Google+ is an amazing place that has a very strong photographer base. If you haven’t been on it I recommend you check it out, it’s been open to the public for awhile now but if you have any problems let me know. Abtin is a photographer who I found through G+ and after I saw some of his work I was very eager to get his street photography on RAW.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a design engineer by trade, designing orthopaedic implants for a company in London. I was born in Tehran, Iran, but grew up in London, UK. I’ve always been a creative individual, often sketching, drawing and painting since before I started school, right up to my early twenties.
What made you get into photography?
When I started university and eventually work, I found that I didn’t have as much time for my creative side. So I decided to experiment with Photography, an art medium which is very accessible to everyone, and doesn’t require much time. It was a logical step for me as my father has always been into photography and I’ve always had access to his old cameras. I remember in my childhood days, I used to be the one who always wanted to take the group picture, not because I was especially shy, but because I always felt I could take a much better picture than the adults in the group.
How did you get started?
I started to take photography more seriously when I bought a Panasonic Lumix LX3, an enthusiast compact camera. This camera pushed my interest further and further, and had me carrying it at all times, meaning I ended up taking capturing some very interesting, strange, and wonderful moments that occurred around me that many people were oblivious to. Being able to get quality shots at almost any moment got me thinking about the inevitable questions: “what if I had a better quality camera? and “what if I tried portraiture?”.
Eventually I bought myself a DSLR so I could answer those questions.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
The genre of photography I enjoy most is still Street Photography. However, although it can be immensely rewarding when you capture a great moment, it can also be equally frustrating when you don’t. There will be days when you spend the whole day scouring the streets and all your shots will look clichéd and contrived, or you simply won’t find anything to shoot, and you’ll wonder, “have I lost my touch for this or am I just in the wrong place at the wrong time?”
It’s a bizarre genre which will potentially make you question the space-time continuum when you get those “alternate reality” shots.
Apart from Street, I’m also prone to a bit of portraiture and urban landscape work. I have to say I’d like to be involved in more location portraiture, whether it’s strangers or (a la Danny Santos) or fashion portraiture.
What gear are you using?
Where do I start? I shoot digital and film. For my street I always carry my newly bought Panasonic GF3 which replaced the LX3. It’s a very inconspicuous camera with extremely fast focus and decent low light performance and the pancake 14mm f2.5 lens (28mm in 35mm equivalent) allows me to get very close without my subject realising I’m photographing them. I also have a selection of film cameras, one of which I almost always carry with me. These are the legendary Nikon FM3a and Mamiya Quartz ZM SLRs and the Canonet QL17 GIII and Olympus 35RC Rangefinders.
For portraiture and landscape work I use a Canon 550D with Magic Lantern firmware. It’s a great camera for the price with reliable focusing, and fantastic high ISO performance. The Magic Lantern firmware also adds some great functions for video, multi-bracketing and time-lapse photography.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I know everyone here will have a 50mm as their favourite lens but my favourite is definitely the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8. It’s not an L lens but in my opinion it’s a very versatile, sharp, fast lens that outperforms many L lenses. The only reason I think it isn’t an L lens is due to it’s EF-S only mount.
It’s excellent in low light situations, almost perfect focusing, f/2.8 throughout it’s range and also has IS. It really is the perfect kit lens replacement if you can afford it (it’s not cheap).
How are you marketing yourself?
I wouldn’t really call it marketing as I don’t profit from photography, but I’m very active on Google+. I also have a website and a photoblog which I update regularly. I do it because I love sharing my work with the community and my family and friends. I hope maybe one day I’ll sell enough prints to have covered the amount of money I’ve spent on my gear, but it’s not important as I see photography as a passion and release, rather than a profession or means of making money.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
It varies from time to time depending on my mood. Here are a few that I like at the moment.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
I’ll let you know if I ever decide to go pro. There are Street photographers who have gone pro, Eric Kim being one of the most notable within the community. It seems like the only real source of income from Street photography at the moment is organising workshops or selling prints.
Maybe one day if I ever lose my job, I’ll have a shot at going pro, until that day I’ll enjoy producing and improving my work.
Visit Abtin Eshraghi – website