Short personal intro. For a living, I service and maintain motion picture cameras and lenses, which continues to provide me with more opportunities to learn the craft which carry over into my photography. At the moment, shooting stills on film is sort of a side job/hobby that I hope to continue developing (no pun intended).
Your personal story with photography. Part of my interest in photography comes from my passion for cinema. The art of telling stories through images via lenses, lighting, and composition has always been fascinating to me. Also, I’d say my initial interest as a kid was sparked by my grandfather. He was a photography specialist for the Army during World War II and kept with photography throughout the rest of his life. He even had a dark room in his basement. My first 35mm film camera was a hand me down from him. I still have it, along with many other cool vintage cameras and lenses that I inherited.
What do you think is the greatest power of photography? It seems these days, especially as technology evolves, that we are constantly flooded with images in our life and it can get a bit overwhelming. Also, everyone has the same nice digital cameras, the same nice lenses, the same photoshop tricks, and everything just kind of looks the same after a while. So it’s hard to stand out. I shoot that kind of stuff too, but it’s not completely rewarding. That’s one reason why I’ve been shooting more film lately. Aside from being fun and having a wonderful texture, it also enables me to slow down a bit and think about only taking worthwhile images. I think the greatest power of photography could be the ability to capture moments that linger on long after we’re gone. Unfortunately we don’t get to live forever, so creating something lasting while we’re here is maybe the closest we can get to immortality. If I can achieve that through photography, even in the smallest capacity, that makes me very happy.
Where do you think the wisdom and instinct for good photograph comes from? I suppose it changes from one photographer to the next, but I feel like it comes from personal experience that grows over time. To me, only a small part of photography is talent. It’s a skill that you need to work at and continue evolving. At a certain point, after taking a LOT of pictures, I felt like I could approach a subject and see in my head how I wanted to capture it before taking the shot. How I wanted to frame it, what focal length I wanted, how the depth of field would look depending on aperture and how close I was to the subject, etc. etc. All of that is an instinctive thing that becomes clearer the more I shoot.
What’s in your camera bag? It really varies depending on what I shoot. The photos shown here were either taken with a Hasselblad 500 C/M or a Yashica Mat EM TLR camera. Usually I travel light when shooting with these cameras. I have an 80mm f2.8 and 150mm f4 lenses for the Hasselblad. I carry filter adapters to enable me to use neutral density filters for controlling exposure, and I also have a set of very cheap (but surprisingly great quality) diopter filters that I found on Amazon. They come in +1, +2, +4, and +10 and can fit on the 80mm lens, allowing me to get a lot closer to the subject than I normally can and I love the special kind of look they create. For film stocks, I do like to experiment with various types, but my favorites are Kodak Portra (any ASA, depending on situation) for color and Ilford FP4 125 ASA for black and white. For digital, I have a Canon 7D with my go-to zoom being the 24-105mm f4. Then I have an assortment of Rokinon primes, vintage Nikon primes, and even an old Mamiya M42 mount lens, all of which are either Canon mount or can be attached via adapters. I like having all of these unique options and one of the benefits of these modern times is being able to find ways to use them all. Good glass is good glass, you don’t always need to get the most expensive equipment. In addition to these, my Lumu light meter now pretty much lives in my pocket attached to my phone whenever I’m shooting!
Do you have any kind of obsession? I definitely seem to have a bokeh obsession. I often take abstract shots just of out of focus lights in interesting patterns. Sometimes I feel like I’m actually more interested in what’s out of focus in a photograph than what is in focus, which I realize is an odd thing to say. But I think when utilized properly, it’s as valuable a tool as anything to make one’s photos interesting. Maybe I’m fascinated by it because it deals with how the lens interprets things in ways our eyes cannot, thus lending the images a more artistic and cinematic quality.
If you could give one final advice to fellow photographers, what would it be? Keep shooting, keep experimenting, be bold, and don’t limit yourself. Also try not to rely on computer software too much to manipulate your images.
Links or anything else you would like to share! I’m currently working on putting a website together, but in the meantime more work can be viewed on my Flickr photostream or Instagram profile.