Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Interview with International Documentary Photographer Arlene Collins

Arlene Collins will be at Foto Care on October 10th to discuss her recent trip to North Korea. As a country that is particularly difficult to not only travel to, but document, this talk is certainly special. We look forward to seeing what images she was able to take and learn more about this secretive country! 

Foto Care: Tell us about yourself and how you got into photography?
Arlene Collins: I have always been interested in photography and seeing the world. My family traveled extensively which was quite unusual in those days. My father purchased my first camera from Japan when I was about 15. The photographs of Diane Arbus inspired me. When I saw her photography exhibition I decided to seriously study photography, and decided to study with the renowned teacher Lisette Model. I was fortunate to know someone who was a friend of Lisette, and I was able to meet with Lisette privately in her basement apartment on Seventh Ave. South. She was brutally honest when critiquing my photographs. I knew that she was exactly the kind of teacher I needed.

FC: What was your break out job that helped launch your career? 
AC: There was no one break out job that launched my career. My career has taken many different turns. I have found that every decade I must reinvent myself. I first concentrated on long-term documentary essays, then I was offered a corporate job, which was too lucrative to refuse and I did corporate work for a decade. Next, I started teaching at Parsons School of Design and the International Center of Photography (ICP) where I taught in the Photojournalism program and was then asked by ICP to conduct an international travel photography workshop. I lead ICP international photography workshops for a decade. I am still teaching at Parsons, in the summers I teach at the Maine Media workshops, and I conduct my own workshops in NYC and internationally.

FC: What has been your favorite assignment(s) to date?
AC: Now I spend most of my time planning and conducting my own international multimedia workshops, which are very rewarding. I get to live and work in another culture and I meet the most amazing people from all around the world.

FC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
AC: My ideas come from many sources, including reading, talking to people, viewing photography exhibitions and various websites. 

FC: Do you use Social Media as part of your marketing? Do you think it is effective?
AC: I market my services on LinkedIn, and Facebook, but the most effective way is word of mouth. 

FC: How has your work changed in the last few years?
AC: Conceptually my work is little changed, but my technique and the equipment I use changes with the technology. When lighting on location I prefer to use a wireless strobe system; it’s light weight, simple to use and produces great light for effect or just for exposure in low light.

FC: Where is your work heading next? Where do you see yourself in the future?

AC: Next, I have workshops in Rajasthan, India and Kamchatka, Russia.

FC: What equipment are you currently using to produce your work?
AC: I currently use the Nikon D800 with 3 to 4 strobe units from the SB800, SB700 and SB900, and a Sony RX-100 is always with me. All of my photographs from North Korea were taken with the Sony RX-100.

FC:  Do you work with Video? Have you stepped into the Hybrid Video market at all?
AC: For the last couple of years I have shot video, mostly with the Sony RX-100. Currently I have three videos posted on my website.

FC: How do you choose your locations?

AC: I prefer to select locations that are the most isolated and the most difficult to travel to and in. I love a challenge.

FC: When/how did you first hear about Foto Care? What is it about Foto Care that brings your back? 
AC: I have always known about Foto Care. I require a store that knows the current equipment, is reliable and provides personal service.

To see more of Arlene's work, visit her website. And be sure to see her talk!