the clients that we’re shooting for. There are a lot of tremendous photographers with such creative vision that they can rely on themselves for amazing pieces of art. I’m not one of them. We rely a lot more on our clients. We try to listen a lot. Our goal is for them to get what they want, but to be better than they expected. So in a sense our vision is really molded by the vision of our clients.
At the same time, I think it’s incredibly important to be photographically sound. With things like Instagram and the ease of digital processing, so many photos have ceased have photographic merit in exchange for what’s trendy. I think there’s a way to make art that’s traditionally sound without being boring… and that’s sort of my goal.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
There’s no doubt that shooting 150 times a year is a stress on creativity. It’s really important for us to make sure we’re taking on the right projects and the right clients. By doing that, we can rely more on them and their uniqueness rather than trying to create a completely new vision every other day. Aside from that, seeing something new is always invigorating for us, so traveling and shooting in new places helps keep our mind fresh.
When you get an idea in your head for a photo, how do you go about getting that shot?
It depends on the idea. With people, our primary goal is making sure that they’re enjoying themselves. So if we’re going to throw out a crazy idea, it has to fit into the shoot and make sense. Either that or we have to be really good at talking them into our ideas. So, one of those two usually happens.
Mostly you are working with people, what is the secret behind to get a good expression or pose from them?
Great question. The secret to getting good expressions from clients is having the personality to bring those expressions out. Often times people think that photographers get lucky by having really expressive clients… but that’s mostly not true. It’s the photographer’s responsibility to get the expression he wants, and the best photographers have the personality to pull it off.
Before you start a shoot, how will you prepare yourself?
Sometimes I’ll look through photos online, listen to music or just daydream for a while. For me, the best preparation is really just getting into the right mindset. If I can make myself feel creative, then I feel the best going into the shoot.
Can you please describe the process behind your photograph, which are Concept, Location, Capture and Post Processing?
For the overwhelming majority of our work, the concept and location are left up to our clients. We gladly will chime in if they want us to, but we like for people to tell us where to go. It’s a challenge for us to be able to work in any environment.
Once we’re shooting, our main goal is to get everything right in camera. We want the camera’s LCD to look as much like a finished product as possible. That helps us eliminate time in Lightroom and spend more time shooting.
What is your first paid assignment and what is your most memorable assignment?
My first paid gig was shooting senior photos for a coworker of my mom. I got ‘hired’ then went on Google and furiously attempted to make a price list and figure out what in the world to do. It was a pretty hilarious way to start a business.
Our most memorable assignment so far was probably shooting in Germany for an engagement session this past year. It was such a fun experience to have a completely blank canvas. The day I’ll always remember is when we hopped on a train in Munich and started traveling towards the Alps. There was a train stop in the middle of nowhere and we got out and just started walking the countryside looking for places to shoot. It was pretty amazing.
When you make Wedding Albums and Photo Canvas, what are the most important things will you consider in printing?
I think the most important aspect of albums is letting the photos shine. We love to use lots of big photos and really showcase the work as much as possible. We have reliable printers and album binders, so we don’t have to worry too much about quality control.
What type of camera, lenses and lighting equipment do you use?
We have a few Canon 5D Mark II’s and a Canon 5D and I have a Fuji x100 that we use for personal work occasionally. We have almost exclusively prime lenses from Canon and Sigma and a bunch of light modifiers. Our primary lighting rig includes Einsteins, Vagabond Mini’s and speedlights, which we choose depending on the job and how strong we feel that day.
Your main focus is Wedding Photography. Is this a big part of your business and who are your clients? For somebody wants to get into this area of photography what are your suggestions?
Our clients are people who are generally very laid back and fun. For them photography is a big priority for their wedding. We get really lucky in that most of our clients are very in love and we don’t have to deal with many difficult grooms. Increasingly, many of our clients are located all over the U.S. and abroad.
My advice to any budding photographer is to make a business plan and approach photography as a legit business. There are SO many people trying to be photographers now. Having a good vision and being artistic isn’t good enough any more. It may have been 5 years ago, but it’s not anymore. Run your photography like a business and you’ll have much better odds of making it.
List of your Favorite Photographers here and why you like their work?
- One of my favorite photographers at the moment is Nick Brandt. He shoots African wildlife, but I learn so much from his compositions.
- I really admire a lot of fashion photographers: Ben Kanarek, Mario Sorrenti and Chris Davis to name a few.
- My favorite wedding photographer is Ben Chrisman. I saw Ben’s work years ago and his work always ignites my spirit for my job.
If you could go on assignment anywhere in the world to shoot whatever you wanted; where and what would it be, and why?
We’re doing it! This winter we’re going to Kenya to shoot for eduKenya, an amazing organization that we’ve been supporting and following since it’s inception. We can’t wait…
2nd to that, we’d love to shoot in some place where you can’t get to unless you know someone. Somewhere that few eyes have ever seen before. I’d love to take a couple to the cliffs of Ethiopia or the waters of New Zealand.
I realize that each photographer has love with particular subject such as Landscapes, Nature, Portraits, etc. Other than Wedding and Commercial Photography what would you like?
My favorite photos to look at are landscapes and commercial portraiture. I really try to have our work be a mix of those two if I can. They’re completely opposite in almost every way, so I enjoy the challenge of that.
If not a Photographer, what would you have been?
Probably a graphic designer. It’s what I did before photography and I loved it.
A photography website or blog you visit often?
I really dig Pinterest and 500px lately. It’s such easy access to unbelievable work. I check out Touchpuppet a lot for fashion work and like to keep tabs on the work of most of my photo buddies through their blogs. I go on forums a bunch and frequent the FredMiranda forum and the Foundation forum.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any new projects on the go at the moment, or anything that you’re planning to do?
Yeah, lots! We’re planning a lot of traveling over the next 2 years and have some unbelievable things lined up for that. Every year we come up with a concept for a free shoot to expand our horizons and get some new faces in front of the lens. That project (called Shoot Me for Free!) is coming up soon too.
From a business perspective, we’re looking to expand our business a bit more, but we’re still fleshing out how that will look. We have a few other goals, but if I told you I’d have to kill you.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever had? Could you please share Happiest Moment in your Photography Life?
As far as compliments go, I can think of a few. Without going into detail, in each case they were from people who I have admired for years who I thought didn’t even know we existed. Hearing them say nice things about our work was mind-blowing to me.
The happiest moment is without a doubt when my wife left her job to join me full-time with the business. It’s been the biggest blessing for us so far in the 4+ years we’ve been married.
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
Aside from traveling (which I’ve talked a lot about), I really love playing sports (basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf) and discovering good restaurants. Amy and I are major foodies so we spend most of our time eating then trying to lose all the calories we just ate.
Thanks again for providing 121 Clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thanks so much for having me! It’s always a huge pleasure to know that someone digs our work. If you read this far, it probably means that you’re really hungry for photography (or a stalker), so I’d just say to go shoot. Find something new today. Push a new limit. Try something you’ve never seen before. And have fun.
You can find Hoffer Photography on the Web:
Website : www.hofferphotography.com
Blog : hofferphotography.com/blog
Workshop : www.genesisworkshop.com
Workflow DVD : www.photographerworkflow.com
Facebook : facebook.com/hofferphotography
Twitter : twitter.com/tonyhoffer
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Hoffer Photography. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.