What is Phottix and what do you do there?
Phottix is a photographic lighting company. We develop and manufacture photographic electronic and lighting solution. We are best known for our line-up of flash triggers and our TTL Studio Light – the Phottix Indra500 TTL. As CEO I oversee much of the company operations as well as working with photogaphers on improving current products and developing new ones.
Steve and Phottix Founder Laurence Poon in Dubai. Photo courtesy of Phottix.
You used to work as a journalist in Canada. Did you ever work as a photojournalist as well?
I didn’t have the opportunity to work as a photojournalist. I did some features that could fall under photojournalism, but being a small-town journalist much of my work was written.
What are some of the changes you have observed in your career as someone who has been involved in publishing for two decades now? I say publishing as you went from journalist to blogger to Phottix CEO, where you publish content regularly over at Phottix Journal.
There have been massive changes in both content and how it is consumed. It’s amazing to be have witnessed such changes in such a short time. While print has declined, I think it has found a balance with digital media. People still buy books and magazines – perhaps not as many is in the past, both are still viable. My own publishing – beyond the occasional post at the Phottix Journal, most of my publishing days are behind me.
How did you get into photography in the first place?
I always was amazed by photography. My second year of high school I took a graphics arts class that was mostly photography. Standing in the darkroom and watching prints develop quickly becomes an addiction. Alas, film and prints are something very few new shooters will ever get to experience.
What was your first camera?
My first camera was a Canon TL SLR.
This is unrelated to photography, but let’s talk about Shenzhen for a minute. You spent what, 8 years there? What were the biggest changes you witnessed?
Shenzhen changed a lot in eight years. I arrived in 2005 – at what could be considered the end of the “wild west” period in Shenzhen. Over the following eight years Shenzhen seemed to mature and expand. For a pre-planned city it was interesting to see “urban renewal” after 25 years.
Does Phottix manufacture exclusively in Shenzhen? Any plans to move elsewhere?
Phottix does most of its manufacturing in Shenzhen. No plans to move elsewhere.
What is your camera of choice?
I’ve fallen in love with the Fuji X-T1. Fuji has done some amazing things with mirrorless technology. I never ever thought I would go back to shooting on a crop sensor after shooting full-frame – but Fuji proved me wrong.
Favorite city to shoot in?
Hands-down, Hong Kong. There’s so much to Hong Kong, so many contrasts – old versus new, Asian versus Western – it’s truly an international city.
Photo from Steve’s blog, Asian Ramblings.
What sort of things do you like to take?
When I have time I like street photography, mostly candids of people going about their daily routine.
Tell us about your new product, the INDRA. What problem does it solve?
The Phottix Indra500 TTL Studio Light is one of the first studio lights that allows photographers to shoot with TTL (Through the lens) metering. In the past using studio lights required photographers to shoot only in manual mode – on both the camera and light. Shooting in TTL allows photographers to take advantage of their camera’s automatic settings – allowing them to focus on their photos, not the math behind it. The Indra offers a number of features including remote power control and triggering, and the ability to shoot at higher sync speeds.
What was the biggest challenge in developing it?
The biggest challenge was, was it even possible to develop a studio light with TTL functionality? That had never been done before – TTL has only been used in hot shoe flashes. Scaling up from a hot shoe flash to a 500 watt/second studio light was a daunting task.
What is your favorite photo you have ever taken?
That’s a hard one. I think my favorite photo is the one I have yet to take.
Who are some of your favorite photographers?
A few, in no particular order: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peter Hurley, Zack Arias, Joe McNally, Eric Kim, RC Concepcion, Sara Lando, and Lindsay Adler.
Let’s say someone has a thousand dollar budget and is looking for an entry-level DSLR, primarily for shooting skateboarding and other forms of movement. What would you recommend?
For entry-level DSLRs – Canon or Nikon. For action sports and/or movement you will want a system with both fast autofocus and frames per second. Something in the Nikon D5xxxx or Canon Rebel series would fit the bill. If shooting action you’ll want to pick up a fast lens (f/2.8 or faster) in 35mm or 50mm to keep it affordable. Good lenses are worth their weight in gold.
You have attended over 10,000 tradeshows over the past few years. OK, I just made that number up, but you are all over the place! Where can people find you IRL in late 2015 and 2016?
Not much time left in 2015 – I will be at the PhotoPlus show in NYC in October. In Q1 2016 I’ll be at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai and WPPI in Las Vegas.
And where can people find you on the interwebs?