Q&A with Scott Holstein, photographer/owner of Scott Holstein Photography, LLC

How would you best describe company?
I am an internationally published, professional independent photographer based in Tallahassee, Florida. I am a generalist, with experience in a wide variety of photographic genres, spanning commercial, corporate, and editorial photography. My specialties are environmental portraits and location studio portraits. I am versed in both natural and artificial lighting and work almost exclusively on location.

What makes your work special?
My varied background/experience in photography gives me a solid foundation to which I can refer when meeting client’s needs or overcoming challenges on set.

What steps led to your current position?
I was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in photojournalism from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. Then I moved to New York and was the full-time first assistant for internationally acclaimed photographer Joe McNally, both traveling domestically and working extensively in New York City on assignment with him before returning to Florida.

I completed photography internships at both the Shelby Star daily newspaper in North Carolina and the Tallahassee Democrat daily newspaper in Florida. For seven years, I was the sole staff photographer at Rowland Publishing, publisher of several city, lifestyle, and business magazines. While on staff, I regularly photographed in Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. I spent approximately 25 percent of my time traveling Northwest Florida on assignment to popular beach destinations and small towns. Next, I left the staff position to pursue growing my photography business.

What’s been a career highlight?
I met (the singer) James Brown shortly before his death while assisting Mr. McNally. In fact, the entire experience working for Mr. McNally was amazing. The time I spent with him and his studio manager, Lynn, was just as educational as my four years in college.

A career lowlight?
Is there such a thing as a career lowlight in photography? A frustration with the industry is the ongoing downward pressure on fees and a lack of respect for copyright law.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your industry?
Photography seems to be in a constant state of flux from the ever-changing technology and its ripple effects. Back when I was in college, I learned to develop my film and make my own prints. The digital revolution was already upon us; DSLRs were becoming affordable and hitting mainstream. When I interned at the Shelby Star for course credit, I shot with a DSLR for the first time; it was one of those second-generation, big Canon-branded Kodak bodies that made tiny files. My work immediately and drastically improved because I could learn from my mistakes and adapt quickly by instantly seeing the results of what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. I was done with film.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
On the computer, I use Lightroom to cull through images and make adjustments to RAW files. I use Photoshop for the few things that are beyond Lightroom’s abilities.

On my iPhone, I use Photoshop Express for tweaking iPhone images, iWatermark to add my watermark and SimpleResize to create low resolution versions of the images prior to uploading to social media. I use LightTrac to research in advance the sun’s location in the sky at a particular time at any given location.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
The camera, of course!

What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
Some things that come to mind are: Always have a back-up. Do your reshoot now. Start with one light. Get it in writing. Use your own contract.

What’s the best professional advice you could offer?
Don’t sign a bad contract. Know your cost of doing business. Register your images with the copyright office. The business aspect of photography is just as important, if not more so, than the creative process and the gear.