Muse of the Week: A Rising Photographer Says Art Is for Everyone [Interview]

With reverence to the greats like Sally Mann, our ‘Muse of the Week’ is a photographer who believes photography is a skillful art that can still be for everyone. BENZPHOTOGRAPHY* works freelance while studying photography in Staten Island and has already propelled into the industry through being published and selling prints. We had the pleasure of talking with this Muse about how they are furthering their craft each day and the slow perspective photography can bring to life.

MOD is a name-optional portfolio platform all about showcasing creative’s work and finding meaningful careers. Click HERE to see more of BENZPHOTOGRAPHY’s work and get in touch.

Why did you pursue photography or how did you get started?

Photography is fairly new for me I only started photography about two and half years ago. I have always admired photography and the way a picture can affect or connect with people. I started just by taking pictures for my own enjoyment and didn’t really think much of it. Soon after I found myself shooting every day and I loved it. Being in college was the perfect time to start I believe because when it came time to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life I knew this is what I truly wanted to do.

Now I’ve been in school for three years and have had my pictures published in newspapers, shared on multiple pages as well as selling prints and taking portraits for customers who are interested.

What has been your most proud moment in your career thus far?

My proudest moment of my career so far is when I was published for the first time. It was an amazing feeling knowing that other people were interested in my work. I was extremely excited to share it with everyone. I remember having a strong feeling of success and it motivated me to keep working and pushed me to do better. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that your work is appreciated and wanted.

Describe a what typical work day looks like for you as a photographer:

Being a photography major at the College of Staten Island, my work day begins in the classroom. I take a four hour class where I continually learn new methods, techniques and skills to further my craft. As I learn more I incorporate it into my work.

Being a freelance photographer work isn’t generally the same day to day. When I shoot, I shoot to make photographs that are drawing and unique, and sell prints in hopes that they can become a part of somebody else’s collection and life. Being a student I also try to make photographs that will get me recognition to further myself in hopes to seek jobs and internship opportunities.

Who are your biggest creative influences?

I am being taught and exposed to new material every day. The countless photographers shown throughout my classes are truly inspiring and make me want to capture amazing images like them. Learning about greats such Sally Mann, Edward Weston, Robert Frank, and Richard Avedon has made me really appreciate photography as an art.

Throughout your career thus far, what positive or negative changes have you seen in the photography industry?

For as long as I’ve been a photographer I have seen the invention of the smart phone put a camera in everyone’s pocket. I believe that this is both a negative and a positive thing for the photography industry. I believe it is a positive because it allows so many people to take part in photography and experience the joy and pleasure it brings.

Art is for everyone and it has the potential to inspire so many others to pursue photography.

Even though there is a positive aspect I also believe there is a negative one as well. Even though it allows everyone to take pictures, I believe it is also separating people from a camera and learning how it functions. People use settings prebuilt into their smart phones instead of using and adjusting the settings and creating it themselves.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best advice that I’ve received would be that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” It’s important to appreciate the world around you and I believe photography goes along with this saying. Photography enables you to capture and experience the world around you from all different perspectives.

This interview has been edited & condensed.

*ALL CAPS = MuserID — username/identifier on Muses On Demand (MOD.)