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Interview with Kevinparis

Discussion in 'Member Interviews' started by Streetshooter, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin has accepted the invitation for an interview.
    We will explore what photography means to Kevin.
    At the end of the interview, members will be encouraged to ask Kevin questions of their own.

    Let's get started.
     
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin, Thank you for agreeing to this interview.
    Please take your time with your answers.
    There is no pressure.

    Question 1.

    Kevin,
    What inspired you to become a photographer?
     
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    apologies for not realising the interview had started :)


    too late tonight formulate and answer... but stay tuned

    K
     
  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Putting aside the fact that i think of myself as some one who takes photographs as opposed to a photographer, i don't think there is a single point of inspiration.

    I grew up in a artistic family, father is a graphic designer, sister is an actress. There were cameras around when i was growing up and I was never discouraged from using them.

    I have had phases of taking photographs, the first being at University in the late 70's , where i spent some of the first grant cheque on an clunky Russian SLR and started taking pictures of fellow students at parties, shooting in B/W and developing them in the bathroom.

    Post University, I progressed to having a Nikon EM and stopped doing the darkroom stuff, using the camera to record holidays and parties, shooting in colour. In amongst these 'happy snaps' I suppose there were some more artistic shots, but these weren't taken with any plan - it was if i saw something i took the shot and that was it.

    I suppose the turning point was probably 10 years ago when i got my first digital camera - a tiny Canon Ixus.

    I had a new job with Apple, and was travelling a lot, and wanted something that I could take everywhere and document what i was seeing around me.

    Of course having access to a laptop and the latest and greatest in software also helped. The instant gratification of digital was a big thing for me - I am an impatient person.

    I shot with a Canon 10D for a couple of years before replacing it with the Olympus 510 a couple of years ago.

    Meeting Cam 5 years was also I suppose an inspiration - she started to get into photography, and encouraged/pushed me to spending a little more money on lenses than i would have normally.

    The last 18 months have probably been the most intensive photographically for me - and it is no coincidence that it coincides with what was a long drawn out divorce from Apple.

    I have acquired a whole bunch of legacy lenses, as well as the E-P1 and a 5D Mk2 - I have discovered the gratification of sharing photos on Flickr and forums, and looking forward, with no fixed plan, beyond a move from Paris to Ghent in Belgium, maybe I will stop being someone who takes photos and actually become a photographer
     
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin,
    Very interesting answers. They cover a lot of history. I find it interesting that you don't consider yourself a photographer but someone who makes pictures.

    Question 2.

    So while you are making photos, do you notice any recurring themes in your work?
     
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I suppose in my head a 'photographer' is someone who does it for a living, a professional who depends on their skills , either technical or artistic to pay the bills.... I am not one of those.

    I may have some of the artistic or technical tools that a professional photographer has, but i don't use them regularly enough to become confident enough in my own abilities to charge somebody for them.

    I take photos for myself whereas i think a 'photographer' takes photos for someone else

    I don't know that i think in themes per se - there are elements I am always looking out for, like Vespa scooters, cracks in pavements, bicycles and many others. These are just things i look for when I am out walking with a camera.

    A theme to me implies that there is an underlying story I am trying to tell, and I don't think I am there yet. I absolutely believe in the idea of telling stories with images, words, music - just not sure I have found a story i want to tell through pictures alone

    I take photos that visually interest me - sometimes this is done to explore the characteristics of a lens, other times its more about the composition.

    I trained as an Industrial designer, and worked in graphic design so I suppose i do have a certain aesthetic that I follow.

    I do like strong graphic compositions, and do seem to be able instinctively recognise when a picture looks 'right'.

    You have looked at some of my work - do you recognise any themes ?


    cheers

    K
     
  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin, to answer your question, yes I do see a few things.
    You have a very keen sense of design elements. Maybe you call them graphic because of your background but it's design nonetheless. This is a theme that runs thru much of your work. The other thing that makes a strong presence is, timing. It's obvious that you compose the graphic of the images and then wait for the right moment when it comes together for you. Are these themes, well, I suppose in a way they are. They are a method to activate your triggers.

    Question 3.

    Your girlfriend Cam is a photographer also. How does the photographic relationship work between the two of you?
     
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Hate to bust your bubble of my waiting for the perfect timing.. but i am not conscious of doing that. More likely i can identify the shots afterwards that work :)

    Regarding Cam, while we both share the interest in photography, our approaches are almost polar opposites.. she shoots rangefinder... I cant get comfortable with those cameras. She can spot the moment.... I don't. She curses missed shots... i move on

    We rarely shoot together... and if we do I am assigned to get the coverage while she does the art shots :) We rarely share our photos except when we publish them to the web

    We can share a common vocabulary up to a point , but she sees/defines things i don't in terms of lenses and image quality.On the other hand I am eternally grateful for her collection of Leica lenses which she lets me use when the mood takes me.

    I think it highlights the fact that photography is a personal thing - taking photos as opposed to being a photographer is about self expression....

    cheers

    K
     
  9. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin, that's an interesting statement. I wouldn't think that it would be a conscious act. I would assume that it just happens naturally.

    Question 4.

    Kevin,
    Are you aware of any trigger mechanisms in your work and if so could you name a few. Could you also explain how you found them?
     
  10. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I have seen you talk about 'trigger mechanisms' in some of your other posts... and I am not sure i quite understand what you mean.... maybe i have them but don't realise it.

    To me there is a trigger to be pulled to even get into the act of taking a photo.

    I don't shoot every day. Indeed I can go for long periods without taking any shots at all or if i do they are universally bad. But sometimes there is a trigger that makes me take a lot of shots with a much higher keeper rate.

    I usually find this happens when i am in a new environment and without a set purpose beyond taking pictures

    A recent example of this as a trip to Berlin, where I was on a adventure as Olympus had invited me to be interviewed for possible inclusion in a ad campaign... i didn't make the cut, but i found myself in a place i had visited before, but with the free time i would not have had in the past.

    Over a space of 24 hours i took 250 pictures of which 11 thought worthy enough to put on my flickr page. It was the combination of being in a location and the lack of any other thing to do that freed up he photographic process

    What the trigger is for composing a picture is different -sometimes it is recognising a graphic image or something that amuses me that makes me take the shot, other times its me playing the role of being a cartier bresson/doisneau/Ronis style street photographer.
     
  11. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Question 5.

    Kevin,
    Do you notice that you work in any specific genre'? I don't mean to label what you do but more to define how you think and feel when you work.
     
  12. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    In photography, as with almost everything i do I think of myself as a generalist.

    A line i use to describe my 'talents' is that I will never play Carnegie Hall, but I am more like a half decent pub pianist who can hack out a satisfying tune.

    This applies i suppose to all my creative aspects, design, photography, writing, with the obvious ironic exception of music - despite years of trying, and all the toys i could ask for I still suck at making music :)

    Sometimes i go out with the E-p1 and play at being street photographer, other times if i know I am going to something like the end of the Tour de France, I will take the equipment thats appropriate for that - the E510 SLR and the 50-200 zoom and play at being a sports photographer.

    I suppose there are areas I haven't explored too much, just because they don't interest me that much, like landscape or macro work. I would would like to do more portrait stuff, but don't think I have the patience to do studio work.

    My workstyle I suppose is more reactive than proactive in that if I find myself in a situation I will do what is needed to capture that, and then move quickly to delivering it. The time between taking a shot and having it up on flickr has to be short.

    I find this too with the video work I have been doing more of - I have to shoot, edit and deliver quick for it to remain interesting to me - I need a deadline - even a self imposed one

    cheers

    K
     
  13. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Thanks Kevin,
    So it seems that Instant Gratification plays a big part in your process. I suppose that's one of the biggest advantages working digitally. Shoot, process and deliver to your audience in a very organized, short period of time.

    Question 6.

    What is the distance to your subject you are most comfortable with while working?
     
  14. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    yes instant gratification is my default way of working... as regards to distance to subject I am definatley more comfortable shooting at the 6 to 10 foot distance, if not longer. I would love to be more Bruce Gilden in your face - but I don't have the courage.

    It also depends on the subject matter - I will go closer when the scene is more relaxed or when the subject matter is an inanimate object.

    I suppose as a result of shooting legacy lenses on the E-P1, that I have got used to shooting in the 70-100-150mm range, though i do find I am enjoying the 17mm on the E-p1 and the 35mm on my Canon

    K
     
  15. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin, That's a good working distance.

    Question 7.

    How do you feel about being photographed?
     
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I think most photographers are uncomfortable being photographed... and I am no exception. Though I will admit to doing self prortraits to test out new lenses... thats mainly because Cam refuses point blank to be photographed... even for testing purposes.

    Interestingly I was photographed by a pro - part of my little adventure with Olympus in Berlin being tried out unsucessfully for an ad campaign.

    It was the whole studio lighting, music playing semi austin powers type scene...all in all very odd but enjoyable experience -
     
  17. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    That's a common funny thing about photographers, most hate being photographed by others but will do self portraits. It's probably a trust and control issue.....

    Question 8.

    When it comes to actual photography, do you have a preference for either analog or digital? Please explain your preference also.
     
  18. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    oh absolutely digital - been there, done that with analog. Actually went and bought a scanner and then developing tanks last year - bought a leica Cl and an OM-1 - went through the process and while there is still a sense of wonder on seeing that developed negative... for me I get better images quicker with digital than i ever got with analog

    People talk about 'the look' of film... and maybe some people can see that - I am not one of them...I am sure you could fool 99% of the world by making a digital image look analog

    To me its the quality of the image thats important more than the image quality and that applies whether its digital or analog... Digital just makes it easier to obtain.. I take more pictures digitally than i did on analog. I make more mistakes because i take more pictures - but in turn i get more 'good' shots

    I don't take photos for the process - i take photos for the image... and digital allows me to do that
     
  19. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Kevin,
    That's a great answer. It's nice to see that you really understand the process and the differences between the 2. I am with you, I love digital imaging......

    Question 9.

    Are you aware of creating a legacy with your photography? What would you like those in your future to get from your work?
     
  20. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Not sure i would define it as a legacy which to me implies that somehow in the future somebody would gain some benefit or insight. I don't see my work as being that important... its just a record of my journey through life

    There is a very tangible pleasure in somebody commenting on a photo, as it indicates that there has been some level of communication established.

    We live in an interesting time where photos or indeed any form of communication can live in a global environment accessible by all for an indeterminate length of time. In the past images and words could remain locked in somebodies drawers and never been seen.

    The act of sharing your work has become easier,but the counter to that is that there is a lot more stuff out there. I think the day of the iconic image has probably passed. there are too many photos being taken

    K