Interview with photographer Leon W Syfrit

Interview with photographer Leon W Syfrit

MonoVisions Black & White Photo Contest

How and when did you become interested in photography?

I discovered photography, in the summer of 2008, while I was an art student at the Delaware College of Art and Design in Wilmington, DE. I was actually studying painting, but I was curious about photography. When an introductory photography course was offered at school, I couldn’t resist. The moment I watched a photograph develop in the darkroom, I was hooked.

 Is there any artist/photographer who has inspired your art?

I have many influences – Alida Fish, Steven Tanis, Irving Penn, Aaron Siskind, Jackson Pollock, Minor White, Wassily Kandinsky – to name a few. Seeing Irving Penn’s pictures of cigar and cigarette butts was probably the first time I thought that garbage could be beautiful. Penn’s images really opened my mind to possibilities I had not previously considered.

Why do you work in black and white rather than color?

 My project Blowout seemed best suited for black and white imagery. From the start of this assignment, I envisioned the tires I found on the side of the highway set against a stark black background. Since the tires are basically black, and the shredded, steel-belted radials, are silver, black and white photographs felt ideal. I wanted to create a sense of high contrast, without compromising the mid-tones in my pictures.

 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?

 Photography never ceases to surprise me. Some of the pictures for Blowout happened rather fast; others developed over a long period of time. Generally, though, I’m incline to say that my photographs require a great deal of forethought, patience, and perseverance. Arranging object and lighting for still life imagery is demanding. I arrange each tire into a temporary sculpture and place it on a pedestal with a black background. Interestingly, I don’t find the actual sculpture to be very engaging. The magic happens when I take the photograph. I capture the images digitally. Several strobes are used for lighting. Each picture was made using a Canon 5D Mark II camera. Post-processing was done with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw, and I made digital archival pigment prints on Epson presentation matte paper.

Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

 I’m in the middle of my current project Blowout, so I have not started new work, but I do keep a list of possible project ideas and titles on my phone. Many times project titles pop into my head before I have any idea what the images might look like. The project titles lead me to the imagery. Since I live so close to the Las Vegas Strip, part of me feels compelled to explore the phenomenon. My working title for the project is Strip of Strangers. I like the idea of a black and white series of some kind. Since the Vegas Strip is known for glamour and glitz, I thought black and white images could be a different approach. I want to remove the glossy color of the strip, and focus on the dynamic created when a large number of strangers are thrust together for a brief period of time in such a small area. I have no idea of the eventual outcome, but this feels like a good starting point. In the mean time, I have more tires to photograph.

Website: www.leonsyfrit.com

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit

© Leon W Syfrit


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