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Focal Points: Shannon McIntyre

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Shannon McIntyre is a seasoned photographer with an extensive track record for consistently delivering immaculate pieces of work for her various clients. Her eye for inducing and capturing emotion on film makes her work exude personality and attitude that is ideal for any ad or campaign, a major reason why Shannon’s clients continually request her for additional productions. While she may be a sharp-shooting ace behind the lens, Shannon’s kind and open demeanor instills a positive force on set that resonates with her subjects.

Q&A

Q1. How did a girl growing up on a commune in Tennessee discover a passion for photography?

A. My dad was an amateur photographer, and had a home dark room, pre-commune, so we had these big boxes of beautiful black and white fiber prints around us growing up. He also still had his Nikon F which we shot with occasionally. The commune had a dark room in the book publishing company and I remember hanging out in it when I was probably around ten, learning about the process.

Q2. What is your camera of choice? Your “go-to” camera for client shoots?

A. To keep my photographs feeling spontaneous I like my equipment to be fairly minimal. On a client job I also want to shoot with the camera that I shoot with every day, that is second nature to me, and right now that camera is a Canon 5D Mark II. A new version of the 5D did just came out though, so my camera of choice might change very soon. Every photographer has their recipe, so to speak, to help them arrive at the look and feel similar to that in their portfolio, and for me the camera is a small, albeit, important, part of that recipe. Lighting expertise, retouching knowledge, an ability to get a quick read on people, many years spent shooting professionally; these are some of the other ingredients that I bring to the table.

Q3. What were some of the challenges you faced early on in your career as a professional photographer?

A. My youth. Ha ha! I was twenty three when I started shooting professionally, so, as you can expect, not everyone wanted to take me seriously. Now that I have some experience behind me, I think I might be biased against a twenty three year old too!

Q4. When you’re on a shoot, what separates a good shoot from a great one?

A. Whoever I’m collaborating with on a shoot. On a client-based job, I need to produce a product that works for the client, but also satisfies me creatively, which will in the end make a better image. The art director is the interpreter of this process, so it’s really great if we work well together and the AD has a good idea of what is possible within the confines of a shoot. When I have a good rapport going with my collaborator, he or she is able to give me ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of and vice versa. A wonderful synergy happens and everyone is happy.

Q5. What was your reaction when you first saw one of your shots in a national ad or display used by your client?

I would like to say that it was a glorious moment, but like most creative personalities, I probably thought something along the lines of ‘that printing doesn’t look so great’. I’m always a little bit critical, especially when it comes to my own work.

Q6. Tell us more about your portfolio entitled “Food And People”?

A. I’ve been shooting people since I started my career, but didn’t get into shooting food until a few years ago. I cook a lot, and while I’m cooking I have these moments of ‘ohh, look at that texture, or, what an amazing color, I have to capture that…’ I challenge myself to bring the same vibe of my people work–one of authenticity, spontaneity, a little bit sexy–into my food work. There is celebration in our every day preparing and eating of food–I’m always trying to capture that and make it fun to look at.

Q7. Knowing what you know now, would you change anything about your overall progression as a photographer?

A. I would have shot food a lot sooner.

Q8. Do you have a favorite shooting location? Somewhere you relish the opportunity to shoot at?

A. Each job calls for something different, so that place is forever changing. I try to find locations that have a sense of place without being too specific, an earthiness to them without being ragged looking, and are also simple and clean, graphically speaking. In general, my photographs are more about the subjects in them than the location, so the ideal location is a place that best frames and tells a story about the subject.

Q9. Who was your all-time favorite client to work with thus far?

A. DJ Stout at Pentagram (the client was Lands’ End, but they were not there). DJ has the curiosity of a kid at a photo shoot, with the knowledge of someone who has been working with photographers for a very long time. He is also an amazing designer and brings a lot of great ideas to the shoot. We all worked pretty hard during those shoots, and we got a lot of great images.

Q10. What exciting projects or assignments have you recently wrapped up?

A. I just finished a job with Anthem WW for Safeway. We shot lifestyle – a nature loving couple at home, and product in that environment too. And before that I worked on lifestyle and food photos for NatureBox. We did a series of images for them to boost their brand and had a great time shooting here in Oakland and in San Francisco.

Click below to see more of Shannon’s work:

view her work

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