Interview with staff photographer Jay Kilgore.
Jay Kilgore began his passion for photography 30 years ago, when he was a small child who refused to go to bed when his parents told him to. According to Jay, his Uncles and Aunts were at the party and “Smoking adult cigarettes and drinking adult beverages. With his mind made up to stay awake, Mrs. Kilgore gave Jay a camera and told him to take pictures of the events. Jay happened upon his favorite Aunt and Uncle and heard them in a heated debate. Once they saw Jay, they both adorned big smiles and taught Jay he can change people with 1/125th of a second.
Jay had continued his shutterbug ways and in 2003 became serious with photography. Starting off by shooting content for various online model pay sites, as well as running many of his own successful sites, Jay sold them all to concentrate on bringing his photography level from that of online, to magazines. With a never ending quest to be the best photographer he can be, Jay has continued his learning on the streets of world and has become a noted Glamour model photographer.
Jay Kilgore resides in Los Angeles, CA and has a love for “Trash TV” and anything to do with people photography.
GMM: How long have you been a photographer?
JK: All my life! I’ve had a camera in my hand longer than I’ve not!
GMM: How did you get your start?
JK: I started photography when I was about 5 years old. My Mom was having a party for the adults and they were..doing adult things. I happened upon my favorite Aunt and Uncle who were in a heated debate. My Aunt said “You cheat on me and I swear I will cut your dick off when you’re aleep!” My Uncle was ready to offer a debate-when my Aunt saw me and said “The baby’s got a camera, smile for the camera” They smiled and sent me on my way. At that point in time I knew that with a camera in my hand, I could control people.
GMM: Do you like to keep your techniques a secret or do you like to share with others?
JK: When I got serious about model photography I contacted a lot of well known and respected photographers. David Hickey was one of FEW photographers to share with me his techniques, passion and love for photography. I promised myself that if I ever got good, I would share everything I knew with people. I get emails and comments from well established photographers rebuking me for “giving away far too much” Photography isn’t mine! I have my style and as much, or hard as I try and teach someone to shoot like me, they never will as I have my own vision and they-theirs.
GMM: Who would you love to shoot?
JK: The next person who is into my work!
GMM: Who is the most famous model you have shot with?
JK: Commercially? or Glamour? Glamour wise I would say Carlotta Champagne and SaraLiz. Two Playboy models.
GMM: What makes you different from the other photographers?
JK: I am HUGE on connection! I would sacrifice the technical aspects to make sure I have excellent connection. Having the model trust me enough to try my ideas regardless of how crazy is worth it’s weight in gold.
GMM: Who are your favorite photographers?
JK: I have a philosophy that was stolen from an hold Hip Hop group Digital Underground; “Heartbeat props” They stress respecting those who are alive today working, vs respecting those that came before us. That being said, those who are alive that I list as my favs; David Hickey, Ivan Otis, Dean Bradshaw, Thorsten Ott, Patrick Demarchelier and on and on. Those not with us? Richard Avedon for sure and my mentor and friend, Art Ketchum-(Miss you friend). I could go on and on, but I’ve burned enough of your time 😉
GMM: What is your ultimate goal as a photographer?
JK: To have fun! To inspire someone to be better than what they are. To look back on my images and realize they’re not dated.
GMM: What traits do you look for in a model?
JK: I have two rules to shooting with me; Either be into me, or my work. With either I can promise some outstanding images. No one is into me but my wife, so they must be into my work.
GMM: Canon or Nikon?
JK: Oh Lord! Are we still asking these questions today? Haha. I like the image quality straight out of the camera that Canon produces, but I’ll take the same photo with any camera you give me. Not the gear, but the person operating it.
GMM: What is your favorite lens to use?
JK: I shoot with a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 APO, HSM, blah blah. I LOVE the 70-200 f2.8 L.
GMM: What is your favorite lighting gear?
JK: I’ve used a lot of lighting gear but am partial to the Photogenic DRC strobes. Expensive, but worth it. My modifiers will ALWAYS include a 24′ beauty dish. And Larson 4×6 softbox as well as a 5’8″ homemade diffusion panel.
GMM: Mac or PC?
JK: PC. More programs and I like the ability to build my own and tinker around. I can build a supreme pc for under 1k and two years from now when it’s outdated, not worry as well as take the good parts and bring it to a new build.
GMM: What do you do when you are not photographing? What do you do for fun?
JK: Hang with my family! I have four daughters so that keeps me pretty busy. I’m also back in school now so that’s proving to be fun.
Shooting, Models, Locations
GMM: Do you have a favorite location to shoot?
JK: My home studio. I feel most relaxed there.
GMM: Do you bring Hairstylists and Make Up Artists to your shoots?
JK: It depends if the work calls for a look that requires a HMUA. Beautiful thing about Glamour is most models prefer to do their own.
GMM: Do models try to play you for gimmees? If so, does it work?
JK: Honestly, the industry has changed to give the model full control over when and what. 15 years ago when I started getting serious about photography, photographers had control. Today, I get those who expect things, only my favorites get away with it. I’m still working on saying and MEANING “NO!” to them, but much like my daughters, they look at me and laugh.
GMM: Do you find it challenging to be around such beautiful models?
JK: No, not at all. When I started model photography, initially it was to be a playboy photographer so I got used to being around naked women and people all the time. Today, it’s work so looking at a beautiful naked lady is no big deal. The flip side is I’ve become desensitized to nudity and wonder why my male neighbors are always asking if I need help.
GMM: Do you use Model Mayhem?
JK: No I don’t. I’ve never really had a taste for it. I’ve spent some time on their forums and found it annoying at best. Real work is done away from the forums, but attitudes displayed affect jobs obtained.
GMM: What is your favorite social network?
JK: Facebook! FACEBOOK!!!
GMM: What do you love about Facebook and what do you hate about Facebook?
JK: The ability to reach people and connect with them. Not everyone will be a positive experience, but I learn from everything.
GMM: Do you think photographers get a bad rap?
JK: In the digital era, anyone can say anything about someone and it’s up to the listener to take something away from the experience. It’s not about what’s said, but how you’re treated when dealing with a specific someone. I’m famous for saying what my Big Momma used to say; “It ain’t what they call you that matters baby, it’s what you answer that’s important.”
GMM: What is the worst experience you can remember from a photoshoot?
JK: I have a story that was published in TEEZE magazine; I start all my sessions with my clients in clothes. As the shoot progress’ they take more and more off. On one shoot a client brought her boyfriend. Midway through the session he got up and left. An hour or so later the client was shooting nudes. Her and I discussed this session for six months. He came in and demanded I delete the film. I declined and he punched me in the nose. It hurt. Badly. He tried to punch me again but it didn’t go the way he planned. We wrestled and he lost. I let him go and he broke my lens on his way out. Weeks later and with Lawyer intervention, he paid for the lens and I’ve not spoke to either since. This was 2001.
GMM: Do you see a solid career for the bikini models?
JK: Anyone can do anything today! We had a female make a plausible run at the presidency. We have our first Bi-Racial President. Anyone can do ANYTHING if they believe in themselves and are realistic in their approach. Many think modeling is about looking good and posing pretty. A career is difficult and requires one to spend MORE time working on securing jobs, vs doing the job. For every one 3hr job secured, there’s about 15hours of marketing done.
GMM: Is there anything you want to express now that people should know about this business?
JK: Be realistic in your goals and it’s approach. I don’t want to sound like anyone’s father, but I’ll share with you all, what I tell my daughters; There is no back up plan for success. If you’re going to be the first female President of the United States, then that’s ALL you strive for. To have a backup plan is to admit the possibility of failure. There are many out there that do what we do, figure out how to do it different and own it!