What is your principal camera or system? Why? I am an Avid Nikon Man! I used a Nikon D5. D850 and a Leica V-Lux. I went into a camera store and asked the clerk what was the best affordable camera at the time to go to the Sundance Film Festival to take a bunch of photos? He brought me a Canon and a Nikon D300.
I tried both and immediately fell in love with the smooth and quiet Nikon. Love at first use!
Some of your photos are shockingly close—like the two-page wolf face with an astonishing golden gaze. Some detail on how you accomplished that? I’m thrilled you love the two-paged Wolf face, especially since it’s a Full Grown African Male Lion!!!!!!
I love it! That photo has so many people guessing different animals. Mostly Wolf. It is part of a four-part “Lion Series of Photos”. I just happened to choose that 1 out of the 4 to the book designer and she loved it. The photo was taken at the California Wolf Center in Julian, California. They have two wolf packs; American and Mexican Grey Wolves. I used my Nikon D5 and the 600mm Nikor Nikon lens.
How many of your subjects were obviously aware of and interacting with you? The wolves, gorillas, chimpanzees, are so close to us as to be obvious. Others? Most animals I photograph, react to me, because I make similar noises they recognize.
The most fascinating and funniest moment came at the San Diego Safari Park. I was photographing this female Gorilla. I use a flash even during the day to get a pop in the pupils of the animals. So, as I’m clicking away at the Gorilla and flashing my light in her face, everyone behind me starts to laugh hysterically. I stopped and asked this sweet little lady why she was laughing, and she said the Gorilla I was photographing “Flipped me off”!
I said “No way” and looked back at the series of photos I took, and low and behold, you can see the flash popping in her face, and I guess she had enough of that and decided to respond in her own sweet way. Flipped me off! So, you can see this awesome photo on page 81 of Life Behind Bars.
Commentary seems a bit thin. Was this a function of interacting with PETA? Not criticizing, but lack of detail is obvious to a long-time fan of Goodall, Lorenz, Tinbergen…other animal Behaviorists/Ethologists. Have you read in the field? No, not yet. This first book was to be from my point of view of what it meant to me about Caged Wild Animals.
As a Documentary Filmmaker, I learned as I interacted with the Animals and the staff. Creating the Book with my staff is where we all learned about the statistics of the Animals, their habitats, behaviors, their enemies; Man & Climate. When I decided to embark on this Journey, it was from my love for Lions and growing up watching Mutual of Omaha presents…, Jacques Cousteau etc…
I had always wanted to visit SHAMBALA, Tippi Hedren’s Preserve in Acton, California. As soon as I walked in, there was a Giant Male Lion in this enclosure. It kept staring at me as I took countless Photos. It was “Henson”, Tippi’s favorite and main Lion. He is on the Cover of Life Behind Bars. I spent three hours there and as the group and I were leaving, out came Tippi to greet us. For about an hour, she talked to us about why she started this Preserve in 1973 and that ”It was a necessary evil” but, because of climate, poaching and Game hunting she had to protect these beautiful Animals.
Initially, I wanted to do a book that was definitely against caged wild Animals. I hated it when my Mother would take us every weekend to the Cincinnati Zoo when we were small. I asked her why the Lion there kept pacing back and forth in his cage. She said it was “Stir Crazy, which at that age, I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good. After hearing Tippi’s point-of-view, I decided to take the whole year off and travel America to 12 other Zoos, Preserves, and Sanctuaries to see why they were started. I knew after my year’s travel and talking extensively to staff, that it is a “Necessary Evil” to have Wild Animals captive, but unfortunately, to preserve these fragile animals there had to be a place to protect them. I also discovered that the Zoos of old are not the Zoos of today. All of the places I visited, especially the Cincinnati Zoo, were in fact giant open enclosures compared to the old days. They emulated their wild habitat as close as possible.
Finally, PETA had no say in the production of the book. They noted that their objective was different from mine, but they respected my effort to enlighten the public to this predicament and loved that I in the end wanted what they wanted; “To Save Wild Animals”.
Have you considered taking some comparison photos using wild, in-nature animals and their captive relatives for another volume? Or collaborating with another photographer? For example, Jim Coda?
You are very perspective! My second book is doing just that. It is going to compare Captive Wild Animals to their counterparts in Africa. I have a 14-day Safari booked for July 2021, in Kenya and Tanzania. Two of those days I have booked a private tour, to take up my Drone to get Aerial photos.
What kind of time did you have to spend to get your fine lighting effects with the creatures you have depicted or to capture movement/gazing?
There is no time for the correct lighting setup. These animals are unpredictable and I had to have all three of my cameras set to whatever available light there was with my flash ready to go. The Nikon cameras I have are so advanced, there is little room to mess up a shot if you have the basics set.
Believe it or not, my technique comes from many years of Modeling, Acting, dancing, and documentary filmmaking. I don’t plan anything. I take in the scene, make a noise to activate whatever animal is in front of me and let their actions dictate mine. If you look at all of the photos in the book, a lot of them look as if I had animals pose for me. It’s a lot like photographing children, you really can’t pose them, they do whatever they want and I just watch and catch it. Kids are the best to take photos of, because they are so unpredictable, just like Animals.
Would you consider some commentary with photos in your next volume detailing what it took you to accomplish shots? Equipment, timing, necessary waiting, and so on? An obvious master might well share details regarding such accomplishments.
Yes, definitely! My Project Manager wanted to put a lot more in, but I told her that I didn’t want this to be a book that ended up in a school library with a lot of technical info that bored people.
The most important thing to me is: “I want the photos to tell the story of their life, with the appropriate commentary and description to complement the visual story. I’ve seen many technically awesome photos where the subject in the photo is “HORRIBLY DEAD” no life at all!
Take a look throughout Life Behind Bars and look at all of the PRIMATES. All of them are looking into the camera and you can see their story in their EYES. It really is amazing! Perfect light or not, that is my objective. “Tell me who you are”. Human and/or Animal.
Are you able to do this work full time?
The past four years, yes, but I am still an Actor, Filmmaker, Entrepreneur. I have four projects in four different genres operating presently. So, I am very busy!
What interference have you experienced in institutions from general tourists/spectators?
I set up VISIONS OF THE WORLD Inc. a Non-Profit 501(c) (3) Charity to give a portion of all profits from the book and ancillary products for the life of this project back to the Institutions where I photographed the Animals. Most of those places were not interested in being involved at all with this book.
The public however, was always thrilled and wanted to know all about my book and where to contact me for the finished product.
In general, how happy are you with your publisher, collaborators, editors? And what changes do you want to make ‘next time out of the gate’?
Dorrance Publishing has been awesome. They have helped me with the whole process of getting this book from start to now releasing this book to the World. Very Impressed.
This was my first venture in which I employed 8 employees and many outside resources to form Visions of the World Inc.and its first project; Life Behind Bars. One Hell of a ride with many ups and downs!
Thank you for this great line of Questions and please check out these New Book Reviews.
Entrepreneur Interview Assignment
ENTR 3310 - 02
December 5, 2017
Entrepreneur Interview Assignment - Julian Starks, Founder of Julian Starks Photography and Hollywood Filmmakers.
On Sunday December 3, 2017, my neighborhood experienced a 12 hour power outage in order for the Los Angeles Department of
Water and Power (LADWP) to conduct electrical checkups. As a result of not having access to WiFi at home, I went to my neighborhood Starbucks shop so that I could use the free internet there. While I was there working on my research paper on my laptop, there was a man sitting right in front of me who was also working on his laptop. He overheard me mentioning to a friend,
who I happened to ran into at Starbucks, about the power outage, and he proceeded to ask me about that. So it started as a conversation about my power going out, and then from there, I learned that he was a Photographer, Actor, Dancer, and Film Director,
who ran his own Photography and Film Production company, and I asked him if I could interview him for this assignment. That was how I met Mr. Julian Starks, founder of Julian Starks Photography and Hollywood Filmmakers.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Starks has always had a passion for the arts. His journey as an entrepreneur is not one that is restricted and follows a linear path that focuses solely on one specific area, rather he embraces the freedom of variation, explores
many different areas, and combine them all together, turning his love and aptitude for artistry into his own business. He started as a dancer in his hometown, and when asked what he wanted to do once he got out of high school, he decided to pursue a career as an actor. For him, the destination was either New York City, or Los Angeles, and in the end he chose New York because that is the place to be if one wants to act for the big stage.
He was enrolled at New York University, and attended Tisch School of the Arts in 1990, for only a year, before deciding to withdraw and pursue private acting classes for the next 4 to 5 years of his time living in New York City, juggling both acting classes and auditioning for various acting opportunities around town. He then moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to attend a Film Tech school
called LA Film School from 2000 to 2002. In 2004, he produced his very first documentary film Journey to Sundance, which has taken him 13 years to complete. His story of how he got into photography was because he needed access to photos that were too
expensively priced online by stock photo agencies such as Getty Images, and so he essentially thought “screw it, I’ll just take
my own pictures.” A man came across the photos Mr. Starks took, and encouraged him to start attending lessons at photography
school, and so he enrolled at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbra, California. As of right now, Mr. Starks runs his own Photography company, where consumers can hop onto his website and purchase his work through fineartamerica.com or pixels.com,
as well as hire him as a photographer. He also has his own film production company, where requests to hire him as film maker or
director can be sent in. He used to work with Getty Images, where they took 70% of his net income, leaving him with only 30% of his money, but now he works with Pixel, and he gets to keep 70% of his earnings. Now he mainly just travels the world and takes photos.
Currently, he is working on a coffee table book that showcases images of caged wild animals worldwide, which will eventually be available on the market. On the topic of how he runs his company, he said “An entrepreneur is someone who surrounds themselves
with people smarter than them.” He explained that when he went to film tech school, he had to take courses that did not relate to being a director, but it was all for the purpose of teaching him how everything works on a surface level so that he is aware of the things he will be working with as a director. He knows the basic of everything to do with film production and photography, but he doesn’t do everything himself entirely, that’s why he hires people to work for him, and trusts them to help him run his
One thing that is clear right off the bat about Mr. Starks is his love for traveling, and he reconfirmed that with me himself through his
He said that the most important thing for an entrepreneur is time, that the work that you are doing is going to give you the time to travel, to date, etc., and this is definitely reflected in his own entrepreneurial life. His job allows him to travel the world and take photos of whatever he wants to, the way he wants to. When I asked him what is the goal of his photography business and as a photographer, he said that he wants to open the eyes of Americans to the rest of the world outside of the United States. He wants to bring the rest of the world to Americans in America, and let them explore the world through his photographs. Analyzing from a business standpoint, I definitely think that there is a market demand for this sort of experience of exploring and learning more about the outside world without necessarily leaving the country. America is moving towards an international direction where people are increasingly becoming more culturally-aware and are actively seeking foreign experiences.
My reason for choosing to interview Mr. Starks was more than just the fact that I was 2 days away from the due date for this paper, and still had not found an entrepreneur to interview. I found that Mr. Stark and I shared a lot in common on the basis of our background and passion for performing arts, so I could relate to him a lot, and I found, somewhat, a sense of comfort in hearing my thoughts, my
feelings, and my opinions as an artist, being echoed by someone else. As someone who is of international student status here in the United States, and comes from a foreign background, it always makes me happy whenever Americans show interest in the nonwestern world, because to an extent it makes me feel like we are appreciated and worthy of being marveled by people from
countries with the likes of America.
One of the things that I definitely learned from this entire experience is that a coffee shop is the place to go to if you want to meet and have hour-long fulfilling conversations with interesting people. Our conversation (interview) went on for about an hour, maybe nearly
two hours; I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to talk to him, assignment or no assignment.