Rebecca is a portrait photographer with a different view. When checking out her website my eye was immediately drawn to her toy and pinhole camera work, which is something that you don’t see as much of these days. It’s an interesting look so I recommend you check out her work.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a dinosaur in photo years being born in the United States, in Indiana, when JFK was president. I have a Computer Science Degree from Purdue and use that skill to make money to support my photo habit. Film Noir, biking, hiking, travel and gymnastics are a few of my interests… I hate shoes and handbags… I used to be rather shy and photography allows me to approach people that I would not usually approach to get into their world so I can document their existence.
What made you get into photography?
In 1993, my future ex-husband let me have his treasured Rolleiflex 2.8f 120mm vintage camera when I met him in Seattle. I took the Rollei back to San Francisco and orchestrated my first self portrait in front of a wall of graffiti and I was hooked. I loved that way that I was able to capture my image like no one ever had before as I was so uncomfortable in front of a camera. I started to spend alot of time at the library and galleries looking at other peoples work such as Diane Arbus, Francesca Woodman, Joel Peter-Witkin, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman, Louis Dahl-Wolfe, Clifford Coffin among others.
How did you get started?
I left my IT job in San Francisco and moved to Seattle in 1994. I had some money saved so I immersed myself in photography. I returned the Rolleiflex and bought an old 35mm Nikkormat at Jim’s Camera (an institution!) in the U District in Seattle and shot alot of Tri-X and had many, many failures.. and some exciting surprises. I would walk for hours in Seattle and shot as much as I could. I took some classes at the Pacific Northwest Photographic Center… I bought a Toyo Field Camera and Hasselblad with my savings. But a strange thing was happening.. Digital was on the horizion and I was convinced it was a passing fad… I had sunk so much $ in film, that I had to go back to IT work to pay down my camera purchases. But I kept asking interesting people if they would sit for me and let me take their portrait… Mainly it was with the Toyo which is a long process by digital standards because you are under the dark cloth, open lens, focus, close, hold still, load back, shoot and hope it turns out. Eventually people starting asking to have me photograph them and that was so cool to me.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
That’s such a funny question to me. I really thought I wanted to shoot photographs for money, but the photographs I want to take do not garner any income. It’s the one’s where I ask people that I find most satisfying to shoot. So back to IT I go again to make money to support my habit. As a result, I look for people and situations that I feel would create a unique photograph. To me, the most interesting photographs are people doing what they love to do because the walls come down and the person is at ease by being focused on a task or an event. I don’t really have one type of photography that I do mainly…. it’s what I call Moth to Light Syndrome… I gravitate toward the brightest light I see in front of me. I like to seek out the unusual but usually that is such an epic fail for me as I get so excited by the scene, I normalize it. It reminds me of factoring something down to the lowest common denominator.
What gear are you using?
Right now I am really into my Zero Image Pinhole and and freakin’ $29 Diana! After sinking so much money into my Nikon’s, Profoto, Alien Bees.. HA! I shoot with plastic or no lens… If it’s a commercial job, I use a Nikon D700. My bag has a Nikon SD-800 with a CTO 1/3 gel taped to the top, Nikkor 85mm 1.8f, Nikkor 50 1.4f, 80-200 2.8f and Nikkor 17-35 2.8f….. I have a 60mm macro 2.8f and 35 1.8f lens that I don’t use very often. And I NEVER, EVER leave home without my Minolta Flash Meter V. I meter EVERYTHING that I care about.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I grab whatever is in the front seat of the car when I see something that makes me slam on the brakes of my car… haha! If I have a shoot planned out, I will use my 85 1.8… purr…
How are you marketing yourself?
My best marketing is word-of-mouth….. because I love to talk…. about me… I use Flickr and a my web page that I built myself, but I mostly market with Facebook because of the immediacy of pushing out work. And people can glom onto it and push it for you to their friends. I have people come up to me all the time to tell me they love my work and saw it on FB and I have no idea where they saw my work.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Favorite photos are difficult because I constantly change my vision, location and what I am doing with my photography. Sometimes I even walk away from it for a while and just let my photography sit. But some of my favorite photos are from my Holga of my friend in her garden, a Pinhole of my daughter on a Port Townsend Beach and my daughter in a secret spot under the ferry dock in Bremerton taken with my D700 and 85mm 1.8f.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
This is such a difficult time to be “pro” because photography is a luxury item in this economy. But the main thing is to know your equipment, know how to meter and light a situation and develop your own style.. If you truly want to be a “pro”, go for it! Be prepared to take a lot of criticism. I give a lot of photography away for “free” if I know that it is getting into the right hands and they will market the work for you. And above all, be humble.