Piers Lamb/ Success Interview
How to reach Piers Lamb:Website: pierslamb.com
LinkedIn: Piers Lamb
Location:Born and raised in Washington, DC
What's in Piers Lamb's Camera Bag:
Nikon D850, D800 backup, Nikon 14-24 2.8, Nikon 24-120 4, Flashpoint 200, Flashpoint R2proN, couple extra batteries and charger, Lowepro camera bag Vertex 300 AW, Gitzo carbon fiber GT3531 Tripod with Manfrotto ball head 468mgrc2 and a Leatherman – never know when you need it
As a native Washingtonian, I have been proud to work across a dynamic range of industries as an Art Director and Photographer in DC since 1996. I have two degrees in design: one with a focus on artistic design and marketing, the other in computer graphics.
With my fluency in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Microsoft products, I have created advertising campaigns and marketing materials, logos, personal branding, postcards and innovative real estate listing materials.
In addition to design and marketing, I have won numerous awards for architectural photography and am an industry expert in real estate photography. When not photographing the gorgeous architecture in the DC Metro area, I am also available for professional headshots and special event photography.
I always welcome the opportunity to work with individuals and small businesses on their branding and marketing strategies in order to help bring their vision to life!
Outside of my professional life, I don the Santa Cap in service of D.C.’s foster children many times throughout the year. My wife and I are the Mr. & Mrs. Claus behind Santa’s Cause DC and founding members of the organizational crew for Krampusnacht DC, which has now become a staple of the H Street holiday festivities.
Through these programs, we are able to provide birthday and Christmas gifts, as well as school supplies and luggage for foster youth in the DC system. One of the elements of the program we take the most pride in has been our laptop initiative which ensures that when one of our foster youth graduates high school or earns their GED and enrolls in college or work-training program, we are able to provide them with a laptop to ensure they have what they need to meet their studies head-on.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
My education was in fine arts and my career started out on the advertising and graphic design path. I was the art director for a magazine for a number of years. Photography began to take shape largely because a couple of my best friends were special events photographers (high-end weddings, etc). When one was switching to Nikon from Cannon, he asked if I wanted his gear at a great price. Sure, I will find a use for it. I did some support work for them as a second shooter at weddings and other events, then I ended up taking product photography for some regular clients; shot some pasta, jewelry, embassies, corporate headshots and other photo work. At that point, I was still more design-centered, but photography was playing a larger part in my expanding skillset with my freelance clients.
About 15 years ago, I saw an ad in a local paper for part-time graphic artist for a real estate firm. I applied for the job and when the owner learned I could shoot, had my own gear, and a heavy background in design (both were a huge value added for her agents), she asked if I wanted a full-time job. The rest was history. I took on the role of Art Director and head of marketing for her company and raised the level of their photography tremendously. It was a tremendous talent recruiting tool for high-profile agents, having me in-house, shooting their properties and then also doing all the marketing work for them; fact sheets, postcards, listing presentations, web presentations, magazine/newspaper ads. I raised the bar for how real estate was photographed and marketed in the DC-area. I helped grow a 40-agent real estate firm with just 1 Minolta printer and me doing all the work into being an Art Director/Photographer over a marketing department with multiple offices and a peak 140 agents, 3 Minolta printers, staff and interns under my direction over 13 years. It was a great run. When they were bought by another company, I transitioned back into freelance and have been doing that successfully ever since.
Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer?
amazing photo of my wife about 19 years ago when I was studying up on my portrait skills. That was the first time I approached photography as an art and not just a tool of my profession. While I still enjoy working with some art portraiture, some of my greatest satisfaction is when I shoot another artist’s or photographer’s house and they (as an artist in their own right) love my photography.
Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?
I’m glad I was a strong graphic designer first and had a thorough background in fine arts. The software skills let me work around some of the technical issues as I was learning and the art education gave me a solid understanding of balance, light, and overall composition. These skills helped me as I became a better photographer and as the industry developed to a higher level of quality.
What do you enjoy photographing the most?
Old homes with lots of character, artwork, and antiques. I like being part of preserving their history and story.
What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
Going freelance… When the company I worked for was bought out and I went on my own, I got calls the very first day from competing businesses and former contacts asking to get on my client roster. Seeing that the quality of my work was valued and sought after under my own brand was one of the most validating points of my career and continues to be so to this day.
We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?
Gap between real estate photography and the high-glamour of architectural photography. I strive for the best balance point in cost and time between those two styles, using studio lights and doing Flambiant photography. Ambient mixed with flash and Photoshop layer mixing. Finding the sweet spot in that process to get my clients the best photos in the most time and cost-efficient manner is the ongoing process.
There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?
In my line of work the biggest photo needs to be is 8.5x11 @300 dpi, one does not need the best camera or gear to do my job. Get a camera/gear that meets the needs of whom you shoot for and grow in the directions you want and need.
How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?
Balance & beauty. Seeing like I am looking through a camera always. How objects sit on a table, birds flying, trash on the street. If you do not see it right away, change you angle or perspective.
What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?
Take your time, breathe. Like all careers, it takes time and practice; just keep at it. Don’t be afraid to try something from a different approach, experiment, ask questions from people who have been doing it longer than you.
What is your best photography related tip?
High end equipment. You do not need the top of the line equipment for real estate, you will get there if you want it later. Have a backup camera!
Your photos look amazing, what’s your secret sauce when it comes to post processing?
Years of work, little bit of luck, gratitude to those that I work with
Speaking of which, what’s your post processing workflow?
Photomatics does the bulk, Lightroom for final balance or room lighting color and shadow/highlights, Photoshop to remove unwanted elements and add skies.
What would you like for people take away from your work?
I care about every shoot and take my time to make sure my clients get exactly what they need. I’ve shot award-winning photos for architects and design firms and know it is important to be able to deliver for a client at any scale of expectation. It’s important to me for my clients to always know they’re in good hands. That is probably the quality in my work that matters the most to me.
What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?
Camera, Nikon 14-24, Tripod
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?
My friend’s book when it comes out. George Gill photography. He captures stunning landscapes from all over the world and has an amazing talent. He’s also the friend that sold me my first pro equipment back in the beginning of my photo life.
Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?
If I was to take the job…most likely would not.. unless my wife came along for the ride… 24-120 1.4, and my real estate lens. Nikon’s newest mirrored camera. Tesla truck and the latest IPhone.