Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Featured Professional - Sparc Media (Photographer)

An Exclusive Interview with a 
very detailed perfectionist...
Sparc Media's, Ryan O. Nash of Hartford, CT.

Written by:  QianaNichol
As a writer, I have interviewed new artists, numerous models and even Dave Chappelle, but one of the most interesting 99-minutes of my life took place during an interview with photographer and entrepreneur, Ryan O. Nash. 

You live in Connecticut, were you born & raised in Connecticut?
-No, I was born in Kingston, Jamaica.  We moved when I was 6-years-old and came straight to Hartford, Connecticut.  We kind of went back and forth for awhile, but eventually we were rooted in the states because of the economy back in Jamaica.  We lived in the roughest part of Hartford.  We didn’t have pets, the roaches and rats were our pets!  My parents worked in a factory and saved their money to later buy a house in a better part of town.

When did you discover the creative side of yourself?
-In high school I wanted to take a photography course.  I spoke to my guidance counselor and he said that I didn’t have room in my schedule for the class.  I went to every teacher and hustled to change my schedule to take the course, and I got in.  When I first started, I did a lot of fine art photography.  Then, my buddy, Mike and I decided to open a small business.  We had permission to work in the workshop class at school doing family portraits.  We didn’t do great, but had our own business.  Then, we began working at the Hartford Courant (the largest daily newspaper in Connecticut).  It was difficult, working with older photographers.  Those guys had gone to college, and were insulted that these two young high school kids were doing what they were doing.  

Are you Married with Children?
-(Yes) 9 years.  I have two daughters, Alexis, 7, and Nakayla, 4.

Are you guys done?  Do you think you want to try for a boy?
-We were thinking about it, but in reality, I love my girls, they are amazing.  I have no problems.  Boys are so much work, daughters are a lot easier.  I know once they become teenagers that may change, but if you lay down the right foundation, they will be fine.

How do you balance your family life?  (With a laugh)
-Honestly, my wife.  She holds the house down.  It is very difficult and I try to be better at it.  We have a company (Sparc Media) that is growing rapidly.  We have to put in the time to sit down and go over our schedules.  That’s the only way and without her I couldn’t do anything.  We provide a service to our clients and try to be there for them 24 hours.  She understands and she knows that if I have to go out at night for the better of the company, then in the end, it’s for the better of our family.  Her patience makes it work.  Every day I get up and get the girls ready and sometimes she gets them ready.  I take them to school every day.  Every day I hang out with my youngest and her teachers at school.


“Did you brush your teeth?  Let me smell.  Did you brush those good, the front, back, side, roof of your mouth, tongue?  Good night….wait….go pee.  Try to pee again.”

When and how did you create your multi-media company, Sparc Media?
-The idea came the summer of 2008, everything launched around December of last year.  Sparc Media was a vision; I and a graphic designer and videographer were trying to figure out ways to work together.  It started to grow from there.  We recently partnered with B Squared (a NY-based printing company recently featured on The Celebrity Apprentice).  Now we are able to shoot them, design and print their press kits, labels, letterhead, and calendars.  Our philosophy is to build relationships and provide quality work and to be there for the client to talk to about the direct marketing of their image.

Do you carry your camera everywhere you go?
-Not anymore, I used to.  One thing that’s wrong with creative people, artists, painters, sculptors, even writers, is business.  Normally the problem with creative people is that they don’t understand business.  Now, I focus on the business, I only carry my camera for specific reasons.

You are of Jamaican decent, how does your heritage influence your work?
-My parents always taught me, because they were very religious “God wants you to work hard.” You always hear how Amazon was started in a garage, and how Bill Gates started with a small loan.  My mom worked in a factory for 25 years every single day.  My brother was an accountant and worked in law firms.  I watched how they grew their business from my mom’s back porch, 9 years ago, to a small warehouse, to a bigger warehouse, and now they are preparing to buy a building.  My mom has worked hard for 9 years and has put the factory that she worked for out of business.  I know it sounds like a cliché, but Americans take it for granted.  You can do whatever you want to do in this country.  You can do it and the only person that’s stopping you, is you!  You have to work hard and try to make the smallest amount of bad decisions.

What attracts you to photography?
-It’s something I love to do.  I love to create, and capture moments in time that I personally will never see again.  Like when I went chasing the monarch butterfly, which is only in Connecticut for a short time and then it flies to Mexico.  I love the beauty, the creation, the self expression; a lot of people don’t understand photography beyond taking pictures of women.  If you are in love with photography, you explore all aspects of it.  I love the freedom to capture anything.  My advice to any photographer is to go try as many forms of photography as you can.

As a photographer, how do you get a model that is new to warm up?
-There are a lot of techniques.  Some things work better on one person than on another.  I make sure that they feel as comfortable as possible.  I usually ask what type of music they like.  Usually in the urban market it’s Hip-hop or R & B, every now and then they’re a little different and like techno.  Before the shoot I let them know what the shoot will entail and have them  watch video footage from another shoot.  This way they know what we are going to do and how it will be done.  It’s good to have the physical down but they also have to know that it’s the face that sells the product.  I like to give them certain words and noises to get their face and eyes moving.

Do you have any models / artists that you would like to work with?
-Aria Giovanni, Tiara, Rita G, Veronica Zemanova, Lil Wayne, Jay Z; I’ll stop the list there.

What type of model do you enjoy working with?
-They are few and far between.  A model that knows how to move when they get in front of the camera.  They know how to model with energy and feeling.  The body movements and facial expressions work together.  A model that knows what they are doing excites me.

What are some mistakes that you see models make?
-Something that bothers me, sometimes models complain a lot!  They don’t realize that this is what it takes.  We are on a beach shoot, you know its cold, I know its cold, we knew that before we got here, so it doesn’t help that you say “its cold” 10 times.  You have to understand that this is what it takes.  You are not always going to be comfortable at a shoot.  Also, a lot of models in the industry rely on Photoshop.  You can look at their body in pictures and think its one way, but when you get them on set, their body is totally different.  In a picture their waist may look like a 25, but in front of you their waist is a 31.  Now I have to figure out how to make this work with someone that has lied.  Some models feel that while they are shooting, they are just shooting, that’s not who they are.  You can’t continue to be just yourself; you have to have a willingness to explore beyond.

What are some mistakes you see other photographers?

-They don’t come with a business plan.  You have to sit down and say where do I want to be a year from now?  I see photographers focus on opinions that don’t matter.  They post pictures and get opinions, but they don’t get honest feedback that helps them grow.  Also, they get too comfortable doing what they are doing.  One thing that I loved about Michael Jordan was that he was always uncomfortable with where he was.  BE UNCOMFORTABLE, because being uncomfortable helps you grow.  Do things that you never thought you were going to do.  Try new angles, don’t do the same angles, go outside, get out of the studio, break the monotony. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by someone else’s work, but that doesn’t mean you copy.  Put your own twist to it so that it doesn’t look exactly like or too similar to the original work.  Practice your craft.  You can’t be at home hoping it will come to you.

You have been featured in several magazines, created projects for artists and corporate clients, which accomplishments are you most proud of?
-I am most proud of doing Latin Maxim.  Maxim is a world renowned publication.  Photographically, when one of my pieces was featured on MTV’s My Sweet 16 (Aaron Reid, son of producer LA Reid and singer Pebbles).  I am also proud of Sparc Media.  I am proud of the employees, and its growth.

What’s your inspiration?
-My family.  They are a huge inspiration; I want to better their life.  Even after people told me to quit.  I knew my vision, and my goal and I shot for it with a business plan and it worked.

What’s your next step?
-To become a conglomerate.  I want to be the leading multimedia company in the nation and cover the world of multimedia.

Paint the picture for me, of your dream photo shoot
-Playboy!  Do you know how many lights are on a Playboy set?  (My guess was a reluctant, 50).  30-60 lights, I love the lighting, it’s unbelievable.  I mean to do something like Playboy with a model that knows what she’s doing.  The set is unbelievable and so well done.  As a photographer for Playboy, you don’t even have to do a lot, you have a crew of people setting the lights and it’s absolutely amazing!

Booking/Contact Info:
ryanonash@gmail.com  |  www.SparcMedia.com