Walker Corl – A Photographer by Design

31 October, 2018

Walker Corl is visually oriented and always has been. After graduating from a 2-year college back in 2010 he was hired as a junior designer at a marketing agency and within time was promoted to Senior Designer. His responsibilities included conceiving, designing, and producing a wide range of products for print and the web. Depending on the project, the budget, and/or the availability of local talent, he would often take responsibility for any photographic needs. His eye was good, but his lack of training meant he'd have to do a lot experimenting before he got the image he needed, especially when he was first starting out.

He knew the basics, but his skills and knowledge of lighting were woeful early on. By chance he gained access to the photo studio at a media office he freelanced for where he spent evenings and weekends learning lighting through trial and error. He didn't know about sync speeds and blew through dozens of exposures before he figured out why portions of the frame went black when shooting at higher shutter speeds.

Light modifiers were also a mystery to him, but it didn't stop him from experimenting to see what worked, how things worked, and why they worked. When the meager selection of studio light modifiers didn't do the trick, he tried bouncing light off of white cards, walls, and ceilings. In many ways these early frustrations are the reason his lighting skills are as highly defined as they are today.

Several years into his job he decided to go back to school with the goal of getting his Bachelors in Graphic Design. His choice was the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah Georgia.

Before long he began recognizing the opportunities in SCADs photo department and jumped at the chance to develop his photographic skills while being trained by professors with years of top industry experience. This is when photography became a passion of his. Graphic design was his main focus but he knew adding commercial photography to his skill set would go far in improving his existing skills in art direction, composition, and graphic design.

Walker is currently a senior and he has grown notably during his time at SCAD. He's cracked the code of lighting and understands what works, what doesn’t work, and when possible, how to make the seemingly unworkable items actually work.

His gift is that he’s always had a good eye and a penchant for puzzles and problem solving, all of which go a long way in commercial photography. He also makes a point to avoid repeating himself. If a lighting setup works once, that’s fine, but he’ll go out of his way to try a different approach the next time a similar lighting scenario arises.

At school Walker's been using Profoto Acute 1200 kits, but his preferred lighting system are battery-powered Profoto B1X battery-powered monolights due to their portability, ease of use, construction, and ability to go anywhere without having to rely on AC power. When asked to name his favorite light modifiers he's hard to pin down, mostly because he finds use for most all of them.

Light modifiers Walker has incorporated into his workflow include the Profoto OCF Octa, Profoto Softlight Reflector White beauty dishes, Profoto Umbrellas, and Profoto OCF Softbox Strips. He makes good use of all of them and likes the idea of having every 'toy' at his disposal, but when push comes to shove he admits nothing beats Profoto Umbrella Deep Silver - "I just keep coming back to it - the light is simply beautiful."

Part of the secret of Walker's knack for framing and lighting a photograph well is that he views photographs the same way he approaches puzzles, which as a self-professed problem-solver is something he relishes and has always been good at. He plays the light and shapes within the frame lines against each other until the pieces fall into place.

When asked about his long term goals Walker refers to the numerous sports and sportswear catalogs he used to pore over when he was younger. He would study how the designers and photographers approached 'mundane' items such as jerseys, sneakers, and creates, and fashioned them into stories. Before he ever picked up a camera he was aware of the power of imagery. Even today, he follows the work of several sports and celebrity photographers on Instagram.

Five years down the line Walker hopes to be able to head up his own design/photography studio in which he can have total control over the creative process including design and photography of catalogs and advertisements for major sports clients such as Nike, Adidas, i.e., the big guys.

Take a peek at Walker Corl's website and Instagram pages if you want a taste of what you can expect down the line.

 

Products used in this story

OCF Softbox Octa

Ideal for flattering portraits, used with off-camera flashes