Let’s hear from Benj!
What’s the number one thing you know now that you wished you’d known when you were first starting out as a photographer.
When I first started out, I was just desperate to fit in with what I thought being a photographer meant and I think it made it harder for me to break from and find my own voice. I wish someone would have just asked me, “what makes you who YOU are?” What do *you* love about life, relationships, visuals, etc? Focus on those things and you’ll find your voice a lot faster.
Do you have a nickname? How’d you get it? If not, if your friends had to give you one, what do you think it would be?
As someone whose full name is Benjamin, I was bound to have a nickname, but it was actually never Ben. As long as I can remember I was either Benji or Benj. I remember making my mom add a J to my tee-ball hat as a kid because the team had just written Ben on it and I thought there must have been a new kid on our team named Ben. When I got a little older, “Benji” sounded a little too childish for me, so I permanently dropped the *i* to Benj. Some family and friends still call me Benji though 🙂
Where’d you grow up? How did the geography of that place inform your creative process?
Absolutely. I grew up in a little city called “Edgewood” in Washington State, USA. I grew up camping in the summer and skiing/snowboarding in the winter, so my favorite shoots still involve those things. My workshop and presets are named after the Cascade mountain range I grew up near and shoot a ton of my work in.
A common experience among creatives is this tension between wanting constructive feedback and recognition for one’s hard work from clients and colleagues and an unhealthy need for approval. Have you struggled with this, too? If so, how do you relate to or manage it?
Sure. I’m not going to lie, I’m one that probably holds on to my own work too tight and doesn’t like critique nearly as much as I should. The photo industry as a whole is amazing at supporting each other, but I think we often put too much effort into pleasing our peers that we sometimes forget that our first responsibility is to our present and future clients. One of the things I’ve done recently is take a lot of notifications off my phone and I put Facebook on the very last page of my apps so I never see it and feel the urge to jump on.
If you had to pick a personal mantra, what would it be?
Make it happen. It’s always been something that has been a struggle for me. I have ideas and things I want to do, but I often get too bogged down in other things. So I often have to remind myself to just make it happen.
What can you tell us about how you shoot and edit (technically, emotionally) that ultimately led to how you developed your presets?
I wouldn’t say that my presets emulate film at all, but I’m very inspired by the nostalgic feel that film gives. Starting out, all I was trying to do was make my photos feel less digital. I wanted my photography to help with that nostalgia in people’s lives, so I try to keep my colors/toning to help match their memories. I don’t want to buy too much into editing trends that are going to date the photos too much.
If you had to pick between these two superpowers – flying or invisibility – which would you choose and why?
Flying for sure. No drones needed.
What are you most hoping to see or do in 2018?
We’ve got some trips planned that I’m really excited about sharing with family. My ultimate goal is to get better and better about separating work and life.