We're going to start archiving the Spotlight 7 interviews. Starting at the beginning, which featured Brad Ross for Week 1.
Welcome Brad Ross.
1) When did you first become passionate about photography?
Photography started for me when as a high school graduation present I got a Canon Rebel EOS. It started out as a hobby but quickly became an addiction when I began to understand how to use a camera not just on auto but in manual mode. Once I was able to shape my shots and not just point and shoot I knew I was hooked. People all see the world differently and photography lets me show people how I see the world.
2) When you take a portrait, what are you trying to achieve?
A portrait to me is all about the persons eyes. They can be smiling, crying or laughing but in the end it is the eye that tells the story. I try to focus on the eye and let that be the viewers guide to understanding more about the subject.
3) What's your favorite lens for portrait work?
Canon 70-200 2.8 IS. It just produces such crisp images alongside the famous Canon bokeh to really separate the subject from the background. I always have my eyes and wallet set on the 85mm 1.2.
4) Name one person who you'd love to photograph.
It might sound a bit morbid but I would love to take photos of Charles Manson. He has the scariest most ominous eyes I have ever seen on a person. It seems to me you could have him pose in a pink nighty with teddy bears and lollipops yet still know this man was pure evil. It goes to show how much the eye can tell you about a person.
5) Have there been any influences on your photography?
Jeff Mermelstein is a NYC street photographer who I just love. I envy his ability to just go out and shoot without the anxiety of getting in peoples faces to capture the beautiful shot. He says “Don’t think too much” is the key. -It’s got to be quick. Because if you don’t do it quick, then it’s gone - and then you’re really pissed." I have taken that to heart and have recently been going out to capture street scenes with this idea. There is a wonderful documentary about him on You Tube that is worth watching if you love street photography.
6) If you could only have one camera for the rest of your life, what camera would it be?
Who doesn't want a Hasselblad H3D-22?
7) Talk a bit about the photo of Ja Rule, how you got that shot?
Working in the radio promotion industry I am lucky enough to have occasions when artists come to my office to talk about their upcoming projects. The photo sessions we do with them are very impromptu and casual and the photo of Ja Rule shows this. What I love about this shot is his relaxed look and big smile that contradict his hard core image as a rapper.
8) What is it like photographing celebrities?
There is an excitement level when shooting a celebrity because you know the image will be seen by a larger audience. I do find that the raw emotion you get though is much better with your average person. Celebrities have been photographed so many times that they are numb to the camera and that emotion shows. For this reason I like to talk to chat them up about normal every day things to try and get them out of the routine mindset they might have about photo shoots.
9) Talk a bit about the Homeless man with the cat. Were you hesitant about that shot? Do you often photograph homeless people being a NYC resident?
I normally do not take photos of the homeless unless something about the scene really draws me in. In this case the similarities between the cats eyes and scruff perfectly matching that of the man were just too much to pass up. It's another case for me of what you can see in a persons eyes. In this case the cats eyes tell the same story as that of the man.... Hungry, tired, and lonely. I also find it important when taking pictures of homeless in the city to give them food and to talk to them after taking the pictures. In this case I returned later with some chicken McNuggets and a can of tuna for the kitty.
10) Which is your favorite of the 10 photos chosen for Spotlight Seven
On the corner. To me it is such a powerful image of NYC life showing how things are always moving around you even when you are not. I love the play between the red and green lights framing the man who though perfectly still is actually conducting business on his blackberry.
Thank you Brad.
Here are the portraits by ShhPeKo being featured this week.