Photographer Interviews, Year Two

Jackson, Michigan

Last year I did a series of photographer interviews as a fun winter project. It was a great way to chat with photographers whose work I enjoy, and to learn about some photographers who I’ve followed on social media, or connected with through On Taking Pictures.

Let’s do it again!

I have a list of people I’m going to reach out to, but if you follow the work I do, and you’re a photographer with good work to share, I’d love to feature your stuff.

Easiest way? Send me a note!

Ben Sasso’s Creative Manifesto

Super enthusiastic photographer Ben Sasso has a list of things to kick-start your creativity, including this “Know Your Craft” gem:

Study the greats that came before you. Don’t just look at the greats, actually study them. What makes their work stand out among the rest? How do they use light in interesting ways? How do you feel when you look at their images and what’s making you feel that way? Know their work so you can know more about your own.

Sasso’s advice echoes a lot of the Creativity Racket™ out there (experiment, be yourself, be original, etc.), but it’s a nice reminder that we all have quibbles and quirks, and that’s okay.

His “it’s okay to take a second for yourself during a shoot” note is especially apt for those of us that get wound up or nervous during shoots.

Color Masterpieces

Ernst Haas gets a nice feature in The Guardian, “The painter in a hurry,” following the re-release of Color Correction.

“I never really wanted to be a photographer,” he said. “It slowly grew out of the compromise of a boy who desired to combine two goals – explorer or painter. I wanted to travel, see and experience. What better profession could there be than the one of a photographer, almost a painter in a hurry, overwhelmed by too many constantly changing impressions?”

See and experience. Those are the real goals.

(via Kage Collective)

Photographer Profile: Matt Lockwood

Who are you, where are you, and what do you do?

I’m Matt Lockwood and I currently live in a small town in the northeast corner of Indiana. I’m a business professional with a very enjoyable career in the data and content analysis field.

How did you get started in photography?

I started gaining a strong interest in photography after I graduated from college in 2012 (Oakland University, Go Golden Grizzlies!) with a BA in Cinema Studies. A lot of my inspiration comes from some of my favorite directors such as Ingmar Bergman, John Ford, David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock, Andrei Tarkovsky, Carl Th. Dreyer, Charlie Chaplin, and Federico Fellini.

Some films that have inspired me include Seventh Seal, Onibaba, 8 ½, Ivan’s Childhood, Night of the Hunter, and Vampyr.

What do you like about your photography?

What I love most about my work is the many ways to explore natural lighting, composition, exposure, and different types of film stock. I’m currently a huge fan of Ilford Delta 400 and Ilford HP5 Plus 400.

You do great black and white work, and that translates well to your film work. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

The themes I like to explore in my work include realism, neo-realism, and avant-garde expressionism.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

I plan on starting a portrait project. There isn’t really a theme for it, but more of an exploration of different individual expressions and moods.

Check out more of Matt’s photos at his Flickr gallery.

Photographer Interviews – A Wrap-Up

Canon AE-1

After a month, my photographer profile project is complete. Almost 20 photographers shooting everything from landscapes to portraits to products to documentary reportage.

I tried to think of one thing I learned doing this project – a consistent theme that ran through all the interviews. Maybe what I learned is that there are all kinds of photographers, with all kinds of backgrounds, and we all get into the hobby or profession in a million potential ways.

It’s these folks, after all, that gives those rebloggers and “”curators”” something to latch on to. It’s these photographers who are making original material. They shoot what interests them. They put stuff out into the world. They’re makers.

Other than a theme, the one thing I learned was that most artists you admire are approachable and friendly, and more than willing to participate in a crazy idea you have. For many of these photographers, I’ve followed them for years on Tumblr, or Flickr, or Instagram, and have always wondered how they got into photography. To learn more, all it took was an email and a proposition.

I should’ve done this years ago.

Check out all the photographer profiles, and stay tuned – I may have a few more coming in the next few weeks.

And thanks to everyone who participated!

Photographer Interview: Olli Syrjäkari

As an urbex photographer, it’s natural for me to check out other abandoned building photographers. The problem is, most of what I find is HDR garbage.

That’s why I love the work of Olli Syrjäkari of Finland. His abandoned work keeps the shadows and mystery of the places he explores. When I first saw Olli’s work, I felt like I met a fellow traveler. It was great to learn more about his photography.

Who are you, where are you, and what do you do?

My name is Olli Syrjäkari and I live in Tampere, Finland. Pencil pusher by day, photographer by night.

How did you get started in photography?

I’m not sure when it started. Probably when I got my first smartphone with a decent camera. Three years back I left my hometown to find my real home. By that time I bought a small interchangeable-lens camera, and it was then that I got serious about photography. Most of my photos are taken with that 100-euro camera. I did eventually upgrade but I went with the philosophy that the camera quality doesn’t matter until you know how to compose and find the light.

What do you like about your photography?

I love how my photographs raise questions and emotions. You could say my motto is “emotion is everything”. Also I think it’s therapeutic that I get to relive those moments that are already gone. I tend to hate most of my earlier work. I think for me that’s essential in order to become better.

You dabble in abandoned photography, and I love your sense of mystery and exploration. You also have a great eye for light and shadow. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

Thank you. When I see great photography, it really inspires me to get to that level. It makes me grab the camera and get out of the house, do something great. In all that abandoned photography I do, with the shadows and the light, I love that contrast. How things can make me happy and sad at the same time.

I recently realized something. All those places I explore, urban decay, homes people left behind, they get certain emotions going on in my head. Like I mentioned – happy and sad, also yearning, wishful, at peace. I also mentioned I left my hometown where I lived almost three decades, and I wasn’t happy, just a walking corpse. In my new hometown I have felt rootless, alone, anxious, scared but also very happy and content, at peace and hopeful. Something those families have felt when they left their rural homes and dying smalltowns in search for a better life. Narcistically, I think I have been photographing myself.

What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?

Sorrow, hope, dark thoughts, rural exodus, abandonment. How shadows can exist while there is light present. How the shadows are eventually winning, light is always just temporary. It needs to be maintained while darkness is the default.

In my nature photography, it’s basically empowerment, conservation, how life finds a way. I love to mix these themes, nature and abandonments. How nature reclaims what we have left behind. What comes after us? How we are temporary here, the light. Nature and entropy are the shadows, but they are the good guys here. We are just visiting and we are very bad guests.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

I am having an exhibition next summer, in Tampere, Finland. It will be free of charge but I am hoping to sell some photos to cover the costs. I am also planning to sell prints and licenses to fund my future explorations and exhibitions. Besides that I’m planning to get more into portraiture and people.

See more of Olli’s work at @siderocks, check out his Flickr gallery, and follow along on Instagram.

Sunday With Saul Leiter

Sundays With Saul Leiter

I’ve become somewhat of a collector of photo books in recent years. My favorite has become Saul Leiter. He only released a few books while he was alive, and it’s my goal to get them all.

This Sunday I watched In No Great Hurry as well. It’s the perfect weekend documentary: quiet, relaxing, and yet entertaining.

I hope that, as the years go by, Saul’s estate releases more of his work in photo book form. Especially the newer stuff – he never stopped shooting. It’d be nice to see some of his modern, digital work, because (and they hint at it in the movie) his style never really changed. Saul Leiter was always Saul Leiter.

You can still get Early Color, though it isn’t the easiest to find. And Early Black and White is a double book that’s a look of fun to see.

Study the masters, gang. Find someone you like and study the hell out of them. Steal and copy. Make it your own. Maybe start with Saul.

Photographer Interview: Mila, AKA We The People 

I’m a sucker for golden hour photography, especially with portraits. That’s why I was so drawn to photographer Mila’s work on her Flickr gallery, We The People.

Especially that second shot, “song of wind.” So carefree and honest. That shot made me want to reach out and learn more.

Something I’ve noticed, seeing more and more photography, is all the great stuff coming out of Russia. Talent is world-wide, but there’s something about Russian photographers – they keep popping up in my Tumblr and Instagram feed.

Here’s my chat with Mila.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Mila, and I’m a photographer from Moscow, Russia.

How did you get started in photography?

As a child, I played with Dad’s film cameras. It was the starting point for my interest.

What do you like about your photography?

Photography by itself! 🙂 This is one of the main passions in my life. I’m just happy when I can shoot something.

You take great portraits, but you also explore other photographic subjects. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

I think creative people draw inspiration from everywhere. Depending on the moment, the mood of different things can cause the need for self-expression through photography.

To be more specific, I’m love nature and sunlight with all my heart. Any natural light, especially at sunrise or sunset, is so beautiful! It’s always inspiring. Photos in this light are always a little magical. Often I see the place first and instantly imagine what theme I want to shoot there.

You capture really great moments with your portraits. How do you get the photos you’re looking for when working with a model?

When I work with a model, the final result is the merit of both of us. With any model, you can always get a couple of good shots, but the work becomes really interesting when the model knows her job and understands what purpose and mood I am pursuing.

What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?

I really love a free, natural style, with small ethnic and boho elements. I don’t always stick to this theme, but it’s really “mine.”

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

Unfortunately, now my town is in snowy winter, and I don’t like shooting in the studio. Therefore, I have many ideas, and and all of them are waiting for the arrival of spring and warmth.

Check out more of Mila’s work on her Flickr gallery. You can also check out her blog, We The People