July 2013

August Featured Member – Kate Bohler

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 Max Hirshfeld

Interview and Photos by Max Hirshfeld

 

After receiving your BS in 2005 what was the first thing that led you to switching to further education as an artist?

I have always been interested in some type of art from a young age.  I was enrolled in drawing classes, painting classes, and even in high school and college took a few art classes.  It has always been my passion and I knew that I would want to be in the art field as my future career, I just didn’t know how or when.  Some of my family members are photographers, and one in particular inspired me to start shooting a bit.  So after graduating with my BS in 2005, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do yet and decided to pursue photography.  I signed up for a few classes and quickly realized that this was the career I wanted to pursue.

 

When you started at Art Institute was photography your first field of study? And if not, what led you into photography specifically?

Photography was my first field of study, but I did get to enjoy a wide variety of different classes while I was attending the Art Institute.

 

Who inspired you and what might be your one guiding principle that you came away with?

My inspiration was definitely one of the professors I had, and another was the former Director of Photography who also taught a few of my classes.   They taught me not only about photography, but how to build a business, how to work with others, and taught me some great lessons I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.  They were an incredible instrument in helping me get to where I am today and I am grateful for what they did to help me start my career and to help it blossom to where it is today.  One particular lesson I learned in school that has helped me a great deal in my work as a food photographer is something one of those professors always said:  “Ask yourself what if?”.   Those words have stuck with me since then and have been the greatest tool I take on shoots with me today.

 

Did you assist other photographers after school?

I did assist other photographers right after school.  I found it was the best hands-on approach to learning my craft, there is no education like one in the field assisting someone else that is a professional.  I also sat down with many photographers once I graduated to talk photography and the industry, have them look at my portfolio for some advice, and just meet my colleagues.  It was a great way to learn more about what my future may look like, but also get some hands on experience.

 

You have chosen to concentrate on shooting food. After doing this for the past few years do you see yourself branching out into still life and, say, interiors which for many photographers are often combined in what is offered to clients?

I definitely see myself branching out into still life and especially interiors, and have already had the opportunity to shoot some interiors while on my food shoots.  I think that will be vital in helping me further my career, especially when working with restaurant clients.  I think still life would be a great avenue to pursue as well, although I see that as more of a personal project at this point while I work on my food photography and learn more about shooting interiors.

 

I know you shoot with available light which allows broad freedom but has its own set of controls that need to be mastered. Tell us a little about your normal shooting approach and the kit you travel with.

I enjoy shooting with available light because it does allow me the freedom to move around easily, especially when shooting in a tight space or a crowded restaurant.  I also like the look of natural light especially while working with food, and it has been the style of photography I have enjoyed the most.  I am still learning little techniques to help control the environment I am in which is challenging at times.  When on a shoot, I look for the biggest window or most available light the restaurant/client can provide for me and work there.  If possible, I ask them to turn off the overhead lights which mix with the natural light while I’m shooting.  If not possible, I use large flags to block out the other light.  While shooting for clients or magazines, I like to have the food as close to how they would serve to customers as possible, so I don’t use many food styling items.  I use some food tricks like oil to make food look more juicy or less dried out, toothpicks to help keep a burger together, salt to give beer more head, but I like to keep it as simple and natural as possible.  I have been doing a bit of research into styling tools in case I get into commercial food photography, and will continue to work on that as personal projects.

 

Since DC has become something of a foodie’s town, are there new avenues to pursue (within that world) that might allow you to stand apart from others?

DC is a great place for me to start up my career because there are so many new restaurants, chefs, and avenues to pursue.  I think as a newer photographer the best direction for me to go is to shoot as many different types of food and lesser known places as possible.  There are always new chefs coming up with new ways to present food or cook, and that could be something that could help me to stand out apart from others.  Chefs are a big inspiration to me, and working with new and upcoming chefs could be a way to set myself and my portfolio apart from others.

 

Do you shoot personal work? Video?

I shoot some personal work now, especially during down time while I am marketing myself and finding clients.  I feel it is a great way to keep myself consistently shooting and motivated, and also helps me learn through mistakes while on my own time.  I don’t work too much with video although I took a class while at the Art Institute and would like to learn a bit more about it for my own personal and possibly professional work.

 

Finally, where do you see the future of food photography heading?

I see a lot of positive things in the future for food photography. There is more and more interest in food photography now, as well as new ways to cook and plate with all the newer young chefs coming around and developing new styles and techniques.  Especially in markets like DC, New York and Chicago, with the increase in new and unique restaurants and styles of cooking, they will always need photographers to help showcase their work.

 

More of Kate’s work can be found at www.katebohlerphotography.com

Magic Hour Happy Hour – August 14 Lyon Hall

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This Month we’re back in Virginia for the umpteenth edition of our Magic Hour|Happy Hour. This time we’re landing at Clarendon’s newest classy joint, Lyon Hall. (Check out that sign out front!) So, join us as we begin our long good-byes to the dog days of summer- meet some new people, and catch up with old friends who have been hiding from the heat all summer.

 

The When

August 14th, 6 pm to whenever-ish

The Where

Lyon Hall
3100 Washington Blvd. (Clarendon)
Arlington, VA
 
A block and change to Clarendon Station on the Orange Line.
 

The Why

You probably haven’t gotten out of the house enough recently.

RSVP on Facebook

 

Magic Hour | Happy Hour – July 2013

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Warm enough for ya yet? Summer heat got ya down? Feeling… thirsty?

Well, our friend, James Hoban has you covered! We’ll be visiting Mr. Hoban and his Irish watering hole on July 17th for yet another installment of our Magic Hour|Happy Hour, where we celebrate nature’s golden hour inside a dark bar. As always, our free happy hours are open to anyone in the photo industry and are a great way to meet new people, catch up with old friends, or avoid awkward eye contact.

 

When

July 17th, roughly 6 pm – 8 pm

Where

James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant & Bar
1 Dupont Circle NW
Washington, DC 20036
 

Why

Because it’s really really hot outside and you probably need to drink some fluids.

July Featured Member – Max Hirshfeld.

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By Timothy R Lowery

I was honored to be the APA/DC Member of the Month for May 2013. . .and one of the responsibilities of being featured is you are asked to photograph and interview the next featured member of the month.  Accordingly, I was asked to photograph and interview local photography legend Max Hirshfeld.

I had known of Max Hirshfeld’s photography for quite some time, but it was not until a few weeks ago that I had the opportunity to meet the man himself.  I received an invitation from the Hemphill Gallery to attend the opening reception of their new exhibit Artist-Citizen, Washington DC. And as fate would have it, one of the featured artists was Max Hirshfeld.  When I arrived at the gallery for the reception the first thing I saw immediately upon entering the space was an entire wall of thirty-three stunning portraits taken by Max.  He called the exhibited project ILLUMINARIES, as it featured portraits of key players in the Washington DC art scene.  I was totally mesmerized by the wall of stunning portraits. I stood there and tried to take in all the subtle nuances of each portrait. . .until finally I had to step to the side to allow others to take in the beauty of the exhibited art. Later in the evening, I had the pleasure of meeting Max and speaking with him for a few minutes about his work. As impressed as I was with Max’s ILLUMINARIES project, the warmth, sense of humor and down-to-earth nature of the man behind the project equally impressed me.

Over thirty years of advertising and editorial photography in the studio and on location coupled with his vibrant yet emotional personal work has made Max one of the best photographers working today. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, GQ, Time, Forbes and Vanity Fair and in advertising campaigns for Amtrak, Johnson & Johnson, Ikea and The US Mint.

I am honored to share the following interview with APA/DC July Member of the Month, Max Hirshfeld.

 Portraits and Interview by Timothy R Lowery

 

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Timothy R Lowery: Were there influences that steered you in the direction of photography from an early age?  

Max Hirshfeld: Most certainly my father. He gave me a camera in high school, helped me buy my first Nikon and, with my mother, built a home full of books and music.

What inspires you to take photographs?

I take picture because I have to. Pictures present themselves to me all the time so I used to feel almost guilty if I didn’t try to grab them. It’s only recently that I have learned that absorbing images is sometimes enough and that “mental lightbox” informs and aids me when I do actually push the shutter.

What was your very first professional photography job?

I was the staff photographer at The National Zoo before I turned 24.

How would you describe the evolution of your work?

During my final year in college (GWU 1973) I became enthralled with shooting 4×5 B&W images, mostly abandoned buildings and alley images…lots of texture with no soul. But at the zoo I had to embrace shooting 35mm color transparencies as well as run the darkroom. So I really came to loving photography from two distinct places. When I went out on my own in 1979 I took whatever jobs came along and quickly discovered my passion for shooting people. It wasn’t long before I moved into medium and large format work in a series of studios while still shooting 35 on the street. The advent of digital shooting has in many ways allowed me to circle back to a more organic, spontaneous way of working.

When you plan a photo shoot, do you structure everything or do you leave room for improvisation?

The best planning for a shoot is something akin to the old maxim in carpentry of measuring twice and cutting once. I feel pretty strongly about a buttoned up approach on the technical and crew side while maintaining a very relaxed atmosphere while on set. Knowing my gear, depending on dedicated and smart team members and never considering any assignment as a ‘throw-away’ allows me the most flexibility and the ability to improvise. I like to make it look easy while being in complete control; I love the adrenaline rush when I shoot, knowing the details are covered actually allows me the most freedom to create and be as fully in the moment as possible. And with the wide berth that shooting digitally affords one, taking risks is an added bonus that comes with its own comfort level.

When you receive a new assignment, or you are working on a new project, what is your typical workflow process. . .from pre-production to post-production?

My number one workflow start is a thank you to the person who has hired me. From there it seems to roll out in the following way: planning session with my producer, confirming crew, scouting a location (or hiring someone if its out of town), developing a shot list which hopefully dovetails with the lighting plan I should be devising when the job is confirmed, creating a calendar from which I can work backward filling in any holes regarding rental gear, location permits, wardrobe details, travel arrangements. Then…hopefully, we shoot. Double backup on site, download soon after wrap, archive raw files, build web galleries, initiate post-production if shoot requires outside digital services and confirm delivery schedule with client.

What significant changes in the photography industry have you seen during your career as a professional photographer that 1) excite you, and 2) concern you?

The advent of digital capture still excites me the most…the advent of digital capture still concerns me the most because it has never been easier to take a picture and never harder to stand out from the crowd.

 

If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your photography career and have a conversation with your younger self, what advice would you give?

I would tell myself to shoot more than I ever thought necessary but to also slow down, to remember that life is short, but art is long.

Finally, your ILLUMINARIES project is beautifully featured on one entire wall of the Artist-Citizen, Washington DC exhibit currently on display at the Hemphill Gallery through July 27th. Could you tell us about your inspiration for the project?

ILLUMINARIES was inspired by two things. First, by Irving Penn and two specific bodies of work: Worlds In A Small Room and the series of portraits of leaders in the art and cultural worlds in New York that was shot in his studio against a simple, two-flat set. The second inspiration was actually a combination of two weather-beaten adages: ‘shoot what you know’ and the best stories are usually in your own back yard. Like all of us I’ve watched Washington explode with restaurants, theaters, retail opportunities, apartment buildings, a certified nightlife, traffic and more. So being a student of popular culture and a fan of social media, I crafted a series of portraits that might begin to tell that story by focusing on some of the key players who give DC a healthy chunk of home-grown soul.

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© Copyright 2018, American Photographic Artists Washington, D.C.