One of the craziest things about New York City (and the photography community) is how small it can sometimes seem. We ran into Benjamin Heath after a meeting with another photographer, and immediately spotted his Brixton while simultaneously realizing that we already follow him on Instagram. We were pleased to discover that Benjamin is just as charming and friendly as he is talented and driven; it’s no wonder that he thrives in putting an individual face and story to big brands like Uber, Levi’s and Lincoln Motor Company. Passionate about capturing personalities and telling stories through his photos, Benjamin started the #MakePortraits hashtag and his mobile work will be featured at next week’s 100:50:1 event in San Francisco.
Benjamin carries the Brixton Messenger Bag in Field Tan.
ONA: How did you get into photography?
BH: I started taking photos as a teenager. My best friend and I each had a little 35mm Olympus Stylus that we carried around documenting our lives. Road trips, camping, parties, just whatever we were up to. He worked at a photo lab and developed our film for free. I loved getting rolls back a few days or weeks later and re-living those moments. I vividly remember looking at my crappy snapshots and wondering how I could take better photos. I was hooked.
ONA: What camera do you shoot with? What is your “go to” lens of choice?
BH: For my personal work I prefer shooting rangefinders. They just make sense to me. The viewfinder never goes dark so I can keep composing, watching and thinking about what I’m shooting. Focusing is easy. Especially if I’m zone focusing. Shooting a rangefinder feels instinctive to me. Right now my main squeezes are a Mamiya 7 II with 65mm f/4 and a Leica M9 with 35mm f/2.
ONA: What sort of project drives your creativity? Follow Up: What is your dream project?
BH: I love storytelling. Photos that are made, collected, and curated together to tell a compelling story really get me fired up. I look at so many photos every single day. The ones that I seem to remember most are part of a larger story or theme. Whenever I’m feeling a creative lag my go to look is Bruce Davidson’s Subway. I’ve worn my copy out. Dream project: Get one of them DeLorean time machines and document human history. First stop – follow my grandpa around in 1944 France.
ONA: What is the hardest thing about being a photographer?
BH: The hardest thing is the uncertainty from one day to the next. But that uncertainty is also the best thing.
ONA: Describe your style of shooting.
BH: Dependent on what I’m shooting. Sometimes run and gun, sometimes more planned out.
ONA: In one sentence, what advice would you give to a photographer just starting out?
BH: Take a picture every day and do it just for yourself.