Photographer Rob Kristian has worked with many heavy hitters in the industry. Recently he had the opportunity to shoot a totally new face, up-and-coming model Derek Arellano. Despite his impressive portfolio, Rob is easy to talk to and comes off as exceedingly humble, more than willing to provide insights into his own work and also the industry as a whole. In his three separate shoots with this young professional, Rob found that Derek was fun to work with and showed a real talent for modeling. He found Derek to be exceptionally humble, generous, and appreciative, qualities that Rob indicates definitely will prove helpful for his future in modeling.
AAG: Tell us about your recent shoot with Derek Arellano.
RK: Derek’s attitude is what inspires me most. I have never worked with a model so completely appreciative and humble of what others do, or have done for him.
AAG: Where did you discover Derek?
RK: We met first by connecting on Instagram. I noticed that Derek had no professional photo shoots posted so I reached out to him and asked if he were interested in having one done.
AAG: Has Derek’s popularity increased since the shoots?
RK: Derek has gone from around 700 friends on Facebook before the first shoot to over 5,000 just two weeks after. Seeing similar growth in his Instagram, Derek has definitely seen a growth in his following. While some photographers might take full credit for these sorts of results, I think Derek deserves most of the praise. A shoot can only be as good as the model one works with and in this case Derek proved to be a very talented individual.
AAG: Who are some of the other models you have enjoyed working with?
RK: Craig Gierish is another rising fitness model/athlete I had fun shooting. We have shot several times. He has also been there for me as a personal friend this past year during some difficult times. Looking back now, for the most part, I have been very lucky to have worked with some of the models I have. It seems recently the last five or six shoots I have done, the models have all been great!
AAG: How do you plan your shoots?
RK: As far as planning a shoot with a new model, I try to get together with models for coffee for a quick meeting so it’s not totally uncomfortable the day of the shoot. For locations I keep a notebook on my phone, so when I’m driving around town or wherever it might be, I either take a photo of a place to remind me or write it down whenever possible. When I get to the location with the model, we go through the wardrobe or props to decide which will have the best contrast for the background, taking the lighting into consideration, of course!
AAG: How did you get started in photography?
RK: It first began when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and began shopping at Unique, a bookstore on Central. While there, I was inspired by much of the artwork in photography books that I saw and after talking to a friend I got hold of a Minolta film camera. At first, I was just shooting still lifes in the desert, working on improving my abilities and learning to develop film. But eventually I started shooting people too. Later, I switched to a Nikon that I held onto for about 5 years. As I improved my skills, I went from being a hobbyist to actually getting professional work. For a while, I was stationed out of Las Vegas and shot male models full time.
AAG: What are some of the highlights for you of your photography work? Magazines, books, and other achievements?
RK: One of the things I was very proud of which sadly didn’t get much attention was a four-page spread with Bryant Wood for Vanity Hype Magazine about a year and a half ago, the February 2014 issue. I was also also very gratified to find my work featured with WBFF competitor Carlos Dos Santos for DNA Magazine Online. I have lost count of how many book covers I have done now. I believe it’s between 15 and 20. I know of five more that are going to be released early 2016.
AAG: Why do you think there is so much competition in the photography field? How do you wrestle with it?
RK: This is a very hard question for me to answer, I honestly don’t know! I used to consider so many of my colleagues as friends. The more success you get sadly that is when you find out who are your friends and who are your competitors. I have just distanced myself from most of them and do my own thing now while I will still acknowledge a lot of their work on their professional photography pages.
AAG: How has social media influenced your work and style?
RK: Social media has had a big impact on my work as a whole; that is where the positives come from, seeing and becoming friends with your peers. I get a lot of inspiration from looking at what others are shooting and their editing styles. Over the last few years I have become comfortable with a style that I think works for me. Two of my favorite photographers are Jorge Friere and Luis Rafael. I think I have come up with something that lies between Luis’s location work and Jorge’s amazing studio work.
AAG: What is your ideal shoot? If you could shoot anywhere with any one?
RK: As far as a particular model, I seriously don’t have a favorite anymore. Before finding out what this business is like on the inside, I could have given you a two-page list of names! But now, I’m not so sure. Maybe that’s why I enjoy working and finding new talent so much. To watch their careers develop and see where they take it!
AAG: Do you have any particular philosophy about your work?
RK: I love being unique in what I do, which is why I always take a personal approach to all of my shoots. Unlike many photographers who might introduce a signature approach, I try to stretch myself and explore new means of artistic expression with everyone I work with. Whether or not others appreciate this is not what is important to me, but rather the creative process is what matters. In my years of experience I have learned to be true to myself and to my art, and so far it seems to be working just fine for me.
About Rob Kristian
Working as a professional photographer for over two decades, Rob Kristian is the kind of photographer that shoots art for art’s sake. He found a passion for shooting male models and to this day it continues to drive him. While his impressive portfolio includes shoots with several big name models, he works primarily out of Phoenix, Arizona where he enjoys helping up-and-comers get their start in the world of professional modeling. You can see more of his work at https://www.facebook.com/RobKristianPhotography/.