Lee Cherry was the winner of our Streamline Your Workflow 2.0 contest – and for good reason. He’s a multi-talented entrepreneur with years and years of experience in many facets of the creative industry. In our previous article announcing his name as the winner, we mentioned how excited we were to see him submitting work for the contest. Cherry is a dancer, an actor and a photographer, and has since branched out into directing and producing – among other things. In short, he’s an extremely busy person. Naturally, that made him the perfect candidate for Streamline Your Workflow 2.0. His company, Cherry Multimedia, has already made waves working with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Adam Lambert and Fifth Harmony. The studio and workspace can handle everything from photography, music videos, B-roll segments, graphics and layout to retouching, brand identity, creative direction, art direction and websites. Phase One and DF Studio provided Lee Cherry with some awesome gear, software and services and now that enough time has passed, he is ready to give us the scoop!
Can you tell us how you got into photography and how that evolved into Cherry Multimedia over the years? What was it that made you decide to branch out into such a wide range of creative channels and services?
My first artistic career was a dancer. I was doing a European Tour of the show West Side Story when I was 19 to 20 years old. While I was on the road, I got a Nikon camera to take pictures of all the beautiful places I was seeing. Then people in the show asked me to take their pictures. One thing led to another and as I transitioned into acting from dancing, photography became my side gig. The jobs got bigger and more frequent and auditioning started to feel like a chore.
Then I started to throw after-hour parties at the studio I had at the time. Those parties turned into a show I produced and directed. Throughout all of these processes, I became proficient at a wide variety of things that all equally interested me and eventually I found myself doing it all professionally. I personally enjoy diversity and multitasking, and I always welcome change.
Cherry Multimedia is the hub for all of the things I do. We’re growing. We now have Cherry Soda Studios and sometimes my company will have several jobs at once, shoots and post. I’m not a one man show anymore! It keeps me busy, happy and autonomous so I can spend quality time with my family – which is the ultimate reward.
We know there’s a lot that goes on in your studio. Can you run us through a typical day for you at work?
I don’t have typical days. Every day feels different. Some days I’m at the studio doing office work, project management, pre/post production and being proactive about reaching out to people or chipping away at my screenplays. Some days I’m a studio manager while we have a rental. Some days I have my own shoots and some days I’m on location. It really just depends. What matters is that every day is productive and I am always moving forward.
In terms of your photography, do you usually already know what it’s going to look like before the photo is taken? Or does it come to you somewhere along the way? Which do you prefer?
I prefer structured improv. I don’t plan (you know what they say about people who make plans) so much as I set an intention. I’ll have a vision but I remain fully aware that it may morph into another thing in the next moment. I get the right people together and keep my eye on the goal , but ultimately it’s about finding those spaces in between time and allowing them to happen. That’s where the magic is.
For people who haven’t had the chance to try them, what do you think of the gear/software and how they fit in to the workflow of a busy studio like yours?
I really loved the using the Phase One IQ180 system. The image is amazing. The feel is great, and clients love it.
I can’t say enough about Capture One. This is really where my workflow changed. The way it handles the images are next level. The Capture Pilot feature is a real crowd pleaser on set.
I still export into Lightroom after I do my edit because I like Lightroom’s web module a lot. I have a custom client response plugin that works great for me.
Honestly, I didn’t use it. I think I signed up for it but never had the time to figure it out. It didn’t seem difficult. I just literally didn’t have the time and I have a pretty good workflow right now that I’m happy with.
Give us some honest feedback, good and bad, about the system and your hands-on experience. Specifically about the shoot you did with the camera.
-Amazing image and great feel.
-Very easy to use. Digital tech optional.
-Phase One and Digital Fusion had great customer service.
-You have a genuine option to crop in the photo.
-Although I didn’t have a chance to use the fast shutter speed, I’m looking forward to trying that.
-You just have a different mindset when that tool is in your hand, which is a nice change of pace.
Anything that I attribute to being “bad” was mainly due to me not having the camera long enough to learn its nuances.
-It shoots slower than 35, so the approach is different. I did feel like I missed some moments I would’ve caught with 35.
-The auto-focus was not super fast to me, and when I was shooting in a backlit or low light situation, the autofocus was “hunting”. I had to shoot a constant light at my subject to help the camera focus. But that could happen with 35 as well, depending on the specifics.
Overall, were you happy with using this set of high-end tools and do you see yourself using them again soon?
Overall I was very happy with the system and totally plan on using the Phase One camera system again. I plan on using it on higher end fashion/music/beauty jobs, and I’m looking forward to freezing action with some dance photography. I now use C1 every day.
Do you have any advice on how other photographers can take advantage of this system in their daily workflow?
Honestly, the system was so easy to use that the workflow really isn’t much different than 35. Just make sure your computer can deal with the large images. I was shooting on a Macbook Pro i7 2.7mhz w/16gigs of RAM into a 750gig SSD drive and had no problems at all.
Would you recommend these tools to other photographers?
Absolutely. If you want to up your game and have a need for large, high quality images, then having a Phase One in your arsenal is definitely a good move.
Social media plays a large role in the Streamline Your Workflow Experience. How do you use social media to promote your work? Is it an important part of your marketing plan?
Social media is absolutely a part of my marketing plan. It’s pretty much all I do as far as marketing. I use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and multiple accounts for Cherry Multimedia and Cherry Soda Studios. I also try to do behind-the-scenes stills/video whenever it’s okay with the client. It’s always nice to get a glimpse of the process.
Follow Lee Cherry and his work on social media!
Facebook: cherrysodastudios and leecherryphotography
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(To submit your work for the contest, click here. We choose a winner every month.)