Whoever said work is boring has yet to meet photographer David Heisler. Emerging straight from entertainment’s most coveted Hollywood scene, this native Texan has returned to his roots — finding inspiration for a fresh start here in Austin. Since relocating a few months ago, he has set his sights on editorial fashion, turning Austin’s care-free atmosphere on its head and embracing a Los Angeles flare for spontaneity. Learn why Austin should be excited about Heisler in a sea of local photographers in our Q&A and exclusive photo shoot.
AFM: Where and how did you hone your photography skills?
DH: When I was in Los Angeles I found myself surrounded by so many talented people, in particular my boss Greg Gorman. For the three years that I worked for Mr. Gorman, it was always a new movie poster with an A-list celebrity, and some crazy new stand or light that I had never heard of or seen before. I was forced to learn really quickly and was expected to adapt to any situation that may be tossed my way. As I look back at my experiences, I’m glad that things were tough and that it wasn’t easy to learn or ask questions. It has really made me a much more efficient and professional individual with my own career. I think because I learned so early on in my photography career to adapt quickly to my changing environment, I can relax a bit more and have fun while taking pictures. This makes for better sessions and much more comfortable clients.
AFM: Speaking of comfortable clients, how do you evoke so much emotion in photos where the subject isn’t necessarily a model?
DH: I’m a hyper, crazy, energy-drinking mad-man that sacrifices my own pride and sanity to make people laugh. Some say I should do comedy, I tell them to change clothes and move on to the next look. At the end of the day, everyone’s smiling and it’s a real smile.
AFM: Who has been your favorite to collaborate with thus far?
DH: One super talented musician that I had the pleasure to work with on multiple occasions was Jason Mraz. A selfless, organic and “real” person, Jason has so much love, passion and energy for his music and for life in general.
AFM: What about your Jason Mraz shoots has made it your favorite celeb shoot?
DH: I think what made the shoot so RAD is I didn’t have to play the director like I do. From the second I met Jason, everything felt organic. Almost like I had met him before and we were friends just catching up for a beer or something, totally stress free. It wasn’t work; it was fun, and, for me, it was quite exciting because I was hanging with one of my favorite musicians….and man has that guy got some TALENT!!!!
AFM: What inspires you most? When you find that spark, scent, feeling…how do you grasp it in a shoot?
DH: Colors, good energy, push-up bras and smiles…I look for the Edge Factor in whatever I’m doing. Simple is safe, although sometimes necessary for certain jobs.
AFM: When is simple necessary? How do you put your spin on what is necessarily simple?
DH: Simple is what I call playing things safe. It’s a security built in to most every photographer, a comfort zone! It’s the place where you feel comfortable and know that if you stay there, you will get good result. It’s hard as a photographer to break out from this comfort zone. Safe is sometime necessary when you have a wedding or head shot clients. Making a 7-year-old actor look like a ROCKSTAR because you wanted to take it up a notch doesn’t always make parents happy. Similarly, telling the bride to look sexier & try some “fashion” type stuff really doesn’t go over well on the wedding day…so safe will always play a part of photography.
After you have shot the safe and have the images you need, GO FOR IT! Try something different, edgy, or away from anything you would normally do. TAKE A CHANCE to be different. Only in these times do we find ourselves as artists. I strive to always think outside the box.
AFM: Best piece of advice you’ve received?
DH: Be true to yourself, work hard, and only put into the world what you would want to receive back. After I graduated from Texas State University, I needed to create my own style and be my own person. So far I have done everything I set out to do.
AFM: Let’s hear your piece of advice!
DH: Don’t be book smart, be experience smart. You need to go out and just fall on your face.
AFM: Most challenging kind of photography you’ve come across?
DH: Kids from the age of 4-7 with terrible stage moms.
AF: Who do you look up to professionally?
DH: Up and comers, fashion, ad and commercial photographers that don’t have a lot to lose. Go Getters. People that grind every day for that next job — people that appreciate the art and do it because they love photography, and aren’t always looking just for a paycheck.
AFM: In terms of fashion photography — do you prefer men or women’s?
DH: It’s funny how I leaned naturally right into saying women at first, but in reality I really like shooting both. Men and women have such a different dynamic. Women are so graceful, beautiful, sexy. And men so edgy, rugged, chic…I’m not a gay man by any means, but sometimes I really think that guys look quite amazing. [Almost] like “damn, I wish I had that body, or look at that facial structure.” I could say the same for women, some are so “hot” and sexual, some so androgynous. Everyone has their own specific look and flavor.
AFM: What does the immediate future hold?
DH: Starting in 2013, I will launch my series of digital photographic workshops David Heisler Photography “The Experience,” which will cover everything from state of the art digital lighting skills to the post production finalization of images in Photoshop, Lightroom, etc…
It will be an amazing workshop series teaching all levels from beginners to advanced. Stay tuned…you won’t want to miss it!
In our candid interview and exclusive photo shoot, you get a glimpse of what this talented photographer’s look and flavor is. To learn more about David Heisler, visit him in his studio at 106 E. 8th St. (corner of 8th and Congress) or visit his website.
Interview by Audrea Diaz and Chonie Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Images by David Heisler
Makeup Artist: Christie Griffin
Hair Stylist: Ashanti Maxwell
Model: Cristina P. of Wilhemina Brown in Austin
Edited by Shannon Bailey