Hello from Bri Chmel, Realtor® & Owner at Live Love Santa Cruz! We have some great photographers here in Santa Cruz. If you want a portrait of your family done at your favorite beach, or you need a present for your significant other to hang on their office wall, look no further. Jeff Schwab has become well known in town for his creative and colorful pieces of artwork. Most all of these shots below were taken walking distance from my favorite neighborhoods. If you are interested in looking for a home in a place I call paradise, please contact me to set up a meeting!
Bri: Jeff, your photos of Santa Cruz are absolutely stunning. How long have you been a photographer?
Jeff: It all started a few years ago when I bought a GoPro. I originally bought it to take videos of my mountain bike rides but enjoyed it so much that I began using it to take pictures of local sunrises and sunsets. With all the positive feedback I got from friends and family, it motivated me to pursue photography a little more and I started making prints. Unfortunately the prints didn't come out very well so I decided to buy a camera; my first, was a Nikon D5500 in July of 2015. I recently upgraded to Nikon D750 and D810. With no prior education on photography, I spent countless hours watching YouTube videos and eventually taught myself how to use a camera. I would say it took about 6 months to really understand what I was doing. To answer your question: looking back at where I started and where I am now, I have been a photographer for about a year.
Bri: What kind of photos do you take?
Jeff: I mostly enjoy taking landscape pictures. Being outdoors and capturing nature is where it's at for me. I have done some portraits before and I will be pursuing that more this summer. So if you have any interest feel free to contact me.
Bri: When did you move to Santa Cruz, and why?
Jeff: I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, all of my family and friends are here. It's a beautiful town that has a variety of destinations to take pictures and you can't beat the weather.
Bri: What is a normal day like for you?
Jeff: I usually start my day early, whether it's going to the gym before work or taking sunrise pictures. My afternoons are usually pretty mellow. I enjoy watching sports, editing photos and I've recently become interested in cooking. Summer activities include mountain biking, hikes, camping, the beach and whatever else sounds fun. I like staying active and pursuing my passion of photography.
Bri: Do you plan out what you are going to shoot or do you just wander around until you see something that catches your eye?
Jeff: I usually try to go places that I haven’t been to for a while. My locations are almost never planned out, instead, I’ll just get in my car and drive around until I find a spot. I don't shoot as much I used to because there are only so many different perspectives you can capture of Santa Cruz. My main focus now is expanding my portfolio with new locations by traveling and seeing what else is out there.
Bri: When do you feel the most creative and what gives you inspiration?
Jeff: I try to be creative with every shot I capture. I enjoy seeing other local photographer's work. I have met with a few, which has been educational and inspirational. I currently have a website with my work up for sale, which I'm very proud of. I also have an Instagram and Facebook account where I post new pictures and enjoy all the feedback I get. The positive words from other people is what inspires me.
Bri: I am always interested in what an artists creative space looks like. What does your office or desk look like?
Jeff: Funny you ask, I actually edit in my bed on my laptop. We are renting a place right now and there isn’t a spare bedroom for a desk. All I need is my laptop and a mouse, so I don’t need a ton of space. For now my bed is where it is at!
Bri: Where do you hope photography will take you?
Jeff: Right now photography is a hobby that has turned into a side job. Ultimately, I would love for it to become my full time profession. I've done some portraits in the past and really hope that I have the opportunity to do more this summer. For now, I'm taking it one day at a time.
Bri: Do you use filters on your photos, and how do you touch them up to look so vibrant?
Jeff: I don’t really use any filters. However, if I'm doing a long exposure shot I do use Lee Filters. I edit all my photos in Lightroom, which I really like. It's easy to use and the pictures come out great.
Bri: What do you print on? I have seen people printing on a lot of new medias like metal for example.
Jeff: When I first started, I did all paper prints and mounted them on Gator Foam. But every time I would transport them they would get damaged. I now print on metal, and it is by far the best quality that you can get. The metal is about 1/8 of an inch thick and is super light. If people want something else, like canvas, they can request it.
Bri: Where can somebody find your prints if they want to buy one?
Jeff: I currently have most of my artwork on display at the Jerk House, on Soquel Dr. My website is www.collectivefocus.photodeck.com where you can find a variety of prints for purchase. If there is an image that's not on my site someone can email me directly at email@example.com. I have also had customers view my prints I have hanging up at my house. Either to purchase or to get an idea of what material they might like for their order.
Bri: I can guess that as a photographer you see beauty in your surroundings that other people look past in our fast paced lifestyle. Do you find this to be true?
Jeff: Sure, I believe that could be true. One thing I love is the foreground. For instance, I choose my angle based on the landscape surrounding the sunset while most people are just focusing on the actual sunset. I try and put all factors into capturing the best picture possible.
Bri: How long does it take you to edit one of your photos?
Jeff: That all depends. If I'm editing just for fun, or to post on instagram, I can edit a picture in a few minutes. Every photographer has a basic workflow when editing. If I'm editing for a print I will take more time and really pay attention to detail.
Bri: What do you love most about Santa Cruz?
Jeff: The weather, beach, friends, surroundings and family. I have gotten very comfortable here. I like to think that this will be my “forever” home base. If I left, I am sure I would come back. I definitely plan on retiring here.
Bri: Where is you favorite place to shoot photos?
Jeff: Yosemite! I can't imagine shooting in a better location. I know that I'm not well traveled yet, but Yosemite is my favorite location so far. There is so much to see there and every season offers it's own uniqueness.