Photographer Spotlight: Richard Cook

Posted by: on Aug 28, 2020

Photographer Spotlight: Richard Cook

I would describe my style of photography as…

My style of photography… I would say in one word “flexible.” What I mean by this is that I am flexible to make every shot as unique as possible. I love to play with lighting (both natural and flash) and I hate to light my shots the same way every time.

Photo Credit: Richard Cook

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

My first camera was given to me by my father when I was nine years old. It was a Canon AE-1. I used to shoot anything and everything with that camera. Jumping forward to my mid 20’s, I was working as a makeup artist doing work with lots of different photographers. My passion for photography is what pushed me to make the move from makeup to being a full time photographer. In 2019, I stopped shooting and became a full time digital tech and lighting designer.

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

There have been many memorable shoots in my career. One that always stands out to me is a shoot I did completely for myself (and my wife). I had an amazing body painter paint my wife as Tinker Bell and I shot her in a forest scene. I had her entire family helping me out on the shoot and our two kids running around like crazy. I have an A0 print of it in my office.

Photo Credit: Richard Cook

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

This is a tough one as I’d have to say I am proud of all the images in my portfolio. One that jumps out at me was a shoot I did with a fitness model (Jen Jewell) from the USA a few years ago. I had never met her before (as I had only spoken to her on Instagram) and I booked a makeup artist/hair stylist (Rene Ferreira) that I hadn’t ever worked with. To top it off I decided to make a rain machine to use inside my studio. With all these potential problems the shoot was amazing. The model was a pleasure to work with and hit every pose, the make and hair was exceptional (I still work with the same make up person to this day) and the rain worked like a charm. As they say in the classics “I love it when a plan comes together.”

My dream gig would be…

I’d have to say my dream gig would have to be any shoot that had no limitations on the lighting budget. With budgets getting cut, lighting budgets are tighter than ever making it more difficult to get the results we want. Being able to just book any amount of gear I’d like on a shoot would be a dream come true.

My favorite piece of gear is… 

I would have to say my Phase One camera Kit. It’s now 5 years old but the images that it produces are second to none. If we’re not talking about cameras then I would say my X-rite Colorchecker Passport Photo 2. I am very particular that colour should be correct!!

Photo Credit: Richard Cook

My favorite  piece of Tether Tools gear is…

Apart from the obvious (the tether cables) I would say my Tether Table Aero. Computers need a solid surface to sit on and with the Aero XDC, I always have a backup drive running.

Photo Credit: Richard Cook

What’s on your photography gear shopping list?

As I now work as a digital tech I would say the list is long. A second Eizo Monitor, Inovativ trolly, Mac Pro and a Colorchecker Classic to name a few things.

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

If they are new to the industry, I would tell them the best thing they can do is to assist for a few years. Work with other photographers and learn different techniques from them. Other than that I would say you’re only as good as the team you work with. Makeup, hair, styling and of course your digital tech can mean the difference between a good shoot and a great one.

About Richard Cook

Richard Cook is a digital tech and photographer based in South Africa. Prior to being a photographer, Richard worked in special effects and makeup for the entertainment industry. Throughout the years, as a photographer, Richard built a diverse client base of editorial and advertising clients including FHM, Oprah Magazine, Maxim, Toyota, Liberty Life, Nissan, Jameson Whiskey, Muscle Evolution, USN, Cipla and Fitness Magazine. Richard had a photographic studio (Flashback Studios) based in Gauteng, South Africa for five years, where he worked with a variety of photographers assisting on the digital side as well as lighting. After closing the studio in 2018, he now works as a full time digital tech where he creates a streamline workflow for all the photographers he works with.