In this week’s edition of Insta-view, Resource Magazine sat down with the very talented Tim Bottchen. Tim, better known as @beeslo on Instagram, has developed quite a following. Although he is only a part-time photographer at the moment, his fine art training as well as his art director profession has given him a foundation that has enabled excellent photo skills.
Can you briefly some up who you are and what you do for our readers?
I am a senior art director at an ad agency, Momentum Worldwide, here in St. Louis. I went to school for a Bachelors in Fine Art, so I dabbled in a lot of fine art fields like painting and drawing. I then started to take a lot of photography classes. Photography has always been in my background, and even since I was a kid I always liked to mix my art with photography. Currently I get to do a little bit of photography, but I work more with design and art direction. But on the side, I am basically a designer and photographer too, and those two mix quite a bit.
Even though you’re a freelancer, you’re quite established as a photographer. How has Instagram and social media aided your career?
Social media has obviously been a great outreach for me. I have been able to meet and connect with other photographers and designers. On the flip side, I have gotten my work out there too. It is always fun to see what other people are doing and to stay up to date on those kinds of trends. Working in the ad agency world, I tend to work with more commercial photographers, so I try to follow those talents and they have such a polish look to their photography.
How do you feel about the criticism that Instagram and other social media sites receive throughout the photo industry?
I see it as another platform. So, like, when I say I’m following other photographers, I think it’s a great way to see how they’re creating their final pieces. I tend to do that too; I like to show behind the scenes type things. I wouldn’t say [Instagram] dilutes the industry, it shows a different realm of photography. Especially if they want to show back end, front end or something that revolves around their process, which is really cool.
I’ve noticed that your Instagram is riddled with classic cars. Is that a project or another love of yours?
I tend to go jogging a lot with my phone and obviously if I see something that captures my eye I’ll stop and snap a photo, and then it sits in the feed until I want to put something out there about it. So yeah, I tend to gravitate to these older cars, some are in great shape and some are not. I don’t know that much about cars, but I love to look at them and their form, even if they are nice and polished or beat up and rusty. It’s just something that always pops up in my interests. So, if it is a project, it is quite an ongoing project.
I’ve also seen that you have a #sideprojectbrewing. Tell me about that.
Side Project Brewing is one of my best friends’ companies—he started this brewery. It’s a gypsy brew out of another brewery here in St. Louis. He is strictly barrel aging beers and he has been a close friend of mine, so he wanted me to do the logo and label design. Him and I have been working together for years on this. It’s a really fun project that is near and dear to my heart. I get to learn a bit about the brewery process which has resulted into a lot of other jobs around here. Like today, I’m going to shoot another brewery, just because they have seen what I have done with Side Project.
I’ve noticed some amazing concert photography. Is that a recent job of yours?
My cousin is a house photographer at events here in St. Louis so I have always been into photography and I always loved his work. So, finally went out to shot a concert for fun. It was a band we both wanted to see and since then, which was a couple of years ago, I have been shooting as much shows as I can. It is sort of a hobby right now, some venues and radio stations will hire me to do shows. But the way I tend to look at it is I love music and it has always been a part of my creative process, so I pick shows I would be going to anyway.
Now, once I pick a particular show I hook up with local publications and online magazines to get me credentials to shoot the show in return for some photos. It is very fun and it’s always a challenge because of lighting. It’s such low lighting photography, so you have to know a good balance of your large apertures and also be aware of keeping your ISO at the right level. It’s always fun.
Can you give us your overall favorite concert shooting experience?
Sure, like Ben Folds has been someone that I have listened to since high school. So I have to go see him and that one was fun to shoot: I am glad that I got photos. Usually, more of the rock and contemporary music, which has good energy and I am excited to see, is the best—I realize that the artist I want to see are the ones where I get the best photos because I am so into the music and I am excited to be there as a fan and photographer.
Another good experience was Dave Matthews Band—I think they were the first CD I got when I was thirteen. And I got to shoot him a couple summers ago, which resulted in some of my favorite photos.
Finally, what does the future have in store for Tim Bottchen?
Like I previously said, Side Projects Brewery has gotten me other projects with other breweries: many of them, I just started to work with. It is not only editorial or environmental shots of the breweries, but I have also done some product photography for them as well.
As you know, craft beers are exploding everywhere and St. Louis is one of the bigger areas with craft breweries popping up. And with craft beer, a lot of them have such great branding and label design, but they don’t have great final product shots to show their consumers. So I started a little studio set up at home and have been doing really good bottle shots, which these breweries can then upload to their social media pages and promote.