Dave Ference is passionate about capturing the best shot for his clients, whether he’s working on family portraits, model photos for a portfolio or corporate photography. As owner of Ference Photography, Ference works with individuals and businesses around the Valley and strives to create a relaxed environment that brings out the best in those he photographs.
The 45-year-old Gilbert resident, who is also a baseball coach at Gilbert High School, talked about his best photography techniques and gave advice to everyday photographers. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.
What brought you to Arizona?
I was born and raised here. I went to Gerard Catholic High School and got my degree in graphic design from Northern Arizona University.
What has your career evolution been like?
I taught art at Seton Catholic Preparatory for 12 years and might get back into teaching at some point. I’ve been a high school baseball coach for 23 years, and as long as my body will let me, I’ll keep doing that.
I was always interested in art, but when I was teaching at Seton, they wanted me to teach another class, so I created a photography class. After I left, I continued doing photography when I moved to Ohio and lived there for four years. I worked in a studio and kind of did my own thing there for awhile but realized I could expand and do it for a living on my own, which led to me starting Ference Photography.
What’s your earliest memory of being interesting in art?
When I was a small boy, I was always coloring with my grandma. In fifth grade, I really started to realize my talent for drawing, and it blossomed from there. In high school, there were only two art classes to take, so I had art classes created for my schedule. I got a scholarship for art at NAU, and made graphic design my focus. Now, I create art as a hobby and with my daughter.
What photography services do you offer?
Pretty much everything. I’ve done family photos, babies, little kids, headshots for kids whose parents want them to be actors, models, sports photography, senior pics and corporate photography for restaurants — just about anything.
What kind of gear do you use?
I’m a Canon guy, so I use nothing but Canon equipment. I have all the equipment necessary for a studio and have used that in studios I’ve rented and in the homes of people I’m photographing, or in my own home.
How do you stand out among photographers?
For people who are shy about getting their picture taken, I make them feel really at ease and help them to enjoy their time with me. I talk with people and try to get to know them during the shoot and make them feel comfortable.
I’m a very creative person, which I think really adds to the shoots and finished products. I see things in angles and lines to create the best composition in my photos.
Why are you so passionate about photography?
It’s hard to explain. I could feel passion from seeing a sunset or a certain moment someone is experiencing that I want to capture. Whether it’s a beautiful-looking composition or a person, I like sharing those fleeting moments with others.
What are your goals as a photographer?
I’d like to grow my business, reach out to more people, and be more available for anyone who’s interested in using me as a photographer.
What advice do you have for amateur photographers?
Practice, practice, practice. It’s just like anything I ever taught with art or coached with baseball — in order to get better, you have to practice a lot, and the more you do, the better you’ll become. You never stop learning. Here I am, 45 years old, and I’m still learning things to do with the camera. It’s an ongoing process. Don’t feel nervous about it, take some time to get good at it, and you’ll get it.
What tips do you have for people taking photos at family gatherings or casual events?
I like to shoot in the shade, especially with the harsh Arizona sun, because you won’t have squinting, people’s eyes being closed, or those bright, harsh sun spots on people’s faces. If you have an external flash, use it to fill in the dark spots.
Look at your picture — make sure you’re not standing by a garbage can. I’ve often seen people don’t realize what’s around them and just want to take the picture as quickly as they can. If you take a little bit of time while you’re taking the photo, it will save you a lot of time while you’re editing.
If you’re getting your picture taken, what advice do you have?
For me, I always try to capture a natural smile or expression. Sometimes it takes more than one shot to get the best shot. Try to give different poses so all the photos aren’t the same.
If you’re getting a family portrait, make sure you dress in something that’s not too distracting, and make sure you’re going to like the way you look. Just have fun with it.
If you’re getting a professional head shot, don’t overdo it on makeup. You want to make sure you’re representing yourself in the best possible way. For guys, brush your hair, shave — the basic things.
Why should people hire you as a photographer?
I think I have a good eye for detail. I take my time and really give you a good product that makes you feel like you’ve got your money’s worth.
I take the time to talk with the family or individual to make them feel at ease, and we get a lot of good shots that way because they enjoy the process.