Casey Templeton – College Photographer of the Year

Posted by The A-Team on

Several years ago, one of my good friends told me about a classmate of hers who had just won CPOY‘s College Photographer of the Year award in 2006. She passed on his website, I browsed it for a while, and unsurprisingly came away impressed. That award propelled Casey Templeton on to a internship with National Geographic Magazine, a dream of just about every photographer. Fast forward more than five years later, and Casey has found himself running a successful photography business, utilizing his natural approach to imagery that won him the award in the first place (although he can rock a speedlight or three pretty well too). He runs a commercial site, a wedding site. and a blog in which he shares photos and stories, dispels advice to other photogs, and more. And as always, click the images to see more.

Casey Templeton

Name: Casey Templeton

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Tell us about yourself:

Professionally, I am a Richmond, Virginia-based commercial photographer specializing in providing a clean, natural approach not only to the clients’ required images, but also for a body of work. Because of this, I excel at developing image libraries for various national and international clients, particularly companies in the process of rebranding.

Personally, my beautiful wife Ashley and myself have a daughter, Lucy Jane, that steals our hearts everyday.  We are surrounded by an amazing community of friends here in Richmond, our village.

Something a Little Different © Casey Templeton

How did you get started in photography? I get asked this question all the time and it is very easy to answer in person. I start by telling the person that as I am talking to them, I have their head perfectly framed between two hanging photos and their eyes are 100% in line with the painted stripe on the wall. In short, I have always done this, its always been in my head, I just had to pick up a camera. I can’t turn it off.

Favorite camera and lens? Why?

Canon 5D Mark II with a 50 1.2 lens. I like having the people I photograph to be comfortable so I try to keep my equipment to a minimum as not to intimidate them. The f1.2 really allows me to pull my subject away from their background and is so so so sharp.

If you could shoot anyone/anywhere/anything, what would it be?

I would shotgun with James Dean on a cross-country road trip on Route-66.

Muddy Rugby © Casey Templeton

What’s your shooting style? Photographic influence?

I try to rely on my personal vision at all times (, careful not to force what isn’t there, and make it my goal to make the scene more beautiful than it is in real life; never accept the light I see as the best I can get.

As far as photographic influence, honestly, I try my best to not look at the work of too many other photographers. I feel it makes me depressed and can alter the way I approach my photography. I don’t recommend this to other photographers, it is just what works for me.

What’s your “off camera flash philosophy”?

I mostly use flash to add to what is already there, rarely to carry the photo. Rather than using off camera flashes, I mostly use reflectors. When I do use off camera flashes, it is usually small Canon 580 EX II Speedlites, unless its a larger set up, because I like to travel light.

What’s the biggest thing you learned while studying at James Madison University?

I’ve never gone through a photography program but besides developing my personal vision at James Madison University, I mostly learned the importance of being a better businessperson than I am a photographer. (

A few recent nuggets © Casey Templeton

What did you learn from your experience shooting for National Geographic?

I’m not going to lie, it was the coolest thing to say, “Hi, my name is Casey and I’m a photographer for National Geographic Magazine.” The experience was certainly sink or swim. I worked on a project about pigeon racing ( and learned so much along the way. The people in the pigeon flying community were certainly a special group of guys. So kind.

I learned I was not a good fit at this time of my life for the demands of being a National Geographic photographer. The amount of time their talented photographers put into each story is outstanding.  Starting a family and having a wife and daughter that I adore so much, I would not be able to fully commit.

What is the best thing about photography? Worst?

Best: I love doing what I love. Everyday I leave work and feel like I spent my day playing.

Worst: The worst thing currently is educating other professional photographers that are drastically underbidding for jobs and undervaluing their services. I can’t stress enough how important it is to work with a professional photo consultant to ensure your bids are in line with the industry. In addition, now that so many people have big digital camera, everyone claims to be a professional photographer. I share a few harsh opinions on this issue here:

Pigeon Culture © Casey Templeton

What’s your most memorable shooting gig?

I worked on a comprehensive project about pigeon racing for National Geographic Magazine ( and I had a blast. Take a look at the project and you’ll be able to see why.

What does the future hold for you?
I hope that the best is yet to come, it is out of my hands:

It also turns out that we are not the first to interview Casey. To learn more about this young photographer, check out the interviews here at Fuel Your Photography and here at the Aperture Users Network.

Elephant Crossing © Casey Templeton

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