Travis McQueen Episode Summary
This week we’re hanging out with photographer Travis McQueen and talking about landscape photography, transitioning into the world of cinematography, and Travis shares his passion for documentary storytelling.
Travis McQueen Episode Notes
This week we’re hanging out with photographer Travis McQueen and talking about landscape photography, transitioning into the world of cinematography, and Travis shares his passion for documentary storytelling.
Travis’ Lightning Round Answers:
- Favorite Movie – Joker
- Last Movie You Watched – Palmer
- Favorite Director – Sam Mendes / Todd Philips
- Most Underrated / Slept On Cinematographer – Lawrence Sher
- Coffee or Tea – Bourbon
- Pineapple on Pizza – No, not ever
- Favorite Camera – Anything Sony
- Three Films to Watch Before You Die – Joker / Gladiator / 1917
Travis McQueen Links
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[00:04] Corey Allen: Hi, I’m Corey.
[00:05] Bill Cornelius: I’m Bill.
[00:06] Corey Allen: And together we host the InFocus podcast. Today, we’re joined by photographer, fellow podcaster, Travis McQueen. Travis, welcome to the show.
[00:15] Travis McQueen: Hey, thank you all for having me. You guys are the real deal. I’m just kind of like the Bush league over here, man.
[00:25] Corey Allen: You’re giving me personally, too much credit for sure.
[00:28] Travis McQueen: Nah, man. I mean, you’re in here with all of your podcasts and equipment of these fancy chords. I mean, I don’t know, dude. I feel inferior right now.
[00:37] Bill Cornelius: Corey is the Renaissance, man. He’s he just has all this gear.
[00:39] Corey Allen: I’m just here. I just I’m just here to create.
[00:43] Travis McQueen: I like it. That’s all I’m here for too apparently.
[00:46] Corey Allen: Well, Travis, thanks again, thanks for joining us.
[00:48] Travis McQueen: No, no, thank you.
[00:49] Bill Cornelius: I know you spent a lot of time behind the camera. Stills camera, right?
[00:52] Travis McQueen: Yep. A hundred percent.
[00:54] Corey Allen: How’d you get into that?
[00:55] Travis McQueen: Well, it’s actually interesting story. One, me being a little frugal. So, by wife is an influencer. And when I influencer, I mean, like, she’s like a legit influencer,
[01:08] Bill Cornelius: Qualify that.
[01:09] Travis McQueen: She’s not like the ones that goes on Instagram, has like 200 followers and calls herself an influencer. She’s got a following. She started this, I was like, “Oh man, this is going to be interesting. What does all it take?” And she’s like, “Oh, I need to take the product shots for these brands.” Brands are starting to come to her and stuff. And she come to me and she was like, “Hey, you know, I need a photographer.” And I was like, “Well, how much are they?” She’s like, “Well, the one I’ve been looking at, it’s like a thousand dollars for like a shoot.” And I was like, “Okay. Well, I mean, you can get everything out. Like, if you’re making that money back, like it’s fine.” She’s like, “No, I would need that like every week.” And I was like, “Ah, no. We’re not doing, we’re not doing 4,000 a month. That’s nowhere near going to what’s happening here.”
So, we decided to actually just go ahead and get a camera. And then I was start doing the photos myself. So, we’ve just kind of been doing that. Didn’t really enjoy it. Hated everything about it, but then whenever we started traveling, I did more like landscape stuff. I was like, “Okay, so this is really cool. I can stop a moment in time. I can take a picture of something I want to remember, something I wanted to do. And it just kind of developed from there. So then flash forward a couple years, get out of the army, realized that, “Hey, I should probably find something to do. I don’t know what.” And I was like, “Well, let me just be a photographer.” So since then man, since 2018, this has been my bread and butter, my livelihood, everything. And I love it, man.
[02:50] Corey Allen: Yeah. And I know on your website, I’ve seen some really, really impressive landscape photography.
[02:57] Travis McQueen: Thank you.
[02:58] Corey Allen: I feel like, yeah, maybe it was on your Instagram, I don’t remember. But do you sell prints of that or is that more just kind of passion project stuff?
[03:06] Travis McQueen: It’s more passion project stuff. The more I’ve been in photography, what I will say is, to be a successful landscape photographer, you have to have a following, you’ve got to have a name. And really it comes down to people knowing you. And that’s how you actually sell your prints, once you have that following. Because right now, I’m not no famous Sony artists or anything like that. So, nobody’s really asking for a Travis McQueen print, that’s not what they’re wanting. You have to have that kind of following and that kind of consistency and be at that kind of level to sell prints. So, everything landscape at my level is just passion project. Yeah.
[03:49] Corey Allen: I feel like you definitely have a name though you could capitalize. I don’t know if there’s any relation at all.
[03:56] Travis McQueen: I think there is a little bit.
[03:58] Corey Allen: Yeah.
[03:58] Travis McQueen: We had a lady look into my family history and then she said there was a link to Steve McQueen. I assume that’s who she talking about, not Lightning. No relations to Lightning.
[04:08] Corey Allen: None? Ah man.
[04:10] Travis McQueen: This is totally different.
[04:10] Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
[04:10] Travis McQueen: Different side of the family. But yeah, I don’t know, maybe one day I can cash in on this name, but right now, nobody, nobody is looking.
[04:18] Corey Allen: Nice.
[04:20] Bill Cornelius: Is that something that you want to reach eventually? Like to be known for your landscaping or your landscaping [Cross talking 04:30] and gardening. Yeah. You are a landscape photography.
[04:32] Travis McQueen: I did do one year of landscaping. Worst summer of my life, I think, it was terrible. I honestly kind of look back in multiple different directions and avenues because I think photography is great. It’s a very big part of my life at this point. U But I’m always trying to look for better ways to kind of, I guess, tell a story. So like, landscapes are really great about telling stories. You can show the evolution of a place in a certain time. So it’s like if you go to Canada at the same exact place in four different seasons, you’re going to get a different kind of photo. Same spot, but you’re capturing the evolution. So over time, you can really tell a story. Even if you take portraits of people, if you can follow the same person over time, you’re really showing the passion, showing how they’re aging, showing how their styles change and moods change. You know photography in the eighties is totally different than 2020.
So it’s like two different things. You’re really capturing a story throughout time, but that’s what kind of gets me with photography is you really have to be following that subject, following that something to tell that story. I don’t think, I don’t know. I just see my career from photography, I really want to get into more video and cinematography. And I’m going to level of you guys because that’s the more like the immediate stories, like what’s happening now and actually developing a more cohesive. storyline, a more cohesive unit and you’re able to visually show something to somebody. And if you’re good enough writer and good enough at editing and sound design and all that, you can make them feel it. Photography, you can do a little bit of that, but there’s so many other things that video and cinematography gives you, like the sound design and just the way things are written. I mean, it just kind of hits you and that’s kind of where I see my passions leaning toward now.
[06:34] Bill Cornelius: Yeah. It’s that all-encompassing aspect of video. And I think that’s why I like it a lot too.
[06:41] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[06:41] Bill Cornelius: It’s just like, there are so many elements you can explore, like sound design and story and visuals and all that sort of performance even.
[06:50] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[06:50] Bill Cornelius: And that’s what keeps that medium rich, at least for me, because it’s just like, there’s something new and creative to get out of it all the time. It’s not just a one-shot deal.
[07:02] Travis McQueen: See, I kind of think still photography is 2D and video is 3D, or even 4D in some aspects. It’s just a totally different experience. It makes it all encompassing. I mean, it gives you an experience. Like if you look at Instagram or whatever kind of Google search engine, you look at photos, it’s like, “Okay, these are great photos.” And you’re probably want to keep on swapping looking for the next one. But if you get like a really good video or something really captivating, it’s like, “Whoa.” Like it grips you. Some photographs do it a hundred percent, but I just think that you’re going to have a better way or a you’re going to have a better ratio of getting that attention in video than photos.
[07:44] Bill Cornelius: And people are going to share it.
[07:45] Travis McQueen: Yeah, a hundred percent.
[07:46] Bill Cornelius: Because I get video shares much more than I get still shares. And that’s just, again, it’s all the elements coming together sort of thing.
[08:00] Corey Allen:: Yeah. You know, I think it’s probably kind of an unintended consequence of the two different mediums too. Photography is very much; you’re capturing that very specific moment in time.
[08:11] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[08:11] Corey Allen: Oftentimes like a fraction of a moment, like a thousandth of a second, depending on the moment. Whereas with video, like it’s intended to capture and maintain your attention for a longer period of time. So, like there’s a lot of work that goes into that. But again, to your point, there are definitely still photographers and photos that captivate and like pull you in. And, but still like, it is just that single moment in time versus whatever the narrative story is or whatever the performative story is, whatever it like there is so much more to it then.
[08:42] Travis McQueen and Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
[08:44] Travis McQueen: I can almost kind of say too, like photography is you see the moment. Videography, you live the moment.
[08:52] Bill Cornelius: Yeah, that’s great. That’s a deep.
[08:53] Corey Allen: Very deep.
[08:54] Travis McQueen: I’m a deep person. I’m a deep person from the Hills of Kentucky. All right.
[09:00] Bill Cornelius: I mean, you know like photography birthed cinema, quite honestly. I mean, that’s where it began. You want to go back to Moy Bridge and the experiments he used to do with photography to show motion, like just a horse moving. I mean, that’s, you know, photography is the grandfather to or the father to cinema ultimately. So, we have that to thank for video.
[09:27] Travis McQueen: Yeah. I mean, it’s an evolution, right? I mean, all of it is a stepping stone. So I mean, I’m definitely not saying, you’re saying that photography is bad because it’s how I make my living and a big passion of mine. It’s just that I think as time progressive or progresses, you know, it’s 2021, I think people of, camera phones have gotten so good that people have kind of took advantage of photography. Like they don’t really see the big need to pay big money for certain things. Because they can just go to those locations, pull out their iPhone and snap a couple photos, right?
[10:01] Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
[10:01] Travis McQueen: The new iPhone has three lenses; the Y, the telephoto and the regular. So, it’s like they got the fake Boca stuff now. So, it’s like people kind of get these things and I think that it’s kind of undervalued or given people this, “Oh, well I can always take a photo.” So, I mean, I think just with the time, I think you’re seeing, from at least from my perspective, I’ve seen more photographers now, they’re trying to get into the video cinematography world because they think that, “Hey, this is the next medium for us to be able to make a living,” but also tell a more compelling story that’s interesting to people. Because again, with all the camera phones and all the technology, I just think most people are just taking it or taking it for granted, I guess.
[10:43] Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
[10:43] Corey Allen: I think with that, with that context though, like I would love to hear like how you have found a way to make still photography your living and how you’ve worked your way into that work. Like what type of photography do you currently or traditionally work in from a paid perspective?
[11:01] Travis McQueen: So, the biggest part of my paid stuff has really been kind of doing the stuff for like bloggers, influencers, stuff like that. Just kind of doing some portraits for them. Then just brands, you know, a lot of brands they’re going to need some sort of things. So I did one with the Nashville company here, I’m going to rep them just because…
[11:18] Corey Allen: Yeah.
[11:18] Travis McQueen: I forgot their name though, just off the top of my head.
[11:23] Corey Allen: Ranger Station?
[11:24] Travis McQueen: Yeah, that’s it. Thank you. I did some stuff with Ranger Station not too long ago. So that was a really cool to do. And then after that, since moving to downtown Nashville and meeting up with you actually, it seems like I’ve been kind of thrown into this like country music circle.
[11:42] Corey Allen: Nice.
[11:42] Travis McQueen: And I’m not even like country music, man. It’s always awkward. They’re all like talking about country.
[11:47] Bill Cornelius: Welcome to Nashville.
[11:48] Corey Allen: Yeah.
[11:48] Travis McQueen: Yeah. But I’ve been throwing into this now, so there are few people want me to go out on the road with them this summer, take some concert photos of them. Sounds cool. I think it’s awesome. I’m happy for that experience, but it’s weird, man. It’s weird going from landscape photography to taking photos of candles, to going on tour with some guy who’s trying to be a country artist. It’s like, I don’t know man.
[12:12] Bill Cornelius: That is the Nashville experience for those of us who work with cameras. It seems like…
[12:17] Corey Allen: Tangible transformation.
[12:19] Bill Cornelius: Yeah. And it’s that’s way for music videos too. It’s like, “Who is this artist? and “I don’t think I like this song, but I want the gig. Please give me a paycheck. I’ll show up and do a great job for you.”
[12:32] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[12:34] Bill Cornelius: But you definitely like every artist you’ve worked with, right?
[12:37] Travis McQueen: Yes. [All laughing]
[12:43] Bill Cornelius: I’ve worked with many artists at this point. You would never be able to narrow it down.
[12:48] Corey Allen: That’s true. It’s true.
[12:52] Travis McQueen: I can say of the people, of the very small circle of artists that I’ve dealt with so far, they’ve all been pretty good. Like I think only one person, had ever said anything or kind of come across in a weird way. I just think a lot, most people feel some type of way because communication, right. I think as time has went on, I think a lot of social norms, people kind of forgotten how to communicate face to face in a digital world. But once you kind of get through that barrier and you’re in, I think people, you know, it was fine. At the end of the day, like every person I’ve ever worked with has been good. And even the one that I said that kind of a little rocky, it was just a communication issue. Once we got that figured out it was solid.
[13:37] Bill Cornelius: That’s cool.
[13:37] Corey Allen: Yeah. Have you any recent work that you’ve been a part, of any projects?
[13:42] Travis McQueen: Well, I would say in the past year, the best project I’ve been apart was yours.
[13:49] Corey Allen: That was not the one I had in mind. Please go on.
[13:52] Bill Cornelius: Continue.
[13:53] Travis McQueen: The Scott Stevens project or the Scott Stevens music video.
[13:56] Corey Allen: Oh yeah.
[13:56] Travis McQueen: That one, that thing was so cool. So, I’m glad that you asked me to come on there and help out with lighting and stuff. That was probably my favorite one. Yeah.
[14:05] Bill Cornelius: Yeah. That’s awesome.
[14:06] Travis McQueen: I’ve thought about podcasts. I don’t know.
[14:08] Corey Allen: We’ll talk about your podcast in a minute, but we, how you and I first met, I think we met at, an Explorer…
[14:13] Travis McQueen: In Nashville.
[14:14] Corey Allen: Yeah, those guys are cool.
[14:17] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[14:19] Corey Allen: Oh, that’s the photography? Well, they do all kinds of things. They do, they have the National Daily podcast.
[14:24] Bill Cornelius: That’s right.
[14:26] Corey Allen: I met the, what’s his name?
[14:27] Bill Cornelius: Stuart. Aaron? One of those two?
[14:29] Corey Allen: The guy with the beard?
[14:30] Bill Cornelius: Stuart.
[14:32] Corey Allen: Yeah. I met him at the, when we tried to get the Saharan Dust cloud. And it didn’t quite…
[14:35] Travis McQueen: Oh yeah.
[14:35] Corey Allen: And it didn’t quite pan out. The sunset was super boring. It was like, it was a boring sunset. So, we met at one of those events and like many people you’re like, “Hey, I would love if you ever got any gigs, I’ll come hang out.”
[14:56] Travis McQueen: Yeah. Yeah. And I think most people like, you know, don’t really value that in a way. Like, if you want to try something, like get out there. I’m not a social butterfly, but I’ll get out there and I’ll try it. Kind of say, “Hey, whatever you got, let me just tag along. I’ll learn, I’ll do whatever I got to do.
[15:19] Corey Allen: Hopefully this doesn’t open me up to just like, “Listen, don’t flood my DMS.”
[15:24] Bill Cornelius: Like as a stranger, if we’d never met.
[15:25] Corey Allen: Don’t @me, don’t @me your, “Hey, I’ll come work for free.”
[15:29] Travis McQueen: Adam, he’ll do it.
[15:30] Corey Allen: But I think everyone I’ve ever met and like had a face-to-face interaction with, whether it’s at the explore meets or on different sets or through rentals or whatever. Anytime somebody says, “Hey, if you ever have anything going on, I just, I want to learn. I want to like come experience.” Just let me know. I’ll come do whatever. I take almost everyone up on that offer for two reasons. One, it’s free labor.
[15:56] Travis McQueen: Exactly. Yeah. Why wouldn’t you, right?
[15:58] Corey Allen: Yeah, exactly.
[15:59] Bill Cornelius: I’m not going to rely on you on the day, but if you’re there, like we’ll have things for you to do.
[16:05] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[16:06] Corey Allen: But secondly, like I never had that experience or that opportunity to like, just insert myself into things as I was getting into photography and cinematography.
[16:17] Bill Cornelius: Likewise.
[16:18] Corey Allen: So, I feel like giving other people that opportunity, you know, I could pay it forward a thousand times.
[16:24] Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
[16:25] Travis McQueen: I think with that too, it’s a part of building a community and again, building that network as well. So, you’re getting two-fold. Like not only are you going to have somebody who you’ve brought on, you’ve taught them, they know your mannerisms. So then whenever you do have a job and they need some help, it’s like, you know, you are going to work well with this person, right. Then you build that network with that person, right. You two are really good. So maybe one day he’ll go off and meet somebody big or have a big project. And he’s like, “Hey, look, I can’t do this by myself, but I know somebody who could help out”.
So, then you just build that. And I think it kind of builds a healthy creative community in that aspect. And that’s something that, you know, maybe not so much in Nashville, I’m maybe I’m completely wrong here, but I feel like a healthy, creative community is a rare thing. And it’s, I don’t know, I don’t know, maybe this is from my experience, it just hasn’t really seemed very healthy. It has, it varies. It’s been very competitive and not a lot of networking. I think most people have that “I’m going to do it all on my own” kind of standoff. Don’t want to share locations or tips and secrets. They just kind of want to hold all the information to themselves.
[17:36] Corey Allen: I think there’s definitely a sense of that, like around town. They’re also, like, I know that there are pockets of like, I don’t know if you would call it like micro communities or whatever it is.
[17:47] Travis McQueen: Like the Explorer.
[17:49] Corey Allen: Right. Like there are groups that I know there are DP that they rely on, like this small network of individuals that they work with all the time. But to your point, that’s not large to the point where they’re like, everybody’s getting together like multiple agencies or like multiple DPs.
[18:08] Bill Cornelius: I’ve been a part of the film community in Nashville since 05, 06 and I’ve seen it change a lot. It used to be more of a tighter knit family dynamic. There was maybe two or three bubbles, that all kind of work together like you were saying. And then as time went on, those bubbles would move together and overlap and we all started to know each other and Zach Adams used to host mixers all the time. And it would just be filmmakers all over town, coming together, networking, chatting about stuff. As time has gone on and as Nashville has grown and more people have come here and more people are doing video, there’s all sorts of pockets of people now.
[18:57] Travis McQueen: Yeah. And it’s a factor of growth at that point, which you have a big city, it’s hard to have that one small kind of family kind of thing. So, it does turn into like the micro satellites.
[19:08] Bill Cornelius: And so, we’re like the old guys now that I’ve been here, like before the growth, you know, we’re just kind of like… Yeah. Let me tell you about the Nashville experience because we’ve been here forever.
[19:19] Corey Allen: The other thing that’s interesting is how many filmmakers are creative from outside of Nashville? Traveled to Nashville for work? I can’t tell you how many renters I’ve met through share grid who, they’re flying in from LA for the weekend, they need some gear. They’re here for agency work and then like they’re gone like Sunday night, Monday morning. It’s interesting that there are so many people locally, not that not that those directors or DPS aren’t qualified, they might even be more qualified. But to see so many people from outside the community coming in to do work, It’s just crazy.
[19:54] Bill Cornelius: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I don’t want to get into the political stuff, but there, there was a bill that the state, the Tennessee legislature just passed, that’s going to hopefully bring more of that work to the state. It’s something that needed to pass for a long time, so we may be seeing more of that. More people moving here and more people doing film and video work. More bigger, larger projects coming to town.
[20:23] Travis McQueen: Yeah, that’s good. Sign me up. Where, whatever you got, you signed me up. If you need anything you let me know. All right.
[20:28] Bill Cornelius: Oh yes.
[20:29] Corey Allen: Now Travis, I know we met for coffee maybe a month or so ago. And just talking through like your desire to get into video, to eventually move away from stills. I know you expressed a lot of interest around some version of like documentary work, whether it’s like short form documentary or ….
[20:48] Travis McQueen: Yeah. I’m a weird person and subscribed to the idea that everybody has a story. I think one of the most beautiful and wonderful things about humanity and being a human being is everybody to the right to the left. So, you two right now have your two stories. Some good, some bad, but the story of you. So, I think documentary work is really beautiful in that if you can find a story and tell it to other people. You know in a world where people just constantly hate each other over every little thing, if Coke’s better, Pepsi’s better, and if you all think it’s Coke, Coke is terrible, right? Pepsi is what matters. If you guys are Coke drinkers, get out of here.
[21:34] Corey Allen: Ginger ale all the way.
[21:35] Travis McQueen: Ginger ale. But we’re so divided. So, I think documentary work can really kind of help bridge that gap. Like how about you actually learn about why this person feels what they feel. Learn about what they’ve went through throughout time. Learn what it’s like to be a janitor. I mean, I always see big time movies that are awesome and I love them. I see these big documentary works from NatGeo and they’re doing all these great things, but it’s like, what about the person to your left and to your right? Like what’s their life like?
Like, how can you relate to them? Nine times out of 10, they’re probably lost and broken just like you and everybody else. So, if you can learn something from them, learn what it’s like to be a janitor, learn what it’s like to be a bus driver for Metro Nashville or a police officer or something like that. It helps bring people together and give them that common ground. Like, “Hey man, you know I have a son that does bad in school too.” I don’t know. You find something to kind of like collaborate on. So that’s why I like, that’s why I love documentary pieces. It’s just that humanity telling those stories, getting to know people at a more intimate level. And education man, like education, education, it’s most important thing to me. So, if I can do something in a manner to educate people on something, I’m happy.
[22:57] Corey Allen: Yeah. I feel like you just kind of pitched an idea for a really good like web series. Like I think about like the all micro, dirty jobs.
[23:07] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[23:08] Corey Allen: Like similarly, you could tell that same story of all those people in like just segmented bits. Can I option this?
[23:18] Bill Cornelius: This is the pitch right now.
[23:19] Travis McQueen: I will say one of the biggest things that I’ve always thought would be really, really cool and I don’t know if it would ever happen. Maybe if I was like super rich or something, I always thought would be really cool to get to a big kind of company like Sony Music or some Fortune 500 company and literally like choose random people, the janitor. If they’ve got like a lunch line or like people in the cafeteria, like get some of them. Talk to mid-level execs, sales reps, talk to the CEO themselves and just kind of like do a little short series about each of their lives and then kind of how they all really tie in together. And maybe, you know, we can learn that the janitor or the lunch lady, whoever else is probably the exact same person as a CEO, just dress a little bit different and maybe have a higher level of education. But where are those similarities? So that’s always something I thought of but maybe, maybe I’m crazy. But I’ve always thought that’d be kind of pretty cool to do or kind of interesting story to tell.
[24:24] Bill Cornelius: Yeah. That’s the pitch.
[24:26] Corey Allen: That is the pitch.
[24:27] Bill Cornelius: That’s the pitch.
[24:29] Corey Allen: If anyone’s interested, we’ll leave Travis’ contact info in the show notes.
[24:33] Travis McQueen: There you go.
[24:34] Corey Allen: Drop a line. Nice. Yeah. @ him.
[24:41] Travis McQueen: Yeah. Yeah. I’ll have the help. So, Corey hope you guys are on and Bill, you know, you guys have helped me. Right?
[24:50] Bill Cornelius: Of course.
[24:51] Corey Allen: Yeah. I think I told you, like, whatever you need, like I’m there.
[24:54] Travis McQueen: There we go. There we go. So going back to the interesting story though or the interesting things, maybe this is what you were kind of hitting at. So last night, I went to an event and I actually met some famous people. I didn’t belong there, but I met John Rich. What’s the money dude? Dave Ramsey and Meatball or whatever. What’s his name?
[25:21] Corey Allen: The meatball guy, Meatloaf.
[25:23] Travis McQueen: Meatloaf. Yeah.
[25:25] Bill Cornelius: Can we just call him Meatball I’m into that.
[25:29] Travis McQueen: So look, I’m like, so I will can name drop a lot of like Sony artisans, like random people, but it’s like, that dude, for some reason, I guess he was really big and had a really big hit back in the day.
[25:41] Corey Allen: Meatloaf, yes. He was kind of a big deal.
[25:44] Travis McQueen: See, from my voice right now, everybody’s like, “Oh my god, this dude’s an idiot. Like he doesn’t know who Meatloaf is?” Look, I was raised eating meatloaf. I don’t want anything to do with that, songs, anything. He looks terrible.
[25:56] Corey Allen: All right. So, you were at this event. So were you hired as a photographer for the event?
[26:01] Travis McQueen: So, I was not hired for this one. This was one that I was trying to get onto. I was actually trying to get John Rich on a podcast.
[26:09] Corey Allen: Okay.
[26:10] Travis McQueen: Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. The PR person shut me down real fast. So yeah, dealing with that was pretty cool, but I decided to hang out there and take some photos because I’m a photographer. You never know what’s going to kind of come about, but it was a very interesting event for me. It’s one that I, look again, I’m not a country guy, so when somebody is talking about riding cowboys, like I’m already kind of out like, I’m like, “Hey, …
[26:37] Corey Allen: What are you saving horses?
[26:40] Travis McQueen: I don’t even like horses and I’m from Kentucky, dude. Like, it is what it is. So, I don’t care about the courses or the cowboys he rode. I’m just kind of on my own over here, I guess. But it was fun, man. I mean, kind of seeing like famous people, like sit around smoke cigars, while I take pictures of it. I mean, I guess it was cool.
[27:01] Corey Allen: But you were there, like you had media credentials for the night, like you were good.
[27:03] Travis McQueen: Yeah. Yeah. It’s weird, man. I’ve never had my name, like on the list. And honest to God, like whenever I just kind of lived in little, little old Laurel County, Kentucky, like I never thought that one day I’d move it to Nashville and dang sure never thought that I’d be invited to a John Rich private party and have my name on the list.
[27:23] Corey Allen: You made it.
[27:24] Travis McQueen: Yeah, I made it, bro. I don’t know where I made it, but I made it somewhere…
[27:27] Bill Cornelius: In Nashville.
[27:28] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[27:29] Corey Allen: Yeah. Wow. That’s great.
[27:31] Travis McQueen: He’s got a show too. I forget what the name of it is. I don’t even want to rep it or anything, but he’s got a show and I was like, “Oh, Hey, maybe I’ll talk to his PR person,” who’s also the producer of the show. I was like, “Hey, if you ever need some photography, you know, let me know.” She’s like, “No, I’m good. I got somebody.” After she already let me down on the podcast, I was like, “Man, this lady is a negative, like a negative Nancy.” She’s a Debbie downer over here.
[27:54] Corey Allen: Props to you for shooting your shot. Like you gotta try.
[27:58] Travis McQueen: Hey man, I’m always the person that I will, I will shotgun blast you at stuff. One day something will stick.
[28:6] Bill Cornelius: The worst thing you can do is nothing at all. I mean, that’s really wow.
[28:11] Travis McQueen: Hey man, the worst thing people can say is no, right? She did. She did it.
[28:15] Corey Allen: Very quickly, twice. Sounds like she did it twice.
[28:18] Bill Cornelius: She didn’t hold you in suspense at least.
[28:19] Travis McQueen: No man.
[28:20] Corey Allen: You didn’t get anxious about it?
[28:22] Travis McQueen: I think it’s funny. And that’s something that kind of speaks to, I think the character of people and just kind of how society has just kind of unfolded. I think back in the day, talking like eighties, nineties, I think most people were pretty, like we were more social. We know that the big tech stuff hasn’t happened yet.
[28:43] Bill Cornelius: Yep.
[28:43] Travis McQueen: So really like when people said, no, it was like, okay, like, no. Flash forward to 2020, 2021, I think where society is kind of hiccupped was, we’ve gotten so social, we’ve gotten so used to really not wanting to disappoint anybody. We would kind of sugar coat things probably more often. We’re always trying to find like the softer kind of like what way to say no or yes, or something. So it’s in a league of its own. And then we were never used to that. And somebody just says
[29:17] All together: No.
[29:17] Travis McQueen: It’s like, “Whoa. Like, what is this.
[29:19] Bill Cornelius: Well, that’s almost like the East coast, West coast rejection. Because I know up in New York, they still big on the no.
[29:28] Travis McQueen: Really?
[29:28] Bill Cornelius: Oh yeah. And LA, it’s what you were talking about. It’s the gentle, well, it’s not quite a, it’s not what we’re looking for right now. The timing isn’t great. So maybe some other time, but thank you so much. And then New York is just like, no, no. And then they walk away. And it’s just, it’s still like that. There’s a term for it, I forget what it is, but it’s definitely a New York, LA difference in the way they reject. And it’s very common. It’s common enough it has a term. I just can’t think of it right now.
[30:04] Corey Allen: Interesting.
[30:06] Travis McQueen: I appreciate like the hard, no. In time I don’t appreciate it, but like whenever I walk away, I’m like, “You know what? I’m glad I know though.” Like I would rather somebody tell me straight no, than to kind of string you along, make you think, “Oh, well, if you keep pitching this or keep doing this, eventually something will change.” It’s like, “No bro. I’m not interested.” “Cool.” “I’ve got somebody else.”
[30:28] Corey Allen: Thanks for not wasting my time.
[30:19] Corey Allen and Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[30:31] Travis McQueen: Appreciate it.
[30:31] Bill Cornelius: Thanks for getting back to me. That’s better than ghosting.
[30:37] Travis McQueen: Dude, I’ve been ghosted. So funny story. Somebody reached out to me for a music video, after seeing some of the work that I did with the Scott Stevens thing and all. It’s like, “all right, Corey, you know, what do I do here?” Because you know, I don’t have the gear. I don’t really have a lot of the skill set. So, Corey did this awesome thing. He said, “First of all, you ask them what their budget is.” I said, “Okay, all right, here we go.” I was like, “All right, we’ll try it.” As soon as I said that, ghosted.
[31:09] Bill Cornelius: Yes.
[31:09] Travis McQueen: Ghosted. A hundred percent.
[31:11] Bill Cornelius: I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I’ve been ghosted by would be clients after asking the budget question.
[31:19] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[31:20] Bill Cornelius: I mean, it just, it is so common and those are the people you don’t want to work with anyway.
[31:25] Corey Allen: I think like the text I sent you, it was probably one of the longest texts I’ve sent in a while. But like, I wanted to try to set you up for success to either like get your foot in the door with this guy or no, immediately, like, “It’s not going to happen.” So, I think what I told him was first ask him what his budget is and then ask him if he already has a vision or an idea of like what you would want the video to look like? And then like we can figure out, here’s what you can and cannot do based on your budget. And you can present that to him and ask, “If this is what you want, here’s what it’s actually going to look like with your budget.”
[32:02] Travis McQueen: We didn’t get that far, bro.
[32:03] Bill Cornelius: Well, the budget is essentially the entryway into the conversation.
[32:07] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[32:07] Bill Cornelius: And if they don’t have one, you don’t get into the conversation. Just like, they’ll go away. You scare them off half the time.
[32:14] Travis McQueen: So, this is actually interesting. And this is something I’d actually like to ask you guys is, as somebody kind of coming into these kinds of creative worlds of cinematography and stuff like that, how much do you do for free? Because coming from photography and kind of when I started out, for the longest time, everything I’ve done was free work, free work, free work. I mean, up to really, even in 2019, 2020, today, I still do a ton of free work. But in your guys’ realm, there’s a lot more work than just stills, you know? So, like at what point do you guys really kind of say, “All right, I need to stop this free work and I need to start trying to figure out, you know, some kind of compensation?”
[33:03] Bill Cornelius: For me, it was, I had no resume, I had no demo reel when I was first starting out. So, I needed to do the free stuff just to get stuff.
[33:12] Travis McQueen: Yeah.
[33:12] Bill Cornelius: And once I think I had networked enough and got a substantial demo reel to put together and show to people, that’s when I started to put a price tag on my work at that point. And even now, I mean, if the right opportunity comes my way where the opportunity is almost bigger than the monetary, I will still occasionally take a freebie, like the Billy Bob Thornton shoot that I was on. That was offered to me as a freebie and I was like, “Are you kidding me? I would love to have this man’s face on my demo reel.” That’s the only payment I need. And so that was of course a freebie, that’s what it is for me. And I know a lot of people work in different ways. Some people it’s just like, “No, if you’re not paying me, I’m out. I don’t care if it’s working with Spielberg. If it’s free, I’m out.” Like I’m not that person. I asked the budget question first. If it’s something that interests me creatively, I’ll sometimes loosen up a little bit on the budget talk. Everybody’s got their own way of doing it.
[34:29] Corey Allen: Yeah. And I feel like I would love to talk about that Billy Bob Thornton example for a second, because I feel like that could draw some scrutiny. Like wouldn’t someone like Billy Bob Thornton, beyond a project with a budget, anyways?
[34:44] Bill Cornelius: You would think so.
[34:47] Travis McQueen: Interesting.
[34:47] Bill Cornelius: That’s a question for Zach. I don’t have the answer to that.
[34:56] Corey Allen: Like my assumption would be, there was probably a budget and this is me just, Zach’s not here so we can assume all that we want. There was a budget. Zach had done everything he could within that budget, but to like take the project over the top, like, let me call in a favor, like I know somebody that may be able to help out.
[35:15] Bill Cornelius: I think that is the case because we did have some pretty great locations and we were shuttled to the location in a tour bus, the entire crew. So there was some, we ate for free. There were some perks. That cost money. How are you going to rent this space that we are shooting in? I don’t know. I never thought about it. So, you know, I think you’re right about that. I just know I was asked if I wanted to shoot it. And I said yes.
[35:40] Corey Allen: Absolutely.
[35:44] Travis McQueen: If anybody ever had that asked of them and they said, “No, I’m not getting paid.” I’ll be like, “Dude, you’re crazy.”
[35:49] Bill Cornelius: I know, right?
[35:51] Corey Allen: But that’s to your point, like everybody is at a different stage where it’s like, we know individuals that are like full-time filmmakers or full-time ACs or whatever. That’s their job. They’re not interested in like, doing anything for free. And then when they’re not working, being paid, like they’re not thinking about film making. They’re not thinking about all the different aspects because it is just a job at that point for them.
[36:19] Bill Cornelius: They’re not thinking about the face on their demo reel.
[36:21] Corey Allen: Right.
[36:22] Bill Cornelius: Of an Academy award winning actor.
[26:24] Corey Allen: Yeah.
[36:24] Travis McQueen: I think if somebody is like actively like busy, it makes sense that they say, “Oh, hey, you know, I’ve actually got something else going on. Or I got a project I’m working on.” I can see that but if you’re just sitting at home, like eating Doritos on the couch, watching TV…
[36:38] Bill Cornelius: Drinking LA.
[36:39] Travis McQueen: Yeah, drinking LA, you know, the good old Kentucky Gold. Dude, you, you should be hanging out with Billy Bob, like…
[36:44] Corey Allen: Yeah, absolutely.
[36:46] Bill Cornelius: For sure.
[36:48] Corey Allen: My approach is probably pretty similar. I’m not full-time in the creative space at all, so I have the maybe the luxury to say like yes or no to paid and unpaid products.
[37:03] Bill Cornelius: I’ll preface that too, with what I said. Because I do, we, you and I both have full-time gigs. So, we do have that luxury to be choosy, so to speak.
[37:16] Corey Allen: But I’m probably quicker to say yes to unpaid projects than you are just because I have the luxury to choose. And like, if I, I think we may have had this conversation, but if it’s an artist who’s like new up and coming and like I dig their music or their vibe, or like, I think they have a ton of potential and they just need help bringing their vision to life. Like sign me up, small business that needs to get off the ground, wants some content, but doesn’t really know where to start. Like I’m happy to trade like services for like food or like services or like, whatever. But I also like start every conversation with, well, “My day rates, you know, 1200 bucks. That’s me, my camera, all my gear.”
[38:01] Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
[38:01] Corey Allen: And like, we can go from there.
[38:05] Travis McQueen: Yeah. So that’s awesome.
[38:06] Corey Allen: Sometimes joke about it. I’m like, I’m not rearranging my calendar for the less than 1200 a day. So yeah.
[38:15] Bill Cornelius: Well, and then there’s the thing too, of someone comes to you with a gig that is just not interesting. And I have purposely eyeball people just to entertain them, but to get them to leave me alone.
[38:31] Corey Allen: Have you ever eyeballed someone and they’re like, “Hmm, okay.”
[38:33] Bill Cornelius: I was getting to that. Yes, I did eyeball a client whose job I did not want, three or four years ago. And they were like, “Absolutely.” And I went, “Okay, well, I guess I’m doing it,” but I’m going to have more money in the bank account.
[38:52] Travis McQueen: Dude every time somebody comes to me with a wedding inquiry, I skyrocket that stuff. Luckily, it’s been so high that nobody’s ever wanted to do it.
[39:03] Corey Allen: If you get it so high, you can just like outsource to other wedding photographers.
[39:08] Travis McQueen: That’s the goal.
[39:11] Corey Allen: Basically. You’re the wedding photographer, broker.
[39:13] Bill Cornelius: A facilitator.
[39:14] Corey Allen: Now, Travis, you also have a podcast of your own.
[39:18] Travis McQueen: I do. I do Burbon and Bokeh podcast.
[39:22] Corey Allen: All right. And so, what’s bourbon and bokeh.
[39:25] Travis McQueen: Well, me and my cohost, Kim found that photography is so much easier when she get a little bokeh on the bourbon. All right. It just makes life so much better. And for those of you that don’t know what bokeh is, it’s a photography term that’s basically all the blurriness in the background. So whenever bourbon makes you blurry, photography gets better. But we’ve really kind of bred this out of a, just to build a community. You know, again, from my perspective of the photo community. It’s always been a super competitive, very hush, hush kind of thing. People do not share locations. They don’t share tips on how they edited or how they kind of compose certain things or who they’re working with.
And so, I mean, some of that makes sense, but I think that, that’s very inclusive or very isolated. I don’t think that’s what any part of the creative spectrum was meant to be, right. You know, if you look at a movie, it’s not just Spielberg by himself, there’s literally thousands of people. So, I think when photography, it should be the exact same way. You have a community of people that comes together to help each other out. So we wanted to create this, in a manner that everybody can be involved. Right now, I think we were in like 15 different countries, which is weird. We are in 27, I think of the 50 States. The biggest States that we’ve not been able to tap into is like Montana, Idaho, Nevada. The kotas, for some reason, both Dakotas hate us. I don’t really know why. Yeah. Oh, well, there’s nothing…
[41:02] Bill Cornelius: Come on Dakotas.
[41:04] Corey Allen: There is nothing there.
[41:06] Travis McQueen: There is nothing there. The podcast has been great. We really love doing it. We’ve had some amazing people on. So Sony artisans, Stan Moniz. We’ve had him. We’ve had a huge Tick Tok, famous Jenner Prize. So all these people with creative backgrounds on how they’ve kind of got started and just kind of tell them their story, man. Again, I think this kind of gets back to my little documentary thing is, if you listen to the podcast, you know, Stan has an incredible background.
He is a guy who was a professional bodyboarder back in the day. As bodyboarding kind of shifted, a lot of big brands and agencies and stuff like that shifted all their money into surfing at some point. So, all the bodyboarders, sorry for you, surfing is the thing then after surfing or after bodyboarding he went all in on being a musician. So, he toured with No Doubt and all these great punk bands back in the day. He’s from Hawaii, they toured the world and do all this awesome stuff. They all come into a point where he was like, ah, we’re kind of done with this for right now. So he was like, oh, I guess I’ll do surf photography. So, I mean, it’s like, this guy’s life is phenomenal. So, hearing his story, some of those hardships, but then how motivated he was to do each of those things and being very flexible with what life has given him. It’s phenomenal.
So, I think that’s always the big equalizer is telling those stories that other people can identify with. Like, oh, hey man, I can be 30 eating ramen noodles and don’t really know what I want in life, but guess what? That was, Stan’s kind of story. He was in his thirties, eating ramen noodles, didn’t really know and went all in with photography. So, I think most people can kind of get that motivation and kind of see themselves in that and that’s kind of always what we’ve been wanting to do with this podcast was interview all these people, get it out there to people to identify with and just start to build a community from there.
[43:17]Corey Allen: That’s awesome. I think that’s similar to, I think long-term, our goals here are to understand similarly other filmmakers, different roles within the filmmaking process, not only about the role and what you do, but everybody’s unique individual story of how they’ve come to be what they are within the creative space.
[43:38] Travis McQueen: Yes, and I mean, you guys, this podcast is killing it. I loved your intro and all the ones that I’ve heard so far. So, I mean, I see our podcasts do kind of the same thing in a lot of realms. Just, mine’s more geared to photography as your guys is, I think it’s geared more like cinematography and stuff like that, but either way, man, I just think it’s awesome.
[44:01]Corey Allen: Thank you, you’re pretty cool yourself.
[44:03] Travis McQueen: Thank you, and I also, I mean, maybe this is kind of getting a little too far, but I feel like most of the podcasts out there when it comes to any kind of creative element, it’s dry toast, man. It is like either super heavy on the business or like super heavy on what gear is best. There is no like fun kind of let’s actually hear about the artists kind of thing, let’s just have a conversation. Like there is none of that. It’s superscripted, super heavily like ask question, answer, ask question, answer. It’s like, get that out of here, dude, nobody wants that anymore, get into it.
[44:36] Bill Cornelius: Yes, it’s about conversation now.
[44:37] Corey Allen: Yes, you know what we do have though, is question-answer lightning round.
[44:42] Travis McQueen: Oh God.
[44:44] Bill Cornelius: Lightning round.
[44:44] Corey Allen: Lightning round, Lightning McQueen. All right, are you ready for these?
[44:51] Travis McQueen: I’m ready.
[44:52] Corey Allen: Alright. Travis McQueen, what is your all-time favorite movie?
[44:55] Travis McQueen: Oh man, Joker.
[44:58] Corey Allen: Really?
[45:00] Travis McQueen: Yes.
[45:00] Bill Cornelius: Nice.
[45:03] Corey Allen: Alright, I can dig it. The last movie that you watched?
[45:07] Travis McQueen: Oh, no. Oh God, I hate saying this. It was a Palmer, the Justin Timberlake movie.
[45:16] Corey Allen: Was it good?
[45:20] Travis McQueen: It wasn’t bad.
[45:20] Corey Allen: Okay. That’s a safe response.
[45:23] Travis McQueen: Not my genre, but it wasn’t bad.
[45:26] Corey Allen: Yes, okay. Favorite director?
[45:27] Travis McQueen: Sam Mendez.
[45:28] Corey Allen: Nice.
[45:29] Travis McQueen: Okay. So I’ll say Sam Mendez or Todd Phillips.
[45:35] Corey Allen: Okay.
[45:34] Bill Cornelius: Very good.
[45:36] Corey Allen: Respectable. Most underrated or slept on cinematographer?
[45:40] Travis McQueen: Lawrence Sheer.
[45:42] Corey Allen: Okay.
[45:44] Travis McQueen: So that dude, so obviously like my favorite movies Joker, Todd Phillips is up there and Lawrence Sheer has always been in a lot of the Todd Phillips little filmography. I mean his understanding is so good, man. I mean, obviously if you’re a cinematographer at that level, you know your stuff, but in every interview that I’ve ever seen him in, he’s always been super personable, super funny, he’s just like one of the guys, guys, he’s just kind of hanging out and I remember watching a YouTube video of him talking about film lighting, and he was like, I call it complex or I call it contrasting colors, not complimentary colors. I don’t care, what do I know? And he’s just like super, like just nonchalant about everything and I’m like, dude, this is my hero right here.
[46:31] Corey Allen: All right. Coffee or tea?
[46:34] Travis McQueen: Neither.
[46:35] Corey Allen: What?
[46:37] Travis McQueen: So I’m not a big coffee drinker. I’m not a really big tea drinker.
[46:46] Bill Cornelius: So bourbon?
[46:44] Travis McQueen: Bourbon or water.
[46:46] Bill Cornelius: I was in the neither category for a while, until recently.
[46:48] Corey Allen: Really? So obviously you’ve been drinking some boiling hot lava tea today. What’s so special about this tea that converted you?
[46:58] Bill Cornelius: It’s not that tea specifically, it’s the caffeine component because it takes me a long time to wake up. So it’s like anything I can try to wake myself up.
[47:11] Corey Allen: Have you ever heard of red bull or…?
[47:13] Bill Cornelius: I want something that’s not going to kill me in the long-term. So tea is the safer bet.
[47:22] Corey Allen: Micro dosing with tea.
[47:22] Bill Cornelius: Micro dosing with tea, yes, there we go. I like it.
[47:25] Corey Allen: This one can be controversial for some, pineapple on pizza?
[47:29] Travis McQueen: No bro, not ever.
[47:33] Corey Allen: Thank you. All right, favorite camera?
[47:35] Travis McQueen: Anything from the Sony lineup.
[47:39] Corey Allen: You are quite the Sony shooter.
[47:41] Travis McQueen: Hey man, I’m trying to get that sponsorship one day.
[47:46] Corey Allen: Now’s your chance, like plug it.
[47:48] Travis McQueen: Sony, I offer photography or what do I say with this? Like Sony alpha, please sponsor me. He’s like, is that would she want or?
[47:55] Corey Allen: Yes, Sony get this man a deal.
[48:00] Bill Cornelius: So while you’re out at it, the Sony FX7 is a great camera for shooting video. If we want another sponsorship, another donation.
[48:07] Travis McQueen: It’s about the FX series now, FX6, FX9.
[48:12] Bill Cornelius: I’ve been away from the studio due to COVID. So there’s been a lot that has developed apparently in that year.
[48:19] Travis McQueen: Get a couple of A7S3s in you bro.
[48:23] Corey Allen: Yeah, it’ll be good. All right. Last but not least, three films everyone should see before they die?
[48:27] Travis McQueen: Oh man. I thought I could rattle this one off pretty quick. Joker number one, just to see how society deals with mental health and just kind of how things devolve like that. That was a really good movie. Gladiator, because it’s phenomenal. I mean, Russell Crow’s performance and everything about that one, it is a super solid movie and 1917 the Sam Mendez. Sam Mendez is great, I thought Skyfall was up there, Skyfall, the James Bond flick, it was really good, but 1917, like beautiful.
[49:03] Corey Allen: Yeah. Excellent choices. Gladiator, this shot, I feel like every indie filmmaker at the time tried to recreate this, like the hand, slow motion over the [Inaudible 49:15]. There a lot goes into that, the lighting, the angle, there’s a lot of work there.
[49:27] Bill Cornelius: That’s an amazing movie.
[49:28] Corey Allen: That was not a running gun shot. So many people try to recreate it.
[49:34] Bill Cornelius: Especially not with Ridley Scott, he’s kind of a perfectionist. He’s no bullshit.
[49:38] Corey Allen: Yeah. Nice. Alright. Well, Travis, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure. We’ll leave links to all of your social media and your website and everything in the show notes.
[49:49] Travis McQueen: All two of them, great.
[49:51] Corey Allen: Hey, you know what, it’s something right?
[49:54] Bill Cornelius: Like, comment, subscribe, ring that bell.
[50:04] Corey Allen: For our listeners, we know you have a lot of podcast options and we appreciate you choosing us. Check us out on Instagram @infocuspod or online at infocuspodcast.com and if you like what you heard today, go ahead and subscribe and if you’re on apple podcasts, we would love a rating. It would help us out a ton and until next time…
[50:25] Bill Cornelius: We’ll see you later.
[50:25] Corey Allen: Feed your film crew.
[50:30] Travis McQueen: Sponsor us Sony.
[50:46] Corey Allen: And now the after show, show.
[50:48] Bill Cornelius: I want to clarify a comment I made earlier, just kidding.
[50:51] Corey Allen: No, this one’s going up unedited, straight as is.
[50:54] Bill Cornelius: I don’t want to talk. I don’t want the part where I’m saying I take freebies.
[51:00] Corey Allen: I no longer do free work. Don’t at me with free work.
[51:02] Bill Cornelius: No, don’t at me.
[51:02] Corey Allen: Bye.