Today we’d like to introduce you to Owen DeValk.
Owen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It honestly goes as far back as high school, around this time in 2010 I received a Canon EOS Rebel for Christmas not knowing how it would explode my life into this new and exciting direction. I was really blessed that the high school I went to had a great photography program, so the next year I took the intro class and absolutely fell in love. There’s something about photographing another person, getting to know them and what makes them tick that’s unlike anything else. Instinctively when you put a device between you and someone else their guard raises and that authenticity gets shut down. My goal then became to try and get passed that barrier. To tell their story and shoot them how I saw them. After high school, I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and got the incredible opportunity to spend a summer in New York and intern for the legendary fashion photographer, Bruce Weber. It’s remarkable because the world of fashion is incredibly fast and always changing so the world of fashion photography has to keep pace, but Bruce- despite the massive production and scale- was still always able to draw out that authenticity. To photograph someone like we’d caught a glimpse into the middle of an ongoing narrative.
After that, I approached photography with different eyes. Then college graduation (which almost didn’t happen for me as I’d just spend a semester in Hong Kong and had to quickly finish my class requirements) and moving out to LA. Since then it’s been a crash course learning all the things college never teaches you. You come into the real world with the basic building blocks on how to succeed but not the filling that goes in between and binds it all together. About a year and a half after moving I got a job with Fashion Nova as the lead photographer which then grew after a year into the head of the department. That job taught me how to navigate high pressure editorials and campaigns but also that my mind isn’t made for working a 9-5 job in the same place with the same people every day. I lost what it felt like to grow as an artist and it quite honestly became very depressed. I heard this quote recently from research professor Brene Brown that “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.” And that’s exactly what had happened to me. I wasn’t shooting for myself anymore and it was starting to leak into other areas of my life. So, fast forward a couple of months and I’m working as a freelance photographer in LA with my own schedule, my own creative input and with all the knowledge and wherewithall I’ve been so lucky to learn throughout everything that got me here.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has most definitely not been a smooth road, but everything worth having is never easy. God will teach you the value of not having something if you start taking it for granted. As someone who loves stability and loves having control over every aspect of my life, it’s been an arduous game of tug of war to let go and let God. The word freelance is very scary to a lot of people, myself included because it comes with this certain level of uncertainty. What I didn’t know is that it would take hurling myself into that world to light a fire in me to pursue photography with a new hunger and desire I’d never had before. Every step of the way I’ve been reminded to make God the center of my life, and every time He’s miraculously provided. For example, my car was recently broken into and a camera stolen along with a bunch of memory cards and equipment. Normally this would be extremely devastating, but I’ve had countless people reach out offering to help financially, lend me their cameras and equipment, even start a gofundme page to put towards an upgraded camera. The Lord works in mysterious ways and this event, while objectively pretty terrible, has reminded me how surrounded I am by incredible, loving and genuine people that God put in my life for a reason.
Please tell us about your work.
I’m a fashion photographer by trade. Meaning I handle principle photography on photoshoots ranging from simple E-Commerce imagery to campaigns to editorials to even simple portrait sessions. Ultimately I just love working with people and finding ways to capture their essence on film.
Overall I’m very proud of the energy I create on set. With the pace of everything, it’s so easy to get swept up and take your stress out on the model or crew and I’m not like that. After moving here I was lucky enough to be mentored by photographer Elias Tahan for over a year. His demeanor was always calm despite whatever whirlwind was happening on set and his work ethic was a steam-powered locomotive that never seemed to stop. In every way, he was exactly who I needed to meet, exactly when I met him and taught me things I could have never learned in college. Things that made me who I am today and those are what I’m most proud of.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oh geez, what a question. I would say my favorite memory from childhood was, and this is going to sound basic, any time I got to see my dad. When I was younger he traveled for work about five days a week so almost all the memories I made had holes where he should have been. I had three other siblings so once a month we’d each get a weekend activity with Dad and that was anywhere from visiting the zoo to seeing IMAX nature documentaries in a museum close by to morning iHOP runs for breakfast. Every time I got to see him was limited, rare and so special.
- Portrait sessions (headshots, social content, etc.) 1-2 hours of shooting, 8-10 retouched images are $500
- Website: https://owendevalkstudio.com/
- Phone: 8048145915
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/owen_devalk/
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