Photographic Craft & Connections: Sam Hurd & Dixie Dixon at Depth of Field 2023

04/27/2023Link0

Sam Hurd and Dixie Dixon may target different photo markets, yet they both prioritize craft and emphasize a human connection to their subjects. In this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we get the lowdown on their respective careers in wedding photography and fashion/lifestyle assignment work as part of our coverage of B&H’s 2023 Depth of Field Conference.

Above photograph © Dixie Dixon

We start with Sam Hurd, who shares the story behind his decision to shift from photographic storyteller to craftsman. He also describes how switching to mirrorless cameras has changed his process. Sam’s superpower is his inventive Ring of Fire technique for creative flare, and we discuss this in depth, while also touching on everything from image quality and lens design to the promise of AI-generating tools and the elements that get lost in the exchange.

After a break, we chat with Nikon Ambassador Dixie Dixon, who describes how making a connection with your subjects begins with detailed research well before the shoot day. She regales us with tales from major advertising projects, including how her efforts to get a release for a Ford Mustang led her to the company’s CEO. Get a first alert on her next book project and hear how her recent forays into video and directing tv commercials earned her a coveted advertising award.

Guests: Sam Hurd and Dixie Dixon

Wedding portrait made in the garage of the couple's home. The wedding was held in their living room on a rainy day, and they didn't want to get wet, so Hurd made it work!
Wedding portrait made in the garage of the couple's home. The wedding…
A simple reflection of a couple standing against a shiny wall with the wind blowing. This was the one frame that stood out from the rest due to the movement of her hair.
A simple reflection of a couple standing against a shiny wall with the…
Hurd often has to get creative using nearby spaces, and a parking lot is almost always close at hand. He simply placed his camera on the ground and got lucky with the leading line created by a slight rise in the asphalt.
Hurd often has to get creative using nearby spaces, and a parking lot…
An in-camera triple exposure, created partly by accident. Hurd intended to make a double exposure, but the camera was set to make three exposures—one of the couple in the distance, and two of the bride walking in the foreground.
An in-camera triple exposure, created partly by accident. Hurd intended…
Self-portrait of Sam Hurd made by shooting through an oversized one-way mirror, held in front of the camera while shooting into another normal mirror.
Self-portrait of Sam Hurd made by shooting through an oversized one-way…
An in-camera double exposure using a custom-made Canon RF drop-in filter and a black rotating piece of cardboard to block half the frame. After setting his camera on a chair for a daytime exposure, Hurd flipped the filter side, and brought the couple back at night for the second shot.
An in-camera double exposure using a custom-made Canon RF drop-in…
A double exposure made using two different lenses: A wide angle view of the couple at the edge of the water shot, with a 24mm lens, and a 50 mm portrait of the couple side by side.
A double exposure made using two different lenses: A wide angle view of…
Portrait made using Hurd’s Ring of Fire technique. He held a 1"x1" piece of aluminum pipe in front of his lens, then shot into direct sunlight at a wide aperture to create flare and place it anywhere in the frame.
Portrait made using Hurd’s Ring of Fire technique. He held a 1"x1"…
The narrow rectangular opening of a movie theater projector room allowed Hurd to isolate the couple in the room’s back corner when captured with an ultrawide lens.
The narrow rectangular opening of a movie theater projector room…
Sam Hurd

Portrait made for the Nikkor 85mm f/1.2 lens campaign, a legendary launch as the first 85mm f/1.2 Nikon has ever created, and a lens with incredible bokeh.
Portrait made for the Nikkor 85mm f/1.2 lens campaign, a legendary…
Beauty shot of model Birdie for the Nikon 85mm f/1.2 lens campaign, showcasing a futuristic style to accentuate the model’s blue eyes.
Beauty shot of model Birdie for the Nikon 85mm f/1.2 lens campaign,…
Fashion portrait of model Carsyn Hodde for the Nikon Z 7 campaign, made with the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens.
Fashion portrait of model Carsyn Hodde for the Nikon Z 7 campaign, made…
A surf shot of model Mason Kreidt at sunrise in Daytona Beach, Florida, the best light of the day. Made with the Nikon Z 7II and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens.
A surf shot of model Mason Kreidt at sunrise in Daytona Beach, Florida,…
A natural light shot for the Nikon D 5500 campaign, captured from the back of a Ford mustang in Colorado as the models were driving.
A natural light shot for the Nikon D 5500 campaign, captured from the…
Model Christine Penny in the lavender fields of Provence, France, emphasizing the complementary colors of yellow and purple.
Model Christine Penny in the lavender fields of Provence, France,…
Model Roxanna Redfoot in morning light at the Fort Worth, Texas stockyards, riding a longhorn named Flash. Captured with the NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4 lens.
Model Roxanna Redfoot in morning light at the Fort Worth, Texas…
Gerald the giraffe interacts with model Carsyn Hodde on location in natural light.
Gerald the giraffe interacts with model Carsyn Hodde on location in…
Environmental portrait in an abandoned library at sunset for the Nikon Z 7 campaign. Everything, including the sun rays, was captured in-camera using a fog machine.
Environmental portrait in an abandoned library at sunset for the Nikon…
A candid shot of Dixie Dixon working on the Nikon 85mm F 1.2 campaign at a Fort Worth, Texas studio.
A candid shot of Dixie Dixon working on the Nikon 85mm F 1.2 campaign…
Dixie Dixon

Episode Timeline:

  • 2:24: The story behind Hurd’s shift from storyteller to craftsman.
  • 5:58: The evolution of Hurd’s work from 2019 to today, visually and process-wise.
  • 8:36: Sam Hurd’s Ring of Fire technique for creative flare and lighting artifacts.
  • 13:37: Hurd’s assessment of AI-generating tools and the possibility this suggests for rendering an image anew to change details and elements.
  • 16:05: Recreating the discipline of shooting with film, and the tactile experience of different cameras and formats.
  • 20:30: Episode Break
  • 21:10: Transform your portraits into high fashion works of art by making a connection with your subjects and putting them at ease.
  • 24:45: The impact of social media and live castings on model selection and distinctions between advertising and editorial shoots.
  • 31:21: Shooting photos for the new Nikon 85mm f/1.2 lens and Dixon’s obsession with the 105mm focal length.
  • 36:53: Making the switch from DSLR to mirrorless… plus bull riding!
  • 41:22: Dixon’s newest adventures in video and directing commercial campaigns.

Guest Bios:

Sam Hurd started out as a political news and celebrity portrait photographer, in Washington, DC. He was quickly drawn to wedding photography as a way to promote more inventive ideas. Hurd focuses on photographic techniques that are deceptively simple but have the potential to transform difficult or uninspiring shooting environments into unique creative visions. According to Hurd: “My style is distinct, a result of both my unrelenting commitment to my craft and complete trust from clients who commission me.”

Dixie Dixon is an internationally renowned fashion, lifestyle, and commercial advertising photographer and film director, based in Dallas, Texas. She has spent the past decade bringing creative visions to life for brands, ad agencies, fashion, and commercial clients worldwide. As a full-service production company, she and her team deliver infectious energy to every set in the creation of spirited campaigns mixed with a touch of soulful realism.

Stay Connected:

Sam Hurd Website: https://www.samhurdphotography.com
Sam Hurd Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamthesam
Sam Hurd Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samhurdphotography
Sam Hurd Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamthesam
Sam Hurd Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/samhurd

Dixie Dixon Website: https://www.dixiedixon.com/
Dixie Dixon Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamdixiedixon
Dixie Dixon Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dixiedixonphoto
Dixie Dixon Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamDIXIEDIXON
Dixie Dixon Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/iamdixiedixon


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Yermy Weiss
Editorial Director: Shawn C Steiner

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