Tamrac Sponsored Photographer Kevin Kubota Q&A

Kevin KubotaAmerican Photo Magazine named Kevin Kubota one of the “Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World”. His photos have been featured on the covers and within the pages of countless popular magazines and photography books. Kevin has been a featured presenter for Nikon and Adobe, and his work with the Nikon digital camera earned him a spot as a Nikon “Legend Behind the Lens”.

Kubota is an internationally recognized speaker, having presented for every major photographic convention in the USA. He created the popular “Digital Photography Bootcamp®” workshop which has been running successfully since 2002. He authored the book under the same name, now in it’s second edition, published by Amherst Media. Kevin shares over 2 decades of commercial and portrait lighting experience in his latest book, The Lighting Notebook, published by Wiley. The companion iApp, is available in the iTunes store.

Kubota Image Tools products have won multiple Hot One Awards as well as the Readers Choice Award. Kevin was personally awarded the 2009 Monte Zucker Memorial Humanitarian Award for social service through photography

Tamrac:
Wedding photography can be very challenging, but your images convey beauty, personality and spontaneity.  What inspires you to create such amazing photos?
Kevin:

Adrenaline!  But seriously, I do actually thrive on the pressure of photographing weddings. I think that certain people are able to use pressure and adrenaline to be creative and solution oriented, while others tend to freeze under it. Good wedding photographers find a way to use the pressure to fuel their creativity. The style of my imagery, I think, comes from my own romantic imagination and my ability to connect and put my clients at ease. I try not to use formulas to create an image, but instead I let my imagination run wild and try to put what’s in my head in to my client’s head – so they become part of the process. I’m also not afraid to ask my client to do anything that pops in to my head – within reason. If they say no, I move on, but I’m not afraid of hearing “no” because usually they say, “Sure!”.

Tamrac:
Have any funny moments happen to you during a shoot?
Kevin:

My wife, Clare, and I would often joke with wedding clients during the pre-wedding meeting about what, if any, unique events they had planned – so that we could be prepared to photograph them. We’d joking say, “Do you have anything special planned? Special guests giving speeches? Slideshows? Fire breathers?”. We’d get a giggle and make a note of anything to watch for.
After one wedding, we were packing up to head home as the wedding reception continued to rage on through the night. As we were walking out, I saw behind the reception tent a woman in a skimpy costume (which of course caught my eye :-) secretly pouring liquid from a can on some sort of baton, and in her mouth. I immediately thought it was some wacky belly-dancing pyro terrorist plot, but then soon put the pieces together…FIRE BREATHER!
I whipped open my (Tamrac) bag, grabbed my camera, and ran back in to the tent just in time to catch the surprise fire-breathing dance show that one of the guests had planned for the bride and groom! It was amazing and certainly something you don’t see at every wedding!
Clare and I laughed, we finally got our fire breather.

Kubota-Fire-Breather

Tamrac:
You recently traveled to Rwanda, can you tell us about your experience?
Kevin:

It was an emotional roller coaster! We went there with some of our staff and a few photographer friends to deliver some funds we’d saved to a woman who ran a large orphanage. I was initially introduced to her by my good friend, Benjamin Edwards. He inspired me – through his own documentary photos, to do something to help her and the orphans. She was Rwandan and didn’t speak English, but after we’d told her we had the gift to give her, she – via a quick cell phone video – managed to convey her sincere thanks, and encouraged me to come visit her in Rwanda. I was moved to tears and we were determined to make the trip happen.

kubota-africa-2
While we were there we visited with her, the children, the volunteer teachers at the makeshift school, and all the wonderful people who’s lives she touched. We documented the journey with photos and video and shared the experience when we returned. I’ve heard from many photographers since then who have seen my work and in turn been inspired to do something charitable like that themselves – just like I was inspired by Ben.
We often never know how our images will affect people and the world, so we have to just take them, share them, and know that the ripple effect has been put in motion.

kubota-Africa-1

Tamrac:
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Kevin:

Create personal projects. One of the hardest things for new AND seasoned pro photographers is to stay motivated and fresh. Whether you need to learn a new technique, perfect an existing one, or push yourself to create something completely new, projects are the way to go. You simply cannot wait for ideas and assignments to find you! You have to create time and commit to doing them until the day comes when client requests overwhelm you. At that point, it’s even harder to schedule time for personal projects, but they are just as important to keep doing. Put it on your calendar a time to do a personal project. Treat it like a real job and commit to it. You’ll grow in leaps and bounds!

Kubota Ninja

Tamrac:
Tell us one place that you have not been but would love to photograph and why?
Kevin:

I have not yet been to Atlantis. I love scuba diving and have started working on my underwater photography. It’s a lot harder than I thought! I think the under-sea world is absolutely fascinating and beautiful. It reminds me of being on another planet (not that I’ve actually been on another planet yet). I enjoy the challenges of learning something new and of photographing things we don’t see every day. When underwater, you generally have to get much closer to your subject to make it come out clear and colorful and this is particularly challenging when the currents are whisking you around or big sharp teeth are smiling at you.

Kubota Tuscany

Tamrac:
How has Social Media helped you as a photographer?
Kevin:

It’s given me another avenue to share my experiences and projects – which often leads to inquiries about new jobs and opportunities. In a way, it is also an incentive to get out and keep shooting or to be more committed to my personal project agendas. When the world is watching, you want to push yourself a little more – and that’s good for our own growth.

Kubota Italy

Tamrac:
What is your favorite movie?
Kevin:

Ooh, tough one. I loved Moulin Rouge for it’s silliness, romance, quirkiness, and dramatic sets. It is just so unusual and entertaining. I also loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for its unusual premise, characters, and romantic desperation. Then, of course, I love movies like Lord of the Rings and 300 for their visual amazingness and inspiration.

 Kubota Italy Rock Shore

Tamrac:
What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Kevin:
I’ve been using Tamrac bags for about 20 years. My mentor when I started wedding photography had a Tamrac bag that he swore by, so of course I had to get one too. I’m kind of a gadget geek and pretty particular about ergonomics and details in the products I use. I’ve been known to buy several brands and types of similar products just to find the one that is “just right” and then give the others away. My Tamrac bags and products have always just fit my needs and held up extremely well. I’ve never had one break, rip, or wear out. The features are well thought out and satisfy my ergonomic pickiness.

Tamrac:
What Tamrac gear do you use?
Kevin:

My main bag has been the Super Pro 14. It is the perfect size for my primary photo gear and I particularly love the computer sleeve in the back of the bag. I use this for my computer, obviously, but it also perfectly fits my 42” pop-up reflector disc (when folded), which goes with me everywhere. I like that this slot is behind the main cover so my disc can stick out a little and I can still secure the front flap over the main compartment. I haven’t seen any other bag on the market that offers as much versatility for my needs.
I also have a Super Pro 13 that I use for my speedlights, wireless transceivers, and other smaller lighting gadgets.
I have a 324 tripod bag, and 3 of the 328 Location bags for my light stands and folding light panels.
I use Rolling Strong Box 692 and 694 for my studio strobes and larger light heads. I love that they protect my delicate gear, are relatively light to move, and have wheels for easy cruising.
When I’m traveling abroad and don’t want to carry a ton of gear I use my Adventure 9 backpack for my DSLR and misc. goodies and an Express 6 compact case for my point-n-shoot.
For my day-to-day work commuting with my laptop and gadgets I use the Superlights Computer Messenger 15. I also have the Superlights Computer Sleeve 15 for when I just need to transport my laptop and nothing else.
And of course, what accessory collection would be complete without a red flames camera strap!

 

For more on Kevin Kubota, you may visit his website at www.KevinKubota.com