We had the good fortune of connecting with Timothy Riese and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Timothy, how do you define success?
My definition of success has changed over time. I attribute that to life experiences and growing professionally and personally. Initially to me, success was defined as becoming the Director of Photography of high budget studio feature films. At the beginning of my career I decided I would follow the path and take every opportunity that presented itself. I found myself shooting a lot of commercials for tourism boards in tropical places, shooting for clients like Disney on their cruise ships and working with fabulous producers year after year at annual events for Turner Classic Movie channel. I have also had the opportunity to DP some fully funded independent feature films, so those projects always fulfill me creatively, which is important to me. My definition of success is now bringing in a good income, working on quality projects with good people and maintaining a work-life balance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Early on in my career I realized that lighting is the most important element to my job. As a director of photography the light is truly what you are capturing. Having a thorough understanding of how it behaves and the technical skills to control it are what sets you apart. I love the technical side of working with the gaffer to create beautiful images for TV, film and commercials. I’m also a gear head and enjoy working with all of the different camera and lighting equipment that comes out as technology advances. Another thing that sets me apart from other people in my field is my wide skillset. I am a certified scuba diver so I enjoy the opportunity to shoot in underwater environments. I’m an FAA licensed drone operator, so anytime aerial shots are required, I like being able to bring that added production value to a project. After college, while I was working my way up the ranks, I worked in the grip and electric, sound, and editing/color correction post departments. This has all given me an appreciation and understanding about the importance and value of many of my fellow creatives when collaborating on a project. I’ve been fortunate to work on some great projects with good talented people and then I let my reel speak for itself. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that as much as this is a creative field, it’s also a business. While it is temping to say yes to everything, no matter how big or small a project is, the beauty of being a freelancer is having choice in what projects I decide to put my time and creative energy.
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?
I am an outdoors person so what I would take a friend to do would depend on the season. If it was warm, I would either take them to my favorite beach at Leo Carrillo State Park, scuba diving at Casino Point (Catalina Island) or hiking in the Los Angeles National Forest. If it was cooler I would take them to one of the ski resorts that are less than 2 hours from LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The pages within American Cinematographer magazine both inspired and motived me to move to Los Angeles to pursue my career in film making. The excellent internships straight out of college at both Universal Studios Florida and Adrenaline Films gave me the experience, the technical knowledge, and the understanding of how important interpersonal relationships are for success in the industry. I owe a big portion of my success to the support of fellow film makers for both their hands on instruction and personal references to continue the growth of my client base.