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. interview with a photographer



[photographs ©kyle monk photography. last two photograph ©monkpond]

“ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham

Before I decided to concentrate on my own photography business, I started a company called Thought Gap. The name was born from the belief that the creative process happens when we aren’t thinking– between synapses. This ‘gap’ in our thoughts allows us to just pull from a deeper place without our thoughts getting in the way.

However, it’s all the mindfulness up until that point that prepares us for the creative ‘aha’ or ‘flash’ or ‘lightbulb’ that just happens. So my company was created to help other creatives find their way to this successful, rewarding and honest creative vision for themselves.

I worked with designers, photographers and artists to help them cull their best work, find a common thread and begin a new path toward their ultimate vision as an artist.

One of the photographers I worked with was Kyle Monk. He was fresh out of CSUF and eager to get feedback, some direction and find his successful path in commercial advertising photography. I was so excited to work with him because, for me the potential of his work was incredible.

For our first meeting, I had him bring all of his favorite images so I could see a common thread and help him get a sense of his own personal style. I culled the strongest images and found relationships between them, narrowed down to only the most distinctly ‘Kyle’ photographs.

Now, ten years later he is making some of the most creative work I’ve seen for some fantastic corporations and organizations. He collaborates with another photographer, Greg Pond, on big projects and I can only assume that this must be a very rewarding push toward improving his own work.

I asked him some questions to help give other photographers some insight into looking at their own work and vision for where they want to be and what they want to do with their talents.

Where are you from? -KM- I am from Fullerton, California

How did you first get interested in photography? -KM-Photography has always been something that interested me.  For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed looking at photographs in magazines and books but it wasn’t until I took my first black and white class in college that I got hooked.

What formal training have you had? -KM-My formal training consisted of a few courses in photography at California State University Fullerton, but I feel my real education and training began when I started assisting professional photographers.

What was one of your greatest hurdles in getting to where you are now? -KM-The greatest hurdle I’ve had  to face was the fear of failure, rejection and making mistakes. Once I embraced this I was able to get over the hump and gain momentum working as a photographer.  It took baby steps, hard work and patience.

Have you been influenced by anyone in particular? -KM-I’ve been fortunate to have been influenced by many people.  Some that come to mind are fellow artists; family; my first photography instructor Mrs. Kane; Jayson Carpenter a friend and photographer I assisted; Kristianne Koch and most importantly my girlfriend Song. All of these people were there in the beginning and helped give me the confidence and inspiration I needed to push on.

Where do you get the ideas for some of your photo shoots? What influences your work? -KM-My ideas come from various avenues, such as friends, family, the news and my girlfriend.  Most of my ideas just come from doing day to day activities and having interactions with people.  Something will stand out, whether it’s something someone said or did and I make note of it.  I also pull my ideas from great artists and photographers, like Norman Rockwell and photographers Gregory Crewdson and Nadav Kander.

Your work portrays the ‘hard core reality’ of life with a humorous tone. Are you a pessimist or an optimist? -KM-An optimist for sure.  I always try to look for the good in everything first.  I believe being optimistic allows you to achieve more, have better relationships with people and overall become a happier and healthier person.

What’s your favorite lens and why? -KM-My favorite lens is whatever I am using at the moment.  They all serve their purpose, however I use my Canon  24-70mm the most.

What advice would you give a photographer just starting out? -KM-To keep shooting, especially personal projects for yourself.  Assist a variety of photographers too.  Also, I believe if you don’t have the passion and truly love creating imagery then you should reconsider.  If you really want to become a photographer then you will.

What is your favorite image that you shot and why do you like it? -KM- At this moment the photographs I have been creating for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation are my favorite.

Describe your “ideal” photography shoot? -KM-For me the ideal photography shoot would be an assignment for National Geographic.  To be able to travel to a new country or destination that allows me to spend a lengthy time documenting people, telling unique and important stories through images.

What do you like most about being a photographer? -KM- I’d like to see myself doing just what I am today but busier with more assignment and personal projects – creating work that is meaningful and photographs I am proud of.

Do you have any personal projects you are working on now? What are they and how did you choose them? -KM-Yes.  I am working with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Southern California Chapter. This assignment is a personal project that came about after participating in the Great Strides National Walk Event for Cystic Fibrosis. A close friend of mine has a nephew, Michael, with CF. After the event I had a better understanding of Cystic Fibrosis and decided to reach out to the Foundation to propose my concept and ideas for photographing people with CF.
Cystic Fibrosis is not a widely publicized disease however most people would probably recognize the term but would not know exactly what it meant. It was not until I met 3 year old Michael while participating in the walk that I gained a clearer understanding.  This was an opportunity to help bring awareness and support to CF as well as meaning to my work.


[Kyle’s beautiful photographs from this project are featured on CNN World]


Digital or film? –I like both, however the majority of what I shoot is digital.
Photoshop or Lightroom? –Both. I use Lightroom for general processing, batching, working with multiple files and Photoshop for more extensive post production work.
Studio or location? –I love shooting in studio for many reasons but prefer to be on location.
Strobes or ambient light? –I can’t put one over the other here.  I love to keep it simple with no lights but then again I don’t.


Remember to never be fully satisfied with what you’ve already created. I urge everyone to never stop photographing. It’s most probable that your best photograph has not yet been made.