MEET DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: GARRETT SHANNON by Conor Bettendorf

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When we think of a camera purist, Garrett Shannon comes to mind. Garrett's life's trajectory never strayed from the course of cinematography and it's clear to see in his work the passion he has for it.

At 10 years old, our dear friend Garrett was gifted a camera on Christmas morning. While other kids were unwrapping bicycles and action figures that they would grow out of in a couple years, Garrett was unwrapping what would soon become a full-fledged career. 

Coming from a line of passionate photographers, that gene was passed onto Garrett in spades. With the passion there, the camera there, the DARK ROOM IN THE GARAGE there... He began to hone in on his skills. Taking classes through middle school, high school, and into college, Garrett began to realize that his dreams were becoming a reality. 

After a move from the City of Angels, to the BBQ and Music Capital of Texas, Garrett found his new home in Austin. Living and working in Austin, TX, Garrett is our go to guy for all things cinematic. Not only is he capable and hard-working, Garrett is a hoot and a holler to have on set. Spend just one day working with the guy and you'll never want to join a set without him. Please check out his NEW website and give some love to our DP on the ground... Garrett Shannon.

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Tell us about how you got involved with motion?

What started as an interest in photography grew into the career I have today. My father was an amateur photographer as was his father who bought me my first camera for Christmas when I was maybe 10? It was a fixed lens Voigtlander Vitomatic II rangefinder which I still own today and use occasionally when I travel. We had a darkroom setup in our garage where I learned to develop and print B&W 35mm; it was great. I took photography classes in middle school and high school where I also started dabbling in video. That grew into the realization that filmmaking was a career and something you could study in college which I was thrilled about. That set me down the path of attending film school at LMU and starting my career in Los Angeles. 

What was a pivotal moment in your career?

I think directing my thesis film (too cliche?) in college was a pivotal moment which started my career. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my career and although I was pretty sure I wanted it to be cinematography I couldn’t deny the value in directing a short film, especially when the stakes were so low (and the equipment free). That experience cemented in my mind that I was not interested in being a career director. I have so much admiration for directors and their ability to do what they do and work with actors and be needed in a million places at once but that’s just not how my brain works. Joining the International Cinematographer’s Guild Local 600 as a Director of Photography was a big moment for me during my career and both affirmed my commitment to the craft as well as gave me the confidence to continue pursuing my career here in Austin and Los Angeles. 

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What has been your favorite set to work on? Why?

Too many to choose from; I’m vetoing this question as too complicated =) but in all seriousness any set where I’m fortunate enough to be working alongside friends and creative collaborators is my favorite set to work on. I’m so grateful that throughout my career this accounts for 99.9% of my experience. I love what I do. 

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What is one of your proudest moments in your career?

Transitioning from Los Angeles to Austin has been an extremely positive experience and makes me not only grateful to be accepted into the filmmaking community here but also proud to have made that transition so easily. My wife and I moved here not knowing anyone and I’m proud that I’ve been able to work on so many local projects in such a short amount of time. We love our life here and the goal is absolutely to be working locally as much as possible.   

What are some other things you enjoy when you aren’t on set?

Any and all water activities including but not limited to greenbelt hikes, barton springs trips, lake Austin boating, lake & river floating, etc. We can’t get enough; we’re definitely lake people now. Lakes > oceans. Sorry west coast friends.

What is your favorite part about being on set?

When I can get to a place with my crew that we’re communicating in effortless shorthand, verging on telepathy, that is my absolute favorite thing about working on set. It happens on long form projects after working with the same people day-in-and-day-out but also on short term stuff like commercials after building up a network of trusted collaborators. Work on set doesn’t happen in a vacuum so it’s absolutely essential to establish a network of people you can work with who will challenge you creatively.

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What does #ponyup mean to you?

I’m not one for hashtags (I’m still working on my social media game) but to me it means showing up to work ready to put your best effort forward and serve the script and the director with a positive attitude and collaborative spirit. How’d I do?

What does #createmoments mean to you?

More hashtags?!?! Again, I read this as attitude above all else. With the amount of time we all spend on set together between early mornings and late nights it’s so so so important to come with a positive attitude. There’s no room for egos or drama. #create(positive)moments by coming to set and creating a working environment you’ll want to remember. 

How would you describe your skill and how is it has evolved over the years?

If left to my own devices I’ll usually fall back on what I think I’m the best at and also what I enjoy watching the most. Naturalistic lighting and subtle but effective camera work all with the goal of serving and propelling the story. Ideally I’m doing it without detracting from the story or calling undue attention to myself. I don’t do much super stylized lighting or VFX work but I think it would be fun to try. Ultimately I see my job as serving the director and the story above all else. As my career has evolved I think stylistically I’ve stayed in a very similar world but I’ve grown and evolved the way I work and the way I problem solve to achieve a specific look. 

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What is one thing people may not know about you?

I like to ride my bike (although I’m still adjusting to Texas weather). One time I rode it from Florida to California. 

What advice can you provide for aspiring DP's or Cinematographers? 

Be patient; nothing happens quickly when you’re trying to build a career. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try new things especially early on in your career when the stakes are lower and less costly. Don’t get caught up worrying about what gear you’re using; try to remember the camera is just a tool. Instead you should worry about using the best tool for the job; there is no “best” camera. 

What current projects are you working on? 

I’ve got a Lexus commercial coming up I’m excited about with a director I love working with. Can’t say much more than that but maybe I can add a link when it’s released.

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Check out Garrett in action:

Website: Garrett Shannon

Instagram: @garrettshannon

Email: garrett.shannon@gmail.com

Phone: 310.880.6155

 

MEET PROP | WARDROBE STYLIST: SARA OSWALT by Conor Bettendorf

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A Wardrobe Stylist, a Prop Stylist, and an Interior Designer walk into a bar and order only one drink... That's because it's only one person: Sara Oswalt!

Austin, TX is home to the University of Texas Longhorns, the consensus 'Queso Capital' of the world and one of the best Stylists in the country! Born and raised in the Heart of Texas, Sara Oswalt has had a deep fascination in Art and Styling for as long as she can remember. After 14 years of working with top names in the fashion industry, Sara shifted her career focus into another passion of hers: Interior Design.

Now, being a professional interior designer, mixed with the set experience Sara has had over the past decade and a half, it only made sense to start working with Props and Set Designing. Sara Oswalt has been able to achieve what only a small percentage of people ever do; she has 3 jobs that she loves with undying passion and energy.

Keep scrolling to find out more about this hard-working stylist that we love so much!

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Tell us about your art and how you got involved with Prop/Wardrobe Styling?

Well, I am, and have been, strictly a fashion stylist for quite a long time.  I love fashion because of the artistic expression and ways in which you could express style through clothing.  It seemed to be a great way to pair the real world, business, and art for me.  After settling back in Austin, from bouncing between CA and NYC, I saw pretty quickly that the things I liked about styling were not as needed in this market. My love for interiors, spaces, and beautiful objects had grown immensely after leaving New York City and decorating a home.  I grew up around antiques and learned tons from my mom about interiors, periods of pieces and quality, trends, and classic style.  It was a natural progression into props and interiors styling, since I knew lifestyle and fashion sets so well.  I often, these days, do both wardrobe and props; however, I wouldn't recommend that, because you won't get my best work :)

What was a pivotal moment in your career?

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Doing a test shoot in LA with a photographer named Colette De Barros.  We hit it off well with our mesh of styles. She liked the way I made her models look, and we quickly became good friends.  We had a great, long-lasting working relationship that really allowed for me develop a style of my own in the lifestyle/fashion market of photography and get to a new level of work.     

What has been your favorite set to work on? Why?

Probably when I styled Sara Bareilles for her second album cover. I used to do all of her styling, so we were not only friends, but she trusted me a lot. I really felt like I helped her create an entire look for that album and her tour that followed. That felt really cool and bit more lasting than the fleeting outfits of many photo shoots.   

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What is one of your proudest moments in your career?

Well, sheesh.  Hmmmm, when my dad came to a fashion show that I styled for Tribeza Style Week. It was the first time that my whole career made sense to him. It was like all the sudden, he got it! I knew he was proud of me, even though I had been successful for a long time, worked with famous people and great talents. This time having him present to experience it was just very different.       

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What are some other things you enjoy when you aren’t on set?

Yoga, interior design, hiking, traveling and dancing.   

What is your favorite part about being on set?

I love how no matter how big a location is, the team always, without fail, will end up in one corner smashed up together. As my family knows, I love being near people. I guess that makes me kinda weird, but on a set I get to secretly love being close to other people. Haha, I was meant to live in Europe in small quarters.   

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What does #createmoments or #ponyup mean to you?

#ponyup - Be a helpful teammate.  (am I right?) 

What is one thing your fans may not know about you?

My millions of fans :)... probably do not know that I really like mustaches.

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What advice can you provide for aspiring Prop/WARDROBE Stylists?

Be confident being who you are.   

What current projects are you working on? 

Just wrapped a financial software shoot, but I am also in the midst of designing for 5 houses as my other on-going 2nd career.   

 

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Check out Sara in action:

Website (styling): Sara Oswalt

Website (interior design): Purveyor Design

Instagram: @saraoswaltstylist

Email: sarakoswalt@gmail.com

MEET PHOTOGRAPHER | DIRECTOR: SAM ROBINSON by Conor Bettendorf

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Road Trip; two words, that when put together, are synonymous with Freedom, Adventure and Fun. It's not often that those two words would make you think of "Career".. but in the case of our friend Sam Robinson; that is exactly what one road trip led to. In 2004, Sam travelled across America seeking nothing more than some time to travel, explore and take photos. But what he came back with, catapulted his passion into a full blown vocation as a photographer. 

As a young lad growing up between London, England and Barcelona, Spain, Sam grew up with a deep fascination in people; their interactions and and their behavior. Much of this fascination is a result of his parents' heritage and differences in culture. Photography became the medium he would most enjoy to attempt capturing these cultural differences and experiences. This desire to always be capturing raw, human emotion is what launched Sam into the upper ranks of world-class photographers. 

We had the pleasure of shooting a 6-day campaign with Sam and his team, beyond his incredible talent, we saw a man that just likes to have fun. Sam is an excited, passionate dude who wants nothing more than to be around other people and have an experience worth talking about. In those short 6 days, it made so much sense to us why his team is so tight-knit and easy-going. Who wouldn't be, around a guy like him? It seems as though Sam's whole life has been much like a road trip... an adventure, with a dash of freedom, and a plethora of FUN!

Now, it's your turn to learn a little bit about one of our beloved photographers from across the pond: Sam Robinson!

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Tell us about your art and how you got involved with photography?

My dad is an amazing illustrator and can draw with the ease that most of us talk. I was not gifted this talent but he did give me a camera at an early age to help ease my frustrations of capturing the world. From that point, I have always kept a camera with me. I use it to watch the world, tell stories, capture moments, people and life.

What was a pivotal moment in your career?

In 2004 I decided it was time I went and got lost driving around my childhood dreamland; America. It was just me, a medium format film camera, a boot full of clothes and film. I saw over 30 states as I weaved around from east to west, south to north and back across the country again.  When I returned to London I yearned to go back to America; showing people this project I had shot of people on Main Street, USA. I won a commission to go back and do it all again, this time, shooting portraits for a small tech start up called Skype. It was then that I realized this really was what i wanted to do and if people wanted to pay me to do it then all the better…

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What has been your favorite set to work on? Why?

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This is a question I am asked A LOT - it is virtually an impossible question to answer. I have been lucky enough to travel to every continent in the world, from Siberia to Australia and everything in between. I also shoot a lot in London, Barcelona and New York. Those are the 3 cities I have spent most of my life in. I love shooting in these hometowns just as much as I love a new adventure.

For me, photography is all about the people; not just the subjects of my images, but the amazing people all over the world I get to work with on every project. I remember a friend, a person or a connection before a place or a job. There are just so many amazing experiences.

There was that time I met Mickey Mouse… that was definitely up there...

What is one of your proudest moments in your career?

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I think my mum and dad are probably the people I most wanted to please in life. From my school exams to the first exhibition I had I was always trying to make them proud. I remember someone purchased one of my prints from a group show I had in London years back. It was one of the first prints I sold and I was so excited I remember telling my mum and we both cried together (with happiness). The idea that a stranger wanted one of my photos so much that they bought it for their wall..!!  It was a very touching moment, however I found out YEARS later that it was my MUM that had actually bought that print. She wanted me to be happy and excited. To this day I still double check every time someone buys a print that it’s not still my mum buying them.

What are some other things you enjoy when you aren’t shooting?

  Billy dressed as the cutest little Dinosaur

Billy dressed as the cutest little Dinosaur

Hanging out with this little guy… this is Billy, my little boy. I am all about family and friends. The idea of a great day for me is being with as many friends and family as I can squeeze into a place, laughing, eating, drinking and arguing (we are half Catalan after all, everything sounds like an argument)

I am lucky enough to travel a lot with work but there is no place like home…

What is your favorite part about being on set?

THE PEOPLE. People make and break a shoot but if it’s 4am and you are all up to shoot a sunrise and people are happy and excited to be there despite the cold or the early hours, then that’s pretty special… The team makes the project. It’s all about working with great people and making good friends. Nobody wants to go to work and have a bad time, so I try not to let that happen… there is always challenges but a strong, fun team makes for great anecdotes that we share on the way to a destination.

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What does #createmoments or #ponyup mean to you?

Go out there and create.  

What is one thing your fans may not know about you?

That I had no idea I have fans..?  Also, I love penguins, I’m pretty good at darts, and I used to be a lifeguard (another job I loved). And I’m allergic to snails.

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What advice can you provide for aspiring Photographers?

Go out and shoot! People often talk about making pictures that can help you get work… I built my career by simply taking a camera everywhere and capturing my world. I had very little agenda other than to annoy my friends and family with a camera in their face as much as possible. Never stop shooting. Go out with a camera and just shoot.

The work I shot on that second road trip across America was entirely for me. It had no end game, and no client to please. It was entirely for pleasure and it was invaluable. Also - you never stop learning. I’ve NEVER been on a set where I know everything. Every day is a school day; it’s just a school I love going to and a class I love learning in.

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What current projects are you working on?

Ahhhh so many. I have a long list of things I am working on… it’s more of a LONG working goal, but the idea is to always be shooting.

I am working on an ongoing project about Jump Rope. I’m working with national teams, capturing the sport from young kids, to older seniors. I am working with the UK sprint team on a really exciting project. I am doing a weird project with Clowns. I am always photographing my family and my surroundings. I am trying to make my son the most photographed kid ever (sorry Billy) and I am also learning how to make things out of leather and Hot Foil embossing… I am also in the process of making the world’s most eco friendly brewery - but that’s a whole different story.

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Check out Sam in action:

Website: Sam Robinson

Instagram: @sam_photography

Email: sam@sam-robinson.com

For Booking: 

UK - We Folk   USA - Bernstein & Andriulli   ASIA - Amanacliq