5 Question Interview Series with David Burke

Hello All,

I hope everyone is staying nice and warm lately. John and I have been enjoying our down time, which has allowed us to focus on some fun photography projects and focus on our website, blogs and business in general. We’re coming up with some cool ideas we hope to share with you soon!

Since we’re not shooting very much at the moment I thought it would be a great time to steal a really great idea of my husband’s that he started on his blog a while go; 5 Question Interview Series. Every so often John would come across someone of interest to him and ask them to participate in a 5 question interview and post the answers on his blog. Well, I thought this would be a great idea to start on my blog with local photographers. I thought all you wedding couples out there might find this an easy way to get to know a few really great photographers in our area.

david71 The first person that came to my mind was David Burke, owner of David Burke Photographers in Mt. Lebanon. He’s a fantastic photographer and just an all around great guy. If you get the chance, be sure to check out his website and his blog.

How did you get into photography in general?

I had a camera in my hands since I was about 10 yrs old. It was a Kodak 110 to start with. I always enjoyed looking at photographs and taking pictures. I still go back to some of those pictures from way back when and remember what I was thinking and doing at those points in my life. Once I got older and understood life a little better, I thought, “What a great way to document time.” I was then hooked. Growing up I loved Life Magazine photos and National Geographic. In my heart I think I always wanted to be a photographer, just never thought it would materialize. I am so happy do be doing what I love!

Photographing Weddings?

This came about pretty naturally as well. I would get asked to take pictures of families and children and then one day I mentioned that I would like to photograph a wedding sometime. A DJ friend of mind called me one January evening and said, “My couple this weekend had their photographer bail on them. They asked me if I knew one and said, yes I will have him here for you.” How could I say no to that? I DID!! Vehmently. I was like “Are you CRAZY? Photograph someone’s wedding? I don’t know what I am doing!!!!” Eventually he calmed me down and talked me into it. I did it, shooting with 35mm Film Cameras and Fuji NPH 400 Color Film ( which is now Fuji Pro 400H). Nervous? You better believe it! Scared? Heck ya! I was a nervous wreck until the proofs came back from the lab. Turned out they weren’t too bad and the clients loved them. I then said… “NEVER AGAIN.” The suspense was too stressful.

Fast Forward one year. My passion for photography grows and I get a Digital SLR – Nikon D100. I am asked again to photograph a wedding. I say, “Sure! (Did I just say that outloud??)” This time I shoot 50% Film and 50% Digital. I am now in love. I started on a journey working with a fellow photographer and quickly learned that I did not like to be the “Planner and Guide” for the day. I wanted to observe and document. I mean, formal shots are great and important but only a slice of the day. I want to document them, but not spend all day telling people where to go and what to do.

At this point, my wife, Bridget, said, “You need to do your own thing. Start your own business and shoot them the way you want.” It was at that moment that she encouraged me and gave me permission to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer. So one Sunday afternoon I cooked up a website, made cards and started telling everyone that I was a photographer. I would shoot anything for anyone. Over time, lots of mistakes and learning, I have focused more on weddings because that is what I truly love. There is so much going on, so much to be told, observed and documented. It is truly an honor to be the selected Historian for this day.

What is your favorite piece of equipment and why?

Well I have two. My Nikon D3 and my Nikon 85 1.4 lens. One without the other doesn’t work very well 🙂
I love my D3 because it is a workhorse, built to last and is easy to use. it is so comfortable in my hands and the FX Sensor is amazing (even at ISO 6400). I never really need to go into a menu to make setting changes. Everything is right there on the body at my finger tips.

I love my 85 1.4 because it is razor sharp wide open, has amazing contrast, colors and saturation right out of the camera. This is my favorite portrait lens, first dance lense and candid lens. (I also love the 35 f2 and 50 1.4 🙂 ) I am really cheating here!

Do you have any other artistic outlets besides photography?

I love to SING. I play guitar, but only rhythms. I never had the patience to get fancy. I also feel better singing when I have a guitar. The guitar acts like a shield and keeps me from being so… um… naked. LOL. I have loved to sing since I was a kid. My wife is always telling me to “keep it down” because the kids are napping/sleeping all the time. Secretly though, she loves my singing. That is how she fell in love with me 🙂

Which photographers have influenced your work?

This is a great question. The list is long so I will focus on the biggest impacts. In our industry I would say Mike Colon, Denis Reggie & Joe Buissink first and foremost. Their influence of being a “story teller” instead of a “director” gave me the validation that it is a great way to photograph a wedding. Mike Colon’s openness about his Faith had a big influence on me as well. I have learned a lot from him and am happy to call him a friend.
Outside of wedding photography would be Annie Leibovitz (especially her early journalism work) Henry Cartier Bresson, Richard Avedon, & Mario Testino.

What advice would you give to a couple looking for a wedding photographer?

Make sure you like the photographer as a person. His/Her character and attitudes should be in touch with your own. Relationships are number one in this industry. If you do not feel comfortable with the person that will be with you for the majority of your wedding day, then look elsewhere. Whether he/she is an observer or a director, his/her vibe will be there all day. You will be able to tell in the images if you were comfortable or not.

Thank you David!

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