Zev Hoover is a 14-year-old photographer often found in front of, as well as behind, his lens. He is best known for his miniature people pictures called ‘littlefolks’. Zev works on most everything collaboratively with his sister Aliza. To see some of his work, and learn more about his process, read below.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into photography?
I started taking pictures when I was 8, with an old cell phone camera. From there, I got a used point and shoot and eventually worked my way up to a DSLR. Everyone in my family being artists and the amazing community online, I think, were the two biggest inspirations in the beginning.
You create magical worlds with your images. Can you tell us a bit about how you come up with your ideas, through to execution?
The individual ideas for pictures are often just from seeing a location and saying “oh, that would be a perfect spot for someone 3 inches tall!” On the other hand, some of the pictures are inspired by thinking (for example) how fun it would be to fly on a paper airplane, or to walk in the waist high moss. As for taking the images, I start with the ‘background’ picture, the scene without any people in it. Sometimes it is just a simple nature macro, and others it involves many small things suspended with thread. Most of the time, it is more then one picture (2-5 usually) composed in a sort of panorama to make one big picture with a larger field of view. Then I take the picture of the person I want in the scene, trying to match the lighting as close as possible between the person and the background. Both pictures are then taken into photoshop and I cut the background out of the person picture, draw shadows in and adjust all the colors to match. Tada!
You create most of your images through a somewhat complicated process called the Brenizer Method, which you touch on above, but have recently begun using a Lensbaby Composer Pro with Edge 80 Optic as well. Can you talk a bit about these 2 different methods?
I always shoot with manual focus, because it adds one more element to think about over just shutter, aperture and ISO, and the Lensbaby tilt just adds a whole new dimension to shooting. As I said above, the Brenizer Method involves many pictures to make a smoother, softer depth of field, where as shooting with the Lensbaby I can get this creaminess in just one picture. Shooting with the Lensbaby is a totally different experience, and as well as having useful results it is one of the most fun walk-around lenses I have ever used.
Your sister is very involved in a lot of your creations. What’s that like working with a sibling on a creative project like this?
My sister & I get along wonderfully and collaborate on pretty much everything we do. I always shoot and edit, but often times she will have an idea for a picture, and usually helps out somehow in the making of it.
You’ve accomplished a lot at a young age. What do you see for you future?
Aliza and I are planning on making a ‘littlefolks’ book, with her writing and my photographs. We have some new ideas for it I am really excited for. After that, who knows?