First up in our ‘In the BUFF‘ photographer spotlight series, we spent some time with one of our favorite local photographers, Jeff Carpenter of Readylight Media. Carpenter talks about his creative process, what it’s like to own your own business, and how he went from hobby to profession with Paul C. Buff, Inc.
What sparked your interest in photography?
I first developed an interest in photography after taking a mandatory “intro to photography” class before I graduated college back in 2010. I honestly tried not to like it as much as I did because I didn’t want my degree to be for nothing. Needless to say, that didn’t work, and here we are.
What made you choose Paul C. Buff, Inc. for your studio strobe needs?
Since I live in Nashville, it seems like everyone here shoots with Buff gear. I assisted a few photographers over the first few years of my career, and they all used Buff gear. I was really drawn to the fact that they were super easy to use and built like tanks.
Do you have a “Go To” lighting setup?
I like to keep things simple. I shoot with one light about 90% of the time.
What’s your creative process leading up to a shoot?
My creative process really depends on the shoot and the client. Some people really like to have everything locked down ahead of time, while others rely on me to make all the creative decisions. The key is being able to handle the pressure of something not going as planned or even going completely wrong. If anything, I at least like to have a conversation with my client before we start shooting. This really helps everyone feel more comfortable and in turn makes for a better final product.
What/who influences you and your work?
For lighting inspiration, I just look at the world around me. I love looking at images in magazines or billboards and try to rework the lighting setup in my mind. That’s probably the best way to understand lighting.
Is there a photographer, either past or present, that inspires you?
I get inspiration from so many photographers these days, especially with platforms like Instagram where there’s just so much talent that’s easily accessible. One photographer who really jumps out however is Erik Valind. I learned a lot from his work when I was fist starting out in flash photography. I love his style of mixing technical lighting with lifestyle type scenarios.
Do you have a favorite photograph you’ve taken so far in your career?
I feel like every photo I take is my favorite photo, but that’s really how it should be. If I’m not constantly pushing myself to make my next photo better than my last, then what’s the point?
What is the most rewarding thing to owning your own business?
The freedom to hang out with my dogs all day…
In all honesty, having the ability to make my own schedule and create when I want to create. Granted, business is still business, so it’s not all fun and games, but I love that I don’t technically have to answer to anyone…except (my wife) Shelby!
Photos by Jeff Carpenter:
About Jeff Carpenter
Based in Nashville, TN, Jeff Carpenter specializes in portrait and lifestyle photography. Carpenter officially made the switch from audio production to photography full time in 2010. Having an upbringing in the music industry has provided Carpenter with a lot of exciting opportunities as a photographer.