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Interview with photographer | Sabine Villiard

When did you first become involved in photography and why?

I was always involved in photography. I grew up seeing my dad taking pictures all the time. It was his hobby. I use to help him when he was developing in the dark room. I must have been 9 years old. I was always amazed by the picture appearing in the developing bath! So I grew up taking pictures of my dolls, pets and friends. I would always make a whole set and tell them how to pose, so it seemed natural to do fashion photography.

 

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

I really like a lot of photographers and get inspired by photographers, but also painters, sculptors, movie directors… To answer your question and only talk about photographers, I guess I would say I really like Guy Bourdin, for his sexy wittiness, Tim Walker for his fairy tales, Avedon for the truthfulness, Steven Meisel for his light and sets, and I could go on and on!

 

What is your greatest experience as a photographer?

Being able to be free.

What equipment do you prefer to use and why?

I started using digital only 2 year ago. At the beginning it was very strange for me. I wasn’t forced to do digital but since everyone was doing it, I also wanted to try it and see what was going on.  So now I do a lot of digital too and enjoy it. Even though sometimes I still use my good old Mamiya with films for personal projects.

 

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

For the negatives, of course I have a contact sheet. For the digital, I do the selection with Bridge. Then I create a file where I put a large selection made on Bridge and open each of these selections on Photoshop to be sure of the images. I don’t like to retouch too much. I usually work with Processus lab in Paris. They also do all my prints.

What sets your work apart from that of others?

Maybe my sense of humour and wittiness with an esthetic feeling? I don’t really know. I guess viewers can see things in my pictures that I don’t see!

 

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

I am happy doing what I believe in. I think everybody should believe in what they do, and do it. I am busy shooting for magazines such as Vogue and advertisements. I am also starting to do films and I continue doing some personnal work, maybe for an exhibition one day.

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:

Book review | C/O Ward 81

One may be surprised by the cheerful pastel interiors displayed on the first pages of Diodato’s book, C/O Ward 81, which documents the decay of the once lively women’s psychiatric ward. Ward 81 resides in the Oregon State Mental Hospital along with Wards 82 and 83, the men’s psychiatric wards and also the setting of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Girlish colors, soft lighting, and joyful drawings adorn the images in Diodato’s monograph and provide a severe contrast to the somber subject matter.

Though I have limited knowledge of American psychiatric wards, I believe I can safely assume that they did not provide proper care for those suffering from mental illnesses but rather provided an outlet to mainstream society in which the mentally unhealthy could be detained.

Diodato’s “intention in publishing these images is to present the physical crumbling and decaying cells, which represent the end of old, corrupt, poorly-run asylums and bring about a sense of closure for the women of Ward 81” (Diodato).

Diodato effectively produced beautiful photos even with the grim underlying theme of sufferable institutionalization. According to Mary Ellen Mark, who photographed Ward 81 in 1976 and wrote the forward for C/O Ward 81, “Diodato has transformed what was once so cold and institutional into a palette of vivid colors and textures.” His photos show careful composition and make use of the natural light flooding into the ward through barred windows. Diodato subtly captures evidence of the past in the fading, hand-written nametags, a cold metal bed frame, a mop covered in paint chips from the wall on which it leans, and “curiously upbeat” wall designs (Diodato).

My favorite photos take up a two-page spread displaying views into four nearly identical (except for their varying vivid Crayola crayon colors) “deserted rooms where once women screamed and cried, where once women laughed and danced” (Mark). Diodato’s C/O Ward 81 successfully shows and praises the end of a faulty and at times harmful institution and acts as a warning against allowing history to repeat itself.

Purchase C/O Ward 81

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.