We had the good fortune of connecting with Edsger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Edsger, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I think it’s the passion I have for portrait photography, and also this crazy drive for this illusive perfection in creating hauntingly beautiful images. That said, it is important to avoid getting stuck in your ways and make sure you continue to innovate and take some risks along the way. After all, if you never fail at anything, you’re not really trying enough. I enjoy the reactions I usually get from models when they look at the images we’re shooting on the monitors in my studio. I love it when the images straight out of the camera, without any retouching or postprocessing, are already amazing. The rest is just the icing on the cake!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I first started shooting seriously with a large studio view camera, that could make old-fashioned 8×10″ negatives, that had to be developed and printed. The type of image you get with that type of camera is very similar to those old Hollywood-style movie-star portraits. They often have this very narrow focus on the eyes, with a wonderful blurring effect over the rest of the image. That type of effect is surprisingly hard to achieve with modern digital cameras. You can do it, but you need to shoot with very little light, and use a lens with a very large aperture that you set wide open. I decided to specialize on this type of portrait, so my studio strobes are typically set at their lowest possible level, and I shoot in a very dark studio. I haven’t seen too many other photographers do this, but the effect can be amazing, and it’s definitely not the cookie-cutter headshot photo that you see everywhere today. In the “old” days I had my own darkroom and fought the good fight to get consistent results with chemicals in darkrooms. The digital revolution has been a life safer for me because not only do I love photography, I also love writing software. So today I write a lot of my own image processing code to do things that standard tools like Photoshop can’t, or don’t do very well. The “chemistry” is now in my fingers and in my brain, and I love the process.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
At the top of my list would be the beach and the boardwalk in Venice of course. I’ve been going there for many years, and it is never boring. I would take my friends also to downtown LA to walk around, and to visit some friends who have a penthouse there with breathtaking views of the city. Griffith Observatory is cool, and of course the billboards on Sunset Blvd and that Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd, Oh yes, and Farmers Market of course. And, once things are back to normal, a taping at one of the Hollywood studios is always memorable.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve been inspired by so many great photographers along the way, and even got to meet quite a few of them. I love the photography of, for instance, Philippe Halsman, Richard Avedon, Arnold Newman, and Irving Penn. And I admire the perfection in lighting that photographers like Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) were able to achieve. But to give credit where it’s due: it was my wife Margaret who convinced me that I could make it as a photographer, when I doubted for a long time if I could be successful. If she had not given me that final push at the right moment, I’d probably still be sitting at a desk in a dark corner somewhere!
edsger_h: top from l to r: Christina Sofina, Roxy Shaw, Taylor Garber bot from l to r: Julie Michelle, Greta Karr, Kirra Moon edsger1: left: edsger during a portrait session with actress Fidelia Grace right: one of the portraits shot that day edsger2: from a portrait session with Elizabeth Lily Marie, recreating an old Hollywood-style look edsger3: from a cosplay shoot with Athena Rose, the costume is called Nier Automata 2B edsger4: from a recent fashion shoot with model Elizabeth Lily Marie