Photographer Spotlight: Lisa Futterman

Last week, we had an Environmental Portraiture Photo Walk with Fujifilm and Broncolor.  Many fantastic photographers joined us to expand their knowledge of lighting outdoors.  We posed a challenge: the best photo posted on Instagram and tagged #fotocare would win a $50 gift card to our retail store.  It was a hard decision from all the great work the participants created, but Lisa Futterman’s image stood out from the crowd.  She thought outside the box, and didn’t just shoot portraits of the models, but also shot the other participants of the photo walk and the people around us on the street.  Here’s the shot that won us over:

After checking out some more of Lisa’s work and being very impressed, we decided to ask her some questions.  

Q:  What kind of photography do you shoot?  

Lisa: Right now, I'm focused on documentary, street and portrait photography. I've been working on a project entitled County Fair for the past seven years and that's still ongoing. I took a workshop with Mary Ellen Mark in 2010 and she took us to the Ulster County Fair. I'd never been to a county fair before and was so inspired by the whole scene, but mostly the 4H kids and their relationships with animals they've been raising. It’s county fair season now and I'm about to go to my third fair of the season to add to that project. 

I was in Cuba for the first time in February and that was inspirational. I love Latin culture and I’m interested in spending time in Latin American communities here in New York. There's an openness in the culture that makes for very interesting photographs. I'm currently learning Spanish to be better able to communicate with people I photograph.

Q:  How did you start shooting?  When did you become a photographer? 

L: My dad was very interested in photography when I was a kid. He had a Nikon Nikkormat 35mm film camera made in the 1960s and I used to go out shooting with him a lot when I was around twelve. He also had a darkroom in our basement. He gave me that camera when I went to college and I took a few photography classes. I later inherited my uncle's Nikon F2.  I still have both those cameras and occasionally still shoot film with them. I used to love spending hours and hours in the darkroom.

Q: What inspires you? 

Lisa: Neighborhoods in cities are fascinating. I'm very drawn right now to a few in New York City:  Red Hook, Brooklyn where I live, Alphabet City and the East Village, the South Bronx, East Harlem. The people and urban landscape are very interesting. People are more open to being photographed outside of midtown Manhattan so I try and stick to neighborhoods that are a little on the edges where great interactions and photographs have a chance to happen.

I like people that have had some challenges in life. I've always worked with people like this in my professional work life (non-profit manager) and I find I am drawn to them as people to photograph as well. My first real photo project was when I was in my 20s and teaching kids with severe disabilities. I made black and white portraits of them and gave prints to their parents.

Q: What do you shoot with?  What's your go to gear to bring with you to shoot? 

Lisa: My go to for any situation that might arise is my Canon 5D Mark II with either my 50mm or 28mm lens. I also have a Canon 7D Mark II with the 100-400 lens plus extender for shooting wildlife which I love to do sometimes. Lately I am shooting lots of street photography with my Fujifilm X-T2. I only have one lens (18-55 kit lens which is great) and as soon as I get a few more, it might be my go to in any situation, but the 5D Mark II is still great.

I just bought a Hasselblad 500CM because I want to try making portraits with medium format film. I'm just learning to use the camera and am looking forward to getting film developed after long time shooting digitally.

Check out more of Lisa’s work on her website: