The Guy Behind the Camera: Getting to Know Edward Louie '13

By Laura Crowley

Arts & Life Editor

If you attend this University, it is likely that Edward Louie ’13 has taken a photograph of you.   Louie, from Portland, Ore. makes an appearance at nearly every major event on campus, but also documents students’ everyday lives.  In an interview with Louie, The Bucknellian discovered more about the man behind the camera.

Q: How did you become interested in photography?

A: I started photography in fifth grade because I wanted to show others what I wanted to tell them about, in addition to telling them about it. At the time I felt as though my words were doing an insufficient job at describing what I wanted to tell, and taking pictures was an excellent solution to the problem.  An interesting fact: back when I was in fifth grade (2001-ish) digital cameras took 3.5″ floppy disks. ‘What’s a floppy disk,’ you say?

Q: Do you hope to pursue photography as a career after graduation?

There [have been] times when I have considered making photography my profession. The reason why I didn’t do it is because I am too scared I will end up being a starving artist. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of having to pay the utilities, the mortgage and let’s not forget the college debt, purely from doing photography. It is a fact that being a professional photographer is among the lowest paying professions. A number of professional photographers have said: ‘The worst reason to become a professional photographer is because you love to take pictures. The stresses you will encounter being a professional will beat your passion to the ground. However, if you’re still keen on taking pictures after that, then you can be a professional photographer.’  As a result, I have no lasting desire to pursue photography as a full time career, and instead, I am pursuing civil engineering as a profession. I can sleep at night knowing that the odds are well in my favor that a career in civil engineering will land me a stable job.

Q: What do you most like to photograph?

A: I don’t have an affinity to any one particular genre of photography. Because I don’t specialize I believe the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ applies to me.

Q: Do you ever collaborate with other photographers at the University?

A: I have yet to collaborate with other photographers on campus. When I run into other photographers on campus I occasionally talk shop with them, but often times I am focused on the event/action/subject. I am open to helping, advising and mentoring fellow photographers. One issue is the lack of active photographers on campus.

Q: Do you ever get paid to photograph events?

A: I occasionally get paid to photograph events on campus. I am increasingly more firm about charging students and student organizations for event photography. The hourly pay on campus is nowhere near enough to compensate the amount of time and effort it takes to produce high quality images. As a result I try to charge students, clubs and organizations as a freelance photographer. It has consistently been a fact that for every hour of photography I do, there is two hours of post-production to follow. One needs to charge enough for the hour of photography to cover for the hours of post-production. In some cases, time must be spent for pre-production, like getting on scene early enough to have the time to scout out good angles and to have a word with the event manager.

Outside of Bucknell, the pay is much better, and clients are much more understanding of the cost of professional quality images, [since] I guess they’ve shopped around and know what everyone else charges. Inside Bucknell, there is a general expectation that things should be done for free or very close to that. However, I don’t have the time during the academic semester to take on too many requests outside of Bucknell. Students are generally broke, and I don’t blame them.

Q: What camera do you use?

A: “What camera do you use?” is a much more complicated question when it comes to an SLR since you’re not talking about a camera but rather a camera system. I guess you’re asking “what is in your camera system?” or “what’s in your bag?”

I use a Canon 40D the reason why I chose this body is because it was the least expensive body at the time (3 years ago) that had a pentaprism. Cheaper entry level bodies use a pentamirror rather than a pentaprism, pentamirrors produce a dim and tiny image through the viewfinder. To me looking through those are like looking trough a toilet paper roll, yuck!

The lenses I use consist of a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 and a 50mm f/1.4. These 3 lenses allow me to handle pretty much every situation short of field sports like football, for that you need a giant super-telephoto lens. The 70-200mm lets me get close and isolate one or two subjects from the rest. The 10-22mm allows me to get everything in and then some and the 50mm allows me to photograph in ultra low light situations when I can’t or don’t want to use a flash.

For flash I use a 580EX II, it is an external flash that mounts into the hotshoe and allows me to bounce the flash off the ceiling and walls. The result is images that don’t look like flash was used at all. I have honestly never ever used the popup flash on my camera and I have taken over 75,000 images with that body. Popup flashes produce nasty looking images I don’t know what they even include them in cameras.

Q: What are your hobbies outside of photography?

A: My other hobbies besides photography include mountain biking, hiking, travel, target archery and the typical college student hobbies of eating, sleeping, being lazy, Facebooking, YouTubing and listening to music.

Q: Why did you choose the University?

A: I started my college search looking for an accredited, undergraduate-focused engineering program with small student-to-teacher ratios. I was surprised at how few there were. Of the ones I applied to, only University of Portland and Bucknell offered financial aid packages that would make it financially reasonable to attend. [By] looking further into Bucknell, I discovered that it was ranked as one of the top universities for undergraduate engineering. Coupling that with an interest to explore the east coast made Bucknell a pretty clear choice.

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