Passion for Black and White Photography
Today I want to introduce you to a New York based photographer by the name of Chris Gampat. I’ve gotten to know Chris personally while traveling with companies like Olympus and Tamron. Chris Gampat’s Passion for Black and White Photography
Not only is he smart and ambitious and one hell of a photographer, but he’s kind enough to share his talents with enthusiasts like.
Chris is currently the owner and chief editor of The Phoblographer, and when he’s not writing about new and classic gear, he’s out roaming the five boroughs shooting portraits and weddings and just about whatever catches his eye.
In this interview, we chat about Chris’ background, favorite gear and, of course, his passion for black & white photography and the exciting new projects he’s launching. Enjoy.
Steve’s Digicams: You have an incredible background with multiple careers taking you from, among other things, the United States Army to being the small business owner of The Phoblographer. Can you take us through that evolution and where photography lead you astray from other possible futures?
Chris Gampat: That’s quite an interesting question actually. In college, I was balancing 15 credits, running the college Radio station, three internships, a commute and playing competitive Counter Strike. You know, that Half Life game mod? These days its one of the biggest games in e-sports. But when I got out of college I dropped it and I balanced tech journalism and photography. Then I thought to myself one day about which I see myself doing as a career; and I saw myself at 65 in art galleries vs watching Microsoft and Apple compare one another while standing at urinals.
But before that, I was training myself to work at Gizmodo. Those guys back then put out an insane amount of articles a day and I trained myself to do the same and work very fast. No matter how hard I tried though, I never made it. So I needed to find a way to take those skills somewhere else.
So when my internship at Magnum was over I explored ways that I could use my journalistic skills, video skills, and writing skills to carve out my own identity in the photo industry. Everyone goes through with it.
How have you grown as a photographer in that time? Is there a particular style or tone that encapsulates your vision?
Well, I started out as a paparazzi. Then I did weddings. Then I hated weddings. After that I got into portraiture and I started to realize that I’m actually damned good at product photos.
At the same time I started to improve my portraiture and started to learn more about it and how it’s always a collaboration and a process. I’ve learned a lot over the years but even more so I’ve recently found that my astigmatism that makes me legally blind also helps me see things that others don’t when it comes to portraits.
How would you advise someone reading your story who wants to eventually pursue this industry as a career? IE, how do you balance art and business?
First off, don’t just build your portfolio. Specialize in it. There’s a load of bullshit on the web that says that you shouldn’t specialize but all the photographers that say that actually do specialize themselves. Look at it this way: you go to a Tarantino movie and you know what you’re getting. You go to a Michael Bay movie and you know that you’re going to hate yourself later for giving him money.
Find a beat and stick with it for commercial reasons. Your personal work though can be whatever you want.
Then at the same time, go out there and meet people. Network. Develop a plan to improve yourself and your business. Then break that into smaller plans and those smaller plans into even smaller plans. Take things in baby steps; slow and steady wins the race vs the whole smoke and mirrors game. Be genuine. A lot of people who have made it can see through you when you’re fibbing; especially when you’ve got a beer in your hand.
You’re one of the few people I know who still shoot film as well as digital. I would imagine your kit changes from project to project, but what’s in your kit right now?
You’re right; I honestly use whatever gets put into my hands. A new project I’m releasing in two weeks let me use Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Tamron, Flashpoint and Godox products. I usually reach for my Mamiya RB67 these days though. It’s all about a slow and careful process that makes you take a damned good photo in the first place and not having to sit there and shoot a million images just to get the right one.
Favorite current generation digital camera?
If you would like to read the rest of this article, Please click here: Taking great Black and White Photography