Coffee Chat with Adrian Creary

Hard to believe Adrian Creary is 24 years old when he speaks about his passion and profession, photography. Made in Jamaica Catalogue had a chat with Adrian about how he got started, where he’s headed and what advice he has for his peers.

How did you get started in photography?

It came unexpectedly. I was at UWI doing business studies but wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. An aptitude test implied I was more inclined to film, so I started doing some short courses about film at CARIMAC. I liked the people, environment and creativity. So I moved on the Media Technology Institute and continued studies online. I don’t do film now, but I learned photography online.

Lynda.com and Kelby Training offer great courses that are affordable and convenient. The courses are taught by world class professionals in their fields. I am a monthly subscriber and have probably watched over 100 hours of training. Anything I want to learn, I just check those sites and learn from the best.

When did you get your first camera?

2009. Nikon D5000, Kit Lens.

Was photography ever a hobby for you?

Never. Always knew it would be business. Yes, I have a passion for it but I’ve studied it a lot. Photography is a science and an art – you need to understand light, physics, cameras, f/stops etc. You also have to understand artistic aspects of photography that separate average snapshots from professional work. Knowing how to bring the vision from your mind, or client’s mind into reality, is key.

Photo credit: Adrian Creary

What kind of photography do you do?

On my website, adriancreary.com you will see four categories – concert, event, portraits and food. Concert is the largest section. Food is my latest project.

Why food?

I happened into it. My family puts on The Jamaican Epicurean Escape – Food, Wine & Music Festival. I was working on that event doing graphic design. I got to know the chefs and saw the photographs they were submitting. I thought there was an opportunity to make their food look more globally appealing. So I went online and learned techniques for food photography.

Photo credit: Adrian Creary

Who are your clients?

I’ve done a wide range of projects. I work directly with companies and with PR and Advertising Agencies. In a given week I could be photographing an event for a multinational, a concert with local and international superstars, a corporate announcement and a foundation’s tree planting. (adriancreary.com/about-page)

Photo credit: Adrian Creary

What’s your favourite type of photography?

Concert photography. In the last 12 months alone, I’ve done Jamaica Jazz and Blues, Reggae Sumfest, Sting, Rebel Salute, Shaggy and Friends and Tessanne Chin’s homecoming concert. I am the official photographer for Reggae Sumfest and Jamaica Jazz & Blues and have been for several years.

How do people know about you? How do you get clients?

When I first started in photography I was working in graphic design at Main Event Entertainment and got referrals through them. I maintain good relationships with my clients so they come back to me again and again. I also have professional relationships with photographers and we help each other. Ishaka Shango (ishangophotos.com) for instance, is the one who really got me started in events. He was overbooked with work, saw my potential and needed help. I helped out and the rest is history.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’d like to do concert photography all over the world. And with the right equipment, more portrait work, especially with musicians – album covers, artist headshots, photography for posters etc. I also have an interest in learning and sharing knowledge. I’ve done two lectures on concert photography at UTECH then UWI and I would like to do more, perhaps even via the internet. I’d also like to publish a book of my work. Right now, whatever I earn I reinvest in my skills and equipment so in 5 years I expect to be able to realize these goals.

What’s your favourite type of photography?

Concert photography. In the last 12 months alone, I’ve done Jamaica Jazz and Blues, Reggae Sumfest, Sting, Rebel Salute, Shaggy and Friends and Tessanne Chin’s homecoming concert. I am the official photographer for Reggae Sumfest and Jamaica Jazz & Blues and have been for several years.

What advice would you give to your peers who would like to pursue a career in photography?

From my own experience, start broadly, see what resonates with you and keeps your interest, you don’t want to go into something and realize you aren’t as interested as you thought. Keep eyes open for opportunities that could take you in a new direction.

Put passion above money. Don’t feel the need to be locked into a predefined category. Look at me, I have a passion for music and photography and have combined the two as my profession.

Don’t be deterred by what you don’t know – use the internet and learn online. The internet is convenient, affordable and provides access to learning at a global standard. Good technique is the foundation but learn the hard stuff as well. Master fundamentals to create and realize your own niche.

Work with other photographers. Gain from their experience since you can’t learn experience online. Never stop learning. Every job you go on use it as an opportunity to advance your craft and do things in a more creative way. That is key for learning and growing your business.

What’s your latest gadget?

10-20mm lens. I got it for Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. It’s an ultra wide lens that allows me to shoot the entire crowd.

What’s your signature style?

I like to use photography to tell stories. So if I do an event, you will see the photographs and feel like you were there. From the entrance to the exit and all details in between – the set-ting, décor, crowd, faces, reactions and more. I like people to know what different people would have seen. So I mix close up details with wide area shots. I also try to look for a shot or two that no other photographer will have.

Photo credit: Adrian Creary

Why do you love photography?

It is an excuse to go on adventures (laughs). I get to go where typically people do not get to go. I was face to face with the Prime Minister in two days at two different events just a few weeks ago. Then there are athletes, musicians and other celebrities. I get to have new experiences like going out on a boat at the marlin tournament or planting trees in the Blue Mountains for a foundation in the same week. I get to be behind the scenes at my favourite TV shows and concerts. And then I bring all those experiences to people through photography as if they were there. It is a huge privilege to be able to work as a photographer.

Adrian Creary’s InCase DSLR Camera Bag

• Nikon D7100 and D5100

• 2 Nikon SB 700 flashes

• 3 Sigma lenses 10-20 mm f/4-5.6, 17-70mm f/2.8-4 OS, 50-150mm f/2.8 OS.
• An assortment of filters

• Rogue FlashBender diffuser

• LensPens

Photo credit: Adrian Creary