Multimedia Laboratory

Interview with photographer

Interview with photographer | Carlo Van de Roer

Why do you take photos?

I’m a terrible writer.

Describe your start in photography.

My parents had this beautiful old mini TRL camera and when I was a kid I would walk around looking at the house and our family through the lens, everything was mirrored and somehow looked so much better, and really graphic, it was addictive. Then when I was a bit older we got hold of some film for it (something weird like 127mm) and I was hooked. I built a darkroom in the basement under the stairs to process the film, it seemed like magic.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Hmmm, favorite is tricky, but I’m really interested in the work of Thomas Ruff, Ronni Horn, Gavin Hipkins, Penelope Umbrico, Lieko Shiga, Roe Etheridge, Yoshiyuki, Pierre Bismuth…

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

The satisfaction of seeing something you’ve been carrying around in your head worked out or articulated feels good. It’s also a job that’s introduced me to a lot of amazing people and places.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

It’s been great to work with polaroid again. The project I am starting now is large format and uses more hands on techniques which I’m really enjoying. I think it depends on the project; I’ve used both digital and film over the last few years.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

I always need a bit of time between shooting and editing so if I have time I’ll put the shoot away even if it’s just for a day or two then come back and edit, then repeat. With portraits there is often one shot that jumps out so it’s less about narrowing down a selection.

This last portrait series has been really tricky to print so I’ve been working closely with my printer, they’re great and allow me to oversee everything and make necessary tweaks along the way. I’d love to still have a darkroom under the stairs, but space is so limited here.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I’m obsessively working on a new project that’s quite personal, I’m also working on extending some of the threads that came out of the portrait machine project with other technology.


Interview with photographer | Rona Chang

Why do you take photos?

Photographing is a way that helps me interpret my surroundings and to understand them.

Describe your start in photography.

As a kid, I really enjoyed arts and crafts. I tried out for Laguradia H.S. here in the city and got in for the art program. It was great having a foundation program and the chance to explore different mediums. Because I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, it was easy to fall in love with doing work in the darkroom. Pretty soon I was spending my lunch hour in there because I couldn’t get enough during class.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

I’m a big admirer of Joel Sternfeld’s work. I’ve been a long time fan of his sense of humor paired with his palette. Lately, I’ve been falling deeper and deeper in love with my friend Alison Rossiter’s work. She works in the darkroom making abstractions with her collections of expired papers. The richness of the black in her prints and her experiments in the darkroom are a world away from what I do. It’s refreshing to look at her work and to hear about her process.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

I think it’s yet to come. I have big dreams.
What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I shoot with a Mamiya  7. It’s light weight and it travels well.


Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

I look at my contacts for a while. Sometimes I live with them for half a year before I can decide which images make the cut and fit into a series. I scan on an Imacon and do light retouching in PS. I output to digital c-prints from the good folks at Print Space.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

My photographic ambitions mainly involve working on a project I believe in, carrying the thought through, and presenting it. On the other hand, my travel wish list is constantly growing.


Interview with photographer | Marton Perlaki

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I chose photography by necessity. At high school I wanted to major in drawing but the school direction had been taken over by the Church and the drawing class was cancelled. So I ended up majoring in religion. Having thus given up drawing, encouraged by a girl friend of mine I went into photography.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

I have been fascinated by the quiet, austere visual world of the works of Harry Callahan and Richard Avedon. I usually prefer photographers who – instead of using eye- catching technical innovations – create fresh and lasting value merely with their refined way of looking at things and with their very attitude towards photography.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

It is the creation itself and its process.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I like handheld photography – that’s why I usually choose cameras that allow me free action during shootings. The fewer stands, lamps and other accessories I need to use the better I feel.

Describe your editing process (i.e. the way you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs).

Most of the time, I already have an idea during the shooting, which picture I am going to take at the selection. (If I am not the only one who decides – which occurs – the situation is more complicated.) At the end of the session I flip through the pictures and I order them into pairs. (If working with digital camera I make a couple of test adjustments on the computer already during the shooting.) I put aside the pictures I like “to rest” for a while. On the ones I still like even after two or three days I start the post production works (high res scanning, retouch etc.)

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

In May I am leaving for the USA for a while. Also for the future – pathetic as it may sound – my inmost desire is to make good pictures. As for the rest – time will show.


Interview with photographer | Ewan Burns

When did you become first involved in photography and why?

Good question.  I was 26 and had recently left a reconnaissance unit in the British infantry.  I loved being a soldier, but felt that I needed to do other things outside the military.

I had two plans:  one was to move to London and live on the streets with my camera.  My other equally well-researched and organized plan involved hitchhiking into Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time.  The city was surrounded by Serbian forces and was being shelled every day, and hundreds of civilians were being killed while a home-grown militia force defended the city.  Am I a genius or what?  I discussed these two plans with my older brother, who counseled me to hitchhike into one of the most dangerous places in the civilized world.  Good, I thought, that’s settled then.

I mentioned my brilliant plan to a few friends and slowly began to gather information, which proved invaluable for gaining access to a limited war zone.

I caught a train from London to Zagreb (capital of Croatia), borrowed a button-down shirt from an English chap called Richard, then off I went to the airport to speak to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees).  Long story short:  I somehow got through security and onto an airplane after agreeing to deliver body armor to Larry Hollinsworth, the UNHRC head man in Sarajevo.  I had no idea at the time that it was this easy to get into a lot of trouble.  So I began photography as a man who did not know what the little numbers on the lens meant, but did learn that having a camera legitimized my tendency to do zany things and gave me the courage to gain access to places and people that otherwise would have been untouchable.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Paul Wakefield.  Paul is an amazing landscape photographer and, in fact, I had no interest in landscapes until I worked with him.   Gradually the art revealed itself to me between loading film and taking very detailed and specific notes.  Due to his influence, I feel that in many ways I always start with the background.  If the background is beautiful and then you put interesting things in front of it, you have given yourself a good head start.

Richard Misrach.  He makes beautiful landscape compositions that remind me of Salvador Dali. There was a lot of work in the nineties that suggested Richard had taught a weekend seminar to some of the best advertising photographers in England.

Anton Corbijn.  He was one of the first photographers whose work I wish could call my own.  I want to have his job and his subject matter.

Tina Barney.  I had no idea who she was until I assisted her for a month in London.  I realized that she made true art photography and that it was so much more fun than advertising and editorial.  We would go to someone’s house and out would come the 4×5.  I have never seen someone work a 4×5 so fast.

Jerry Oke.  He was a London still life and advertising photographer I assisted in the late nineties in London.  I consider him to be my photographic father.  We would sit and have pints of beer after work and I would try to will his skill and abilities to be passed on to me through some sort of social osmosis.

Garry Simpson.  We went to art college together, had many things in common, and became fast friends.  One of our tutors said he thought that Garry would become a heavyweight London advertising photographer, and he did.  One week he was carrying someone else’s black bags (assisting) and the next week he was taking jobs from the likes of Nadav Kandar.  He’s an inspiration to me all the time.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

I was in one of the Unis Towers in Sarajevo, once the largest and most modern building on the city’s skyline.  It had been hit countless times with artillery and mortar rounds, so what once was a steel and glass construction was now a shell of its former self, with shattered windows and broken glass everywhere.  Small arms fire was hitting the building close to where I was, and I could not tell if I was being targeted or just in the general kill zone.  I moved behind a pillar and watched the tracer rounds from a Serb sniper targeting a window in the building next to me; in the background, a tank was firing phosphorous rounds into an apartment building.  The light was failing and I remembered someone telling me that you could push film, so I rated it at 800 ASA and began to shoot, trying to capture the tracer rounds and the burning building.  And there I was composing a foreground of tracer rounds from Serbian snipers’ fire, a middle ground of an apartment building burning from a Serb tank attack, and a background of the mountains containing untold Serbian and Chetnik forces who probably could have taken the city at any time.

What equipment to you prefer to use and why?

Well, things have changed and I have been forced to change with the times.

I would have said a Mamiya RZ with a 65mm lens and a 220 back, Sekonic 189 light meter and off we go… and I would have had to include my trusty Toyo field and 90mm lens.

Now I roll with the deliciously forgiving and talented Canon 5D MKII and a bevy of “L“ series lenses.  It works really well in studio, although I’m not so keen on the luminance range of back light outside, etc.  But it’s a great system.

Describe your editing process.

Editing, editing, editing…

I go through the shoot and look for anything that wholly or partially fulfills the criteria of the shot. For example, if the face of one subject is good but not the other, I select it.  I try to find anything of value and keep it as a part of the recipe.  Having said that, I rarely and barely retouch anything, and usually there is a shot that does fulfill all of the criteria.  It might not be perfect, but I always seem to value sincerity over perfection.

Selects go into a folder, and then I apply the same process again and make another folder.  It’s a process of elimination.

In terms of compositing, generally I like things the way they appear in my lens.  It’s personally satisfying for me to compose in the camera rather than relying on doing it in post-production.  I think I am overly optimistic sometimes and like the idea that a moment can be caught.  Perhaps I should, as there are a bunch of great photographers who work that way, but I prefer the chaos of possibility and chance and the excitement of the moment, the challenge of capturing that moment.

As for retouching and printing, there is always a little clean up and then I tend to print emotionally in terms of color but generally stay with what was real.  I remember 10 years ago when I began to print:  everything was less sophisticated in terms of calibration and re-creatable color profiles, I think I learnt a lot because what I looked at on the monitor was not what came out of the printer, so I would have to print test strips just like with film.  The result was that I was far more exploratory with color and used to be complimented on my printed palette.

What sets your work apart from others?

I think I have above average energy on set.  I like to surround myself with a lot of music and energy, with everybody on the crew working hard and thoughtfully and enjoying their day. Many of my subjects have told me how much fun they had; that, I think, is high praise because I shoot a lot of “real” people who often dread the idea of a big production shoot.  I’m conscious of that, and would hate for the tables to be turned and have the camera on me.  My goal is to give my subjects and my crew a good experience.

Last year I shot a big campaign for BBDO Worldwide and GE capital bank. I was shooting interactions between CEOs of very successful businesses, like Jet Blue and Polaris, and their banking partners.  These interactions, often conceived in highly contrived circumstances, were supposed to look “natural”, and sometimes we had only the time between takes of a concurrent commercial to pull off the shot.  This is when my particular skill set sets me apart.  I like the pressure of it being barely possible.  The more stacked it is against me, the more interested I am in the problem.  But I also know that it wouldn’t be possible without having people around me that have my back.  I believe in great producers and assistants and paying them well.

What are your plans for the future regarding photography?

Something in me wants to go to Afghanistan and shoot the coalition forces doing their jobs.  Up close, personal, intimate soc doc reportage with an Ewan Burns twist.  It’s been done but not by me.  Also, I want to take some beautiful images of people falling out of airplanes (skydiving).


Interview with photographer | Scott Darling

Describe your start in photography.

I first became interested in photography at a young age as my father was always documenting our family life with his Nikon F. I was always curious about the lenses and of the sound of the cloth shutter opening and closing.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

I have always admired the work of Irving Penn, he was a master at composition, a craftsman of light, and an amazing printer. In a more modern context I have appreciated the work of Thomas Demand. Demand is a brilliant thinker and it shows in his creations that he photographs.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

The greatest experience as a photographer is having a creative career, collaborating with very talented people who all love photography in one way or another.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I still love to shoot my Hassleblad 503 with traditional lenses fitted with a Leaf back in the studio; the camera fits nicely into my hands and the lenses are sharp as ever. I do miss shooting 4 x 5 with film; there was always something peaceful about going under the dark cloth, having a moment to yourself, composing the shot. I have been really enjoying the Canon 5D Mark II for shooting outside [and its] super sensitivity in low light with super sharp and fast lenses.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

All studio work is shot on the Leaf back tethered with Capture One to a Mac tower. Selects are made and processed as DNGs then opened in Photoshop. I collaborate with retouchers for both commercial and fine art output. My computer systems are calibrated the same as the retouchers so there is a consistent work flow from the lab to the studio. Printing is done here in the studio up to 16 x 20 and larger sizes are printed at the lab. The work that is the most defining tends to be illustrative and conceptual with strong use of color and whimsical accents. It is nice to have fun with photography.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

As we forge ahead into this digital world I plan on continuing to be a visual thinker and to produce images, both still and moving.


Interview with photographer | Elizabeth Fleming

Why do you take photos?

Because while I’m shooting I feel completely present and absorbed in the task at hand, which is rare for me. Beyond the act of taking the photographs themselves is the fact that my brain is wired to approach things creatively, and in order to stay sane I have to translate my thoughts, emotions and preoccupations into visual form.

Describe your start in photography.

My parents bought me my first camera when I was about ten, back in the old days of film. I shot black-and-white, which made me feel like I was a true “artiste”– no kidding, I took a portrait of myself wearing a beret. I was also into double-exposures and cheesy, dramatic setups. I continued shooting throughout high school, becoming mildly less cheesy as the years went by (or so I’d like to hope).

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

I’m drawn to anyone whose photographs hit me on a gut level. Work that is intimate and moving is my kind of thing, though I can be pretty fickle and my favorites are always changing. Currently at the top of my list are Alessandra Sanguinetti, Jo Ann Walters, Doug DuBois and Emmet Gowin.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

The ability to process and explore various emotions– many difficult– through being creative. It’s also always very meaningful to me when I hear that my images have had an effect on someone.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I use a Canon 5D and that’s basically it.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

It’s very instinctive. When I look through what I’ve shot, certain images just click (no pun intended). I’ll narrow it down to two or three of my favorites, compare them and (again through a process of what feels “right”) will make my final choices. Next I tweak, re-tweak and obsess over color balance, contrast, etc. in Photoshop, and the final step is printing them out on an Epson.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

Right now I’m focusing my energy on starting a new series, so I’m in a production rather than promotion phase.


Interview with photographer | Naomi Harris

Why do you take photos?

Some photos I take to earn a living, some I take to make art. The reason I got into photography in the first place was to be able to interact with people whose worlds would otherwise be closed to me. That’s why my work, although often portraiture in nature, also has a documentary element to it. I want to learn from others and expose the viewer to what goes on around us. I like the idea that photography can be a visual record while also being an object of beauty.

I suppose at this point of time it’s my job and if I stopped photographing I’d be unemployed but seeing as I’m freelance and can’t collect unemployment I’ll just continue shooting.

Describe your start in photography.

I really didn’t plan to become a photographer, it sort of just happened. I was a printmaking major in university and since my prints were mainly photo based and I was appropriating other people’s images I thought it might be wise to learn how to take my own photos so I took a basic photo class in my third year. That summer I went to Europe and brought my camera along. When I developed my film and I saw my contact sheets that fall I decided that was it, this is what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn’t really see myself making a career out of being a printmaker but I could see a future as a photographer. That spring I applied to the International Center of Photography for their Documentary program, surprisingly I was accepted and the rest is history.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

I tend to respond more to documentary photographers like Bruce Davidson, Martin Parr, Wiliam Eggleston or Jean Pigozzi, but I also love portrait photographers like August Sander, Disfarmer, or Seydou Keïta. Basically I love work that makes me question who the people are in the photograph and how the photographer got there in the first place. While I’m not a huge fashion fan of course I love the heroes of [fashion] photography- Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin with their sexy images and bold use of colour. I also love to see work with a strong sense of humour.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

Too many to name just one! Shooting Joan Rivers was a dream come true or getting Tony Little to take his top off and let me photograph him on a bearskin rug has been great. I’m young-ish and I think my greatest experience hasn’t happened yet… it’s happening daily- me being able to squeak a living out doing what I love.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

Currently I use a Contax 645 with a Phase One digital back. I started shooting medium format back in 2002 but with film and shortly thereafter gave up my 35-mm camera entirely. I began leasing a digital back in January 2008 (just made my last payment in December, hooray!) for my Contax when I realized I didn’t want to buy a 35-mm system just because people demanded digital. I am primarily a portrait photographer though I shoot documentary style off-the-cuff work with my 645 as well so it was a better decision to get a digital back for the camera system I already loved.

As far as my lighting kit goes I have a combination of lights: Profoto Acute 2400 with 3 heads, a ring flash that operates on the Profoto 600 portable pack and a few Quantum Q-Flashes. I often have to travel to my shoots and with baggage overages being so outrageous having a more compact and lighter system is best. When all these lights are used together they pack a punch. Depending on location and feel I may use an octabank or a beauty dish…I have no formula, my lighting changes from each shoot and person.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

When I switched from film to digital it took me a while to get my workflow habit after being so comfortable editing from contact sheets. Now I guess I eliminate the horrible shots first: the ones that are out of focus, where the person blinked or isn’t flattering and the ones that just don’t work. Then using the program Capture One I make my adjustments and process the remaining images and work off of these to whittle down to a tighter edit that I’ll send to editors to choose from. I was using a combination of an older form of Capture One and Bridge but now that I’ve finally updated to a newer form of Capture One I do it all in that program.

But really it’s a gut feeling. After looking at all the images I shoot there are generally a handful that stand out from the rest. I’m lucky because I’m a good editor of my work, I don’t let personal feelings get in the way like, “we had so much fun when I shot that.” At the end of the day I want the person to look their best and pick the most complimentary and compelling images.

I don’t do a lot of retouching in my work, mainly a few stray hairs or a blemish here or there. If a client wants more done for say a celebrity shoot I tend to turn it over to someone else who specializes in retouching. Same goes for my printing, I don’t actually enjoy working in the darkroom, never have, so I’d rather leave the printing in good hands with a professional printer.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

Currently I’m prepping for a cross-Canada road trip (thanks to a grant form the Canada Council for the Arts) that will commence in Victoria, British Columbia on Victoria Day (May 23rd) and will end in St. Johns, Newfoundland on Labour Day (September 5th). I’ll be traveling solo along the Trans-Canada Highway, the worlds longest, documenting the country and her people. I’ve barely seen much of my own country as I’ve been living in the US for the last 13 years and have seen more of America, and Europe for that matter, than my own country. I’m also excited to explore a niche of documentary photography, the “road-trip,” that has long been dominated by male photographers ie. Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Alec Soth and Simon Roberts just to name a few. The only woman who comes to mind is Dorthea Lange and that was a commissioned piece by the Farm Securities Administration.

I also plan to shoot video and create a multi-media website that will be real-time and will include social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. The future of simply making books and exhibitions as an end result is becoming archaic and I welcome this new way of reaching a broader audience.


Interview with photographer | Geof Kern

Why do you take photos?

I fell in love with photography as a teenager in the 1960’s and basically have been making pictures ever since. I don’t have any plans to stop.

Describe your start in photography.

I found a book, Classic Cinema by Parker Tyler, at the corner drugstore.  This was before photography as art everywhere, this was before the movie Blow Up, this was before PBS, this was when people had hi-fi consoles, this was a long time ago, and I was a teenager in a little quiet suburb of Los Angeles mowing lawns and writing poetry.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Again, as young man, you fall in love.  You learn from other people.  Not always photographers in my case, but I remember buying Paris Vogue all the time in the 70’s for Guy Bourdin.  Bill Brandt, when I discovered him.  Harry Shunk, with his picture of Yves Klein jumping off the building that caused such a sensation in Paris.  My wife called him up and asked if he would sell a print of that picture, he said sure, and I have it.  Contemporary photographers, I mean there are many whose work I like.  Larry Fink, Koto Bolofo, Robert Wilson, not that he’s a photographer really.  I haven’t made the definitive list, there are always some names at the tip of your tongue any given moment.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

I like it when I get letters from people all over the place saying how a picture touched their lives.  One of the awards I like the best is from a Rotary Club in Pittsburgh, a kind of wooden plaque with a gold gavel and gears on it, given to me for photographing their native son August Wilson for Esquire.  I value that award as much as I do saying my work is in a museum.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

Equipment is not so much important to me.  I use the standard stuff everyone else uses.  I view the equipment as the bridge, not the destination so I don’t dwell on it much.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

Strange question.  Well, I can pick out pretty quick which frames I like.  I usually know when I’m shooting, it’s that little voice.  It’s that little voice when you’re looking at files on a computer.  Which one?  I tend to not overshoot, and I tend to pick quickly.  Why labor, over-think it.  As far as retouching, I am not a retoucher so I have a real retoucher.  I often do comps myself to show the client kind of what it might look like, if it’s that kind of picture, and this is also a tool as a reference for my real retoucher.  I think this question might be for gallery photographers.  Because normally I don’t print my pictures.  For the limited editions I have had printed for a gallery in Los Angeles there is a place that specializes in that.  Some day I would like to try photogravure.  And of course I used to print all of my own black and white prints before the year 2000.  I have an archive room full of them.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I want to do work that is not necessarily commercial applicable.  I should have started this a long time ago.  But I have been a working photographer because I need to work.  Maybe some time will free up in the near future.


Interview with photographer | Diana Koenigsberg

Why do you take photos?

Photography is a form of communication for me. It is a vehicle for creating ideas that are layered and rich. Especially when shooting portraits, I have always felt that photographs validate our lives, and I love being a part of that.

Describe your start in photography.

I studied photography at San Fransisco Art Institute and then at Art Center College of Design. I then worked concurrently shooting editorial projects and assisting for 3 years, after which I was able to shoot full time.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Martin Parr, his images capture the imperfection and humor in humanity, while retaining a journalist’s objectivity. I love the work of Geof Kern, each of his images have a short story contained within them.

Lastly, I love Helmut Newton’s work. He loved women, but never photographed them as though they were objects. The women in his images are always sexy, confident and very present.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

My greatest experience as a photographer is every time I get to practice my craft. I love to work, and consider myself very lucky to be working.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

Photography is not about equipment for me, although it is vital to have the right equipment for each project. It’s about putting together just the right group of talented people, and then using the best equipment available to articulate my ideas.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

I often do a first edit on set with my client so that we can determine that we are achieving our goal. I then do a second or third round of editing before sending the client 10 – 15 images from a single set up. I retouch simply to cleanup, and color correct most images. When head swapping or big stuff is required, I hire a retoucher to do that. I always over see the final files. Most projects no longer require printing as files are delivered either via ftp or on a hard drive. For my portfolios I print on an Epson 7800 large format printer. When selling prints I use Epson’s Ultra Smooth Fine Art paper.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

My aspiration is to continue doing what I love to do, make photographs and get paid for it.


Interview with photographer | Chris Buck

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

As a teenager I was very much into the popular culture side of the arts. I would have obsessions with bands (first Kiss and Queen, and later Punk Rock and Electro Pop groups), also movies (Star Wars) and television (Monty Python). I had to find some way to be involved in that world, and as I got into my college years my involvement in the local music scene grew.

It was really exciting, within a few years I became something of a figure in the Toronto scene – putting out compilation tapes, managing a band and working for the local music paper. But I soon realized that I didn’t want to be on the business side of things, and I had no musical abilities, so my focus was moved towards photographing the bands.

I always had some creative talent, and my father worked for Kodak, so photography was an easy fit.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

When I first started shooting musicians Anton Corbijn was a big influence. Rock photography seemed pretty dull and literal up until that point so I found his pictures inspiring for their beauty and subtlety.

I loved the way that Irving Penn would make these odd portraits of the great figures of his day. It seems reasonable now but I remember thinking in college that it was kind of ballsy to imagine that I could approach someone like Johnny Thunders with the seriousness of a Penn portrait.

Other influences along the way include Joel Sternfeld, Jeff Wall, Wolfgang Tillmans, Greg Miller, David Barry, Katy Grannan, Peter Hujar, Juergen Teller, Sarah Wilmer and Taryn Simon. My work doesn’t necessary look like theirs but they’re people who made me look at photography differently.

Now that I’ve been working for a while I’m actually more interested in how photographers have managed their career. I admire the consistency and output of Annie Leibovitz. I love how Cindy Sherman’s work gets weirder and less appealing (in an obvious way) as she moves into her fourth decade shooting. Or how Lee Friedlander can quietly build an amazing body of varied work over a lifetime.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

Eating lunch after the shoot.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

For film I have a Mamiya 67 RZ, and for digital I currently use one of the Canon cameras for editorial and a Hasselblad for advertising. I’m still waiting for a digital camera that impresses me, so I just rent for now.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

A photographer is largely defined by their edits, especially in an area like portraits, as the process of shooting is so collaborative. It’s in the editing stage that I will aggressively push my vision forward.

It’s not uncommon for there to be just one or two frames that I consider to be successful, everything outside of that are just dull outtakes.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

As much as I’m proud of much of the work that I’ve done I’m also unsatisfied by it. I’m not where I’d like or need to be. I think that there are ways of achieving great celebrity portraits that I haven’t reached yet. I don’t know what that “unachieved” thing is yet, as I have yet to get there.

As well I want to continue doing series work, sometimes related to celebrity, sometimes not. I think that in my attempt to add breadth I end up also adding depth to my work in doing these ambitious projects.

I’ve been shooting more short videos and that has been an interesting exercise. The challenge is to let the medium say something different than my photographs while not totally breaking away from my style.


Interview with photographer | Charles Shotwell

When did you first become involved in photography?

I was accepted to Southern Illinois University on probation. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I arbitrarily picked business administration as my major and was not very happy. That was about to change. One night I was hanging out with a new friend that was in the photo department. He had to process some film and make a print at the school’s lab before we could go to a bar. I was so amazed those couple of hours that it changed my life forever. I changed majors and spent the summer shooting, processing and printing. When I took my first class I felt for the first time a certain confidence that has stuck with me ever since. I ate, drank and slept photography… and still do. I think it defines the most of who I am.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire them?

There are so many photographers that have influenced me, the list would be too long. With that said, the early influence of Eugene Atget and Gary Winogrand, although separated in time from each other, influenced me the most. They were the beginning in my understanding of what is intrinsic to the camera that is not found in other mediums.

What is the experience like for you as a photographer?

I love working for a living as a photographer. The people, the camaraderie, the problem solving, and especially the vehicle it provides for my ego. My wife is the studio producer and never lets anything slip through the cracks and thus is much appreciated by art buyers and clients. I’m very lucky. I guess it’s like a family business and the people that work for us are like an extended family. I think we all love each other. It’s a lot of fun.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why? / Describe your editing process.

I’m totally digital in and out of the studio and prefer it greatly over the old days of film. I use Capture One and Phocus software and most always shoot to the monitor. We do a fair amount of retouching in house. Shooting and file selection is collaborative with various ideas, variations and extra plates just in case. I discuss props with a stylist but do all the styling myself on set. We do a lot of prep even on easy jobs. Ideas are usually well on their way well before the shoot. Bidding the jobs are done in collaboration with Simone Friend, my representative, Lynn Shotwell, and myself. The studio is a 3 story coach house with a beautifull planted court yard in back of where we live. It’s great to have the studio under foot with a 20 step commute especially when raising kids. I love visitors even when we are busy so please anyone out there stop on by. I will make you a great cup of coffee and we can chew some photo fat.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I hope I can keep re-defining myself photographically in ways that keep me motivated. If I stop I’ll probably get depressed.


Interview with photographer | Dietmar Busse

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

After I finished high school I hitchhiked all over Europe and Morocco and eventually got stuck in Madrid, Spain, instead of attending college. I was really young and went out clubbing every night and I met a lot of people that worked in the fashion industry. Their world sparked my imagination. I knew absolutely nothing about photography and so I looked for photography books and I found the work of Irving Penn. I saw his work from Papua New Guinea and I was hooked. Shortly after, one of my model friends introduced me to a photographer who always had 3-4 assistants and I started working there learning the craft.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

August Sander for beautifully documenting people of a world gone by. Peter Hujar for the incredible depth and emotional quality in his portraits. Diane Arbus for her choice of subjects. Mark Morrisroe for the freedom he allowed himself in his work. Richard Avedon for his exquisite fashion work.

 

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

My last breakthrough.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

Some vintage Hasselblad. Gives me great quality on the film and I love it. A very old Speedotron Strobe. Brown line, amateur series. Bought it when I came to New York in 1991 and I never saw a reason to ‘upgrade’ for it works great.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

Ideally, I take a few days before I look at the contacts, for I like to get some emotional distance from the shoot. From the highs, lows, expectations that I or others might have. I like to get to it with a fresh eye and look for things that speak to me. I have never used Photoshop. For art projects I do my own prints in the darkroom.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

To create a body of work that is very personal and unique to who I am as an artist. I see myself as a storyteller and I would hope that the viewer will find something in the work that will enrich their life in whatever small tiny way.


Interview with photographer | Jens Windolf

Why do you take photos?

I can’t properly answer the question because I suspended taking photos some months ago. It is very presumable that I will go back again some day and be able to answer your question.

 

Describe your start in photography.

I started in the beginning of 2008 with a point and shoot camera not exactly knowing why and how to do it. That attitude changed relatively fast and I became obsessed by questions regarding photographic methods as well as compositions.

 

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

I’m fascinated by the works of Thomas Ruff, Thomas Demand and Takashi Yasumura mostly because of the soberness they find in places or, like in Demand’s work, they are going to rebuild themselves.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

To be alone in an empty room. Just me and the space and all the time to find a point of view and/or an attitude.

 

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

All of my work was done with a Mamiya 7II. I never used flashes or other artificial light sources. For me taking photographs was never incorporated to looking at photographs at the same time. I think I really detest digital photography because of that synchrony.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

Selecting is easy because I always tried to avoid retouching. Sometimes I did ten or more exposures of one motive just to be sure to have done the right one. Sure, I did a little color corrections or dust removals.

 

What sets your work apart from others’?

That it is not going to grow anymore?! But to be more serious, I don’t think it is on me to answer that.

 

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

If I ever go back into photography I would like to work with large format cameras, spending even more time in the rooms I’m interested in and spending more time to file the negatives and prints.


Interview with photographer | Jay Muhlin

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I have been fascinated with photography for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I would use the family camera–my early work mainly involved out-of-focus photos of squirrels and pigeons at the zoo. In high school, I worked at a one-hour photo store; I got the job because I asked so many questions during the interview. In college, I thought I should take photography more seriously when I was cutting my classes to have more time to print in the darkroom. It’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about photography or how images describe thoughts without words. The original magic that made photography mysterious has kept me intrigued.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

When I was starting out, I could easily geek out with photography’s early history. Anything Victorian captivated me; it was like looking at images from another world. I was mostly interested in formal qualities of the work, so photographers like Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston used to captivate me. I became obsessed with Alfred Stieglitz and that opened a broader interest with photography. I fell in love with Andrea Modica’s work for its ability to touch on an emotional truth. The more photography I look at, the more I appreciate different points of view. My list of favorite photographers is quite long. Photographers that didn’t interest me in the past, like Robert Adams, are some of my favorites now. Artists who use photography, like Ed Ruscha, offer an important and unchained freshness to the medium. Finding inspiration outside of photography is also really important; for example, while writing this response, I’m listening to the new PJ Harvey album–her music has been a long time inspiration.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

It might be simple: concentrating absolutely while making a photograph and surprising myself with the result.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I am a reformed equipment freak. But I still use a lot of different formats of cameras from 35mm to 8×10. It really depends on the project I am working on. I mainly used a Hasselblad when I was an undergrad at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and after when shooting for editorial jobs. I have been using a Hasselblad for over 15 years; it’s second nature and travels very well. I used it for photographing my circus work in Switzerland and most recently when in Japan photographing for a new book I am currently working on. I use large format cameras frequently as well. Cameras are just tools. I am now working on a few projects and finding a new pleasure

in using an old 35mm point and shoot. At the same time, I am grinding my teeth and coughing up the cash for film to feed my 8×10 camera.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

I am my own worst enemy. I compulsively make images and am then left with a lot of choices. I am currently editing images of landscapes made at 55mph or faster from 18-wheel truck. I shot this project with a Cannon 5D Mark 2 and I have over 20,000 images. I have been using Adobe Lightroom to edit, and it is taking a little while.

I worked at a magazine retouching; it was a great education working with other photographers’ images. It offered a chance to problem solve with a variety of issues and think about images mechanically. Good retouching requires particular skills and is a different way of seeing images. I don’t retouch my images for the most part–just subtly finesse them. A few of the photos from Japan are composite images.

What sets your work apart from that of others?

It’s an interesting question- I think if I saw photographs that spoke for me I wouldn’t have a need to make my own. I change my voice to fit a project or idea. I don’t feel the need to define myself by having one signature style. I want to push myself into new territory- I love how the medium of photography is so versatile.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I am currently working towards finishing an MFA in photography at Syracuse University. It was been wonderful to have time to focus on my art. I have been able to push myself out of my comfort zone by taking a poetry class and working with video. I am obsessed with photography books. I would like to try to put out a book a month for a year as a challenge to myself.


Interview with photographer | Bradley Peters

Why do you take photos?

I don’t really have a straightforward answer to this question and I guess the only response I can give is that I take photographs because I have to.  The best way I can describe my relationship to my photographs is that it’s kind of like a conversation that I’m having with myself.  The problem is the conversation is in Spanish and I don’t really speak Spanish but sometimes I can pick out some of the words.  It’s discovery through an attempted translation.

 
Describe your start in photography.

I borrowed a camera from a friend and he gave me a 15 minute crash course in F-stops and shutter speeds.  Later that day I got a bunch a film and basically proceeded to make some really bad pictures over the next 2 years.  I was self-taught in beginning but then took a bunch of classes at the University of Nebraska, then went on to get my MFA at Yale.  I’ve had some really amazing teachers along the way.


Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Probably my biggest influences would be Arbus, Winogrand, Eggleston, Adams (Robert).  They’re artists whose work has an effect on me every time I see it.  Their images never get old.

 

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

I don’t know if I have one.  Being an artist tends to leave one vulnerable in many ways that I usually don’t associate with “greatest”.  It’s probably just my personality.

 

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I use the Mamiya 7ii and flash.  I made a rule for myself a long time ago that my camera equipment could never reach the point where it prevented me from being able to go on a long walk due to its size or quantity.  I like being able to take my equipment everywhere.

 

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

Part of my process is about letting things fall apart.  Before each shoot I’ll try to imagine every possible scenario that might take place and I use these ideas as a guide for what I should try to avoid.  When I’m lucky I’ll come back with something completely unexpected and it becomes pretty apparent which image is the most interesting.  I don’t spend a lot of time debating between a set of images.  I really only perform basic color correction and almost no retouching except for dust removal.

 
What sets your work apart from that of others?

I like ideas that sound too terrible to be an interesting photograph.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

Like a lot of photographers I eventually want my images to take shape in the form of a book.  That’s what I’m currently working on but I don’t have any idea when the project will be finished.


Interview with photographer | Bill Diodato

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I became a professional photographer in 1993.  I wanted to be challenged everyday and felt art was the way I could achieve this.

 

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Irving Penn is probably the most inspirational photographer for me as he bridged the gap between fine art and commercial photography better than anyone.  After him the list goes on for miles… Bernd & Hilla Becher, Aaron Siskind, Sally Mann, O. Winston Link, Cindy Sherman, August Sander, Helmut Newton, Leni Reifenstall, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Eugene Atget, Walker Evans, William  Eggleston,  and Larry Clark, to name a few that come to mind.

 

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

“Photography is a reason to meet the people I meet…” I have met so many interesting people that I would say that would be my greatest experience.

I think that my greatest achievement to this point has been my first book, Care of Ward 81,  which just came out.  Mary Ellen Mark wrote the foreword to this book.  This project is about the demise of institutional services and its effect on the women’s ward known as Ward 81, located at the Oregon State Insane Asylum.  This is the same hospital where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed.

 

 

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

The most valuable tool is my mind.  After that any camera that suits the style of the shoot. If I only pick one camera I choose the Hasselblad V series cameras as they are versatile and indestructible and a Phase One back.

 

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

This is an area of my business that I do not like.  It is time-consuming and boring to look at images you have already created… I want to move on to the next creation and not get bogged down with past work…

 

 

What sets your work apart from that of others?

I guess my images tend to have a narrative and my lighting abilities… but that is for you and other journalists / editors to decide what sets me apart from other image makers.

 

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

To complete my second book and to work on more video projects.


Interview with photographer | Bon Duke

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I started to become involved with photography when I had to photograph my paintings. It was for university and scholarship applications. It was actually the first time seeing a slide and the image on it. After that I started to take photos and continued since then. I enjoyed the instant gratification and creating a photo.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Off the top of my head I would have to say Thierry Le Goues and Jean Paul Goude. Both  photographers have had a big influence on me. The colors that Thierry Le Goues captures and his portraits are so beautifully composed. I love Jean Paul Goude’s thought process and how he works when creating his images- how he visually creates a story in one photo and manipulates how an image is viewed.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

As a photographer there are several occasions but I have done more video/directing work which has been a great experience. I really enjoy putting a story together in a short film.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I really enjoy using the Phase One 645DF with the p30+ for stills. It’s truly amazing and it gives me what I need for quality images. I wish my clients would still let me use film but, honestly, the Phase One backs really let me get the film quality I want. The process is different but, in the end my image still comes out the way I want. The Canon 5d mark II and RED camera for video. Usually the camera that I always have is an Olympus EP-L 2 camera.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?

Before a shoot I have a preliminary sketch of the image I want to get. It sets a basis for each shot that I approach. This starting point helps within in my edit process.

Usually I shoot with Capture One and edit and tone through there for the first edit. Then bring it into Lightroom for PDF and Layout for proofs. Then final selection retouching in Photoshop. I usually print Digital C-prints or inkjet prints with the Epson 9880.

What sets your work apart from that of others?

A lot of my work is finding beauty that would not be expected from an image. Aesthetically most of my work has a darker tone overall. Creating an image that will draw in a person and invoke a feeling from them. I actually feel that I am still exploring my work and pieces I plan to do.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

Currently I am working with a lot of video with my photography; looking into how video and users interact with media. Evolving with the technology and how it will change how imagery/video will be presented. It ranges and there no limits now with how media is shown. I have several short films that I am working on for 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bon Duke’s latest video:


Interview with photographer | Thierry Van Biesen

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I was studying to become an engineer when my girlfriend’s brother gave me an old camera. I started taking pictures of her. The guy at the lab asked me where I was working and could not believe I had never taken pictures before. This got me intrigued. I then met a photographer (Serge Leblon, who is still a friend today, 22 years later) who said the lab guy was right and introduced me to a modeling agency. They asked me to test their models. A few months later, I went to NY and was lucky to meet Art Kane. He hired me as an assistant and “lent” me to his friends- Sarah Moon, Arthur Elgort, Duane Michals, Ralph Gibson, Jay Maisel, Dick Frank, Len Jenshel and Tobey Sanford and others. Engineering soon became a faint memory…

 

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Graphically, I think I owe something to Steve Hiett and Guy Bourdin. Conceptually, I have always been touched by Duane Michals (also something there about “story-telling”). I’m also inspired by Sarah Moon’s poetry. But I also find inspiration in surrealists like Magritte or Dali, or writers like Christian Bobin and Raphaelle Billetdoux (whose lightness and poetic prose never leave me untouched)

 

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

Being a photographer. More precisely, as a professional, being asked by a client to illustrate their idea with my vision. That is really exciting.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I use a Hasselblad H2 with a Phase One P45+. I’m happy with the quality I get from that combination. I like sharp crisp images with more of a slick illustration quality to them.

 

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

I shoot tethered to my laptop, into pre-organized files. I try to select my images between shots, so as to have a pre-selection at the end of my day. I then go over that and extract my favorites from the lot. Processing is usually done as we wrap, along with final backing up (we also backup to a second drive during the shoot so as to have three copies of our files by the end of each day). Retouching is of course the last part of the image making process. I print proofs on my Epson 3800.

 

What sets your work apart from that of others?

People tell me I have a specific visual language, easily recognizable. This is what sets my images apart. On a more everyday work level, they also tell me working with me is like a day off, stress-less and creative.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I plan to go on making my images and also making them move as I’ve started to shoot video last year and do find it very exciting too. I also plan to work on a book, and two exhibitions.


Interview with photographer | Peter Ash Lee

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I actually majored in psychology and human resources business during my undergrad in Canada. One summer I got an internship working in Seoul at Samsung in their HR department and absolutely hated it. So I quit the internship and called up a cousin who I heard was working as a still-life photographer at a studio in Korea. I followed him around all summer and at the end of it he handed me a backup Hasselblad as a gift, and I haven’t put it down since.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

There are so many photographers I admire for various reasons, but I guess the ones that have directly influenced my work include Hellen Van Meene, Richard Avedon, Hiroh Kikai, and Alec Soth. I think their works have definitely shaped the way I look at subjects and also what I’m attracted to.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

I can’t say that I can pinpoint a single experience as being the greatest, but I think the main thing that I love about what I do is the amazing people I get to meet and work with. Whether it’s a young talented actress or an 86-year-old umbrella maker, the opportunity to interact with these people that I’d normally not have a reason to meet is very interesting.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I mainly work with a Hasselblad 503CW. I also love my Contax G2.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

I prefer collaborating with other people I trust to help edit my work, only because I think as a photographer, you can get very attached to the images you take. Especially shooting on 120 film, you’re really thinking about each shot you take, as you get only 12 shots per roll so you better make sure each one counts. So I think it helps to have an outside eye to help provide a second opinion. But of course there are some images that I look at and just know that I love and no one can change my mind.

As far as retouching goes, I keep things pretty minimal and natural. I’m not a fan of over retouching especially when you’re dealing with portraits. Of course with fashion photography I think retouching is essential in creating a fantasy, but when you’re talking about portraits in the classic sense, I think it should represent the individual fairly accurately. Besides, I think it’s the wrinkles, creases, and the individual idiosyncrasies that make a person beautiful and special.

What sets your work apart from that of others?

I hope that my work has a specific aesthetic that sets itself apart from other photographers. Perhaps the natural light and the minimalism is a distinguishing characteristic in my work. Also working in the editorial/celebrity field, the most frequent comment I get from talent and publicists is their surprise at the fact that I still shoot with film. I guess it is becoming more of a rarity with the rapid development of digital technology.

What are your photographic plans and aspirations for the future?

To be honest, I’ll be happy if I’m always shooting and working with interesting and passionate people. I’d also like more opportunities to spend time on personal work and projects outside the commercial/editorial realm and work with galleries. I recently returned from Italy shooting a series of portraits of Neapolitan tailors which I’m very happy with, and I’d love to see those images hanging in a gallery one day.

You’ve photographed quite a few well-known actors; is there anyone whom you’ve particularly enjoyed working with?

Most recently I photographed Anjelica Huston in Venice, California, and she had to be one of the most incredible women to work with. The way she moved and carried herself in front of the camera was just so elegant and beautiful. The entire experience from the space to the old French music she had brought with her to play during the shoot was very different from any other shoot I’ve done, and it felt as though I had gone back in time to what I imagine a photo shoot in the 40s would have felt like.


Interview with photographer | Lane Coder

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I was 19 years old living in New York City, studying fine art at the Parsons School of Design.  A friend ,who was a very successful fashion/art photographer, introduced me to photography through a Polaroid SX70 camera.  He was taking long exposures of random people in the street at night and the results were mind blowing to me.  They looked like small paintings.  Soon after that, I never really picked up a paintbrush or pencil again.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?

Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Mitch Epstein, Wolfgang Tillmans, Andreas Gursky, Nadav Kander, Corrine Day, Martina Hoogland Ivanow, Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Inez van Lamsweerde, and Vinoodh Matadin.  The reason why I listed these people and in this order is kind of congruent with my photography. I’ve always been interested in different genres of photography and have never really been content shooting just one thing.  I’m constantly inspired by fine art photographers, fashion/commercial photographers, and the people that blur the line between the two.  I’ve always tried to do this in my own work.

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

Revisiting a job for the New York Times Magazine that one of my previously mentioned photographic influences declined to continue.  Being able to be considered a photographer that can fill those shoes was definitely a defining moment in my career.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

Until the past 3-4 years, I exclusively used two types of medium-format film cameras.  One which I would keep on a tripod at all times and another that was handheld.  But now I use a wide range of cameras.  It helps diversifying my work and keeps things fresh and interesting.  Lately I’ve been using a lot of digital SLR cameras for still photos and video.  I still use medium format film cameras, 35mm point and shoot cameras, and most recently, I’ve been experimenting with a 3×4 antique polaroid camera that I’ve really been loving.

Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

Digitally, I do all my editing in Adobe Bridge via three rounds of selection.  Then we begin color management and retouching and piecing the stories together.  With film I generally edit straight from the negative and then I scan the film either on an Imacon or Creo scanner and begin retouching from that point.  I print through a professional lab either on a Polytronic digital c-print machine or a LightJet.

What sets your work apart from that of others?

I can only speak for myself and my process.  I try to always keep my photography true to myself.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I’d like to continue on the track I’ve paved for myself where I can show my personal work in galleries and potentially get books published, while also being able to work in the commercial world doing fashion, advertising, and editorial.  This hasn’t always been easy throughout my career and trying to balance the line between those two worlds can be very difficult.  I am also working diligently on developing my career as a director.  I just recently directed my first music video and I am looking forward to my career in directing.

 


Interview with a photographer | Jamie Isaia

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

When I was 15 I first started taking photography seriously. I took a b+w printing class in high school and became completely obsessed. There was something so satisfying about how immediate and yet complicated the process was. Conceptually there seemed endless possibilities.


Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work? 

I love Julia Margaret Cameron, Gertrude Kasebier, E.J. Bellocq, August Sanders, Francesca Woodman… to name a very small few. When I think of what I LOVE about photography it always dates back to around late 1960’s and earlier. There is sensibilty in a lot of this early portraiture and landscape imagery that is lost in modern photography. A lot of it has to do with the process of using clunky wet plates, slow shutter speeds or the grain of old kodak film. Digital is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but definitely not the same thing. Also, people just looked more interesting in early 1900-1960’s then now, in my opinion of course.


What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

Coming up with concepts in my head that I was not sure how to pull off and then actually having it all come together seamlessly. That is the greatest feeling. It is not that often that I am completely sold on what I just shot but when it does happen, it is the best!


What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I use the Mark III or the 5D. Mainly because I have to not necessarily because I want to. I love both cameras equally. I’ve been shooting a lot of 35mm old kodak film as well which is helping me balance out the necessity of digital in my life.


Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)

While on set I do a preliminary edit based on what I know I don’t like from what I just shot. When I get to my studio the next day I go through and do a tighter edit, then an even tighter edit. I then mock up a layout of the top two selects for each shot and decide which ones are final shots. I then send to my retouchers.


What sets your work apart from that of others?

One of my main goals is to seduce people to look just a split second longer then they might otherwise at a photograph. That there is a quality to the person, place and palette that holds people’s attention and makes them think, even if for a split second, I want to be there… in that picture.


What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?

I am doing a lot more motion work and am really interested in the way the industry is changing to cater to various media platforms. Right now motion is the primary focus for me and merging it with my photography.


Interview with photographer | Nicholas Seve Herrera

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

Aside from playing with Polaroids as a kid, I’d say I first really started becoming involved when I was about 13. Skateboarding was my main thing back then and I just wanted to document my friends and myself skating through the city. Gradually I stopped participating in the actual skating and would just go out to shoot it.

Who are some of your favorite photographers and why?

Currently I find myself looking at a lot of the photographers at Magnum. Jonas Bendiksen and Alex Majoli for starters. I recently saw an exhibition by Christopher Anderson and it really showed me a different side of photography I hadn’t seen before. The ability those guys have to not only tell a story but to do it in a way that is at the same time their own and universal.

What’s your favorite photographic moment when you overcame an obstacle or things just came together for you when you were shooting?

One of my first real breaks in photography was when I had been asked to shoot a fairly well known band’s promo shots for their upcoming tour. It was on location in a rural part of Austin. At this point I was still just starting and couldn’t afford professional studio lights let alone portable ones. So the morning before the shoot I ran to Best Buy and bought one of those electricity converters you hook up to your car battery so you can have an outlet. Besides getting in a car wreck soon after leaving there, which left my hood destroyed, when I got to the location and started setting up, I realized I hadn’t checked my bulb wattage correctly and the converter wasn’t powerful enough to light the one single hot lamp I had. That being that, I tried my best and shot it all natural light. Luckily the band’s PR liked the shots and they were used that year nationwide.

Can you talk to us about what equipment you like to use and why?

Right now I find myself getting back into 35mm film. I used digital for a while because it was cost effective for the style of work I was doing, but now that I’ve shifted my focus to more personal documentary, I prefer film. With digital I was always checking the back of my camera to see how the shot was coming along. With film as soon as I snap the shutter I’m already thinking of the next frame, I can’t “shotgun” through a situation, I’m more aware of what I’m choosing to photograph. It’s easy to blast 10 to 15 frames out of a digital camera. We’ve all done it.  Too many options can be a negative thing in my opinion. The same reason I use prime lenses instead of zooms. I use one 35mm prime. If I want to zoom, I have to move myself closer to the situation.  I’m using Leica rangefinders as my current bodies purely because of the durability of them and joy of using a rangefinder. I can use the cameras like tools and focus on the work instead of worrying about temperamental electronics, screens, memory cards, etc.

What’s your editing process like?  How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?

I find it is way easier to edit other peoples work than my own. I think the main reason being because I don’t have any emotional attachment to it. With my own stuff I find I have to give the shots a quick glance, maybe eye which ones I think are selects and then put it away. I try to give myself time to disconnect from it. I’ll leave it alone for a while and then come back to it. I read somewhere that Stephen King takes a similar approach when he writes a book for the first time. He writes a rough draft then puts it in a drawer for several months and “let’s it rest”. I think it’s as close as someone can get to looking at their own work from an outsider’s perspective.

What are your photographic plans and aspirations for the future?  Tell us about your upcoming project in Peru.

I’d say my plans at this point are just to get back to focusing on my own personal work. To shoot things that I really care about as opposed to shooting just to shoot.
My project in Peru will mainly focus on the gold mining that happens there. Although it has been going on there for quite some time, the value of gold is currently at the highest it’s been in  about 30 years. I found that Peru is not only the top 10 largest gold exporters of the world but also has one of the highest percentages of illegal mining. One example is a husband and wife that quit their jobs as professors at the University of Lima to live on the river and mine gold illegally. The mining also does massive amounts of damage to the eco-system and its inhabitants, anywhere from mercury contaminated water to companies sometimes dredging over village cemeteries with large machinery destroying graves and human remains. The amount of negative effects this rush is having on the country is staggering, especially for a mineral that is mostly cosmetic in it’s value.