Justin Piccari is a Los Angeles-based photographer specializing in high-contrast, low-light, and cinematographic imagery called “Reality: Enhanced.” Visit his Instagram @Jpiccari or visit his personal website.
I would describe my style of photography as…
I would describe my style of photography as Reality: Enhanced. I’m all about contrast, saturation, and vibrance. I love making things pop that most people may not see, whether that’s people or products.
What was your first camera, and how’d you get started in photography?
My first camera was a Canon Rebel 2000. Back in the days of yore when we used film. I shot that thing into the ground. Even outfitted it for IR film at one point. I got into photography in high school. I always loved working in the darkroom. It’s like a chemical-scented bit of zen. All I really knew was that there was something special about recording the moments I saw. I was lucky to take some classes throughout the years and get a handle of what was out there. When I moved to LA, that was where it became more of an obsession. Endless people to practice on, endless locations and challenges.
Why did you want to become a photographer?
I don’t think I ever did. I think as creatives, there is always a certain ineffable draw to our medium. I love drawing, I was trained in design…but this…it just feels right. Now I work as a photographer because being able to record a microsecond of time that can never be duplicated is an addiction. One I’m not looking to recover from. Now it’s all about the consistency of maintaining it as a business. The benefit of it being a loving obsession is that none of that is hard, it’s just a welcome challenge.
What’s your most memorable shot or shoot, be it challenging to capture or interesting subject?
There are seriously so many, I love them all. One of my most memorable shoots was the first time I shot Xoe Xapoian. She was just working on getting back out there, having lost her left leg in an accident about 8 months prior. She was so strong and confident, we created such amazing things, I just enjoyed working with her so much. We’ve worked together quite a bit since then and I love watching how she grows, I’m proud to have created what we did, and excited to see what we create next.
What image are you most proud of from your photography portfolio?
Another endless answer. Narrowing down is the closest I can get to picking a favorite. By narrowed-down choice, I would have to say my B&W landscape of Ajjaxx at Point Concepcion. It was a fluke image. A talented model, and lucky snap. Something that I had retouched (incorrectly) after the shoot, and when I revisited a few years later, I saw something new. And pushed the edit there. (Learning). It fits a fine art space, which is a constant learn for me (Multi-genre), and my favorite part: women seem to love it (Yay!). It’s very easy to show sexy images and get men on board. But my goal is always to make those images feel strong, sensual, and beautiful. I love when women look at my images and love them as much as I do.
My dream gig would be…
Commercially: a high-end adventurous commercial shoot. I want to drag models and crew out into a remote place like the Faroe Islands or a glacier somewhere to shoot something that needs a whole behind-the-scenes documentary to show what we did. Something with a really in depth challenge and a deep concept. I like depth in advertising and marketing. Artistically: I want to affect change. Even in a small group, being able to show someone something new, spread inspiration and happiness, encourage people to learn and grow, that’s my dream gig. I’m not sure exactly what that is yet, there are so many stories to tell. But I’m excited to find that project.
My favorite piece of gear is…
A camera. Any camera. It’s not about the level of gear that I have. Having that recording device is a special thrill. I love picking a moment, and whether it’s a film camera, digital, or even just a cell phone, finding those moments are what this is about.
Do you shoot tethered?
I do shoot tethered. Tethering is one of those luxuries you don’t think about until you do it. Seeing images on a big screen, conferring with clients or models is such a helpful tool and really improves the workflow.
My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…
Right now I’m rocking the 15’ Orange Tether Tools Cable. But there’s so much to love about Tether Tools gear, and I’m excited to play with the Air Direct, it may become my new favorite…
What’s on your photography gear shopping list?
I’m always in the market for lenses, I’m looking at a 70-200 f/2.8 and a macro lens. But I definitely have a few behind-the-scenes items on my wishlist – more C-Stands, V-Flats, and yes, the Air Direct.
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…
The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be to stop comparing yourself to people on the internet. Look at them for inspiration and knowledge, but only compete with yourself. You’re the only person worth impressing.