Born in Queens, NYC photographer Terrance J Drysdale uses natural light to photograph models to create ethereal images that are reminiscent of fairy tales. Starting his creative journey in Florida after relocating there when he was a teenager, Terrance dabbled in film making and cinematography in college, then moved in to photography at the age of 21.
“In all honesty, I became involved in photography by complete accident. When I was 21, my grandparents bought me my first DSLR camera. Originally, I started taking nature photos, but soon decided that my true love lied in taking portraits and depicting emotion and stories.
“Although I feel that film making will always be my first love, that art fell into the shadows and gave rise to my focus on fine art photography.”
When a photographer uses natural light, they obviously have to use the environment around them to light up their images. With Terrance, he said it has been a bit of a challenge but it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
“The most challenging thing about working with natural light is that it is unpredictable. Your settings might be perfect for a shot where the sun is behind the clouds. Everything is in place and you are ready to shoot, but the next thing you know, the sun breaks through and you have to sit down and completely re-calibrate your settings and even change the look and feel of what you are going for.
“Similarly, if you are shooting in the woods around sunset, you may be working with the perfect patch of natural light. Since the sun is setting, that light is constantly moving and it is important to adapt your settings and the location of the model to work with what nature is providing. Shooting natural light truly is about being in the right place at the right time.”
But often with fine art photography it is about the model; their position, expression and how they act in the frame. Fine art photography has been explored thoroughly by photographers like Terrance Drysdale, Brooke Shaden and many others, with images often reflecting paintings of the renaissance era and late 19th/early 20th centuries.
” When I look through the viewfinder on my camera, I always check to see where the light is falling and if the picture is going to tell a good story. Above all, I want to connect with what is going on the frame.
“If I don’t connect with what is in front of the camera, all inspiration is lost and I won’t take the photograph. For me, what makes a photograph is the fact that the shot has to have a meaning behind it. If people can’t find a meaning behind your work, then your message is lost.”
“there is always a plan and shots you want to get, but you have to go with the flow.”
In regards to subject matter, many photographers often state that travel is a huge source of inspiration, even the biggest. Travel takes you out of your comfort zone, encourages you to meet people you haven’t met before and see different architecture and sights.
“Travel is VERY important, essential, even, to the creative palette. Travel opens the doors for artists to experience new places, cultures, landscapes and people that you could never see if you stayed put. When it comes to creativity, this is the kind of thing that sparks you to do more and expand on the new experiences you are immersed in.
“I understand that not everyone can afford to travel extensively and that is okay. Even jumping in the car to explore a nearby park or beach or national park can help stimulate creativity. For me, my summer trip to Europe took my creativity to a new level. Living in Florida, I pretty much only have the chance to photograph flat ground, forests, and the beach. While all of these things are beautiful, it is easy for creatives to get into a rut. Europe allowed me to experience something completely different and out of my comfort zone and it pushed me to improve on my work. ”
“I feel like my shoots are very laid back as I put little planning into them, other than choosing a model, dress, and location [if I am shooting in my city]. I may have a certain look or overall theme I am going for, but generally everything is very free flowing.
“My models rarely wear makeup, and their hair is usually all natural. Although I have worked with hair and makeup artists, I feel that the natural beauty of the model is all I need to successfully portray my vision.”
“I don’t source inspiration from one person, but from the entire world. If art was a person, that would be my inspiration.”
Technique is an often discussed subject with photographers, as that is what makes them who they are in terms of their own style. With Terrance he uses natural light, soft tones and positioning of his models. There is usually a story behind every image and over the years, Terrance has improved on his photography creation in terms of capturing the shot in the moment.
“In the past, I would think too much about specific shots I wanted to get and strive to capture that shot. In that process, I would lose myself and the vision. Eventually, I came to terms with “yes” there is always a plan and shots you want to get, but you have to go with the flow.
“The spontaneity of photography spurs my spirit of wanderlust and forces me to venture into the world and explore and experience everything.”
“When it comes to photography it is all about capturing that moment in time and if you are too focused on what you came out there to do then there is a good chance you may miss that perfect moment, opportunity, and photo.”
“Photography moves me because it is totally unpredictable and no two photographs are alike. On any given day, you can come across any given light, setting, or situation! It is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The spontaneity of photography spurs my spirit of wanderlust and forces me to venture into the world and explore and experience everything.”
“(The shot above) was actually completely spontaneous! In Clearwater Beach, Florida, you have the chance to charter a realistic looking “pirate” ship for a day at sea. When the model was in the water during our shoot, the pirate ship just happened to make its way into the distance and I had to capture the shot.
“I felt like the timing was absolutely perfect. If the girl in the photo was searching for something, which the vast majority of my subjects are, that boat in the distance is probably her only hope, hence the title of the shot, “Where the Boats Go.” If the girl in the photo is trying to get somewhere, it would only make sense that she would notice the ship.”
“Taken in the French Alps over the summer, this shot depicts what my work is about in a nutshell. The subject is smaller in the frame and nature of all kinds [rocks, trees, light, wind, water], are all around her. The wind is blowing and the model is not even paying attention because she seems to be reflecting on her own inner struggle.
“My creative style strives to showcase a moment frozen in time where the subject is searching for something, be it psychical, spiritual, or mental. I feel this photo best represents that aspect of my creative style.”
“I find inspiration from my inner self and the people and experiences I come across on a daily basis. I don’t source inspiration from one person, but from the entire world. If art was a person, that would be my inspiration.”
Having started as a landscape photographer, Terrance seems to enjoy the outdoors and has a fondness for exploring and finding that “right” location to shoot his images in.
“Sometimes, when I am travelling with a model, we have only two dresses to choose from and have no idea what our location choices are. I may research an area near where we are staying to get an idea of what the landscape looks like, but I won’t ever know until I actually go out there and experience it for myself. That being said, I set out to hike to a new location with my camera equipment on my back and the wardrobe on the models.
“She is never wearing make-up, and her hair is messy and tied back. If I am hiking and find a beautiful cliff overlooking the ocean, I will stop, have the model change, and then we will shoot a few images Once she is ready, I will have her step into the frame and will take some test images to ensure the lighting is where I want it to be and that I am using the correct lens.
“If the entire location is fantastic, she will put her shoes back on but will continue the hike wearing the gown. We may walk 200 yards and find another gorgeous and unique landscape to shoot. This situation could go on for 30 minutes or for 5 hours, depending on the look and feel of the shots I am getting.”
“The way I see life is what inspires me. Who I am as a person shows through in my photography in a very raw and very real way. I am drawn to scenery and light, and am constantly trying to find who I am as a person and as an artist. The story of self-discovery is a very clear message in my artwork.
“To find inspiration, I chase the light. I live my life in a way where I keep an eye out in the world for the way light hits different locations, beings, and natural elements. Travelling new places, seeing different things, and meeting exceptional people all play a role in my source of inspiration as well.”
Terrance’s work has been featured in Vogue, on 500px and various sites and magazines around the world. His images will be ones to look out for; with his style already developed, it will be wonderful to watch where Terrance ventures in his career.
“I can share that I am in the process of curating my first gallery showing, and have been putting together my first workshop. Also, stay tuned for my upcoming store of custom Photoshop actions, launching later this year. As far as large projects go, in a few weeks I will be shooting the 2016 line for Galia Lahav, a couture wedding gown designer based out of Israel. It is a very exciting time for my work!”