Interview With Inmyeye

Discussion in 'Member Interviews' started by Streetshooter, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith has accepted my request for an interview. This will be somewhat different from the other interviews that I have done because I want to discuss some images. They will be posted in the thread and then a conversation will take place.

    So.... Keith

    Question 1

    What was your first real introduction to photography? Not the one that got away but the one that you couldn't get away from.
     
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  2. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    Don, I worked for many years in advertising and I had alot of exposure to photography in an advertising sense. Photography in a general way was very familiar to me.

    I think my first "real" introduction to photography as I practice it now, was about 6 years ago when I decided to take my camera and hit the street. I wanted to photograph people, people as they are, people in a real sense, in the classic documentary style. The first time I went out I came across a group of young guys protesting in front of the Mercury Theatre on the North Side of Chicago. I stopped and chatted with them, I wanted to find out what their story was. They felt they had been treated unfairly by the owner of the theatre and were protesting this unfair treatment. I talked with them a while and then took a few shots, one of which turned out quite nicely and I was hooked. I realized that I enjoyed talking with them. I enjoyed the interaction with these strangers, and the process of capturing this moment of reality with my camera.

    From that point on, I decided that was I wanted to do. I wanted to sharpen my people skills, to learn how to talk with people and photograph those moments of reality that make up our/their daily lives. I wanted to capture the actors in the "Theatre of Life" as it is.
     
  3. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Thanks Keith.

    Question 2
    So when you started working on a more personal level did you have a realization that something inside you was waking up?
    Also, if I may add to that question, what do you think photography has stirred in you?
     
  4. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    As I said before, I have many years experience in advertising, so I always had an appreciation for what makes photography good. Composition, color etc., but I had always thought of photography as a tool for advertising not as a vehicle for (my) personal expression.

    As I began to hit the streets of Chicago, I realized that I was no longer constrained by what a client wanted, or what product was being marketed, but the only limitations would be those that I imposed on myself. I had the freedom to take the pictures I wanted, to see what I could see, to photograph what really moves me.

    People are the actors in the "Theatre of Life" and I knew I wanted to capture the people of Chicago. Ordinary people. I realized that the skills that had served me so well in advertising were also the skills I needed to accomplish that.

    I have always been a "people" person. It is a natural ability for me. The ability to talk with people, to set them at ease. You wouldn't know it from my personal picture (lol) but I think it also has something to do with the face.

    On a personal level, the whole experience has moved me and continues to move me in so many ways. Excitement. The excitement of no limitations, the thrill of the moment. Pleasure. The pleasure of working the street, seeing the moment and capturing it. Seeing. Seeing things that others might not even notice. Patience. You can go out one day and never see anything that moves you that day. Listening. Probably the single most important thing to accomplishing what I want to do. Fear. Yes, fear. Wondering if the images are good enough. Will anyone else "see" my vision? Will anyone even care?
     
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith,
    Thanks for the concise reply. I know it appears the questions seem similar but I am probing the more personal approach of your vision.

    I notice in much of your work that you seem to have a kind of up front open vision. Many of your subjects appear to be looking at US, the viewer, without the awareness of the camera and it's process. Then in other images, there's a more distant but yet connected observation, where your presence is felt.

    My next question will address both parts of your last answer.

    Question 3

    Keith,
    How do you overcome the Fear Factor in your work,
    2 parts. 1st, the portraits and your steady eye contact.
    2nd, The fear of the final image and what you do to continue?
     
  6. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    No problem Don. I knew early on that I didn't want to take random photographs of strangers walking on the sidewalk. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just not my style. I am an up-close kind of guy. I wanted to get close to people. Robert Capa said "If your pictures are no good, get closer."

    1.) It goes back to part of my earlier answer. Actually, it comes to me fairly easy. I worry that this sounds pompous, but I don't mean it that way at all. It's just a fact. We all have natural abilities, mine have been a blessing. There is something about my face, my demeanor, my method of intiating conversation that has allowed me to establish a certain level of trust with my subjects rather quickly. They can tell (somehow) that I am not there to just use them. I actually DO care about people. I WANT to talk to them. I WANT to hear what's on their mind. That's what life is all about. Millions of people with millions of stories.

    Conversation with my subjects, and in particular, listening is very important to what I try to do. Even if a particular subject agrees right away to my taking their picture, I chat with them. Everyone has something on their mind, I try to get that out of them. That's where listening is so important. Most people wish someone would listen. I do. It sets them at ease with me. As we talk they become more and more comfortable with me and my camera. They tend to forget about the camera. That's when I photograph them. When a subject is at ease with you and your camera, it is much easier to get a natural photograph. They trust me. It's all about that trust.

    That's it in a nutshell. Conversation, patience, respect, listening to what someone wants to say, this establishes a quick bond with my subjects. I've gotten "natural" photographs of people on the street with my Fuji medium format rangefinder and that's not easy to do, the Fuji is not exactly an unobtrusive camera :)

    I had a wonderful experience early on photographing a gentleman that encouraged me in that direction. That encounter showed me what I need to do. That experience emboldened me to approach people I don't know. It also led to an image that is one of my personal favorites. I have had a complete stranger, a woman, sit down across from me on the train, we chatted a little and within a few minutes she told me all about her childhood growing up in a small town in Iowa. It must have been on her mind and she was comfortable enough with me to tell the story. I hope that explains how I do what I do.

    2. Fear. Not really an issue anymore. As I said earlier, when I first started out I had those fears. Now I have become comfortable enough with the process not to worry about it. I have gotten enough feedback from people over the last few years to realize that somewhere I have moved someone on some level. I have gotten emails from people telling me that they were moved to tears by some of my images. David Vestal once said "Take the pictures you want, take pictures for yourself and don't worry about the rest." He was right. You can't worry about EVERYONE liking your photographs. If just one or two people see my photographs and are inspired or emotionally moved by them, that's a blessing. What's to fear?
     
  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith,
    It's obvious that you are in touch with your inner self/vision. It's also obvious that The Human Condition lurks inside you as well as outside and effects your trigger mechanism.

    Question 4

    Are you aware of your triggers and could you explain what you think they are. Could you explain how you came to recognize them? This is not just the complete subject but the part that jumps out at you and reaches your Eye, Heart or Mind or even all 3.
     
  8. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    That's a tough question Don. For me it is so much an instinctive thing that it is hard to break it down into specific triggers. For me, it could be the way a subject is sitting, the way a subject is standing, the setting that a subject is in. It could be the light and shadows. Maybe it is something I see in their face, the character I see there, or something in their eyes that moves me. As I sit and talk with that particular subject maybe something in their story causes me to look at them differently. I have seen a person standing across the street and that instinct told me to go. Why? There was something in the way the gentleman was standing there smoking. I wound up having a great conversation with him and got some wonderful photographs. So you see, I don't have a "list" of specifics that I adhere to. I walk, I look, and let it happen if it was meant to be that day.

    It's hard to for me to be more specific. There is some combination of the "triggers" I mention above, that combine at that moment in time to make me instinctively "feel" that I want to photograph this particular person. An instinct that moves me toward the moment.
     
  9. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith,
    I think you answered well. Triggers are not always mechanical.
    The important thing is to connect to, the eye, mind and heart.
    Your triggers seem to be from the eye and heart and then the mind enters and does the work. I think you described your triggers rather well.

    Question 5

    Can you explain a little about your after capture.
    I mean about your editing and processing decisions.
    Do you notice a "rephotographing" in your editing? I mean,
    sometimes there's an image that was made and then in editing, it seems to be a surprise in a way but yet you were aware of making it but the rephotographing on editing brings it to life. I call these images, Ttransitional Images".
    They normally lead the way to another approach along a theme of work.
    I know this is a lot but I think your up to it.
     
  10. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    I would begin by saying that my rule for processing images is "Simplify" I use Adobe Photoshop Elements for editing scans or digital captures. I used the full version of Photoshop for many years, but I find it too much of a memory hog and the program has hundreds of features I would never use.

    Whether a scan or digital capture I tend to keep it simple. Usually a small levels adjustment, possibly a small noise removal, and a light sharpen if I think it is necessary. I don't really care for special effects. I do use Nik Silver EFX for black and white conversion, it is the best conversion I have seen. For color, I use Nik Color EFX sometimes to add grain to my images. I think it goes back to my use of film for so long, I like a little grain in my images.

    As far as "rephotographing" images, I would say I really haven't seen a need for that. Going back to my advertising experience, I am a concept driven guy. I think in terms of concepts, so I pursue that concept completely. I never go out and take random photographs. So, I am rarely if ever surprised by what I get out of the camera. I focus on my concept and photograph to that end. I have had to "shoot" quickly sometimes to get an image I wanted, and was pleasantly surprised that I did, and like most photographers I have had plenty of disappointments of images that I really wanted, but for one reason or another did not turn out.

    I do crop my images. Cropping is a necessary evil in my opinion. I may see or feel that I could have gotten closer to my subject, so I will crop to that effect. Also, I may see something or and object in an image that I think is not necessary or may actually detract from the image, so I will crop it out.
     
  11. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith,
    Again thanks.
    There's one image in particular that haunts me.

    [​IMG]

    This image is very powerful on many levels. It reminds me so much of the work from the FSA during the Great Depression.
    I can see a very strong connection to that group of photographers. Their influence shines through your work in a way that I haven't seen in many years.
    I could write an essay on this image but the thread is about you more than me so.....

    Question 6

    Keith,
    Can you explain a few photographers/artist that have influenced you and your work. Could you also describe how you think these influences effected you and your work?
     
  12. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    The FSA photographers have influenced me very much. Photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Roy Stryker. That group of photographers did such a great photographic work. I always admired that straight up black and white documentary style of the FSA photographs. I purposely photograph in black and white for the most part because it is such a pure form of photography. Nothing but the subject, tonality and light. No color to distract. Other photographers that have particularly moved me are Gary Winogrand, David Vestal and of course Elliot Erwitt. Erwitt has captured the "Human Condition" so well, yet managed to keep a sense of humor.

    The FSA group photographed America as it was (is). No special effects. Their motivation was not to take images that people look at for a few seconds and say "Cool!", but rather images that show the "Human Condition," images that make you stop and really look. My intention was never to copy those ideas, but rather as a starting point for what I hope is my own vision.

    I wanted to photograph people as they are. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, vulnerable, angry, down and out, joyful. So each of those photographers has inspired me in that they took the photographs that needed to be taken. They weren't concerned with pleasing the crowd, but with telling the story in it's purist form.

    The woman in this image, her name is Kim. I saw Kim on Madison Street in Chicago on several occasions. I stopped and talked with her to find out her story. She had worked as a home care worker and the patient had passed away, and now she was down on her luck, unable to get work. I gave her some money to help out. I stopped and talked with her three more times. We would chat about everything. By the third time that I stopped to talk with her, she trusted me. She knew me, and knew that I cared about her plight. She was sitting next to a translite advertisment for what shall remain an unamed bank, and i couldn't help but notice what the message on the translite said. I knew that if I could, I wanted to get that message in the shot. It is one of those moments that presents itself, and most likely never will again. A combination of time and space and subject that come together perfectly. So, in that way the image that you see was very purposful.

    I told her that I was photographing people in Chicago and would she mind if I took her picture. She looked at me and then said yes, it was ok. I asked her to move a little to her right, she did, and she posed that way herself. Lifting the sign up until all you could see are her eyes. I like that. I took a few shots, making sure to frame her with the message "what will you become?" and this is my favorite. Dead on, black and white. People in the background hurrying past her, not even noticing her and her condition. I think you get the message.

    I have found that most people will choose a "pose" if you want to call it that, and that "pose" speaks volumes about who they are, what they are thinking or their plight. I never tell anyone how to "pose." When a subject is comfortable with me, they will show their character in how they sit or stand, their body language, their facial expressions. That is what I am after. I don't take "cool" photographs, but images that I hope will move people on a much more emotional level.

    I haven't seen Kim in a while. It's like that on the street. People come and go and you never know for the most part what ever happened to them. In that respect it can be sad sometimes.
     
  13. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith,
    I guess my old tired eyes still don't fail me.
    I could see Walker in your vision. That's a great thing my friend.


    The image of Kim, the thing that gets me the most that would go unnoticed... is her shoes and the relationship to the dark legs of the unaffected busy people hardly noticing her and that sign. Her shoes too are dark.
    If those legs walking by took notice... It could be them sitting there...

    Question 7
    Have you published or exhibited your work. If so, where and how.
    If not, do you plan something in the future?
     
  14. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    Thanks Don. So far I have exhibited my work only once. A well known Italian photographer Salvatore Piermarini who is connected with the Government Institute of Art in Italy, saw my images online and contacted me. Over the last couple of years we have become good friends. Last year, Salvatore graciously invited me to send 4 of my prints to him in Rome for exhibition and auction to benefit the survivors of the earthquake in the city of L'Aquila in Italy. I was, of course, more than happy to contribute to the cause.

    Beyond that, I had not given that much thought to the publication or exhibition of my photographs, concentrating more on the photography itself for the time being. However, I have been thinking about that more lately, and will probably pursue both publishing and exhibition ideas over the winter. Of course, my images are available to any private collector who is interested.
     
  15. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Keith,
    Thanks for the answers. If you have a statement of any kind or something else you'd like to comment on, put it in the next post and then I'll check things over and publish the interview....
    Don
     
  16. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    Thank you Don. I appreciate the opportunity to speak, and share my feelings, and hopefully my vision with the other photographers here on mu-43. It is my hope that other photographers will have the chance to pursue their vision also, whatever that may be. Thanks again Don.
     
  17. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Thank you Keith. It was an interesting conversation.

    If any members would like to ask a question or so, please post on the thread and it will get answered as soon as possible.
    Please allow for the world clock to catch up....
    shooter
     
  18. Vidar

    Vidar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    545
    Dec 31, 2009
    Bergen, Norway
    Interesting interview, thanks!
     
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  19. oceans

    oceans Mu-43 Regular

    29
    Jul 28, 2010
    Very interesting read. Thank you both!

    Keith,

    On color vs black and white. Do you always decide which to use on a particular day or for a particular project, and then use that exclusively?
    If not, do you sometimes intend for one but switch to the other somewhere along the process, either before or after the exposure(s)?

    Regards,
    Thomas
     
  20. inmyeye

    inmyeye Mu-43 Regular

    77
    Feb 27, 2010
    Chicago-USA
    Thanks Thomas. I decide depending on the project. I have always had a soft spot for black and white. On the street I prefer black & white-no color to distract, for me a more "honest" or "gritty" look at what I am trying to capture.