It’s our pleasure to introduce 2 Guys Photo followers to Frank Villafañe. Frank became known to us through his comments to some of the posts here and particularly because of some of the night photos he’s taken and shared. As we became more acquainted with Frank and his work, we knew we wanted the opportunity to spread the word about this talented artist. As you’ll learn, Frank’s artistry extends beyond photography.
We included a number of Frank’s images in this post along with his “backstory” narrative for each. Read on to find out more about this Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, New Jersey area photographer.
Software engineer by day, performing latin jazz musician by night (and weekends), Frank notes: “I am no stranger to urban settings, so I naturally fell into industrial/architectural photography. I love cities and spend a fair amount of time there as my daughter lives in Jersey City and I visit my grandchildren there as often as I can.”
A quick note about Frank’s musical passion. He’s no mere dabbler, having had the good fortune of studying Jazz Harmony and piano with the great Kenny Barron back in the 1970s. Click on this jazz legend’s name to gain a small sampling.
Preferring full frame gear, Frank shoots with a Nikon D600 (and the universally appreciated Nikon 24-85) as well as the versatile Nikon 28-300.
Frank cut his photographic teeth on a Kodak Instamatic while still in high school. We always remember our first digital, and Frank recalls his – an Olympus C4000. That was over a decade ago, but it wasn’t until just thirteen months ago that Frank started shooting seriously. He ventured into the DSLR realm with Nikon D5100 and then eventually upgraded to the full frame camera he now shoots.
In terms of his stylistic evolution, Frank tells us: “I once did a great deal of HDR post-processing. I no longer use HDR that much. I began professionally shooting real estate interiors in the summer of 2012, then moved to industrial/architectural photography, primarily twi-night city scenes. I landed my first big client in December last year, sold and licensed my first prints. I began serious study or tutoring with a professional, Nancy Ori, industrial photographer back in October, and with her tutelage was able to land the client and the show. Where I once took many shots without adequate composition, I now take fewer shots and compose before shooting. I’ve read a great deal of books on my chosen specialty, industrial/architectural, and they appear to have paid off. Serious study has also been very helpful. Eventually, I would like to attend school and learn a great deal more… in due time.”
When asked what he prefers to shoot, Frank notes: “I love to shoot industrial scenes or cityscapes. Something about the urban East Coast has always attracted me – I’m originally from Bayonne. My logo is a composite of the NYC skyline and the Bayonne Bridge [editor’s note: Frank’s website link is provided below]. Bridges and urban decay is also very appealing to me… I can’t say exactly why… maybe because of the historical significance. I shoot natural landscapes as well, when warranted, usually when traveling such as in Sedona, Arizona. Finally, I shoot trains… rail yards, trestles, cars and engines. Large machinery captivates my imagination. There’s just something nostalgic about trains…”
We asked Frank which photographers most inspire him and he had this to say: “David Nightingale, Rick Sammon, Ansel Adams, Stephen Wilkes. There are others, and I currently study with Nancy Ori. David and Rick inspire me with their fantastic, surreal HDR images. Stephen Wilkes’ cityscapes are absolutely unique. Nancy Ori is an artist as well as an architectural/industrial photographer. For painting industrial scenes, I am fascinated by Valeri Larko’s work. I could mention many others such as Paco Marquez, Tyler Stableford, Charlie Borland… the list goes on. I always appreciate a great image, regardless of who shot it.”
When asked Frank what he loves to shoot, he tells us: “An outstanding city view, a gut-wrenching industrial wasteland, brooding bridges, fantastic oil refineries, although they are getting harder and harder to shoot… I almost got arrested the other day shooting the Linden Refinery – and they made me delete all the images I took…oh well… huge train engines, surreal urban decay. I’m a city boy, and I love the vestiges of gritty city life.”
Frank’s future photographic plans are to, “shoot industrial/architectural photography whenever and wherever the need arises. If I have clients, great; if not, I’ll scope out areas and stay busy. There are many cities in the North East, so I won’t run out of material anytime soon. I would like to expand my photography to include portraiture… with time, I hope to retire from IT and make a go at this full-time.”
Finally, we asked Frank whether he had any advice for a photographer who is just staring out or someone who is wanting to improve their skills. Frank suggests: “Read voraciously, learn your instrument, take a few workshops, join an organization that specializes in the type of photography that excites you, find a mentor, then just get out there and shoot! This is a wonderful world…go out and capture it!”
To get in touch with Frank or to see more of his work, see his website here.