Posted on March 17, 2011




Tim Tadder is a photographer whose imagery has been used in campaigns by brands such as Coke Zero, Gatorade, Powerade, Sears, Craftsman, Adidas, Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Newcastle, AT&T, McDonald’s, Marlboro and Duracell.

His passion for photography began when he was very young, and was fostered by the time he spent living in the Ecuadorean Andes. He earned his MA in Photojournalism from Ohio University.

Tim currently lives in southern California.

Q.  You became interested in photography at a very young age. Can you tell us more about this?
A.  My father was a sports photographer, an old school hard worker, and he would take me with him to games from time to time. It was amazing to be on the field and around all these sports heroes. It felt really cool and kind of hooked me. He eventually let me handle a camera and I photographed the sports I was involved in at the time, such as skateboarding. I learned at 12  how to process black and white film and develop my images in the darkroom with an enlarger. I had a show in my junior high school library of my skateboarding images. I guess my eye showed early, I did not revisit photography again though until I was in my mid-twenties. I guess you could say girls and my own sports career got in the way.

Q.  The time you spent in the Ecuadorean Andes had an influence on your work. How did this manifest itself?
A.  I was doing a lot of high altitude mountaineering and capturing images from these far off places. I would hold slide-shows for friends, they went from just a few people to eventually holding one at a venue in Quito. It seemed at the time people liked what I saw, so I figured maybe I can do it for a living.

Q.  You do a lot of advertising photography. How much room does this field give you to be creative?
A.  I think advertising photography at its concept level is the most creative photography being produced at this stage in the game. The concept work I see in the advertising journals is amazingly creative, beautiful and for me, extremely rewarding creatively. Sure we do a lot of really watered down execution based work with little room for a creative vision. But a lot of what we do is extremely creative and gives us plenty of room to create. If there is a more creative sector than the high end advertising market, I would love to know.

Q.  How do you initially approach a project?
A.  We start with hiring the right producer and then stay out of their way. This gets all the logistical and practical hurdles out of the way. We then worry about the creative challenges and plan accordingly. I personally like to do a bit of testing before the shoot as a “proof of concept” to make sure that my approach is going to be the best possible way to solve the problems. This might mean for example that we do a small shoot before the shoot, I’ll hire a stand-in, test the lighting and concept and make sure that we are thinking about the project in the right way. When the actual shoot happens I’ve done my homework and I can cut right to the juice of the project, skipping all the trying and get right to the doing.

Q.  You describe yourself as a ‘Photoshop geek’. How has the use of Photoshop impacted on your work? What benefits and challenges does it present?
A.  Photoshop is just as important to my work as any lens or camera. It is a tool that helps in the creation of the work. We live and work in a digital world, just as the dark room was an essential part of the analog photography world, Photoshop is as important as the capture. The benefits of me handling the Photoshop work on my images means that I know from the capture what assets I need for a successful outcome. I know the way to light, use background elements, align perspective etc. to compile the needed elements for a post processing workflow. Most of the time I am pushing every pixel of a project from start to finish, I know that if during the shoot I do a good job of capturing the assets in the right way the back end will be smooth and the outcome will be great. Good in equals good out. Its a big benifit to understand this end of the creative process.

The challenges is that my schedule is demanding. The shoots never seem to end because we spend so much time on the back end. We might have three days of shooting but three weeks of post production, it gets hard looking at the same images for three weeks. Not to mention all the other shooting that we need to do for other clients. I find myself working a lot of nights and weekends. Since it is my project I feel the need to stay with it to the end. That creates time conflicts.

Q.  What would be your dream project to work on?
A.  I do not have a “dream project.” I feel that just having the opportunity to create and live the lifestyle I do is a dream career, every project thus becomes somewhat of a dream, a new challenge, a test to push myself towards better performance, more interesting images. It is pretty cool to have a chance to create images from ideas, so any assignment that really gives me a chance to be creative is a dream.

Q.  Which work are you most proud of?
A.  Again, a really hard question to say what I am most proud of. I feel most proud about the personal growth I’ve experienced during the past five years as my career has expanded. It has been a real challenge and I’ve learned a lot about myself, and the person I want to be. I am proud that I am a good father and good husband; my family is the most important work that I have. All the other “work” is fleeting, here today, gone tomorrow. I love it and hate it all at the same time.

Q.  Which work has proven the most difficult?
A.  Again, impossible to pinpoint one project and be honest. One thing about me is that I am brutally honest, and the most difficult thing that I have worked on has been finding balance between “work” and everything else. Travel, stress, etc. all take a tool and all the work is difficult in one way or another, but all of it takes a toll on your soul and throws you out of balance. It is hard to be truly creative when you’re out of balance. So knowing that and heading it off at the pass is vital and I need to constantly remind myself of that.

Q.  What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?
A.  More international projects and more chances to work with new creative people. I want to work with people that are super passionate about their projects. Creatives that come to me with ideas and questions and want their projects to have impact. That’s what I always hope for, a chance to work with someone that is as concerned about creating great work as I am.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  Pelime is a great place to showcase work. I am sure there are great creatives checking it out. I hope the right creative reads this and calls with a project they love and wants to collaborate with me to create excellent work.


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