Jeff Galfer is a working actor who recently moved to Los Angeles from New York, and has been shooting some really amazing photography for the last few years. His work is so good, and just continues to get better. But the story of why he decided to begin shooting as a serious hobby is what is most inspiring.
Love and Water- What kind of work do you do as an actor?
Jeff Galfer- I do a lot of commercials, I do slots on TV shows, and a bunch of theater. Lately I’ve been working with some of my producer friends developing pitch ideas. That’s been fun.
L&W- I’ve known you for a while, and your photography has grown into such a beautiful body of work. When did you decide to start shooting?
JG- For ages I’ve always been fascinated with photography but never did anything about it. I think I had a 35MM Advantix point-and-shoot camera when I was in college that I used for a trip to Europe. I loved shooting, but never thought to do it on a regular basis because film was a costly thing. My brother had an old 35MM SLR camera, the Pentax, where you have to load the film and do all the settings manually. I asked him if I could borrow when he started using digital cameras. I took it to New York back in 2006, bought 10 rolls of film and went around shooting things. But I had no experience shooting, so most of my pictures did not even develop properly. One time I took a roll to the camera store and they told me that the film wasn’t loaded properly, so no pictures were on it. I wasn’t very good at it, but I still enjoyed playing around with it. By the end of that year I had a number of things go down in my life where I became extremely depressed and anxious, and it got to a point where I was having trouble leaving the house. As a person who’s been acting my enire life this was a very difficult situation for me. When I went home for the holidays and had a long talk with my folks about how to proceed
emotionally, one of the things we talked about was diving headstrong into a hobby that I could pursue. I decided to throw six hundred bucks on a credit card and buy a digital camera. I was somewhat opposed to digital, but didn’t know anything about shooting more advanced cameras, and I couldn’t afford to spend money on wasted film. So after New Year’s in New York I forced myself to leave the house and take on a new neighborhood every week. I went out shooting every weekend, and the anxiety began to slowly go away. The photography just became this other love of mine that was not constrained by any other forces. With acting, there are casting directors and auditions and things completely out of my control. With photography nobody could tell me where to shoot, what to shoot, how to shoot; I can simply shoot what I please. It became a way of expressing myself in response to the restraints I was feeling from the acting industry. So I’ve been shooting for a few years now, quite often. In fact, I just got offered a job today shooting product development for a store in Los Angeles called Vionnet Boutique.
L&W- Congratulations! Are you happy with that?
JG- Yes, it involves the camera, which makes me very happy, and it seems like a good gig.
L&W- How was your most recent trip to Europe, as far as shooting, compared to the last one?
JG- I wanted to go to Italy forever, and I never had the time or the money set aside. Then I found out I had to use my frequent flyer miles before the end of the year before the rates changed, so I decided to make it happen. I planned my trip ten months in advance, and during those months I upgraded my camera with new lenses. I went to Italy and France and shot something like 1,600 pitctures. I chose about 160 to show online, and out of those I put about 40 in a portfolio. What’s great is because I’m shooting so often now, whenever I have a question I ask a phographer friend of mine for the answer, and whenever I meet a new photographer I ask him or her a question that hasn’t been answered yet. And since I’m self-taught it’s a great way for me to learn while making new professional connections. The great thing I’ve found is that most photographers are very generous with their answers- they’re always happy to take time, they’re always happy to help. So I pick up bits and pieces. I’m noticing my technical skills are getting better. So before I went to Europe I made a decision to try to take pictures without using any Photoshop tricks. I just wanted to go and do good old fashioned photography with my digital camera. And I was so thrilled with not only the scenery I was able to find but what I was able to capture without having to do any sort of editing on top of the picture. And that’s a big deal when you don’t have the money to take classes or don’t already have an education in it. One of the reasons I like to shoot is this idea of capturing moments in time and space and being able to frame it in such a way that it comtinues to tell a story every time someone looks at it. It’s an ability to be able to show someone what we see through our eyes. It’s such an intimate way to share our perspective, I think.
JG- I’m open to doing it, and I’m in the midst of exploring what it is to take a good headshot. There’s such a difference between a portrait and a headshot, as every actor knows. One thing I’m not skilled in yet is indoor lighting. So my idea is to take it outside. Most of the portraits I’ve done outside are pretty good, so I’m working on the same thing with headshots. I’m happy with the ones I’ve done so far. I am offering a special for anyone who wants to work with me on their headshot, so anyone can contact me about that.
L&W- What do you think of the Love and Water community?
JG- I think the idea of bringing artists and charities together in this manner is not only positive but just a great way to connect the dots between people and things they care about, which is extremely important in our community. Especially since our community has taken such a hit in the last year, as far as I’m concerned, between the economy and the state of the entertainment industry. And to connect artists in general together in such a positive way feeds our souls on some level. When you say “every drop counts,” I know you’re talking literally about how every dollar given to charities counts, but “every drop counts” also means every little connection made, every piece of art shared and every new perspective gained counts toward a better appreciation of ourselves and our relationships to others. These things matter to the greater whole. It all ends up paying it forward, which is great. Speaking of which, I was looking at the designs on your blog and I thought about submitting one made up of photographs. I don’t know what you think about that, but…
L&W- I think you may have just created a new design category. I love it- please submit something.
JG- I will.