Photos by Andrew Bonnenfant
Where are you located?
I live in Sacramento, California.
Do you have an affinity to anyone artistically?
I’m always finding new photographers that I dig. I recently re-discovered John Conn through this project I’m working on. Maybe it’s the skate culture that’s been ingrained in me, but I also love the work Jason Lee is doing.
So you have a unique stylistic approach to street photography. Where did you get your inspiration?
I don’t know that my style is all that unique. It’s hard to be truly unique. I think you have to go out there and take little things here and there from people who’s work you respect and make it your own.
I think it’s important to just go out and document what’s happening in your world, rather than putting such a strong focus on creating a “unique” style. Nothing we do is every truly unique in that sense, and when you force it, that comes through in your work. I just try to go out and explore and document and try to be better than I was the day before.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I’ve been shooting digital for a while now, using a FujiFilm X-T1 and a FujiFilm X100T, though some of my earlier stuff was shot with a Canon 7D. I shoot with prime lenses ranging from 28mm to 50mm. I’m also a huge advocate for iPhonography, since my iPhone is always on me. Some of my favorite photos were taking with it.
I expect to begin shooting on film again (haven’t shot on film since about 2004) within the year, and I have my eyes on a couple rangefinders and a few different medium format cameras.
What did you go to school for?
I actually studied English literature, but I picked up minors in communication design and instructional design. I’ve spent most of my professional life as a writer in one way or another, but I’ve also worked as a photographer and videographer in a professional capacity.
I’m a copywriter for a creative agency at the moment and I really dig it. I’ve been doing freelance photography and videography and editing for a while now, but I’m trying to pull back from that to start working on my own personal projects.
How do you prepare mentally for a shoot?
I don’t know that I’m ever really prepared for a shoot. It sounds awful, but I think I do my best work when I’m underprepared. I just show up and start shooting. I find that I’m more creative when the pressure is on, if that makes any sense at all.
What’s your routine for going on a shoot?
Just show up with some cameras and charged batteries, man. Drink a lot of coffee beforehand too.
Has anything happened that propelled you to where you are at or has it been a steady rate of working towards a goal?
As far as photography is concerned.. professionally, at least, I kinda fell into it. A boss of mine knew I could take photos and asked if I wanted to pursue it professionally for the company I was working for at the time. That kind of sparked my interest again, as I had sort of stopped shooting for a while.
Do you have any advice for someone just getting into photography?
I think photography can be a very intimidating hobby/profession. There’s always somebody who’s better than you. I think the thing to remember is that your eye is different everyone else, so you shouldn’t try to mimic anyone else’s style. Shoot what interests you in a way that appeals to you. Shoot for your friends. Get their feedback, both positive and negative, and go shoot some more. Learn about post-processing, but don’t forget to learn how to produce a perfect image without Photoshop. Always carry a camera with you and point it at anything and everything. Just keep shooting.
If you were alive before cameras existed, what do you think you would be doing?
What do you want to be doing in 5 years?
I’ve always wanted to work in the non-profit world. I think there’s a shift happening in that world right now, where we’re seeing content and media playing a much more important role in the way they present and market themselves. I think that’s due partly to the fact that it’s becoming easier — and cheaper — to create original content. I think it also has to do with the way people are consuming their content. It’s exciting! And if you look closely, you’ll find a lot of opportunities to contribute your own work.
Do you have any advice for anyone trying to turn a creative outlet into a career?
Don’t expect to make a lot of money. Expect to struggle. Expect to be criticized. Expect to be misunderstood. Assume that your talents will be underused and misused. Expect to be critiqued by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Expect to be frustrated. Expect to feel out of place.
It sounds terrible. And you’re not wrong to question your professional creative pursuits. But when you find the perfect workplace — and you will — it’s the most gratifying feeling you’ll ever experience.
Don’t ever give up. Keep pushing.
Know what you’re worth, and know the value you bring to any and all work situations, freelance or otherwise. It’s tough! But it’s so so so so soooo worth it. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Photos by Andrew Bonnenfant