Photography is expression. Of a person, an experience, a moment, a brand. For us, it’s all of those things. The photography we use here at Bentley, in our brochures, on our website, for our ads, is integral to articulating not just what we do (manufacture beautiful carpet), but perhaps even more so, who we are (creative, driven people). For us, photography is meaningful and purposeful.
And so is our master photographer, Greg Carter of NuVisions. Just like us, there’s so much more to Greg than the phenomenal photos he creates. He came to the U.S. from South Africa 17 years ago with little money and no experience (in photography). Today, he’s a successful, self-made – and self-taught – photographer who never sits still. He’s always learning, exploring, experimenting, innovating.
Here’s Greg’s story.
- Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you established your love for and career in photography. I came to America in 2000 from Cape Town, South Africa with an opportunity to manage and grow NuVisions. At the time, it was a design studio with a small photography outfit that focused purely on catalogue product photography for the action sport industry. We shot the apparel and another studio shot the models. Why shouldn’t we do it all? I quickly realized the key to making that happen was a talented, agile photographer who wasn’t specialized in one area. So I picked up the camera. It was one of those situations where I knew I just had to do it. I threw myself into it, studied a bunch of books, went to seminars and practiced. A lot. I’m essentially a self-taught photographer. I learned on the job. In the beginning, I stayed focused on action sports and sports apparel. But digital photography came on quick. There was a lot of competition and pressure, and I knew if I stayed still I wouldn’t make it. So I adjusted the trajectory of my career and of NuVisions, and am now well established in cosmetics and also architecture/product photography.
- What is it about photography that excites you – and makes it more than a “job”? It’s really all about balance. I truly believe that having variety – the ability to do all types of things – is important. I’m an avid cyclist. I love downhill mountain biking and riding dirt bikes. I do that in my spare time so that when I come into work, I’m satisfied with spending one day doing administration and bookkeeping, and another day focused on post-production, and the other three days on location for a shoot. At the end of the week, I feel well balanced. Beyond that, there’s the reward you get when you see something you’ve created in a magazine. The sense of satisfaction is incredible. Everyone else looks at it and just sees a beautiful photograph. I see the people who were involved in creating it, the process that went into it. I love the process.
- Describe your process. There’s nothing “point and shoot” about commercial photography. And there’s never just one photograph. So much goes into behind the scenes: Set. Lighting. Props. Shoot. Finesse. Do it again. Suddenly, you’ll “see” the final image. The team is also very important.
- Tell us about your experience working with the Bentley team. I’ve worked in the industry a long time, and traditionally, photographing carpet isn’t too exciting. But Bentley is different. The team brings so much creativity and inspiration to the table. They’re open to doing things differently, to trying new things, to experimenting and taking risks. Bentley has reignited my passion for this kind of work. It’s fun. Collaboration and teamwork is important to them – and to me. We work well and fast together, and produce incredible results.
- What’s one Bentley shoot that stands out in your mind? There have been many, but one fairly recently is when we shot at a warehouse in L.A. Todd (van der Kruik, Bentley’s vice president of design) brought smoke bombs to the shoot. We were pretty much finished and Todd says, “Should we give these a try?” I said, “Heck yes, we should!” Blue carpet with yellow smoke. The first few shots were great and then the place filled up with smoke and we couldn’t even see each other for about 30 minutes. It was very memorable!
- What is your go-to design/photography resource? I have only one print magazine that I look at: Archive magazine. But I’m always looking at other photographers’ work and websites. I’m researching all the time. In the 17 years since I started my photography career, I’ve never stopped studying and learning. Fortunately, it’s one career where you only get better with time and experience.
- How about your favorite app for editing (for us amateur smartphone “photographers”)?Camera+ is pretty great. There’s also QuadCamera, which has been around since the first iPhone. It allows you to snap off a series of shots and lays them out as a collage. I still use it and love it.
- What’s your best advice to readers of Bentley’s blog? Trust in yourself. Human beings have an incredible amount of resolve and hidden talent. Find it, tap into it, believe in it. Of course, great thoughts and ideas mean nothing unless you get up and doing something with them. So my advice is have trust and take action.
You can find Greg at www.nuvisionsstudio.com and follow him on Instagram @gregcart.