#106 A hatful of ideas
Photography Daly City portrayed photographer bill. Wortman is back for the final time today in his three-party, and we talk invention how for some photographers like bill it's the unknown. It's the learning that keeps you creatively fresh for me. It's about doing something I. Don't know how to do. In this case I. Don't know how to direct movies I don't know how to write. So as a matter of sitting down and just writing dialogue and trying to do something, I don't know how to do this. Then we do where we make pitches is not something he sees ending anytime soon there's a lot. Of, people who say, Oh, I can't wait till I can become sixty five or seventy active retired. It's like I don't want to retire I like doing what I do. I've never been on a portrait job that I didn't enjoy Lizzo is the competition to remind you that it's important to try maintain your edge to practice and to enjoy practicing. But there are people who I know who are some friends of mine who all look at their the Oh God why did she take that picture? That's amazing. We talk about bill's newfound love with conceptual were a lot of surrealism they. A lot of them end up being sort of based on dreams or different things like that. That that some people have this become his new injection of creative energy and I was like, Oh, you'll be amazing if we had you climbing that water tank. We were just gonNA use the roof as is. Tank made me think about somebody climbing up towards the sky and that made me think it'd be really fun if she was reaching toward something and. It ends up being a step by step process woman is on today's show. Before we start my sincere thanks to 'EM PB supporting the show now and helping us get word out about it. Trading thousands of cameras and lenses every week across Europe and the US MPP they checked they great. They photograph every single item and add a six warranty in as well. So you can be sure of what's in the box give their site that blogger visit today's MP dot com view looking for Gero. Perhaps, you're wanting to sell some gear and there's a piece on that. Today called meritless for Mobility Link to today's show notes on our website to due to a health issues. Photo journalist, Joe Plumbridge is saying goodbye to her heavy weights diesel kit. So MP be asked her to trout three murless solutions. The cannon else are then there was the Fuji film s t three and the Sony a seven three. We can read the article and understand. Why Joe chose what camera she did from that esteemed line. So today Bill Waldman is my guest and it's been a real thrill to serialized three chats with him in the city that has many respected commercial portrait photographers earned his dues and success since hitting the headlines with three, six, five, the went viral three years before instagram showed up to champion that kind of project. His the Kinda photographer who likes to show he's subjects inside out. He's a thinker researcher his thorough even down to the computers he uses in fact when I was reading more about him, there was the suggestion it wasn't enough just to buy a Mac. He didn't want anything of the shelf he could probably or possibly construct himself the sign of an accomplished auto die DAX. is taken this learning into the studio as he thinks if he's portrayed subjects as an opportunity to learn to, he's the proverbial learning sponge, and if you had a visit bills studio will hot him on location. Johnson be part of his question thirst for knowledge is he prompts you fascinated by the workings of your life you'll vocation and what makes you take personally It's an approach that works well for bill many photographers including the lack small recently photographic portrayed history of Plateau ranking but he mentioned to photography that I want to reference who have. Different approach. Yousef Karsh, who famously removed a cigar from Winston Churchill's mouth to make an iconic picture. Perhaps the iconic picture of Britain's wartime prime minister. It's a familiar reference within portray photography, of course, and then there's his reference referenced. Richard Avedon to the famous American fashion portray photographer working in the late fifties with the former king of England the monarch who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite in. The session with the newly titled. Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Avenue wanted to tell a story that he felt hadn't been told with a portrait. There wasn't the state typical well practiced media. Smile. The couple were so well versed in doing like Karl she wanted to tell a story with his portray that extended further than framed pleasantries he wanted to show their social pressures, a deeper percents of conflicted. We knew the couple of dogs and concocted a complete story about how a taxi journey out to meet the Duke and Duchess his driver had managed to miss a dog that ran out in front of the car. He'd run it over in the street killing it immediately. The couple paused looked decidedly uncomfortable visibly disturbed by his lie but Avidan had calculated the response, the Duke and Duchess flinched Avidan clicked causing sensation as many people across the globe the capture. Avidan is convinced it showed the side to the couple that was important to show. There are many ways to capture the nature, the essence of a person, and of course, linked to build site today, and you can look into the eyes of his subjects and read what story Waldman has brought you with each character. Bilas, we've identified in our series of chats is very much into theater portraits of actors in wonderfully active shutters dragged across the images of dance movement. There are strong part of the overall body of work within his website portfolio and he's been working on a project that identifies with his love of business portrait's even in these times. The big thing in New York right now is that that all these things are shut down including Broadway. So I know some people who are Broadway performers and both actors on stage singers and also. Musicians and tech people and all the rest of it and I thought it'd be really interesting to take some portraits of these people at their theaters while the theaters are closed outside the theaters you know So I've done five or six of them now going to times square and what's really interesting in the last month that I've been doing them there are way more people I when did one yesterday? There's way more people in times. Square. Than there were when I started there was no one there a month ago, and now there's people they're not times square in the summertime normally but. People You'll show films by the way beautifully, well written Rut right up the top enough about the one titled Interview which is Defense. When he comes to a link to it has a super twig I'm going to spoil I won't be able to go. On a monochrome which he did a few years ago actually that that's A super dare is as well. It's an important time isn't it to be able to embrace multiple skills I think moving moving ahead? Now's of photographer. Yes for me it's it's kind of goes back to the autodidact thing where I like to learn things that I don't know how to do and I like to figure that out myself. So for me, it's about doing something. I don't know how to do in this case, I. Don't know how to direct movies. I don't know how to write. So as a matter of sitting down and just writing dialogue and trying to do something I, don't know how to do and the funny thing about it is that I've actually in some ways I love shooting stills but right now I'm reading another short film. And a more excited about that than I am about the stills that I'm taking. I'm not saying that I know everything how to do is stills, but I know how to take pills I like to take. where I don't know how to make movies the way I like to make them because I've only made a handful of them so Let me explore that a little bit and there's a there's a built-in collaborative process with. especially, narrative filmmaking where it's like you have to trust the actors you know you have to trust whoever you have running your camera. You have to trust that I have to work with other people and I have to make things with other people entrusted. They're going to be good at their job and I'm going to be good at mine. There's one called partners that's also on there, which was the first one that I made and I remember a friend of mine who's also Director was just like Oh. You know like you didn't give them much that much direction I mean I would make comments between takes but I wasn't really pushing them and he was like Oh i you know I would really push them. I was like they were giving me what I wanted. I don't need to make my voice known in less it needs to be known. You know what? I mean it's like a there's a sense of trying to maybe it's just getting older. That I that I WANNA trust. Other people in late let a little bit of weight off my back. You know. Maybe you. Max instead of making them in that case Oh actually I have I should change that. I'm talking to you on macro right now there's actually the first desktop Mac that I've ever owned thirteen years after launch you you know what? For some of the biggest clients internationally, it's the work ethic that served you well, and and that's a difficult thing to get across. Sometimes in this you know I won't everything now instagram kind of well, you know sharp let me have my fame and fortune my skills and I want them on a plate and on the now you've worked for Avenue I. Think. So yeah in fact I'm not I'm not a huge fan of Instagram, I'm on there I did my daily wadden three, sixty, five series on there. All right. Like I don't post that often not particularly good at it. I don't have that many followers I feel like it's not a great izard instagram sometimes feels like sort of spotify of photography. You know what I mean in the sense that. Yeah lots of people can see your stuff, but you're not actually making a living from stuff that people are seeing necessarily. Yeah I mean I think that it's it's sort of a slow and steady wins. The race kind of thing you know are there people who come out of nowhere and have been shooting for a year and a half that make me want to throw my camera off the bridge? Sure. But then again, it may be that I'm seeing the best three pictures they've ever taken I'm seeing them. You know it's like going back to that kind of thing I tried to not look at too many people other people's work too often because I, do get sad and I do get frustrated and I do get envious. So I found that while there are people who are sort of heroes of mine and I don't feel like, I'm in competition with them. I don't feel like I'm in competition but Dan winters. But there are people who I know who are some friends of mine who all look at their work all God. Picture that's amazing. That makes me mad. And I'll have to look at it for a while because I'll be so upset about it. You know. But you know what? I'm sure that there are people looking at my work or your work that are saying the same thing I mean you you don't know you know because I get emails from people all the time that that say, Oh, my God, you're work. So Amazing Blah Blah Blah, Bob. Thank you very much. You know and so you don't know how other people are seeing you. That's the other weird thing about social media, right that like just the way that people understand who you are. Based upon a of photographs of other people you know is really interesting. There's a big part of this though that is kind of putting on a show one thing going back to the beginning of the on taking pictures. Jeffrey and I were a hundred percent I mean we were raw like we didn't pull any punches about our lives and like our feelings and whatever it is like we lay it all out on the line. We certainly weren't up there standing saying everything's perfect our world and our business is great and whatever you know because putting on that kind of Pastiche doesn't make any sense to me. You should who you are. And I think a lot of social media is about putting on a front like this impervious front, a lot of times and to me. It's artificial. It doesn't make any sense to me but what about what about graph? Those? It's taken the time to get to where you are. I'm not as that's been hard work isn't it? Yeah absolutely and a lot of ups and downs. Yeah. you know I mean I. Certainly, you also have to remember that I entered the professional photographic world around two, thousand, seven, two, thousand, eight there right before the entire world economy crashed for three years out there was wasn't the best timing not the best timing at all and you know it goes it goes up and it goes down and there's you know times when there's not a lot of work and then there's times when you're. Hopping on airplanes flying all over the place trying to do something you know. So it's really I tend to think of at least the paid work as when it comes it comes I have my agent. Happy Blue Call Me. But in the meantime, I have to not really think about that all that much. And just keep making stuff for me. You know there's a lot of people who say, Oh, I can't wait till I can become sixty five or seventy. I could retire like I don't want to retire I like doing what I do I've never been on a portrait job that I didn't enjoy Zach Ryan you know yeah. Like his I don't shoot stuff that I don't WanNa shoot you know like I don't shoot engagement portraits and I don't shoot you know weddings or anything like that, and I don't shoot events like the stuff I shoot is We need a picture of Neil for this magazine or we I'm this author and I'm coming out with my new book and you please, photograph me. That stuff. Absolutely I'll spend two hours with you talking about your book and then take some pictures in the meantime but I. I think in some ways you know there are a lot of people who take portraits and that will I mean like even the humans in new. York guy where he'll, oh, let's get intimate and tell all the story that the person is saying and then the pictures with this. For me the conversations I have with people tend to get really deep into the weeds with them about their mental state. But to me that's privileged conversation and I want that intimacy to come out in the photograph. Yeah I don't WanNa, have to have implicit and say, Oh, we were talking about her divorce from her husband or whatever it is. It's like no if you can see something in her eyes and that makes a connection with you because we were talking about the divorce, the reason divorce with her husband I feel like. Using that as a motivator for the image is fantastic. There's enough commentary not alone. Yeah and I definitely don't. There's also photographers manipulate the classic, avenue? Telling this story to the Duke and whatever about killing the dogs and they make the weird face or you know car scrapping the stogie out of Churchill's mouth or whatever it is I would I would never do that like I'd rather get them with honey than with vinegar. But. Yeah. It's subjects are the best part of this for somebody who makes so many traits you apparently don't like being them. There's actually one on your three, six five sites identing features you upside down for obvious reasons but On the glass. Well. You know keenum being the subject of the pages that that one actually the there's the one where my head is in the. Fish, tank actually is down in a fish tank. Is It on white background? Yeah. Actually, upside down in a fish tank. With my head's actually underwater. I made that actually in the middle of the night while I. was all alone which probably was not a good move because if I fell in my head. Brooklyn photographer dead in his apartment. Bit Tree One I don't think I look particularly good in most photos and I've never been able to take a lot of good self portraits of myself. Now, I'm one of those people look better moving than I. do still you know it's it's fine I've had people take portraits of me, and I think some of them are okay. But mostly I don't know I don I I've I've I've a friend name Alicia crowded who does a series of self portrait? And she's a beautiful woman and like the lighting is really nice. She comes up with these really interesting ideas and they're really artistically interesting and I look at them and I'm envious of them because I'm like I could never do that because I don't look like that in a picture you know so. It's just never been about I'm a photographer, but it's not really about me. You know what I mean it's always I. It's I find the other people far more interesting. Let's talk about the conceptual side view photography because that's that's that's another Saudi was featured on the website says another sizable part of your work Tell me about this and and because that's very different because now we're moving into who am I the surreal with some of it humbly yeah. A lot of a lot of surrealism and there's a lot of them end up being sort of based on dreams or different things like that. That that some people have I did a whole series of basically it's like you know. Weird crazy dreams that people have had were there there mermaid or they're you know touching the moon or that kind of thing the things I like about the thing I like about those is that they generally involve a lot of post production and can positing there's a shot of a guy leaning against a tree in his apartment that's other on. Yeah. That must tell you longtime. Yeah. I mean we shot his apartment and I poured a little dirt on the ground around where the edge of the tree would be so that I got the transition between the slower and the dirt you know and we went up to the park and gentleman against a tree, and so the dirt went into the dirt that I had put into in his apartment So a lot of times for those it's it's a problem solving exercise about how do I get what I need so that when I get back to Photoshop, I can create what I want to create and Some of my early ones were not as good as some of my later ones. So that's also progressive. You you learn what you can do and what you can't do and what you need to do to match stuff There's there's a shot in their of my friends e painted into a bookshelf. She's she's like nude and painted into a bookcase as what that picture is. One of those things that ends up shared all over the place on Pinterest and whatever you know. And People say Oh do you do that Photoshop I was like actually that one is in camera like we you know we painted her but the thing is is that if you have your arm up like this on a bookshelf, your back is all twisted weird way. So if you just stand her up and paint bookshop bookshelf when she twists her whole body goes out of whack absolutely. So. Basically, you have to have her in that position in Mark, how everything is and then painter and then so it stretches right. So it's sort of like these kinds of things that you never really think about you know when when you're when you're doing normal stuff, I want to do more of this kind of work commercially because I, just find it interesting the problem solving aspect of it. But it's funny. People tend to hire me for very straightforward portrait's and I was like but I could make you walking on. A bunch of stars in the sky and they're like, yeah. Now that's not what I WANNA do. There's there's there's a shot I did of my friend Ashley where she's canoeing with a with a her cello as the paddle and people get really upset about it because they think that I'm destroying this this cello in reality she was sitting on my table in my living room with her cello and you know I shot the the back play in prospect park up the hill. and. I. Actually didn't have access to a canoe and I put out a call on twitter something I said, does anybody have a canoe and one guy says I of this metal canoe in my backyard and I was like perfect I said, could you take a picture of it? So like at this angle or whatever and he did, and that's what I used the canoe so lousy. Sitting in a canoe, she was just sitting on a table to canoe somebody else's the background with somebody. Else's you know. Make water splashes in black tank. So I can have things to go around the front of the canoe and sometimes you'll look at years later and think Oh man it would have been so much more real if I had added ex- I asked to visualize cooled Eric Hanson about He's a Swedish favorite good about whether he kept a dream diary for some of his ideas for for that kind of visualize. What did he say? Well, he said no but I mean I'm intrigued with you because you're very inventive photography wondering. Note down some of your ideas. Anyway. Most of the time you know it's funny back to back to the beginning. If you told me right now that I had to make all of these things I would never come up with ideas. Sometimes it's like you have an idea for one thing the mermaid in the in the bathtub. Great. Oh, that'd be really cool as if we had somebody the the girl with the moon sent me a picture of her parents roof. Their apartment building in the upper west side and there was one of those water tanks and it had a ladder up the side of the water tank and I was like, Oh, you know be amazing if you're climbing that water tank. We were just gonNA use the roof as is, but the water tank made me think about somebody climbing up towards the sky and that made me think it'd be really fun if she was reaching towards something and so it ends up being a step by step process, which is why I find planning very unproductive. It really just comes down to throwing myself into it and seeing where I end up tumbling. Thanks to bill woman over the last three weeks. Tomorrow on the show we continue talking with Nile Council, artist writer journalist who remembers the chilling day he came to be practically face to face with the man who shot him. So the gone there are volver and even see the bullets in the Chamber of the revolver or you know the. The holds in the. Over outside gruesome was this. That's tomorrow. Thanks to MP trading thousands of cameras and lenses every week across Europe and the states. It can go to MPP DOT com if you're thinking of changing kit either by ABS- buying or selling an empty check and a great and they photograph every single item and they add a six month warranty as well. So it can be sure of what's in the box. Music on the show was artless dot by own. I look forward to photograph with their me and talking with you tomorrow photography daily is a loading zone production.