London based photographer Ben Benoliel’s solo exhibition, NEGATIVE ARCHIVE, kicks off this Thursday, 17th November at Clerkenwell’s J+A Cafe & Gallery. The LN-CC Photography Director will show his personal work for the first time in this context.
I caught up with Ben to talk Photography, his career and the show.
AB: Tell us what got you into photography?
BB: I didn’t start taking photos until I was 16. Until then I hadn’t really had the option. Out of school all I would do was play football and in school we only ever had the option of ‘Art & Design’, which was always my favourite subject (after PE!). I had always had an interest in imagery and fashion and was always artistic but was never great at drawing. When I went to college, Photography was an obvious option and I soon became extremely passionate about taking and developing images. I looked into photography degrees and 2 years later I started on the London College of Fashion’s BA Fashion Photography course.
AB: What was your first camera, if you remember?
BB: My first camera was a 35mm Pentax that came out of the college cupboard. I used to take it home and do location shoots with friends. Digital wasn’t so much of an option back then and there is nothing like using an analogue film camera. I don’t think the genre would have grabbed me quite as much if I hadn’t been shooting and developing film!
AB: What inspires you daily to get out and take photos?
BB: Its not so much I go out with ‘taking pictures’ in mind, I just love to take pictures so I do. With the digital era even if you don’t have a camera on your person you will always have one on your phone ! My iPhone is full of everyday images of things ranging from cars to brick walls ! I just got the iPhone 4s and the image quality of this is better than my first expensive digital camera !
AB: when it comes to creating imagery – what’s your goal?
BB: Obviously whilst working for clients the goal is to meet the brief but my genuine goal is to create images which I love and am happy to put out there. I would like to think that I had a style and that images i had taken were uniquely recognisable as mine.
AB: Tell us about NEGATIVE ARCHIVE – what’s the common theme?
BB: True to my nature the common theme of the show is randomness ! All of the pieces have been selected because I like them, not because they fit to a theme but because they are all quite personal to me and represent a moment or time in my life and career that is special to me. Im interested to see what people think of it as a body of work as it is so random but the most important thing to me is that the show represents me truly and I love it.
AB: How do you see fashion photography as a medium of art, or as distribution of fashion?
BB: I find questions like this rather difficult to answer, I think they are both. For me Fashion Photography is about shooting beautiful images that include fashion. Take the work of say Guy Bourdin or Richard Avedon their photographs are for me, art they are timeless but at the time they may have been a Charles Jourdan campaign meaning it was a distribution of fashion at that time.
AB: What do you prefer shooting and why, people, fashion, landscapes?
BB: People. Nothing gives me a buzz than shooting people. Personally I think a portrait always revels something about a person that even having a conversation doesn’t. It shows a side of a person only a photograph can.
AB: What are your thoughts over the new generation of photography quick access imagery?
BB: I hear a lot of photographers expressing negative thoughts about this I don’t hate it, I’m not angry about it but I do think it has effected the quality of photography as a medium overall. Having said that its great that more people can enjoy photography, why shouldn’t they ! As a professional photographer it sometimes makes things a lot more competitive but at the same time, a great image is a great image and that is what i strive to achieve.
AB: Thoughts about moving into moving image?
BB: If digital photography infuriates photographers I daren’t think about how the ‘5d revolution’ makes video makers feel ! Its great for us photographers to be able to capture movement and I’m certainly interested in exploring this in the future. Im not overly keen on how the aforementioned 5d has made almost 99% of video look and feel the same but that is just my personal preference.
AB: Digital or Film?
BB: Film, every time. Every image in the show has come from a beautiful negative.
See below for details of the show.