Springsteen. Bieber. Gaga. Baldwin. We could go on, but we want to get to the point – Robert Caplin is in league with the best. He started proving his dedication as a photographer in high school, when a filled photography class had him sneaking into the darkroom to process his photos and earn him his deserved spot.
I have this career where I can enjoy life and then document what I enjoy.
Caplin may not yet be 30 years of age, but his photographs have been honored at the Clio Awards for advertising, and he’s shot for clients like Abercrombie and Fitch and the International Emmy’s. He takes on assignments of all genres, from sports to concerts. He’s also been published in National Geographic, ESPN The Magazine and The New York Times.
As he’s put it, “Working as a photojournalist in NYC affords me the opportunity to be shooting a story with a homeless man under a bridge in the morning, in the penthouse of a billionaire in the afternoon, and on field shooting a Yankees game in the evening.”
Any aspiring photographer can stand to absorb some tips that Caplin has picked up and shared along the course of his career – and of course, we know he has a long, successful road ahead of him.
1. Get more interesting photos of children
“What I do is take a few pictures to appease them, and then I’ll sit there and watch until they forget about me, at which point I start shooting some pictures. And they’ll often notice that you’re taking pictures, and a couple of them start posing and doing silly mugs; that’s when I put my camera down and just watch again,” he told the New York Times.
When you have your camera down, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be looking for the photo.
2. Snap famous landmarks like a pro
“I would say wait for the best lighting…what I like to do is shoot things at twilight. I was just in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, for a New York Times assignment, and I wanted to get a shot of a little fishing village’s harbor with the town square in the background. When I got there, it was getting to be dusk but it was still pretty bright in the sky, and I saw the lights turning on in the town square area. So I waited about an hour and a half for the sky to become much, much darker and bluer, and I took a slightly long exposure so that the sky, which was fairly dark, bled into my camera and created a much richer, bluer, more beautiful sky, with the little town in the background, illuminated perfectly.”
3. Build relationships
“When they can put a face to a name, they can tell a story about you, they have an experience with you, they’ll remember you in a different way,” he said. “That’s the kind of relationship I’d rather have than, ‘Let’s get this Caplin guy, he does good stuff.’”
4. Don’t be afraid to reach out
Few photographers would know this more than Caplin, who was eagerly snapping (no pun intended) up assignments as a mere teenager. He was only 20 years old when he went to work for the Los Angeles Times and soon moved on to The New York Times. In high school parents paid him to photograph their children during sports games; by the time he reached college he had a photography agency so popular that it paid for his tuition and rent.
If you’ve got a real passion, you’ll make it if you just keep practicing.
“Never stop. Always reach out to those who you admire. Surround yourself with talented people and just immerse yourself with it, and it’ll come. It’s one of those careers where there’s a lot of need for photography; there are a lot of pieces in the photography pie.”
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