July Photog on the Blog-Kirk Voclain!

I’m totally stoked this month to have an amazing photographer, person, mentor, the list could go on, as July’s Photog on the Blog. Please welcome Kirk Voclain of Kirk Voclain Photography. Kirk is so real and down to earth and has some of the most amazing senior photographs I have ever seen. I met Kirk on the Pro4Um and he’s intrigued me from day 1 (and not just cause we are both red-heads). Enjoy his interview ( I sure did!)

Kirk Photo

Photography related!

Who are you?
This is going to come as a shock to many…but I’m actually a very shy person on the inside. When I was about 15 years old, I discovered that photography allowed me to be outgoing. I could put a camera around my neck and suddenly, I changed, I became “The Photographer”….and as such, I was cool, outgoing, talkative, and fun! Go figure…..but it’s true….. Over the years, I figured out how to so call “flip the switch”…without having the camera around my neck….so over the years…those who know me think that I’m this super “FUN GUY”…..but in reality….I’m sill that shy red headed guy who just does not know what to say.

How did you get started in photography?
When I was 8 years old, I was reading the back of the Kelloggs Corn Flakes box and it said, save up your box tops and get a camera. So I did…..I got a Kodak Instamatic 126 cartridge film camera. I took pictures of everything!!! EVERYTHING!!! and it always bugged me that the camera had 2 holes…one for looking through and one for taking the picture (lens). When I was about 14, this guy who was working for my father showed me his camera…an SLR….and it only had ONE HOLE on the front of the camera. It was right then that the clouds parted and the angels began to sing and I knew I was going to be a photographer! I worked for 6 months throwing newspapers to save up enough money to get a Minolta SRT 201 with a 50mm 1.8 lens…..I still have that camera today after well over 30+ (getting close to 40) years! I was 15 when I did my very first wedding for money!

Did you study photography or are you a natural born creative?
I frankly do not believe that ANYONE is naturally born creative. I think it’s all learned…and when I was very young…..I was in the library club…and I started reading every book I could find on the subject of photography……THAT to me is where I developed my core beliefs in photography and my core creativity. Beyond that, I have attended almost every photography convention, class, seminar, group discussion, forum, blog, guild, and educational group known to man. I drink it all in…and I store it in my brain. If there is any “natural born creativity”….I believe it’s my ability to recall that information that is stored…or maybe it’s my mental filing system that’s “natural born”…either way….I can recall and remember almost every detail I have ever learned….OH…as a side note….NOT ONLY can I recall it…but I can tell it back to you with a funny twist to it .

Tell me about your style? How did you develop it? How long did it take you to realize your style?
I just recently found some images that I took when I was 16 years old of my 13 year old sister! WOW…..did I suck bad back then…….but….my “STYLE” is very obvious in those images. There is a certain edginess to my stuff. I have people bend and move and pose just a little bit more and further than is normal. As a result, you are forced to look. I’m not sure how I developed it. I do remember going to a seminar and at that seminar they were talking about the proper way to pose a hand…..I remember thinking…hey…I do that, I did not know that was a RULE!!!! So I just do stuff that “LOOKS GOOD” to me…and that is my style. As far as how long???? WELL…..I’m still waiting on the answer to that….I think it’s still evolving……


Do you specialize in a particular field? Weddings, Kids, Newborns, Black and White only?
YES….High School Senior Portraits….and to be very specific….Size 2, blonds that are 6 foot tall only! ….that’s not true…but I did once upon a time tell my wife that I was going to run an ad that said…..Kirk Voclain Photography, we only photograph the pretty ones! WELL…after she FREAKED OUT she said…YOU CANNOT DO THAT!!!! I said why not, I’m just saying that anyone that I photograph I make pretty!!!! She said…well say that….DO NOT SAY, we only photograph the pretty ones!!! ….. ISN’T THAT FUNNY!!!!!

What camera and lenses do you use?
Canon 1ds MII and 1d MII….the 5d MII for underwater….and I have the following lenses and I use them as listed in the order of importance…from most important to least: 70-200, 16-35, 14mm, 300mm, 105mm, 28-70….all of my lenses are “L” glass and if I can get the IS I do.

What can you never leave home without?
Simple…..my tripod……it is my (from Charlie Brown cartoons) Linus blanket.

What are you working on right now?
This WAY, WAY LONG questionnaire………but beyond that….I’m working on updating some props in my portrait studio and doing some stuff that will create a whole new look…..I do that every few years…and this is the year.

Where is your fav locale to shoot?
Paris, Hawaii, London, Rome, and New York…..but when I can’t get away to go there….I really dig photographing in my back yard…… I guess you want me to be a little serious…..and so…….of all the places I have ever been to do High School Senior Portraits…the most fun I have ever had was photographing in the streets of New Orleans……HONEST! The light, the buildings, and the feeling when there is AWESOME…..so much so that I have led a few shooting safari’s in New Orleans….man is that ever fun!!!!

Do you have a favorite prop or pose?
WELL…I’m not a big PROP person…but I do use my posing table a whole lot…..it’s just a small table that I lean people on….it does not show up in the photo…but it does allow me to get them in cool positions. As far as a pose is concerned…the simple head shot is by far my best seller….but hey…..that’s just me.

What is some good advice that you received when you were just starting out that you can share with other photogs that are just starting in the business?
DO NOT GET IN DEBT!!!!! Carefully watch your spending!!!! The fast track to success is to be as free of debt as you can. The best “LIGHTING” advice I ever got was to make sure you put light on all 5 plains of the face….forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. If you can do that…..you can light properly.

How do you get your clients to relax and have fun with their portraits?
JOKES!!!! I tell stories…and we CRACK UP LAUGHING…if I can get them to laugh….well the rest is easy!

Do you travel out-of-state to do photography?
Sure….I really have had people hire me to go to Hawaii, and Paris and New York……but London and Rome was a joke!!!! I’ve also done weddings in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Ohio and few other places….OH YEA…..Mexico too!!! Almost forgot about that one.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?
Simple again…High School Seniors…..I love it because they just WANT to do whatever you can think of….they WANT to be there and they love whatever you do! It’s mega fun……I do everything…weddings, babies, families, commercial, etc….but HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS are the best!

Anything else you would like to share? Hints, tips or everyday wisdom?
Sure…in Photoshop…..open up Levels (CTRL/Command + L)….then hold down your ALT/Option key…..drag the left side slider till you see the outline of the eyes….then back off a bit…..then drag the right side slider till you see red in the skin of your subject…then back off a bit. That is a perfect Levels adjustment and it will make your images SNAP!!!!!

Truth is the most important thing in life….and balance is the secret to life!

What motivates you to do what you do?
I don’t know???? Why does Billy Joel play the piano? Why does Lance Armstrong ride a bike? I guess the ultimate answer is FUN! WE do what we do because it’s fun! I bet if you stripped it all down….removed all the fluff……you would find that you do most things in life just for fun….and happiness. Why do you get married, have children (some not in that order GRIN…..I’m on a roll!!!)…..because it makes you happy. Why do you eat, sleep, go on vacation…..fish, play golf……and the list goes on and on……all for happiness. So I guess that is my answer….it makes me happy.

Do you believe that “A picture is worth 1,000 words”? Tell me why or why not…
Sure…..just look at how many words I had to type out on this thing!!! SURE!!! DEFINITELY…..and a picture is different to everyone….and means something different to each person.

Where is your next shoot?
At my studio……1120 Lafayette St. Houma, LA

Now for some fun stuff!

What do you do outside of the photography world? Do you have a Side Business?
I do own the Pro4uM….http://www.pro4um.com It’s a website for professional photographers only! We have right at 2000 members from all over the world that exchange ideas and such. We strive to make each other better.

What is your favorite food?
Fried Chicken!

Have you ever eaten a crayon?
NO…..but I wish I had.

Do you wash your car or let the car wash do it?

How about your music? What’s on your iPod right now?
My daughter took my ipod and it has Jonas Brothers all over it…..but that is not my music….a better question would be what channel do you listen to on XM???? the 70’s….ahhhhhhh now that’s music.

What is your favorite outfit to shoot in? Do you prefer jeans? Do you have a shirt with your name on it?
Blue Jeans and a button up shirt….no I do not have a shirt with my name on it….WOULD THAT BE COOL??? REALLY???? Come on…I photograph High School Seniors…you gotta be cool…so yep….Jeans with holes in them!!!

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t shooting?
Spend time with my wonderful wife and beautiful daughter.

Who do you admire? (Photog or not)
WELL….Ansel Adams, Big Daddy Don Blair, Bruce Hudson, Doug Box….just to name a few…..that would really be along list.

If you could be on a tv show, what would it be?
The Amazing Race!!!! Funny huh!!!

What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate? Soaps? Football?
Beer…..and more specific…..BEER on TAP….just got one of those by my pool…and I have to keep it locked up…..it’s kinda like having a candy machine in your backyard……my wife has the key!


Some samples of work from Kirk (can you say WOW)










8 Replies to “July Photog on the Blog-Kirk Voclain!”

  1. Hey Kirk…we love ya! You are a never ending wealth of knowledge…accurate knowledge! Anyone interested in continued education should check out your http://www.Pro4um.com It is truly like being in class 24/7 and you can ask the teacher and students any question, any time and get an answer within minutes usually…Hands down, the best educational resource I have ever stumbled on to…And Kirk, your levels adjustment thingy ma jig…is used every single day, on every single image that goes out of our studio….a great tip. Oh yeah I forgot also you wouldn’t believe how many hours you have saved me with your high key tip! Actually it has probably become days that you have saved me by now. Smiles, Yvette

  2. Cool interview…I have a question. Do you often smooth the skin on your portraits? I am always wondering if I should…do the highschoolers prefer it? Thanks

  3. Thank you Kim and Kirk for a great interview. It was fun to read and very inspiring. I can’t wait to try out your tip and see how it works for me 😀 Thanks!

  4. Oh and I really love the 2nd and 4th photo. Great poses and color. Although its easy to make a photography look good when your subjects are drop dead georgous LOL!!

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