Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Foto Care: In the Spotlight with David Needleman

Foto Care presents an exclusive interview with New York fashion and portrait photographer David Needleman.  Born and raised in New York City David began his life with an artistic mind.  His family opened him up to the arts which in turn opened his  eyes up to photography.  We are happy to share his work and ideas with you in the interview below.
All Images © David Needleman

Tell us about yourself and how you got into this field?
I always knew I’d inevitably work with art. Probably since the age of 5, I knew I where I was going. I had the support and encouragement of my family. They were always in the business of making art, whether it was writing music, singing, photography or advertising. Their support came with one condition: my art was not to be a hobby, but a life-dedicated career. So, following art school, I immediately started working for the fashion photographer, Steven Meisel. That turned into an eight-year apprenticeship, which turned out to be the most important education I could have ever asked for. And that is how I got into this field.

What equipment are you currently using to produce your work?
If I am lucky enough to work with film, I use a Nikon. But, in most cases it’s digital. So as a result, I became very comfortable with Canon. Regardless, as essential as the equipment is, it must not interfere with the actual process of taking pictures. I remind myself that it’s just a tool I need to get what I want. That’s the most important part of the equipment for me.

What was your break out job that helped launch your career?
That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure. I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with remarkable talent and exciting clients. But I think photographing Rodney Dangerfield for Abercrombie & Fitch taught me the most, and gave me the most insight into what I do. I’m not sure if that was a break out job or if it helped launch anything. But, personally, I learned the most from that experience.

Where are you drawing your inspiration?

I draw from the interactions in my life, mostly. But I try to watch as many television interviews as I possibly can. I find them very captivating; watching the way people speak, move and gesture constantly inspires me. I’m also fascinated by anything sci-fi and am drawn to the unknown. Years ago, when I was starting out, a great mentor of mine told me to listen and then speak. Therefore, I listen to as much as I can from my subjects to hear their perspectives – that inspires me the most.

How has your work changed in the last few years?
Well, without taking myself to seriously, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. If I take a step back and reflect over the past few years, I feel each picture I make means more to me, and has greater intent from these past few years. Actually, two and a half years ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer, and now I look at everything as before and after the cancer, including my pictures. If anything, I think my work is more about me than it’s ever been. The process of working, as well as the work itself has been evolving to a place that I’m very content with these days.
Where is your work heading next? Where do you see yourself in the future?
I hope my work will take me to places where I’m forced to learn and grow. I also, hope I always have that feeling of ridiculous anxiety before ever project. As for the future, I have no idea. I’m just taking every day as it comes. I’m grateful and appreciative of what I already have and have done.

Now that Video is working its way into our market, do you see yourself stepping into the Hybrid Video market in the near future?
I’m thinking about this. I admire and respect the medium, but am not sure just yet where I’d like to belong in it.

How did you first hear about Foto Care?

It was many years ago, one of my first few days working at Steven Meisel Studio. I asked his then-1st-assistant about renting a camera for a trip. His sincere and authoritative response was, “Call Fotocare. They can make anything happen for you.” He was right and I have been calling them for about 13 years now.
What is it about Foto Care that brings your back?
Before anything else, they are good people and it’s a complete pleasure to work with them all.
To see more of David’s work check out his website,