Friday, October 17, 2014

Q&A: Ira Block (Part 2)

Interview: Ira Block
By: Johnny Self

Finding the perfect lighting. (image copyright: Ira Block)

Foto Care's in-house blogger Johnny Self had the opportunity to have a one on one interview with the famous National Geographic photographer Ira Block in his Chelsea apartment . Because of Ira's worldwide adventures and over-all likeable personality, we chose him to be a showcased photographer on our Fotoblog. We hope you enjoy Ira's story as much as we enjoy seeing him.

Simply another day on the job for Ira. (image copyright: Ira Block)
SELF: How did you start working with National Geographic?
BLOCK: A buddy of mine was a photo editor there, and he pulled a couple strings that lead me to meet the Director Of Photography of the magazine. He was from the Milwaukee area, and I use to work for a Wisconsin newspaper in college, so there was a connection.  You get the door open a little bit, then you got to push the rest of the way.
SELF: Nice, as a photographer, I think one of my biggest problems is shooting people in public. Having a large camera pointing it at someone makes them uncomfortable, and it’s like they have this “camera radar” whenever someone is around taking photos. You seem to have willing people pose for you, how do you approach them?
BLOCK:  Have them walk into your space, rather than you walk into their space. I work from the back forward.  

Decorative wooden camera found in Ira's photo room.
I’ll find a place that has an interesting background that will tell part of my story and then wait for things to happening front of that background.  But now I’m staying in one place,
SELF: And now they are in your territory, right?
BLOCK: Yes.  Psychologically it becomes more of my territory.
SELF: It’s not anymore “Did you just take my picture, now it’s “Oh no, now you’re in my picture”.  Because you walked by.
BLOCK: Yeah. It works better than running up to someone with a camera.
BLOCK: A great way to get pictures of people in public is going to an event where everyone has a camera, like a parade.  Because if everyone has one people are less freaked out.
SELF: Because they are expecting it.
BLOCK: Exactly.  You have to find ways to make it easier to deal with people. Like, using smaller, less intimidating cameras. Lately, I have been using the Sony A7R and S. They are still full frame, but smaller than most DSLR's.

If you know Ira, then you know he always supports a stylish hat. Whether it's a fedora or a Yankees cap.

SELF: So, Let’s say you weren’t 30,000 miles up in sky for once, and you had the night off. What would Ira Block being doing in New York? Lets say u had the night off.
BLOCK: Well, if it were season, I’d be going to a Yankee game.
SELF: Of Course.
BLOCK: I work a lot. I don’t have as much free time. Now, I’m working on images, sending them around the world. All the time. So work never stops. But I try to get out and do things. Gym, baseball game, occasional TV series that’s interesting. It’s hard to shut my mind down.
SELF: And now that Instagram is popular, the work just keeps following you.
BLOCK: Oh yeah, people like that I'm on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook.
SELF: (laughs) I think it’s very admirable that a professional like yourself is utilizing social outlets. So many adults don’t.
BLOCK: Well, its such a huge part of photography now. You can’t ignore it.
SELF: And lastly, What keeps you coming back to Foto Care?
BLOCK: Everybody there.  Jeff. Is great. Fred in rental is fun. John in digital, he and I have a lot of fun together.
SELF: John is funny.
BLOCK:  Yeah, we have our little one on ones. But they are characters there.
They are absolutely characters! That is a perfect way to describe it.
But they are knowledgeable and they really know their stuff. If I have a problem, even if I’m across the world, it gets taken care of. I try to bring the people that take my workshops to Foto Care, because they get one on one service & they learn how to do things the right way. It’s a great photographic community, there in Foto Care.  My personality and everyone else’s personality works there, and of course they have everything you need there.  It’s a great place to spend my money (laughs).

Once Ira pulled out his martial arts sword, I knew it was time to head back to Foto Care.

Ira gave me a call to let me know that since the last time we spoke, 
he has successfully received a black belt in his marital arts. 

Congrats on the black belt!
Ira, you are the man!
See Ira's work here: