Sootz is an idea…
“The idea for Plato is an entity with the characteristics of immutability and perfection understood as an “ous” or as an autonomous substance or reality. The science is configured as a stable knowledge, lasting and perfect because it reflects the ideas that are immutable and perfect.”
The photos I take come from walks in Pittsburgh. It’s a split second where I have to bring the camera from my hand to my eye.
It’s a delicate balancing act that I perform to make sure I have the scene in the frame without disturbing it or alerting the subject. If I’m lucky enough, if my timing is right, if my touch is delicate and goes unnoticed… then I get my image.
What are the rules of your photographic work?
The rules are don’t hit the shutter unless I am saying something. It’s very tempting to take pictures of things that just look good. Sometimes that makes for a good warm up before a long day shooting. But continuing to hold myself to a higher standard is how I will continue to improve my art.
Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.
I force myself to go out and take at least one “good” photograph every single day. There was a particularly cold and rainy evening in January that I almost let myself slip. That is when a Stephen King quote came to mind (I may be paraphrasing here). “Amateurs wait for inspiration to strike. The rest of us just get to work.”. That attitude of hardened determination is one that has made a dramatic impact on my style, drive, and courage when I go out shooting. Get out there. Get it done. Make art. It’s not always easy, and sometimes you get lucky, but it’s all the more rewarding when you fight for it.
When you photograph with your camera do you notice the same things you notice with your eyes or do your eyes capture what the camera doesn’t allow you to look at?
An excellent question. I think that the two play off of each other very well. I have been shaped and formed to read human body language through other aspects of my life. This helps me notice emotions like Joy, Bliss, Discomfort, Confusion, Anger, Wanting, etc. It helps me notice things quickly so that I can get my viewfinder up for the shot. Conversely, the viewfinder and the limits of the frame drive my creativity. When you put constraints on yourself, you have no other option but to be creative. To do the most with what you have in that little rectangle.
Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with what tools do you use and prefer?
My first and only camera is the Fujifilm XT20 mirrorless body with 4 prime lenses. 16mm F2.8, 35mm F2.0, 56mm F1.2, and 90mm F2.0.
What do you think is highly conflicting with the concept of photography?
I think that there are certain lines that should be drawn. With street photography in particular, it is my feeling that I see a lot of “cheap shots” that are meant as crowd pleasers but are starting to come off as overdone and trite. You can go out in thr rain and take some pictures of people with umbrellas, smoking a cigarette, reading the paper, wearing an interesting hat and label yourself a street photographer. I think this is exacerbated by the use of Instagram and the emphasis on having a cohesive profile, gallery, or grid. I think this was meant to create a signature style for artists, but now it’s just pumping out more of the same. Scaring people off from taking risks with their art.
Are there any books you would recommend?
Very much so. I am a collector of photography books. I can’t get enough of Alex Webb’s “The Suffering of Light”. I go back to this book over and over. I also really enjoy everything by Joshua K Jackson, Ernst Haas, Stephen Shore, Fred Herzog and of course Saul Leiter.
Tell us about your creative process and if there are any particular techniques you use during your work.
I “listen to my eyes”. I look at the photo. Close my eyes. And open quickly to see where my eye goes first. It’s listening to your eyes because they’ll tell you what the most interesting thing in the photo is, and sometimes that can be different from what the rest of your mind and heart tell you is the most interesting. When it comes down to it though, you are not the only person who’s going to view this. Different minds, different hearts, and different interpretations of your art will pop up. Your eyes, in my opinion, are the most reliable critic to listen to in connecting with as many peoples’ eyes as possible. I try to take myself and my biases out of the equation.
What do you do with the discarded photos?
I take photos every single day and I save them all. I have a drive that I keep a photo journal of all the photos I’m taking. I organize it by the date and the location or the subject I was shooting. I feel like it’s a diary. Maybe I won’t ever post them, but I can go back every day and see what exactly I was doing or where I was.
Do you follow a particular photographer or magazine?
See above list of books lol 😂
I know you published your first book recently. Tell us a little bit about it!
What is Sootz – Before the Rest of the World Wakes Up – Chapter I?
This project was born with the intent to investigate the beauty and essence of life, under the anonymous title of Sootz, looks at the streets, anonymously capturing moments of pure humanity, unchanging, in their purest form, even in times like this past year, when the worldwide pandemic of the Covid_19 virus, seems to have destroyed more than just lives, I manage to capture moments that go beyond what we can perceive, the distance becomes only a means of perception, of a humanity far from extinction, but that represents in its entirety the materiality of time in its best form.
By purchasing this Zine you will be helping to support the Hillman Cancer Center charity.
Limited edition copy of 50 pieces in pre-order.