MEET. Todd Glaser

© Todd Glaser

Meet Photographer, Waterman and APA | SD member, Todd Glaser.

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
@walteriooss @aspictures @burkgnar @petesouza @livefromsnacktime

What 3 words describe your photography style?
I don’t know if I would be the best person to answer that question, but if I had to describe my approach it would be to:
keep it simple

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
Depends on the mood, if I’m in the water there’s no headphones or music, but in the studio or on an outdoor shoot it’s usually whatever the vibe of the shoot is. If we need a lot of energy, something a bit more fast paced like the Stones, if it’s a bit mellower than the music will compliment that mood. Most importantly if you’re listening to your subject your intuition will guide you on what you need to hear and how to best capture them. There is always an energy to the shoot and as often times music can enhance it, it can also be a distraction.  

Always music during the edit though!

What inspires you?
Watching the light then thinking about how to tell a story or someone’s experiences through your lens. I love watching films as inspiration for cinematography and framing, but the best way to be inspired is to go out and experience new things that we can bring to our vision and subjects. Behind every great actor is a great story and we need to be able to not only have an idea, but bring ourselves into the experience with our subjects so we create something special together.

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Pre-covid I would say the travel! Now as the world is opening up, travel may be more of a reality, but because of a camera I’ve been able to meet some incredible people who are now dear friends, I’ve filled quite a few passports with countries of places I’d dreamt of going, but have also been able to share the world through my eyes which is pretty cool. Above all else, when you make an image that makes people happy, it feels good and it feels good to feel good.
When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
Surfing, bodysurfing, cycling, running, currently unpacking boxes since we just moved, and learning how to cook/bake as well as spending time with my wife Jenna usually doing most of the above at the same time.
Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
My daily routine varies quite a bit. If I’m not on site shooting, I’m usually working on a few pre-productions or edits from future or past shoots, organizing prints, shipping books, or working on a new book that I’ve been editing for during Covid. Besides that I’m usually drinking way too much coffee and trying to keep the business part of photography running smooth.  It’s a lot of work to not only shoot and edit yourself, but be responsible for the business side such as taxes, bills, maintaining gear, booking travel, etc..
Who were your biggest influencers?
Danny Clinch, Anton Corbijn (never met him, but he’s my favorite!), Michael Halsband, Steve Sherman, Dustin Humphrey, Scott Aichner, Grant Ellis, Thomas Campbell, Tom Servais, Ted Grambeau, Cole Barash, Kevin Zacher, Chris Burkard, Pete Taras

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Say please and thank you, have common courtesy to everyone.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Being able to turn my passion for the ocean, travelling, and photography into a career would be the biggest highlight I could ever imagine. The biggest challenge would be keeping a balance between being present at home while travelling as much as I used to.  

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I started shooting photos when I was 15 and at the time I was going to school and working at a local surf shop in San Diego. We didn’t start work until 10 on the weekends and I had Surf PE at school so whenever we shot it was always in early morning light which worked great! I didn’t know anything other than shooting at sunrise and for the film we were using at the time (Velvia 50) you didn’t want to be shooting at any other time!
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I’m not too sure, hopefully something where I got to think and problem solve creatively. I have a ton of admiration for Firefighters, Lifeguards, and the Coast Guard so maybe do my best to work in that area to help others?!
What do you do when you get stuck?
Lately I’ve been going on runs or riding a bike, or surfing. Something where I am as far away from phones and computers as possible. I used to always have a camera with me everywhere we went, but found I was using it as a crutch to belong in a way, whereas by being more actively present in spaces you’re unfamiliar with, you take those experiences with you when you take the camera out and view either your subjects or your experiences through a slightly different lens. More connected.
What is your best advice for your peers?
What makes your work yours is the way you choose to compose an image as well as the moment you choose to capture it. No one can take away your perspective and that is what not only shapes your work but defines your style as well. Also, if you’re considering getting into Surf Photography, make sure you go surf without the camera too!  
What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
I would tell myself it’s ok to say no sometimes. Listen to your gut, your instincts, those will guide you. Also, looking back I see how many major life events I’ve missed in my families and friends lives so making more time for them, which at times may lead to missing a shoot day or missing a particular shoot, but means so much to them.
What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
The role is the same it has always been. To tell stories and capture a time in life whether you’re telling the story of current events which will turn into history, the story of a person, group or place, or to inspire. The only big difference I have seen between now and the past is the accessibility to creating and sharing images in a quicker, more efficient way. I constantly look back at old National Geographic Magazines and Time magazines and think to myself, the photography now isn’t any better by any means even though we have so many new cameras, the principles of photography have remained the same, the only difference is there are more images that come out quicker.
What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Jenna and I were just talking about that and to be honest am not entirely sure. In the last 5 years I came out with my first book and had some amazing opportunities to build a broader commercial portfolio both with stills and most recently motion, so I’m thinking more of the same. I’ve been shooting for and editing a book that I’m hoping to come out in the next year or two at the most as well as storyboarded out a short film I’d like to produce and shoot as well.  Whatever or wherever we end up I’m sure there will be large bodies of water around and an early morning alarm clock to watch the sun rise :).
To view more of Todd’s work you can follow along here.