{Interview} Devin Lester. Dad, Photographer and Capturer of Magic.

I am so excited to have my very first interview from my still-un-named interview series up today. Also, it would seem I need a name for this series if it’s going to become ‘a thing’. I was thinking ‘The Finger” (because I’m gonna probe you real deep) but that’ pretty disgusting, right?

Any name ideas?

Anyways, my first interview is a really cool one. Its with career-man turned professional-photographer Devin Lester. I have know Devin for many many years and can honestly say he is one of life’s nicest and most genuine guys. He even photographed Carters newborn shoot (under much stress from his side I’m sure, because I kept telling him to ‘make me look thin’ and ‘hide my double chin’!) Poor guy.

This interview was also slightly selfishly motivated. I have always wanted to get in to photography, and watching Devins success and beautiful images over the last two years has really re-ignited my passion – so for me this was also the perfect opportunity to pick his brain a bit.

{RA} Tell me a bit about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, and what makes you tick?

{DL} My name is Devin and I have a beautiful family…my wife, Megan and I will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary early next year and we have two beautiful children, Paige and Matthew.
I have a few too many weaknesses including wine, whisky, coffee and gadgets! Getting to ride my bike everyday & skip the crazy Joburg traffic is a definite plus!
Photo 2016-05-20, 15 05 12
The lesser spotted man behind the lens, Devin

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

{RA} What made you want to get into photography?
{DL} I’ve enjoyed taking pictures since I was really young. In those days it was a terrible point-and-shoot film camera – the kind where you’d snap a photo of the lion you spotted in the Kruger Park but then have to convince friends that there really was a lion there when you couldn’t actually see anything on the film you developed.
When I got my first digital camera (a compact little Sony point-and-shoot) I started learning about all the cool new features and practicing various techniques. This habit continued as I kept upgrading my kit to a Panasonic superzoom and then to an entry level Canon DSLR. With each new gadget I’d be really keen to learn about what it was capable of and what I could do with it. I practiced A.L.O.T.
I’d pretty much always be carrying a camera around and enjoyed being able to look back at the good times captured (especially since in those days you pretty much had to print photos because your Nokia 3210 screen wasn’t exactly a spectrum of vibrant colours).
My initial move to take my hobby more seriously came about so that I could justify spending more money on fancier gear. Not particularly romantic but I didn’t really expect it to take off in the way it has either.
I enjoy being able to create beautiful images for people! Taking these images requires some know how, some decent gear and also time and while people would really love to take these themselves they aren’t always able to invest the time (or money) into it.
I’ve also realized that photography gives me an opportunity to meet interesting new people and go to places I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
DLP Maternity couple
DLP Maternity 3
{RA} What is your main day job and how do you fit in photography while working an 8 to 5?
{DL} I work as an associate actuary at a reinsurer in Johannesburg. I’m responsible for the capital modeling for their life insurance treaties. Definition of a desk job! The company is great and was flexible enough to accept my request earlier this year to move to a 4-day work week so I could dedicate more time to my photography and try catch up on some family time.
I spend many evenings working late into the night to do my editing and admin. It’s not conducive to getting up early to get to the gym!
{RA} How do you juggle being a family man and all the weekend and after-hours work that photography brings on?
{DL}I think when I started out 2 years ago it was pretty manageable. I’d have a couple of shoots a month so it was easy to keep on top of things.
Now with the number of bookings coming in it’s proving much more difficult. I have a very understanding and patient wife! I’ve recently brought in an accountant as well as an editor to help spread the workload and regain some balance.
{RA}You started off as mainly a newborn photographer. Recently you’ve moved into lifestyle, portraiture and now weddings. Why the move?
{DL} Actually, initially I was too scared to take on newborn shoots J I figured newborn shoots were second-only to weddings in terms of “Don’t f&^* this up”. So I’d started with maternity shoots, parties and families.
Only once I felt I could a newborn shoot justice (watching & reading many tutorials) and had a client who was willing to take me on did I start down the newborn route. Most importantly there are safety precautions that need to be followed and also some special Photoshop skills can come in handy too. Even though newborn shoots can seem quite chaotic I enjoy the challenges they present and nailing a tricky pose makes it all worth it!
Similarly with weddings there was no way I wanted to take a wedding booking without being confident I could deliver a polished product. I first attended a workshop run by the brilliant Ett Venter, put together a styled shoot with another photographer and have assisted / second shot a few weddings now. I’m really looking forward to my first ‘solo’ weddings in October and December.
DLP Wedding 1
DLP Wedding 2
DLP Wedding 3
{RA} Take me through one of your worst shoots
{DL} Well I once arrived at a shoot with no memory cards whatsoever. I’d taken the card out of the camera and my extra cards were sitting on my desk too. And this shoot was 40km from home. Luckily my clients were running rather late so I rushed down the road to an electronics store and was able to pick up a spare at the last moment. Needless to say, I double check these things now!
{RA} Let’s talk newborn shoots – who are the hardest to photograph, the baby or the parents?
{DL} Haha, I guess the baby since they aren’t really interested in following instructions…and there’s the ever present dangers involved once the nappy comes off (although I have been quite lucky in this regard)  😉
DLP Newborn Kate 3
DLP Newborn 4
DLP Newborn 3
DLP My first newborn shoot
 
{RA} What advice do you have for someone wanting to start out in the industry?
{DL} Just keep learning – there are so many great resources out there from Youtube videos, online tutorials, helpful Facebook groups and workshops run by talented local and international photographers. And carry your camera with you on weekend outings – knowing what settings to use and being able to change them quickly needs to become second nature.

{RA} Have you ever lost anyone’s images after a shoot? And if so, what happened?

{DL} No! Thank goodness. Immediately following a shoot I backup the images. I have, however, had to re-deliver images to a client who had lost hers but since I never delete old shoots this wasn’t an issue.
{RA} How would you describe your style / what do you hope to capture?
{DL} I try to produce the kind of images that my clients want to print and frame on their wall. And, of course, capturing emotion is something most photographers strive for. Grabbing that special moment between a couple or a shared laugh between a parent and child is priceless! Natural light can be used to great effect but I also love bringing in extra lighting for a subtle effect or sometimes not so subtle WOW factor!
DLP Family 3
DLP Maternity 1
DLP Maternity 2
DLP Family 2

{RA} Who or what would be your dream subject to shoot?

{DL} I love photographing my own kids (yes, cheesy) but the pressure is off, I can try things out and they’re surprisingly patient for a 3 year old and 6 year old.
Then I hope to be able to shoot some amazing and beautiful weddings for my clients…and have fun doing it!
Devin with wife Megan and children Paige and Matthew... I can understand why they are his favourite subjects!
Devin with wife Megan and children Paige and Matthew… I can understand why they are his favourite subjects!
and lastly…
{RA} What would be the first thing you’d buy if you won the lottery, for:
 Yourself: {DL} A new car, mine has just done 100,000km
 Your business: {DL} Hmmm, a studio would be nice
 Your family: {DL} An overseas holiday and house by the sea wouldn’t hurt!
 A charity: {DL} Something sustainable like a bursary scheme
DLP Family 1 (my first newborn client 1 yr later)
DLP Newborn 1
DLP Newborn 2
Im really please I decided to ask Devin about photography, rather than his day-job. I still have zero idea what ‘capital modeling’ is. Sounds like something you make with plasticine. Good thing we have other interests in common, like photography and wine…and coffee…and gadgets.
Thanks again, Devin, for agreeing to be my first interviewee! If you would like to find out more about Devin Lester Photography you can find him on his website, on Facebook or on Instagram. Tell him I sent you!
If you would like to be interview on Rupert Approves, or know of someone who you think would be great – leave a comment or pop me a mail.
Photo 2016-07-20, 22 42 22
Photo credit: Alon Cohen

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