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Meet Paul Davis of Paul Davis Photography in Tucson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Davis.

Paul, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I bought my first camera in 2006 so that I could hang out with my father more. His only real hobby is photography, and he likes to combine that with exploring new places. I bought a Nikon D200, so I would have a reason to go hang out with him.

He and I would drive around Southern Arizona looking for ghost towns, old cemeteries, mining towns, and other interesting landscapes for hours at a time just talking and looking for interesting places to take a photo. From the beginning, I was drawn to abandoned places – factories, old buildings, houses, etc. I don’t know why but all those things were fascinating to me.

At the time, I had one rule: If it doesn’t blink, talk back or move I’ll photograph it. During that time, I photographed mainly landscapes. Along the way, I started getting asked to photograph birthday parties, live events and to help as a second shooter for weddings. In time, I discovered that I really enjoyed working with people to create interesting photos – especially dramatic fashion or movie style photos.

Today, I would describe my style as commercial/fashion with a dramatic flair. I’ve always been drawn to dramatic elements. I’ll tone it down for a while, but at some point, the dramatic stuff oozes back out – especially in my composite work.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Well, I don’t think any meaningful journey is smooth. I’ve certainly had my challenges along the way. One thing I’ve learned is that no photo shoot is ever quite going to go according to plan and you have to adapt, improvise and overcome. Some of them work out better than others, and my biggest goal is to learn from each one and do better the next time out.

George Addair once said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

That’s been a helpful reminder for me because the creative process is often uncertain and almost never smooth. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of it, I will experience doubt that makes me question myself and my abilities. When I feel that way, I try and remind myself of that quote and just keep pushing as hard as I can to see the project through no matter how I feel about it at the time.

When I do that, good things tend to happen, and I’m usually pretty happy with the end result.

Please tell us about Paul Davis Photography.
I am probably most known for commercial/fashion portraiture. I also specialize in cinematic style photos. I’m known for doing a Halloween poster every year just to challenge myself and my team’s abilities. It’s always a fun project that I look forward too. I also love shooting senior portraits. It’s fun getting to know the students and what they like and working with them to create that.

I’m a planner, I’m known for creating these detailed project docs that very few people read – but that’s ok because it helps me make the most of the team’s time once we get together. I’m very organized, and I like challenges, and I love working with other people. I’m good at creating concepts and then executing on them. I’m known for a very clean style of photography, and I’m pretty good with lighting.

For me, a big goal for every shoot is that I want the models and people on set to have as much fun creating the images together as they do look at the final result.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over again, I would have started a lot earlier in life. I never knew that I would enjoy it this much.

On a more practical level, I would invest less in gear and more on creating opportunities for myself to take more interesting photos. For a long time, I had a big love affair with new gear – better camera bodies, lights, lenses, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, and all of those things are important to a certain point.

However, I made the biggest steps forward as a photographer when I decided to take that money I would have spent on gear and invest in myself and my own projects. That decision helped create situations that would challenge me to grow and try new things. The mistakes I made along the way and the things I learned helped me far more than a new camera body or light ever could.

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