A year ago this month, I sat down and told myself I was going to pursue a concept that had been on my mind since April of that year. I had withdrawn myself from pursuing what has now turned in to MagMod because of doubt, risk, and a false assumption that the flash modifier market was overcrowded. As I started development of the MagGrip, MagGrid, and MagGel, I quickly learned that MagMod was turning out to be no ordinary flash modifier, but something that could realistically improve how photographers work with light modification. My mind was filled with concepts for different types of modifiers, some of which were a radical new way to shape light. We know that now the rest of that story is why MagMod exists today.
But in reality, MagMod wasn’t just one man’s effort. Behind the curtains were friends and close colleagues who prodded me forward, and encouraged me to pursue the impossible. Because of them, MagMod exists today, and I cannot thank them enough. The journey has been incredible!
Here at MagMod, we believe in the impossible and are hell bent on revolutionizing how photographers perfect their craft. Inspiration has played a massive role in our existence, and now its time to give back to the community. I am excited to announce a series of interviews that will hopefully bring that extra ounce of inspiration to your photography, your business, and your personal life.
With that said, it seems very fitting to launch our first interview with a very good personal friend of mine, Tony Hoffer. He might not know or admit it, but Tony played a crucial role in helping MagMod get off the ground due to his insight, criticism, and encouragement. We thought it would be a perfect start to our MagMod Inspirational Interviews because his own photography and business have been a marvel to watch evolve.
Tony & Amy Hoffer
Wedding, Portrait, and Commercial Photography
Q: Where do you work/live/play, and how can everyone find you on the web?
We live just outside Philadelphia in Downingtown, PA. We love to travel and go all over the place for work.
You can see our work at http://hofferphotography.com
Q: How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in photography?
I started shooting in 2006, shot my first wedding in 2007 and became a real-life full-time photographer in 2008. My wife Amy and I have shot together since day 1 and we shoot roughly 40 weddings per year to this day. We love it!
Q: What type of photography do you mainly shoot?
We focus on weddings, commercial work and some commercial style portraits. Most of our time and energy is spent around our wedding business, but we love filling in the gaps and experimenting with lighting as much as we can!
Q: If you were forced to pick a completely new genre of photography that you currently do not shoot, what would it be and why?
Landscapes without question. I love shooting them as a hobby and more importantly love the travel that’s involved with shooting them. I find that they challenge me in a way that is totally opposite of working with people and would love to do it more often.
Q: What do you love about your career as a photographer? This career has given us so much, but it depends on which part of the career we’re talking. With photography specifically, the best parts are meeting tons of great people and experiencing new parts of life. It’s also pretty amazing to have a job that allows for such affirmation. Jobs like that are hard to come by. One of the coolest parts of this job is being self-employed. There’s always down sides, but getting to figure out our own schedule has been pretty incredible.
Q: What would you say is your signature look? How do you describe your style?
I think we’re generally known for two things: Quirky and creative compositions and lighting our work (and wedding work) in a way that is elevated in some way. We want people to look at our work and say ‘that looks like a Hoffer photo’.
Q: What is one piece of gear that is in your bag (other than your camera) you can’t live without?
Just one? I’d say my lighting gadgets are generally my favorite. I love my ND filters and my MagMods!
Q: What is in your gear bag for a typical shoot?
We have a ton of lenses that we trade in and out depending on the shoot. For a typical wedding we’ll take 3 5DMarkIII’s, 2 35’s, 2 50’s, 2 85’s, 2 135’s, 1 17 t/s, 1 45/ts, 1 24-70, 1 70-200, 1 24, a whole ton of lighting gear, flashes, Magmods and anything else we can fit in a car. If you read all that, you’re a bigger gear head than me.
Q: Do you have any cool lighting tricks you find yourself using on a frequent basis?
Lately we’ve been loving how we can stack 2 or 3 Magmod grids for things like ring shots and detail shots. Shameless plug anyone?
Q: Who inspires you? Are there other photographers, businesses, or people you look up to?
I don’t really idolize any photographers because I tend to end up having my work look too much like someone else’s. I do look up to a lot of people for how they see the world, though.
From a business sense I get inspiration from everywhere. I love thinking about marketing subtle ways of getting the word out.
Q: Do you have any goal or objective in photography that would make you feel like you’ve accomplished something significant?
Not really. I used to want to get onto all the ‘Top Ten’ lists and be at the top of the awards, but quickly realized that I don’t have the stomach for it. It sounds cliche, but I really just love having a client that is overwhelmingly happy. It seriously makes our whole job so much better.
Q: What sets you apart from other photographers? Do you deliberately try to do things differently from other photographers?
I guess we kind of do. It’s not that we go out and specifically think about what we’re doing, but it is a definite goal of ours to look at the direction of wedding photography and give people an alternative to it. We want our work to look different. Otherwise we’d be boring.
Q: Was there any specific moment, or revelation that changed your work? When did things start clicking and coming together?
I’d love for this answer to be much more creative or fulfilling, but the truth is that we made a huge jump as soon as we got a full frame camera. That was the first time I ever saw our work and thought it looked good enough. It opened my eyes to how many options we’d have and drove me to get better… much better.
Q: What would be your best tip for anyone looking to get started in photography?
I would tell them that they need to love photography and love business. Millions of people love photography but very few of those love business enough to make the investment of time and energy into making it work. I advise every aspiring photographer to really investigate before they start a business. It’s an easy business to start, but that doesn’t mean we should treat it that way.
Q: Do you have any upcoming workshops or notable events where photographers can learn from you guys?
We have two workshops this October but they’re both sold out. We don’t do a ton of them, but we have an email list on our site if people are interested in getting more info when we do another: http://hofferphotography.com/hoffshop/