Hey! My name is Rob Woodcox, I’m a conceptual portrait artist based in Portland, Oregon USA. My goal in photography is to capture vividly whimsical scenes that reflect the dreams and real experiences I encounter throughout life.
I’ve always seen life through an imaginative lens, so when I discovered photography 6 years ago it became the most rewarding method of turning my dreams into reality. I typically spend about half my week exploring and location scouting natural places around me to gain inspiration for concepts, and I often focus on memories and subjects that are important to me when trying to create new ideas.
I’d say my mind is my most powerful tool when I give it the space to breathe, and exercises in word mapping and musical lyric analysis from my favorite artists help me expand my thoughts visually. Most of my concepts start with a story or idea, which I collect by writing down in my journal. I find that if I don’t capture original ideas immediately, they will fade or get lost forever.
Though my photography is highly reliant on locations and ideas, I would never be able to produce my work without the aid of various physical tools; I would get nowhere without my Canon 5D Mark II which has been my go-to body for 4 years now.
I’ve created most of my work on a Canon 50mm f/1.2 prime lens but also enjoy the Canon 35mm f/1.4 and Canon 85mm f/1.2 for different focal lengths and compression rates. I always get the shallowest F-stop on a lens possible to enable a dreamy background in my images, however lately I’ve been experimenting with some larger depths of field. I love being open to experimentation and change!
Speaking of change I love shooting with natural light, however with it constantly changing sometimes I need artificial support, and my Profoto B2 kit is the perfect portable lighting kit to get the job done. I have a variety of softboxes ranging from a 2 foot diameter octa box to a 3×4 foot rectangle. I typically prefer minimal light to maintain as natural a look as possible, but having 1-2 fill lights can dramatically improve the lighting on subjects.
With those basic tools I can create almost anything, but with the experience I’ve gained over the last few years there are a few additional tools I like to keep around to help me in a bind. My Vanguard Alta Pro and Vanguard Veo tripods paired with a remote trigger enable steadier camera operation and the ability to take self-portraits by myself. Sometimes fully creating by yourself can be therapeutic and empowering!
I also keep fishing line for fixing various props or wardrobe items, clamps for wardrobe and hair in a bind, and a lighter in case fire or smoke are needed. And I don’t ever forget my iPhone for behind the scenes videos, pictures, and of course, selfies. I’ve found that building interest around my photos before and after sharing the final images can bring my audience further into my process and promote learning and growth.
Once I’ve captured my stories, the real fun begins in the editing process! Selecting compositions, expanding images, compositing and touching up colors and complexions are all made possible through the magical capabilities of Photoshop! I spend about 2-5 hours on any given photo or set of photos from upload to saving the final image, depending on the complexity. Occasionally the really complicated photos that require a lot of manipulation may take longer, but I’ve gotten my techniques down to a measured science.
Once the image is complete, it’s really just a matter of keeping them safe through a backup process to my G-Technology 3 terabyte hard drives, and then deciding how to share them with the world! When I’m finally ready for the release of my idea, the process comes full circle through a visit back to my journal to contemplate the original purpose of the image(s). I enjoy composing a meaningful writeup with my online posts and the feedback I often receive makes the process well worth it.
Whether you’re beginning photography or a seasoned veteran, I hope sharing my process and tools will help your own visions grow and succeed! I find nothing more fulfilling than the “AHA” feeling when I successfully release the ideas in my head through photography. Whether its personal, for a friend, or commercial, photography has the ability to make the world a more beautiful place; go out and share that beauty with your own community and world!
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