Photographer Spotlight: Erich Saide

Posted by: on Apr 30, 2019

Photographer Spotlight: Erich Saide

Bio: Erich Saide is an Award-Winning Vancouver based Sports & Lifestyle, Commercial, and Celebrity Portrait Photographer. His stylized, cleanly executed photos use incredible lighting to capture a diverse range of moods. A passion for his craft and well as an ability to connect with people really shows in the final image he produces. After more than 20 years in the business, his clients include Advertising Agencies, Publishers, Celebrities, PR Agencies as well as TV & Movie productions for Warner Brothers, Hallmark Movies, Corus Ent., and numerous National and International Brands. Follow Erich and his amazing work through his site, Instagram @erichsaide, and Twitter @erichsaide.

Erich Saide

I would describe my style of photography as….

Crisp, highly polished imagery. I like to think of my work as stylized, cleanly executed photos that use incredible lighting and techniques to capture a wide range of moods.

What was your first camera, and how’d  you get started in photography?

My first camera was a Nikon F90X. How I got into photography is kind of a funny story. First off, you should know I was a Cabinet Maker/Carpenter by trade but I was always the guy taking photos with friends when we would go camping or went to parties but I never really knew how to use my film camera other than auto mode.

Then in 1998, I was in a car accident which left me off work for 3 months. I was looking for something I could do in this down time, I saw an ad for a beginner photography class through night school which seemed like something fun to do. From there I took the intermediate course which which prompted me to start taking continuing education courses for photography at a Langara College. At this point it was still all for fun and as a hobby but about a year and a half in, when I took an advanced studio lighting course I learned about key shifting, I was hooked.

I thought this photography thing might make a nice little weekend side business. I was already making money shooting for friends and family. My teachers all pushed me to keep persevering which was hard because I was still working full time as a cabinet maker and then to put a cherry on top, 3 years in I was unfortunately rear ended by a tractor trailer and off work again. Though injured I was still able to shoot, this was the push that got me into shooting full time. I was the typical starving artist for a while, but it all paid off. I believe everything in life happens for a reason and I see both of these accidents in the most positive way.

Why did you want to become a photographer?

To be honest, it was never my intention to become a photographer. I always loved taking photos but I literally “accidentally” stumbled into this career. Two car accidents (neither my fault) and life took me where I was meant to go and I absolutely love what I do now.

What’s your most memorable shot or shoot, be it challenging to capture or interesting subject?

In 2017, we were hired to shoot some new marketing material in a gold mine in Guerrero, South of Mexico City. Leagold (the client) flew us from Vancouver, Canada down to Mexico City. We were then taken to a small airport and had a private plane take us the rest of the way to the mine. We landed on the mine’s airstrip, on the mountain side, in the middle of the jungle. Seriously felt like some Indiana Jones stuff.

We spent six days shooting all aspects of the operations, above and below ground. The highlight, however, was the fact that they allowed us to go into the area where the gold was actually poured and photograph the process. In the hour we were in that heavily guarded room, they poured 10 gold bars, each worth around US$800,000. Truly amazing. Needless to say, we weren’t able to get any “souvenirs” as they weighed us going in and coming out of that area. This also happened to be one of the toughest gang areas in Mexico. So when we had armed guards escort us each day to and from the camp to the mine, it really felt like a movie.

Of the many challenges we faced like getting the photography gear to Mexico or having a communication barrier with the locals, the most memorable was having to shoot in the underground areas of the mine. The dust played a huge factor in trying to get some great shots as well as trying to shout instructions to the models (mine workers) over the very loud environment. The profoto B1’s really made shooting down there possible and I feel we got some great results.

What image are you most proud of from your photography portfolio?

This image I shot for an advertising campaign with BCLC and Lotto 6/49. I entered the image into the 2017 Communication Arts 58th Photography Annual Competition and ended up being chosen as one of 141 winners out of 3736 entries from elite photographers around the world. To see my name up there with some of the photographers I have looked up to and been inspired by for so many years really made me proud.

My dream gig would be…

I have many dream gigs, some of which have already happened but I would say that the dream shoots would be with celebrities like Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario and Jason Momoa. I really admire these actors and their genuine personalities; I feel they would be so much fun to work with. Also along those same lines, I would love to shoot more gallery images for big feature films. That industry really interests me and would love to create powerful, eye catching images on movie posters, etc.

Secondly, opportunities that take me to exotic locations. I love shooting in nature whether it be on a beach or mountain top. I really like the challenge of working with mixed lighting. One place that comes to mind is Iceland. I have some colleagues that have been there and it looks epic.

My favorite piece of gear is…

My Profoto B1s. They are great for working outdoors and easy to just pick up and go. They are versatile thanks to all of the amazing light shapers Profoto has made for them and they are essential to most of my setups.

Do you shoot tethered?

Um, is there any other way? I have been shooting tethered for at least 10 years. I can hardly remember what it was like to not work this way. From working with big commercial clients who have to see the previews as we shoot to smaller headshot clients who by being able to instantly see what we are shooting brings out a confidence in them that really takes their images up a notch. When on location, I will shoot into a Macbook Pro tethered into Capture One Pro. It really takes the client experience to another level, no matter how big or small the shoot may be.

My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…

Definitely my JerkStopper and TetherPro Cable. The JerkStopper has saved my camera port so many times over the years especially when not using a tripod and moving around freely while shooting. I use the TetherPro Cable for its reliability and bright orange color. Even though I still seem to have to remind people to watch out for it. I swear some are almost more attracted to tripping over it. 😉

What’s on your photography gear shopping list?

Do we really want to go down that rabbit hole. Where do you start and stop with this question? On the lighting end of things, the Profoto Pro-10 pack is first on the list. Having that much power with the HSS for the sports and lifestyle photography I like to shoot is truly amazing. We rented a pair of them for a few shoots and was truly impressed with how it kept up with my Nikon D850 shooting at 11 FPS. On the camera end of the spectrum, definitely the Phase One IQ4 digital back on the XF system. Nothing beats the look and feel of medium format.

The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…

Simple. Just keep shooting. Nothing comes quick and easy. You have to put in the time and shoot as much as possible to truly hone your skills and direction. Secondly, Network, Network, Network. My career was built through the friendships I created over time and those people trusting me enough to recommend me to their contacts and it built business over time. When it comes to the gear end of advice, invest in great lenses if you can afford to at the time. Quality glass makes a huge difference. However, remember the gear doesn’t make the photographer, they are just tools to bring your vision to life. It’s definitely a case of do as I say not as I do. I tend to always get the best gear as it comes out if I am able to.