Brooklyn-based still life and food photographer Will Styer has been shooting professionally for about a year and a half. In his free time, Styer also plays chess, challenging people via a link to Chess.com on his website. We decided against a chess match, but were intrigued by the wide range of imagery in Styer’s growing portfolio, so we asked him to tell us about his work and his process.
Photo District News: What is the most challenging thing you’ve photographed?
Will Styer: The television [slide 6] posed an interesting challenge because it was so massive—about 80 inches, I believe. I knew I wanted to do something a little unusual with the curved shape, so I thought shooting it overhead would be a good solution. Televisions are always difficult, because they are essentially designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The consumer wants to see the movie, not the television. I was able to make the photo a bit more graphic and form-driven to bring it to life.
PDN: The icy images [slides 1 and 2] are pretty cool—what is the substance you used/created? Or is it a trade secret?
WS: Trade secret, sorry.
PDN: Fair enough. Do you have your own studio, or do you share a space?
WS: I currently have a small studio in Bed-Stuy, and on occasion I rent space for bigger projects.
PDN: A lot of your backgrounds are rather simple; do you work with a prop/set builder? Do you have a go-to person (or set of people)?
WS: There are a few stylists that I work with from time to time, but for the most part the backgrounds are fairly manageable for me. I always tweak the backgrounds in Photoshop to mesh [them] seamlessly with the product.
PDN: Do you sketch out ideas before you shoot?
WS: It really depends on what we’re shooting. Most of the time I’ll do a rough sketch to show the client approximately what I have in mind, especially when it comes to the more detailed compositions.
PDN: Where do you look for inspiration?
WS: I find inspiration all around me. In addition to looking at other photographers’ work, I really enjoy going to museums and galleries. Of course, sometimes for me the best thing is to step back from everything for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes.
PDN: What are you working on now?
WS: I’ve got a few long-term projects that have been in the works, but right now I’m working on refocusing and narrowing down my commercial work a bit.