What made you decide to concentrate on photography after college?
I was working on my final film projects for school and I decided to take my camera along to get some behind-the-scenes photos, mainly just to build a slideshow or something for everyone in the class. I was going to be the class equivalent of a soccer mom, I didn't have any big designs behind it. During the filming, I discovered that my favorite part of the whole thing was when I was taking pictures. Not long afterwards, I decided that was what I would rather do with my life.
You seem to love shooting with digital cameras. Any particular reason for this?
Hah! I enjoy shooting film too, I'm not a digital-only guy in the least. I used to work in a photolab so I could develop and scan my own stuff pretty much at will, and I shot a ton of film as a result. I haven't as much lately just because I got a new digital camera, so it's been hard to seperate it from my hands. I love cameras, period. Film or digital. Two of my favorite cameras of all time are film. An Olympus XA, a film point-and-shoot, and a Yashica Electro, a rangefinder from the 70s. I'm a camera nerd, through and through. I would probably forget to wear shoes before I'd forget to bring a camera.
As a freelance photographer, where there any jobs you turned down? If so, why?
Now that I think of it, I don't think I have, aside from some where I had a previous engagement or scheduling conflict. I've shot 30 some odd weddings, highschool sports games, bands... Once I even shot some 5 year old's birthday party. His folks wanted to enjoy the day without worrying about pictures. It was actually a lot of fun. There was a Nerf war, and I got to eat some awesome cake. :)
I'm not saying I'm willing to do everything for any money I get, but I guess I just haven't come across a job that I wouldn't be willing to take. Not yet at least.
Where do you think do photography and movie making connect, besides that technically movies are a long series of pictures?
Well, it's essentially a form of storytelling. And editing plays a role too. I don't remember exactly where I heard it, but someone once said that photography is similar to film editing. Film editing is all about what you do and don't show the audience. In photography, the frame itself is your editing tool. What you include within the frame and how you frame it is key.
That and everything I ever learned about composition I picked up from movies.
You mostly seem to take pictures of "real life" people and events. Have you ever worked with models? How far are you interested in this area of photography?
I'm definitely more of a candid photographer. But I've never worked with actual models before, so it's uncharted territory for me. I'm not sure if I'd know how to use a model if Ihad one. I'm more familiar with lurking around and waiting for 'the moment.'
I have done some staged photography before, but it's all been with friends or acquaintances, and none of them with modeling backgrounds. But I have lots of photogenic friends, so that helps.
Is there any way to explain the magics of Animal Collective?
Hah! I think it must involve outer space, somehow.
National Geographic or History Channel?
National Geographic. I actually don't watch TV, really. Years ago, I came to a crossroads. I only had enough money to pay for the cable bill, or the internet. I went with the internet, and have never looked back.
Which technological gadget can't you live without?
I've always got a camera on my person, somewhere. I feel awkward without it, like I put my underwear on backwards and didn't realize it until I was at work. I like knowing I have the ability to photograph something if I see it. You never know if something will catch fire somewhere.
I do have a cell phone, but I keep the bare minimum, and I stubbornly refuse to upgrade. I get a new phone when the old one breaks beyond usability.
In term of video/film, next to filming documentaries, what other plans do you have right now?
I would love to work on a short narrative film, especially with my friend Jon. Maybe we can get something going this summer, when it's too hot to do anything else.
Who do you personally think has the freshest ideas within arts right now?
That's a tough question actually. There's so much awesome art out there, just when I log on to Vimeo or Flickr, I see gobs of it. It's overwhelming sometimes.
Which digital SLR is worth buying the most right now?
Any that will shoot video. I think in the next few years the line between photography and video will blur until one is hardly distinguishable from the other. There will no longer be "photographers" and "videographers" but some new beast that is both at once.
So get a body that will shoot video and start practicing now. :)
In college, did you like dealing with film theory?
Oh, I loved film theory! There was one that always stuck out in my mind, about editing vs. context. A Soviet director once took a clip of a man staring down blankly, then cut it with a shot of a bowl of soup. When an audience was shown this, they said the man was obviously hungry. He then took the exact same footage of the man looking down and intercut it with a shot of a woman in a casket. People shown this sequence said the man's grief was written across his face. It was a simple experiment, but it showed the power of editing and how context can influence how images are 'read.' Those crafty Soviets.
I sometimes try to apply some of this logic to my photography, taking scenes out a context to see if they make sense anymore. A lot of the time, I'm left with a really puzzling but oddly compelling image.
In your opinion, whose movies have the best soundtracks?
In terms of sheer listenability, it's hard to go wrong with Wes Anderson. I could take any soundtrack from one of his movies and enjoy it in it's own right, completely separate from the film. I'm not sure if I could say that about a lot of directors. Quentin Tarantino is renowned for putting together a great soundtrack, but his selections typically don't have as much life when they're taken out of the context of his movies. They certainly enhance the scene, but listening to just the soundtrack can be jarring. Wes Anderson's have a nice flow, like a good mixtape. Jason Reitman also puts together a respectable soundtrack.
It's an honour. Be sure to take a look at his flickr and deviantart!