July 1, 2008

Featured Artist: John Merritt

John Merritt finished second in Black Turtle Media’s Portfolio Review Challenge. His portfolio can be viwed at

What kind of background do you have in photography?

I started shooting seriously in April 2007. Prior to that, I had no real background in photography other than that I had spent several years working in advertising as a Print Production Manager, many moons ago I might add. I have always been a creative egg, I guess. I have dabbled with many different mediums over the years but nothing grabbed me the way photography has now.

Did you have any formal education in photography?

No formal education in photography, only in as much as online courses and reading many, many books. And of course lots of observation and study of the great photographers out there.

What motivated you to enter this contest? Have you entered similar contests in the past?

I was prompted to join the website and the contest after somebody had spotted my work elsewhere on the internet. This was my first official entry into a contest like this.

How do you get the ideas for your photographs?

I have a warped imagination at times; a situation, dream or person triggers that. A lot of my work relates directly or indirectly to life experiences, both past and present. I get my inspiration from so many great artists, life situations.

What kind of equipment and software did you use?

Just over a year ago, I scraped money together to buy a used Nikon D70 SLR camera and I still use that same camera today. I use Adobe Photoshop primarily in all of my post-production work. I love them both!

Describe your shooting process.

I like to think of myself as a down to earth and personable person. So I like to sit and chat with models prior to a shoot; it creates a more relaxed atmosphere. We get to learn more about each other’s goals and dreams. Most important is that we have fun! It has to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved; I believe this will result in a much better collaboration.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I am always working on something; there are too many ideas and concepts, and not enough hours in the day.

What are your future aspirations in the field?

This a hobby for me right now. I normally only shoot on weekends and I spend most evenings working on my images when I get home from work. You could say that I have been working my tail off this last year or so to make my dream a reality.

My dream is to be able to quit my job in construction and become a full-time photographer. I want to break into the world of editorial and fashion photography with my twist on things. I would also love to continue on with more fine art photography too. I’d like to thank you again for everything, this has just given me more encouragement to continue on with this.

What advice would you give to other people entering creative competitions?

For anyone else entering such contests my suggestion would be to include as much variety in your portfolio as possible. Show the full scope of your talent.

What are you going to do with the prize money?

The prize money will go towards upgrading my camera equipment. I have had my eye on a specific lens for a while now and will put the rest towards lighting equipment. Thank you so much!