Teacher and photography program alumni Erik Skaar graduated from SCCA in 2009. His portfolio boasts striking black and white portraiture, breathless details of liquids and a variety of slick product shots. We chatted him up to find out some more about his work and journey to being a photographer and teacher.
Q: With so many areas to specialize in, why have you focused your work around commercial product photography?
A: I am almost exclusively a studio product photographer with a specialty in beverages and liquids. It’s a technically demanding discipline and I really enjoy the creative problem solving required to execute many of the projects I work on.
Q: What brought you to working as a photographer?
A: For me, becoming a photographer was rooted in obsession as it is for many who choose this professional path. The day I decided to be a professional photographer was back in my early twenties. It was the day I realized I was spending more on film and processing than I was on rent and food. A choice had to be made. Honestly though, I think my obsession made that decision for me.
Q: You’ve been an instructor in the SCCA program for a while. What is it that keeps you motivated to teach?
A: I think the biggest enjoyment I get from being an instructor at SCCA, aside from working with some really incredible student photographers, is the comparison of the imagery a student creates when they first enter the program and the imagery they present in their final portfolio. The differences can be amazing. Most progress is incremental so while we notice a student’s improvements along the way, the full impact isn’t truly revealed until that comparison is made. In that moment, both the student and the instructor can feel a sense of genuine pride and accomplishment.
Q: What is it like to be a teacher in this field and how do you bring that to your other work?
A: Given how rapidly the creative professional landscape is evolving, being an instructor means staying informed. Of course, there are tried and true methods when it comes to technique but there are new developments everyday in regards to technology, post production, marketing, etc. Being an instructor has made me a better photographer and business owner.
Skaar’s commercial photography work speaks for itself. How does he keep his work fresh and how does his teaching fit into his photography? “I cannot help but be inspired daily by the work the students produce. I believe I learn and grow from the experience as much as they do.”
Check out more of Skaar’s work on his website at erikskaar.com.