Shari Black Velvet: When did you get your first camera?
Coy Koehler: In 1994, I was going to college at the time and was studying painting, but then I started ‘seeing’ everything as a painting. So, why not buy a camera?
SBV: What was it about art and photography that inspired you to want to experiment and photograph initially?
CK: My mother had always painted when I was a child, so I naturally enveloped my love for what I saw as Art. And so, in college or whatever they call it...I became interested in everything that I saw. Be it a garbage bag filled with trash, a run down building with run down people, or a cloud, tree and crow, I saw it as beauty. I saw it all as Art, so fuck it, I'm going to shoot it.
SBV: How much have you progressed over the years?
CK: Technically, a lot... it's weird, I didn't learn shit in college. I received A's on my work, but D's on written exams. Once, I graduated, I started to learn everything and anything about photography... technically as well as the business side, the evil side, to snapshots.
SBV: What are your most important pieces of equipment that you use now?
CK: I use a Canon 5-D with several lenses, lights, and my brain.
SBV: Is photography your full time career? IE. Do enough individuals, bands, and companies pay for your services for it to be profitable?
CK: Yes, but NO... haha. I make enough for bills, but still have a day job to make life a little more smooth.
SBV: It says on your website that you shoot in natural lighting. Are all of your photos taken outdoors (other than live photography)? What happens if a customer wants studio shots?
CK: Most of my shots are shot outdoors because I love location shooting... love finding places to shoot... love just being outdoors, really? If a client wants studio shots, then I will rent a studio or "make" shift a studio with a paper backdrop.
SBV: How do you find good locations for photoshoots?
CK: I drive a lot aimlessly.
SBV: What work are you most proud of?
CK: My non-commercial work.
SBV: What do you like your subject to have in order to create the perfect photograph?
CK: Themselves without ego, or at least KNOW their ego so I don't have to manipulate them to ‘become’ what I'm imagining them to be. I love it when it just clicks.
SBV: What’s been the biggest/longest/most extravagant photoshoot that you’ve done?
CK: I would have to say going on the road with Marc Ford, ex-guitarist for the Black Crowes. It was the biggest shoot... 3,000 pix. It was the longest... 8 weeks on the road. It was the most extravagant... because it was just plain fucking cool.
SBV: How long do you spend discussing a photoshoot with a customer prior to doing it?
CK: An hour max, unless we are having drinks!
SBV: Do they come to you with their own ideas?
CK: I come to the table with mine, and they come to the table with theirs. I vibe off of the inspiration of what we are both feeling at the time.
SBV: How much of the shoot is your idea?
CK: Sometimes all, sometimes some, and sometimes none.
SBV: Do you tell them how to stand, what to wear etc?
CK: Sometimes yes, sometimes maybe, sometimes no. Hehe.
SBV: How much editing/post-processing do you do with the photos in programs such as Photoshop/Lightroom etc after you’ve taken them?
CK: It depends on the client, art director, and/or if I really care to have MY work presented like ‘this’ or not. Usually, I do it all.
SBV: What advice would you give to new aspiring photographers?
CK: QUIT! Become a Doctor! OR... keep shooting with your passion, your soul, and find the truth in Art. Always be yourself, and NEVER be the ‘image’ of a photographer. I hate fake idiots.
SBV: As a vegan, have you photographed many other vegans or done any work specifically related to veganism or not?
CK: No, I have not, and it's sad.
SBV: When and why did you become vegan and are you involved much on an animal activist level?
CK: I have only been a Vegan for 2 months, now. But what an EYE opening world that I've found within being a HUMAN. When I go to stores and see dead flesh and muscle being cooked to eat, I feel as though I'm living in a horror film. We live in such an alienated world of deception. Just because YOUR hands didn't take the knife doesn't mean that you didn't KILL the animal. Animals feel affection. People feel affection. People and animals feel affection for each other. So, if I feel love for a human, does that make it OK to kill it?? Unless, I was a homicidal psychopath? …much like the people that eat meat.
SBV: Were you vegetarian before? What, or who, was it that convinced you to become vegan?
CK: I was a on and off ‘health’ vegetarian. Then, I started to read PETA articles on the internet....started thinking, then started to really feel and understand what death, life, and love was all about. So, I said fuck it. NO MORE. Do we, people, need to kill anymore? Haven't we evolved enough to understand that the ‘death’ cycle doesn't need to exist by malicious slaughtering of innocent animals? Becoming Vegan for me was self awareness.... Not selfishness.
SBV: As a new vegan, have you found it hard or easy to find vegan food and products? And do you think you’ll definitely stay vegan now?
CK: Living in California, it is easier, but the rest of the world, especially in the mid-west of America, needs to WAKE UP! And yes, I will definitely stay vegan until someone decides to kill me and eat me.
SBV: Is there anything you’d refuse to photograph – ie. someone in real fur for example, or something that involved animal cruelty?
CK: It's such a fucking catch 22, right now. This weekend, I'm shooting a fashion show that will have leather materials. I'm pissed, BUT they are my friends as well. I'm trying to ‘evolve’ them as people so to speak, BUT, then their clients like "leather" biker shit. The fucking snake eats itself on occasion.
SBV: When you’re doing a big shoot do you have a break in between and if so, what vegan snacks do you usually eat or drink?
CK: CARROT JUICE... and Sea Salt and Vinegar chips.
SBV: Who would you most like to photograph who you haven’t so far – vegan or non-vegan?
CK: An alien!
Visit www.whycoy.com for more info.