Digi-Tech Q&A with George Brooks

This Q&A series is all about shining a spotlight on people in the industry. The goal is to learn about them and share their insights with you. There are many talented people in various markets around the world, and hopefully this series will help you get to know them better.

Q: Who are you, where are you based and what type of jobs do you work?

My name is George Brooks, I’m a full time Digital Tech based in Los Angeles (formerly NY), and I’ve worked on nearly every type of photoshoot over the years but primarily focus on advertising, entertainment, celebrity, and (more recently) automotive work.  For the past few years I’ve also been focusing more on equipment rentals and that now represents a large portion of my business, too.

Q: How did you become a Digital-Tech and how long have you done it?

I started digital teching in 2012 largely by accident.  When I was in college I took any type of photo assisting work I could get, and I aspired to assist full time for at least a few years after graduation.  I was hired to assist on an ecomm gig, and on day one they asked if I could digital tech the second set for the rest of the shoot.  I had never heard of a digital tech or even Capture One prior to that (shame on you unnamed photo school). Despite focusing on large format analog work at the time, I had always had an interest in computers and was working as the digital lab TA, a job with a lot of overlapping digital tech duties.  So I said “sure” and brought my laptop and monitor to set the next day (I had never heard of a kit rate before either) where the primary digi showed me the ropes.  I was a quick study and I instantly knew this was the perfect job for me.  That digital tech was also a photographer, and he started hiring me to tech on his shoots. Within another year I got Phase One certified which gave me a lot more confidence, and I started freelancing for a digital capture company in NYC.  The rest is history.

Q: What do you like most about your work; what do you like least?

I absolutely love being my own boss and working with different people in different locations every day.  I think I would really struggle with the repetitiveness of a “normal” job.  I also have just loved being on sets from the time I did a small amount of modeling and acting work as a kid, and it remains a really exciting place for me to this day.  

I think my least favorite part can often be the long and unpredictable hours and the difficulty in separating work from the rest of your life when you’re running a small business. At times it can feel like a 24/7 job.

Q: What do you feel is important to learn for anyone starting out or what do you wish you knew when starting?

When I was starting out I was super focused on learning the technical aspects of the job.  Obviously this is really important, but I also wish that someone could’ve better instilled in me the importance of having a good personality and going with the flow of the shoot. Its really critical to understand your role outside of being a Capture One whiz and camera expert. I think as a young tech I was focused way too much on workflow and not enough on the people around me.  It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of the photographer, art director, client, makeup artist, stylist, etc. and understand that - while delivering a perfect hard drive at the end of the day should be priority #1, ultimately you’re on set so that everyone else can see what they need to see.  Understanding what needs to be on screen and when is super important.

Q: What’s one item in your kit you can recommend to everyone?

Totally unbiased answer - the Faini Made Camera Donut (Holster).  No single piece of EQ has ever come close to improving the usability of my kit more than this one item.  And I’ve tried nearly every camera donut out there and can confirm that the Faini is the only one to buy.

Q: What piece of equipment would you like to never see on set again?

Isn’t this one obvious?  Orange LaCie drives (or really all spinning drives)

Q: If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I would really like to see our industry organize in some way.  I’m not sure if film industry style unions would necessarily benefit us in the long run, but I do think that we could benefit from some kind of enforceable standardization of labor practices.

Q: What was your best day on set?

This is such a hard one…..It probably has to be the Obama White House portrait.  Unfortunately I can’t really say more about that one but it was an unforgettable day.

Q: How do you explain what you do for work to family/strangers?

This has always been such a challenge.  I recently learned the importance of mentioning that the camera is connected directly to the computer through a long cable.  No one outside of the industry really pictures that, and once they understand that aspect of the job, the rest of the explanation makes a lot more sense.  I usually say something like “I work on commercial photo shoots like movie posters, billboards, magazine covers, etc. The camera is connected to a computer with a long USB cable so that all the pictures can be seen live, and I run that computer.  So I’m doing things like naming, organizing, and backing up the the files; color correction,  setting up monitors so everyone on the shoot can see what is being shot, and troubleshooting any technical issues. Basically I’m doing ‘quality control’ ”   That usually gets the point across (I think).



George Brooks


You can read others in the Q&A series HERE