What made you decide you wanted to be a photographer?
I have been interested in photography since about the age of 8. As a boy, I had a Kodak Instamatic camera that I loved to shoot with. I went on to work for my high school yearbook and a daily college newspaper. Over the years, I received training from skilled photographers and really saw a potential to hone my craft. After several years of photographing for fun, I decided to take on portrait photography with my company – Portraits by Rod – which was founded in 2000. I also enjoy capturing city and landscape photography, particularly in downtown Detroit. This has enabled me to participate in fine art photography through art shows, strategic art placement, and online sales.
How do you push yourself to learn and grow in this business?
I am always learning. I crave knowledge and I want to expand my skills so I can create better images. I attend workshops and spend time viewing the work of photographers that I admire. I am always looking for ways to network, share knowledge, and meet new people. It is the one-on-one interaction with people that makes this work so interesting. They have great stories and I get to help them share their personality in the images we create together.
What do you find is the best way to promote your photography business?
It is a challenge. The best advertising is word of mouth – customers sharing their experience with friends and colleagues. We do some targeted advertising and work hard to have a significant presence on the internet. My work is not for everyone. Some people want a quick studio shot and no more. I want to create something more impactful. That is the message I want to send in my marketing and promotional efforts.
How do you stand out from the competition?
Almost everyone has a camera. People are taking photos with their phones and tablets all the time. For them to pay hard-earned money for portrait or fine art photography, it has to be special.
I decided early on that I did not want to do studio photography. I want to be outside or exploring unique places with my clients so that the process of creating the image is exciting and inspiring. If you are walking in your favorite park or downtown area and I’m along shooting photos, it’s more of an adventure than an obligation or necessity. If the client is relaxed and having fun, the images are much more likely to reflect the true personality of that person.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere. When I am driving or walking, my mind is constantly thinking about great backdrops for PhotoWalks or city photography. I often return to these places with my camera to capture the images that merely flashed by in an instant. As a city planner and a photographer, I am naturally drawn to urban places for photo sessions. Often there is so much history that can be part of an image that is new and fresh. There is something amazing about a high school senior picture in front of a building or wall that is over 100 years old.
How do you get your clients to relax and feel natural around you?
I try to spend some time talking with each client before the photo shoot. Sometimes it’s in person, sometimes by phone, and others by Face Time or Skype. The setting also helps, as I described earlier. I’ve been told that my personality is approachable – I’m really interested in hearing about what interests my clients because it helps in the process of creating great portraits.
Are you Canon or Nikon shooter?
I started out shooting film with Canon. When I switched over to digital, I broke the mold and went with Sony. Sony’s advanced technology has offered many features not available on Canon or Nikon. I’m different from most pros with that choice, but that’s OK.
What’s your favorite lens?
I have two favorites. My Sigma 18-50mm, 2.8 gets used the most. I like it for certain portrait shots and city photography. My Tamron 70-200mm, 2.8 is great for sports action and portraits.
Do you shoot RAW or JPG?
Almost every shoot is done in RAW. It gives me the greatest flexibility in processing.
What program do you use to edit images?
Most of my work is done in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS6.
What else do you like to do?
Spend time with family, travel, running / fitness (I go in streaks – 2 marathons and 3 half marathons so far and lots of time off in the winter), and cooking.
Tell us one thing about you most people probably don’t know.
I wrote a family history featuring the Arroyo side of my family.
What is the most important piece of photography advice you want to share?
Take the time to get some professional photos taken of you and your family. Don’t let special moments pass you by. The cell phone pictures you take are fun and sometimes great, but most of the time they are not quality images. Phones get lost…computers crash. A printed portrait image is a true keepsake. These are the images you will look back upon to remember your children, your parents, and other loved ones. Don’t waste the opportunity to create something great with a professional photographer.
Where can we find you (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc)?
Facebook page is facebook.com/PortraitsByRod
Our website is PortraitsByRod.com
Our Twitter feed is twitter.com/mycityphotos
Our Pinterest page: pinterest.com/PortraitsByRod
Google Plus page: plus.google.com/+Portraitsbyrod
Fine Art America page: fineartamerica.com/profiles/rod-arroyo.html
500px Page: 500px.com/cityphotos
Our Tumblr page: mycityphotos.tumblr.com
We have two hubs: Birmingham, Michigan and Shelby Township, Michigan. Most of my work is done within 15 miles of these two locations.
Thank you for visiting our website.