CLOSE UP with JOE PIER
I have had the privilege of knowing, and working with a photographer who is no stranger in the world of pageantry, runway shows, and personal photoshoots. His background, when we first met, was his videography expertise keenly captured on locations throughout the world during his tenure at the Miss USA Pageant, and of course, Miss Universe. I captured the gold ring when he and I met twenty-five years ago at a networking event in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Enjoy this month’s CLOSE UP … with Joe Pier.
At what age did photography become your BFF?
First, I want to thank you for taking time and space to feature my story and opinion regarding photography.
I became interested in photography at the age of 17 when living in Mexico. I was given the opportunity to work for United Press International covering the 1968 Olympics. The action on the sports arena, coupled with the turmoil the country was in, was a constant adrenalin rush at the press pool. The call to action to capture the event, be it sport or news, caught my interest, and hence, the beginning of my love for recording moments through my camera, both still and in motion.
Do you enjoy videography or photography more?
Here’s the back story to my two-part answer! I moved to Canada to go to college where I was able to continue my photography as photo-editor of the University weekly newspaper and editor of the yearbook for two years. On a summer job during my last year of college, I was introduced to the medium of video photography and went to work at one of Canada’s leading networks, CTV. This network also had a production wing, which was involved not only in major Canadian TV shows, but equally involved in the US market, giving us exposure to many of the top American shows from the ’70s thru the ’90s.
I was also very fortunate that as a Canadian, I got to go on many remote locations off-limits to US operators, visiting Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, … I even had the opportunity to film Fidel Castro for an ABC Sports Boxing match in Cuba.
I moved to Hollywood and continued in the industry there. So, I would say, I love the challenges of videography, I have a fabulous job! But, ultimately, photography has captured my heart, offering me the opportunity to be my own creative artist – controlling the set, lighting, subject matter, all edited to create my own style.
I know you’ve been working with women of all ages around the world. What in particular do you “search for” when looking through the lens?
Women are a favorite subject matter of mine. The age of my subject influences my approach, be it young and full of life, secure of their beauty and personality, or as they age the doubts that creep in, as to still being the subject of beauty. So my job is not only to create a setting for the image to be captured in, but it is also to work with my subjects in front of the lens to bring out their personality and their beauty. Bad jokes, sometimes do the trick! Who do I enjoy working with … simple – the ones who WANT to be photographed!
Do hair and make-up styles play a part in the “scene”? For instance, pageant hair and makeup may be different than walking the runway. What do you try to capture in the “look” of that shoot?
The use of hair and makeup is the primary source for glamour and fashion photography, as opposed to everyday life. And yes, it is an essential part of creating a look. The better trained “makeup artists” look at the face as a blank canvas to create their art. Of course, these artists look for guidance from their clients, photographers, producers, editor, etc. to create THAT LOOK. The style is dictated by the situation so sometimes more or sometimes less works best.
When doing a family or couple’s photoshoot, I’ve noticed that many are turning to a monochromatic look in their ensembles. What’s your thought on that – good idea or bad idea?
Photography has gone through some amazing transformations, from those old brownies our grandparents used to capture us with, to today's digital phone. The digital medium has allowed us to make all types of edits to our images with the use of simple apps. And one of these filters converts color to monochromatic imagery, which I find has a wonderful feel to it, sometimes more dramatic than color. But they are hard to compare, it’s in the eye of the beholder to make the final decision.
Can you share some tips for our readers when getting “camera ready”?
My only tip for being camera-ready is for one to truly feel in their mind that they are ready to take the fun and exciting experience of being captured on (oops almost showed my age by saying film!) the medium of photography.
Founder ClassicInternationalWoman.com for women over 35 years of age