Hello everybody! I am super excited to have LUMIPro's Gallery featuring its first artist of the year... Kn0cks Shadows! He is a wonderful artist, and we can't wait to share his work with you. I will include the details of the show below, but first I had the wonderful opportunity of sitting down with him for a chat.
Sam: I am so excited to have the opportunity to interview you! So first question… How did you hear about Second Life, and what got you started?
Hello Samantha, It’s definitely my pleasure, and thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with you. My real life wife convinced me to try Second Life back in 2007. She got me into roleplaying vampires. We finally decided after some years to take a different direction and we made new avatars and started over. Now we are living separate lives here in SL and even though we take breaks from time to time we keep coming back. SL is always evolving and so are we.
Sam: What are some of the things that you love about Second Life? What keeps you coming back?
Over the years there have been a lot of things I’ve loved about Second Life. I really enjoyed the role-playing for a long time. Then after we started fresh, I tried out new things….relationships, families, children, hosting in clubs and working as a stripper. Now though….what keeps me coming back is photography. I have a real love for it.
Sam: I used to love roleplay as well. I know you say that your photography is just a hobby but I think you’re amazing. What got you started?
Thank you, and yes, photography is my SL hobby, but I have real goals and aspirations with it. I got started taking snapshots pretty much the same as anyone else. I tried to capture good angles and lighting, but back then I didn’t know anything about graphic settings or windlights or photography tools. I just wanted to capture moments in SL. When I started seeing other residents incredible work I realized there was a lot more to it than just snapping a shot, and I decided to learn.
Sam: It is amazing how others can inspire us. Why do you take photos? Are you trying to say something to the world?
I take photos because I’m trying to say something to me. That I can accomplish something good and beautiful in this world. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve finished a photo that I really like. All my photos originally were dark or black and white. People who knew me then pushed me to try lighter or more colorful photos. I struggled with that and still do because I have an affinity for darker richer colors or simply black and white. I work hard to try to keep my photos viewer friendly and not controversial but that doesn’t always work out. I struggle particularly with photos of women. I guess it’s harder for me to see the softer more feminine side. I do practice with it from time to time though.
Sam: That is wonderful! Black-and-white photos were always my favorite too.Do you have any photography inspirations in either Second Life or Real Life?
I am inspired every day I look at my Flickr feed and see the incredible photos of some that I follow. I also get inspired by real-life photos and sometimes make an effort to recreate that photo in SL. I haven’t done it that often and I really should do it more, because it really challenges you in so many ways.
Sam: What advice would you give to new photographers in Second Life?
Buy a LUMIPro first of all….it is my favorite photography tool and I’m always talking to people about it and how awesome it is. I never take a photo without it. Secondly, I would advise them to learn about graphics settings and windlights. They can make or break a photo. I would also advise them to watch the LUMIPro tutorials as they give tons of useful information. YouTube is another thing I would advise all new photographers to use. Pretty much anything you need to know about SL photography you can find there. I would also say, keep at it….don’t give up or get discouraged if things are not how you want them in the beginning. It takes time to learn….it’s taken me years to just get to where I’m at today…..and I’m still nowhere near the skill level I’d like to be….but I’m steadily learning.
Sam: So how about we talk about the hud that brought us together, LUMIPro! How did you hear about LUMIPro, and what made you decide to take the plunge and get the HUD?
My SL brother, Ambrosous Core, told me about it years ago. I used to ask him how he took the amazing photos he did and how he got the shadowing and lighting and he told me about LUMIPro. He suggested that I get it also. So I saved up for it and bought it.
Sam: I love The Old Bull, lol. I'm glad he was so persuasive Do you have a favorite LUMIPro feature?
I have two favorite features that I use every time…..lighting and poses. I like being able to have all of it in one tool instead of having to use a separate pose stand and light boxes. I also like the projector and use it from time to time.
Sam: If you could pick a new LUMIPro feature what would it be?
At this point in time, the one thing I struggle with when taking photos of other people, are their animations. Sometimes people don’t know how to turn off all head and body animations and it makes it a challenge for me to take the multiple shots that I do…...what I’d like to have is something that stops all animations on a model and still be able to keep them in a pose. I’m sure I’m asking for the impossible, but that’s the thing that I can see I need the most.
Sam: You never know what might be possible in the future! Thank you for indulging me and talking about one of my favorite things. So a little birdie told me you started a blog, and that there is some exciting news around that. Why don’t you tell us about it?
Yes, I did just recently start a blog. I have wanted to be a blogger for a long time, but I never met the typical requirements to blog for big name creators. They usually want you to have at least 1K followers on Flickr and have most of your photos get at least 100 favs… and also to have a blog site with a lot of traffic. So now I’ve gotten over the 1k followers' mark, and most of my photos get at least 100 favs. So the next step was for me to create a blog site and start blogging independently until I reached the mark for that as well. I’d like to thank all who support me now and hopefully will continue to support me as time goes on.
I recently won a guest blogger spot for the Neo Japan Event coming up in a couple weeks. I entered the Neo Japan photo contest a few months ago and placed well enough to get a guest blogger spot. I’m super excited about that!! One of the main administrators of the event is the creator of Gabriel, Takuya Jinn, as well as one of my favorite photographers, Hikaru Enimo. So I feel so honored to get to blog the event. I’m hoping that eventually, I’ll succeed in becoming a permanent blogger for Gabriel as well as a few other of my favorite creators. My blog site only has one entry at this time, a short introduction blog, but in a couple weeks, I’ll have my first “real” blog on there. I’d like to give a shout out to my friend China Doll who helped me find a blog site and pointers on how to set it up. Here’s the link to my blog…
I also post Before and After shots on my Facebook page. I like to do that to show people the original shot and the final photo and hope they see how much time and effort goes into making nice photos. When you just see the final shot there is no way to know just how much work was put into it. I’ve gotten feedback from friends saying they really like those posts. I am Andrew Estrada on Facebook in case anyone would like to see.
My Flickr link in case anyone is interested is…
Sam: So tell me something else… Maybe share something our readers won’t know. What makes you who you are?
Ok, here’s a short Bio of me….I’m 39 years old. I live in San Diego California. I am married in real life and will soon be celebrating our 19th anniversary….yes, I got married when I was 20 LOL. I am a recovering heroin addict with almost 17 years clean now and former gang member. I used to be a substance abuse counselor, but now I am a case manager in behavioral health and work with disabled veterans. I live my life now to help and serve my community, instead of harming it. I am very dedicated to my real life wife and family.
In SL, I’m currently single. I spend most of my SL time on photography, but I do make time to support my SL brother when he Dj’s and also to spend time with some friends clubbing or just hanging out. I don’t have an SL home anymore, I have a bare platform that I use for most of my photography. Even though I have many who tell me I should become a professional photographer in SL and make money on it….I disagree, because it’s something I really love to do and I don’t want to take the fun out of it by making it a business...not to mention I don’t feel confident when I do other peoples photos because I feel like I can’t be free to do what I’d like with them since they are not my avatars. I’m ok with making my avi’s face bloody or dirty or distorted, but most people wouldn’t appreciate that LOL …. So I keep it as my hobby and I don’t do photos for other people except for friends or family occasionally and I never charge them. I haven’t come to the decision that my work is worthy of a price tag.
Sam: thank you for being so honest and congratulations on a wonderful marriage and your sobriety! Last but not least what is in Kn0cks future?
Well that’s a tough one...it’s really hard to say. I don’t try to look too much to the future...I try to stay in the present, live life one day at a time and stay humble. I do have goals and I’m working towards them and I hope one day I actually see some of them become reality. Personal life is another up in the air situation here in SL. At this time, I see myself staying single. Dating is a nice option, but no more relationships, at least not in the near future.
Thank you so much Samantha for inviting me to have a Gallery showing and for taking an interest in me and my work. I’ve been a dedicated LUMIPro user for a few years now and this is definitely an unexpected honor.
Kn0cks has been one of the humblest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of interviewing. I want to thank him for being so open with us! Now let's get to the details of this amazing show!
The gallery show will take place, Saturday, March 16 from 12 to 2 PM. We will have DJ Savage Samage there to keep you all entertained! I really hope to see everyone there!
Until next time... Be Bold, Be Creative, and Happy Shooting!