Interview with Photographer / Francis Mitra | Edition VII
How do you describe your Photography to people?
Little moments of awesomeness captured in a split second.
Did your early photographic goals include earning a living from photography, or did it start as a way to express yourself creatively?
I never intended for my photography to become a source of income. It originally started off as a desire to document my high school career between the 7th and 12th grade. I always carried a pocket sized camera with me during this time for those candid moments and snapshots which you can never see coming. As I became more interested in photography, I decided to take the plunge and invest in new equipment. The problem was, that as a high school student with no source of income, affording new equipment was damn near impossible. That’s when I decided to start marketing my work and used all of the profit to continuously upgrade and experiment with new equipment. Making an income off of photography was never my initial plan. It was just a solution to a problem. As for expressing myself creatively, I wouldn’t relate my work to that. I’ve played around with several other forms of art including music (the violin), painting, drawing, and graphic design. Among all of these things, I’ve always fallen short or stopped before I could accomplish anything in those fields. Photography is the one form of art that has managed to maintain my interest and is a constant reminder that while I didn’t go far in the other forms of art I mentioned, I was able to stick around and pursue this one. I guess you could say that my photos are just a way of telling myself that I didn’t quit this time around.
Do you remember your first photography sale?
April 2008. It was my Junior year in high school and I had been shooting and developing film for half a year at that point and just recently switched to my first DSLR. It was a birthday celebration put together by two brothers to celebrate their father’s birthday. Nothing big, just the immediate family and grandchildren gathered together for some bonding time. I had a few of my friends tag along because it was my first hired event and I was a bit nervous at the time. After the shoot me and my friends wasted what little money I earned for dinner in Brooklyn.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
Dave Hill and Lara Jade, even though the two have vastly different photography techniques. Dave Hill is a strobist photographer and uses flash predominantly in his work. Lara Jade on the other hand is a natural light photographer. They both happen to share a common ground in producing heavily photoshopped images though. Some of my work is actually influenced by these 2 photographers.
Do you feel like what you are doing is important?
To myself? Yes. As for the rest of the world, I doubt it. But I couldn’t care less. As long as I’m happy, I’ll keep on doing this, and that’s the most important thing to me.
How do you separate yourself from others?
During shoots, I like to position my flashes to create high contrast and shadowy areas. A lot of times I’ll even leave pieces of the model’s face blacked out of an image using shadows. I think it adds a bit of character and mystique to an image. I’m sure there’s a lot of Adonises shaking their heads in disgust at me right now haha. I just happen to find that light fall and shadows are just as interesting as the subject itself. It also shows a certain level of expertise in your work. Lighting is one of the most important aspects in photography. It doesn’t matter how good your camera is or how sharp your lens is, without adequate lighting your shot will always be limited; shadowing and contrast just happens to be one of my favorite ways to show control of light.
Must art have a relationship to the rest of the world?
Art shouldn’t have to be connected to anything. It should just be appreciated for the single piece of pleasure it is.
Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind?
If I can finish college without having the expense of photography equipment bankrupt me, I’ll consider myself pretty damn successful.