#UnderOurHat Justin Gilbert’s Journey to the Studio

I was always the kid with the most extra myspace photos. I grew up with point-and-shoot cameras pre-smartphone days. But since buying my first DSLR in 2013, I’ve learned so freaking much.

I studied photography as a minor at University of Central Florida where I kindaaaa learned composition and concept. I learned almost nothing about exposure, camera gear, lighting, etc. Ever since I started I’ve always made people my subjects – nothing else seemed to make sense.

In 2015 I started a wedding photography business after honing my skills a bit better. I shadowed, second shot, assisted, I did it all. This was my key to creation. I was able to open my spare time for creative projects, you know, now that I could pay rent. “Side hustle” is sooo real.

In 2016, I made a huge shift. I needed to level up my skills and that next step was studio work. I was initially intrigued by beauty photography (again, people as my subjects) and I found there was just no way to get that crystal clear quality with just natural available light – I had to master flash.

I started by learning off-camera flash at home and at my weddings, and then implemented those techniques into other projects. I built a home studio set up and practiced with test shoots and trying to bring ideas to life.

Those first studio shoots were bad, bad bad bad, but after trying and trying, it was easier to tell my stories through studio work. Everything must be set and balanced so precisely but once you’ve got it, nothing can get in your way.

I prefer studio photography because when you’re outdoors, one single cloud covering the sun can completely hault your workflow and change the look of your image. Also, air conditioning lol. But in the studio – everything is consistent. I can create a world separate of real-life. I create a space where things look more graphic, more vibrant, and more dreamlike. I’m able to escape the visual constraints of the world and work with a blank canvas. (I’m so sorry that was soooo artsy to say.)

With this new skillset, my focus now is now model portfolio, fashion/editorial, and commercial/product work. I’m higghhhhhly driven by the 90’s, vivid color, and creating a sharp graphic nature around my work.

As for the future? I see music videos on my horizon. I’ve started to abolish the idea of a “personal brand” and trying to stay in your own lane – every skill you have, every talent you possess, every vision you see, THAT is your brand. Dimensional is in – be everything you want to be.

View Justin’s Hub profile.

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