Kevin tapped Steph in our first interview and so we’ve winged our way 3,476 miles from Brighton, England to New York for the second 5 Question interview.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Steph Goralnick.
1. We know it’s a tough question, but if you had to pick just one camera to shoot with from now until the end of time, what would that be?
Steph: What matters most to me is the vision behind the image, rather than the particular tool used to capture it. I shoot with everything from a Canon 5D to a Holga to a digital point-n-shoot to the box full of vintage cameras I got on Ebay for 99 cents. Each has its virtues, of course, but in a certain sense they are all equal. It can be satisfying to square up to nature and surrender to the fact that sometimes a tangible camera is inadequate. There’s no way I can mention this without it sounding ridiculously cheesy, or absurdly new-agey (or worse): a very calm-minded friend (think yoga instructor who studies Thai massage) I met while traveling in Israel once observed me struggling to capture the scene before us as we hiked through a stream up a mountain towards the sunset. She was suggesting I use a camera of a different kind. One that isn’t necessarily helpful for everyday photo documentation. “Just take a picture with your mind”, she said, putting one hand to my lens and the other to the sky. So far I’ve collected about four of these mental photos that I occasionally stop to remember. Even though you can’t hold them, they somehow seem more permanent.
2. A (possibly) tough question… Tell us your favourite photos on Flickr, and why you like them. First, a favourite from your photostream?
Steph: I really enjoy the experience of creating portraits. Some of my favorite photos to take and share are wacky images of my friends having the most fun they can possibly have, but it’s very difficult to choose just one that i like the best.
One image that really stands out in my mind is a portrait I took while studying at Pratt Institute of revered design professor Charles Goslin. He despised having his photo taken, so it was a difficult task. Years later, he confessed to me with amusement that it was his favorite image of himself. When he passed away last spring, the design department at Pratt contacted me about obtaining the image. I later learned that they enlarged the photo and lined a hallway with copies of it. They told me that students would come visit the giant portraits and talk to them, seeking critique of their work and guidance in their lives. Charlie was one of the most clever and honest people I’ve ever known, and was always the best advice giver. I uploaded the photo to Flickr in his memory, and sometimes when I feel stuck in my creative career, wherever I am in the world, I look at the photo and try and think of what he would say to me.
And from another Flickr member?
Steph: TWO photos, on all of Flickr?! You’ve got to be joking. I’ll compromise and give you two sets. The first is a vacation photo project that tickled me by Ilya Ruderman. Named DoubleShots, it’s where two people stand opposing each other, as if to duel, and then both snap a photo of the other at the same time. There is a quirkiness to the diptychs that is somehow a step beyond the regular holiday photo of your friend smiling in front of a monument.
I really like images that seem mundane at first, and then demand a second look to find a deeper meaning. As a graphic designer with a love-hate relationship towards advertising (mostly hate) I am quite fond of the work of the decapitator.
3. What’s one tip that you would share with someone who’s just picking up a camera?
Steph: Leave the instruction manual in the box. Pick up the camera, bring it everywhere you go for one year, and shoot something each day. I learned how to use my first digital SLR by walking 40 blocks home from work each day, shooting along the way.
4. When we interview peeps for employment here at Team Flickr, we always ask: “Kittens, babies, sunsets or flowers? Pick one.”
Steph: I’m happy to experience a new sunset each day. Having a new baby every day might get a little overwhelming.
5. Which Flickr member should we ask these 5 questions of next?
Steph: I love the dreamlike scenes and quirky experiments composed by Olivia Wright, aka Perpetually. From peeing in nature to wacky portrait sessions, she’s got a lot of stories to tell.
Heather: Thank you, Steph. 5 Questions’ journey through the Flickrverse will continue when we next interview Perpetually.
Photos and video from sgoralnick, Ilya Ruderman, decapitator, and Perpetually.