Volunteer Spotlight: Owen Benfield

This week, volunteer and social media coordinator Owen Benfield talks about self-portraits, genderless fashion, and inspiration:

How would you describe your work?

“Fun, vibrant, and eye-catching. I want my photos to make you feel good!”

You're stuck on a desert island with one camera of your choosing as well as unlimited batteries and film. What is your setup?

“My Canon AE-1 with a 100mm F/2 lens and a supply of Fuji Superia 400 and a tripod so I could continue to shoot self-portraits.”

What’s your favorite type of photographic film?

“Fujifilm Superia Xtra 400.”

You’ve been granted a 6 month residency with unlimited funding. What do you photograph?

“I would produce as much fashion imagery as possible. With the free time I would connect and collaborate with stylists, hair and makeup artists, and models to start a study on the growing nonbinary/genderless fashion market.”

If you had a $5,000 gift card to a photo store, what would you spend it on?

“Film, a quality light meter, and a medium-format camera.”


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Max Taylor Artist Interview: Upcoming Solo Exhibition at BCD

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Talk about your use of photographic techniques alongside drawing and mark making.

I love that I can use photography to lift my drawings/sketches/freeform ideas from impermanent materials like paper and recreate them onto more tangible materials like canvas/wood/metal through my darkroom process. It allows me to create solid pieces out of spontaneous ideas. The idea of 'locking' in a drawings progress through a photograph is also comforting to me and allows me mental freedom to push my work further. I like the idea of sacrifice in artwork, but it can be terrifying adding new layers to works with dozens of hours already invested. Although its not in my nature to cash in on the policy, the idea of “insuring” my work through photography and the idea I could recreate the image from an earlier state allows me the mental clarity to push deeper into unknown territory.

What is your process when deciding to create a particular image?

I keep my process very loose. I used to assume too much control over my process and not handle the “failures” with much grace. I could really beat myself up over such simple things. I had to learn to let go and enjoy the ride. Some of my favorite works came from mistakes/accidents/technical failure. I still epically bomb pieces frequently, to the point where there is just nothing visually or energetically compelling left, but I use these pieces as starting layers for new paintings or test material for practicing new technique.

As far as selection, I usually have an idea of what kind of energy I want to create, lay out all my slides and start to pull everything that intrigues me in the moment. I load it all into my slide projector and get a loose frame on the materials I will be printing on. Then I just cycle, until one of them speaks to me. Once it does, the frenzy begins. Deciding which is the hardest part of the process.

How did you get interested in photography, and what brought you to the Bushwick Community Darkroom?

Hurricane Sandy! What a crazy surreal experience. I had just committed mentally to quitting my job and was feeling very lost. I had invested pretty much my entire life into a career I found I had no interest in having and a life that was toxic and unfulfilling. When Sandy hit I was living on Water St. in the Financial District of NYC. There were fish in our lobby. The whole area, which for so long in my head I held as the center of the world (Wall Street) was all the sudden transformed into some apocalyptic wasteland. For the first time I felt engaged and interested. I was forced into an adventure. I lived alone in a building meant for 3,500 people, walking 30 flights of stairs with nothing but the light of a glowstick. Maybe that spooky stairwell was foreshadowing the darkroom. I lived this way for 30 days, alone in a skyscraper, thinking and reflecting. I wanted to capture or document how bizarre it was, but the cell phone camera wasn't cutting it. After the storm I bought my first camera and was hooked from the second frame (first was the inside of my lens cap).

I enjoyed photography immensely, but after two years I felt it lacking a physical component. I wanted to be working with my hands more. I heard about this goo called liquid light and was curious what could be made with it. BCD welcomed me and my weird experiments with open arms and for that I am so grateful. Love you Lucia!

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Tell us about the characters in your work. You seem to focus somewhat on portraits of mysterious women, as well as shadow-enshrouded, anthropomorphic characters. Is there a story which ties these characters together?

This is something I hope to figure out at my show! I tend to create without thinking, without purpose. I create to create and then study my work for meaning. See what the back of my mind was trying to say. Why did I chase the impulses that led me to create each piece. Many of these things come from dreams or stray flickers of thought. If you see me sprint away mid-conversation to write or sketch, I swear I am not trying to be rude! But it becomes a race to capture that flicker before it fades. I love my nonsensical monsters. They make me happy. They have stories and make noises. I became too serious at too early an age and I think my monsters may just be my mind wanting to play.

I like shooting woman with powerful energy. The capture is about the energy, not the subject; it is rare to see eyes or eye contact within my work. Eyes belong to individuals and by sharing the eyes I think it isolates the viewer from fully identifying with the energy of the photograph. Without eyes, the person could be anyone.

How important is the process of making an artist print to you, versus the final product?

I really love the idea of Craft. Knowing the intricacies and specifics of how things are actually made across a range of mediums, conditions, materials, etc. But at the end, these are all tools for final result. I am focused most on process and craft right now so that I can pursue bigger and more complex ideas. This is a hard question to answer. It feels a bit like chicken and egg. The final product for me is decades away, or maybe unattainable. I suppose all final works are part of the process, and the final product is Me.

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What do you aim to communicate with your upcoming solo exhibition?

I am so thrilled for the opportunity to lay ALL my work out. To have such a large space to spread my work and start to find out how it all connects together. As much as this will be an exhibition, it is a chance for me to learn. I create mostly without thinking, from the back of my mind. Subconscious and unconscious. I create first and then look for meaning. I believe the back of the mind governs so much more of our action than we give it credit for. Not everything we know is accessible through thought. Gut feelings. Intuition. Are those flickers of stray thought truly random? Or is there a message there from some other part of the brain. These things interest me.

What are your current projects, and plans for future photo series and artworks?

So many. Art feels truly infinite. The more I look at it, the bigger it gets. I would name some specifics, but I know that I thrive on spontaneity. I am just pulling a thread and seeing where it takes me. So follow along @beerandcabfare and let me surprise you! I am warming up to sculpture right now.

-Max Taylor

www.maxtaylorphotography.com

Volunteer Spotlight: Fumi Hata

Today, we sat down with volunteer Fumi Hata to discuss her inspiration, her favorite type of film, and what she would do on a deserted island:

What got you started with Photography?

“I took a photography course in high school because I had to fulfill an art credit, and I ended up liking it.”

What inspires you?

“I usually feel like I'm lacking something in my life. Maybe it's because I'm young, or because I'm not paying closer attention to what I have, but whatever it is, photography is helping me fill that in somehow.”

If you had a $5,000 gift card to a photo store, what would you spend it on?

“Probably a new DSLR, since I've been using the one I've had since high school while buying new film cameras.”

What’s your favorite type of photographic film?

“Portra 400 or Tri-X 400.”

You're stuck on a desert island with one camera of your choosing as well as unlimited batteries and film. What is your setup?

“A Hasselblad 500cm, Zeiss 50mm f/4 lens with either Portra or Tri-X. Assuming I'm alone, I can imagine myself going crazy and taking 'portraits' of like, trees.”


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Volunteer Spotlight: Sara Salaway

This week, we talked with BCD Volunteer Sara Salaway about her start in photography, her perspective on art, and her take on community in photography:

What got you started with photography?

“I did a mentorship program with two photographers in sixth grade. The first time I used the darkroom I was hooked.”

How would you describe your work?

“I would describe my work as a visceral exploration of the textures of trauma and bodily experiences.”

What inspires you?

“I am inspired by my friends who make such amazing work and seeing women who display unabashed confidence in their work.”

What’s your favorite thing about BCD?

“That I can always be connected to a community of analog photographers through it.”

You’ve been granted a 6 month residency with unlimited funding. What do you photograph?

“Myself, my family, and my friends.”


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Volunteer Spotlight: Franey Miller

What’s your favorite camera & why?

The Fuji 645 is my current favorite. It’s fast, lightweight, the images are super sharp, and the on-camera flash is powerful. It’s an incredibly convenient camera.

What type of photographer would you describe yourself as/how would you describe your photographic style?

I’m primarily a fashion photographer! My work is vibrant, enthusiastic, and sometimes a little weird. I have a lot of energy and it definitely translates. :P

What artists inspire you?

I’m currently inspired by Outkast, Madonna, Tim Walker, Mark Borthwick, & Synchrodogs.

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

Let’s Dance by David Bowie

How did you get into photography?

When I was 8, my dad gave me an underwater point-and-shoot camera while my family was on vacation in California. I was psyched by film and felt like it was Christmas every time I got photos back. Sounds cheesy but I’ve been taking photos ever since.

IG: @franeymiller


 

Volunteer Spotlight: Joshua Headley

What's your favorite camera & why?

I go back and forth between my Yashica-D and Holga 120N. I like having both total control and little to no control at all.

What artists inspire you?

Chantal Ackerman is one of my biggest influences. I am also influenced by musicians and artists like Arthur Russell who never tire of experimentation and try drastically different styles.

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

Beach House but I suppose any dream pop or shoegaze will do.

What type of photographer would you describe yourself as?

I am predominately a street photographer; I try to capture intimate moments with little to no people in frame, especially in spaces that allude to something much bigger.

How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

I have lived in New York for the last six years, Bushwick for the last three. 

 

IG: joshuaduane

Volunteer Spotlight: Elsy Benitez

Whats your favorite camera & why? 

Currently obsessed with my Yashica T3 which was top of the line in the late 80s. Otherwise, I enjoy shooting with any toy, cheap, or super 8 camera I can find. 

Whats the longest you've spent on a project/most in depth you've gone?

I spent about a year working on a double exposure series in England that included photographic conversations with people in various cities and countries. I shot many rolls of film with various people in mind and then mailed them the film to shoot their exposures over mine. The resulting images were included in an exhibition with other fine art students I was studying with. 

How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

I have been in Bushwick/NY for 3 months. 

How did you get into photography?

Took a class in high school back when everything was mainly analog. I enjoyed working in the darkroom and continued on from there. 

What's your day job?

Contemporary art curator. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by Corey Torpie


Being based in Brooklyn I had never heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez until her incredible victory a few weeks ago. Since then I have learned a little more about her and with every new piece of information or sound clip my heart skips a beat. Maybe there is hope for the future of the country, she got 19 year olds to vote in an off year primary election, if you can do that maybe you can do anything. 

Corey Torpie is a member of the Bushwick Community Darkroom who photographed Ocasio-Cortez during her campaign. Below are her words on the experience and incredibly inspiring images.

-Lucia Rollow, BCD Director


For the past couple of weeks I've been photographing the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign. Since Trump's election I knew I wanted to get more involved with the politics of change in this country but didn't really know how to proceed because I felt so powerless and stunned. A friend from high school and at the time ACLU's voice on twitter, posted on facebook offering to connect people she knew, and she connected me to the chief of staff for Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. We sat down to coffee with our babies and she told me to find my candidate in 2018 and do whatever I could to help. Now here we are. There can be a lot of vitriol on internet but never underestimate the power of putting good stuff out there. I'd never have had this amazing experience without their help and wise words.

In college I studied Political Science and Photojournalism. I work as a wedding photographer and photography teacher for local community organizations in Brooklyn and the Bronx. This is the kind of work I've long aspired to create. It has been humbling and a huge honor to document Alexandria and the team of people behind her.

-Corey Torpie, BCD Member/Photographer

Volunteer Spotlight: Sheridan Telford

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What artists inspire you?

Ren Hang, David Salle, Stephen Shore, Justine Kurland, Alec Soth, Horror movies...it ranges for me. 

How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

8 years on and off, I moved to NY for school then moved away after graduating, lived abroad again, then I returned back to NY in late 2016.

What is your dream photo shoot?

I would love to someday shoot & direct a film. I've just started to work on a long-term project with a childhood friend I grew up with when I lived in Hong Kong as a adolescent, hopefully will get to go back to HK to shoot it.

What's your day job?

I freelance photo assist/digital tech & Studio Assistant to a Artist Duo

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

Green Tea and coffee

IG @sheridanckai

Member Spotlight: Eric Boekelheide

1. Whats your favorite camera & why? 

Leica M4-2, Canada-made. I like it because the images it produces are just old-looking enough, allowing for a bit of atmosphere.

2. What type of photographer would you describe yourself as/how would you describe your photographic style?

A mix between the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and the painter Monet. Impressionistic decisive moments.

3. Whats your dream photo shoot?

Probably a casual shoot with some lighting options and a good friend who could put up with my demands.

4. Whats the longest you've spent on a project/most in depth you've gone?

Last year I took a road trip through the American Southwest, visiting famous photographic landmar. I shot about 40 rolls of film.

5. How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

I've lived in Brooklyn for about 7 months now.

IG: @eboekel

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Charlie Camuglia

What artists inspire you?

i'm inspired by the wit of elliott erwitt's work and the complete casualness of stephen shore's. i'm also heavily inspired, as cheesy as it sounds, by the work of photographers and artists who i know, whose work is genuine, that i am constantly seeing being poured directly out of the source, whose work i can watch as it progresses and changes directions hear all about why they make the work that they do through casual conversation and hints in visuals. being surrounded by real, accessible people who are super passionate about their work is the most inspiring thing to me really, especially in the age of social media where we're over saturated with nonsense images and when it's so easy to be discouraged by the egos of the art world. i'm also very much inspired by the non-photographic works of gustav klimt and louise bourgouis. 

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

soundtrack to my portfolio: do make say think - & yet & yet

How did you get into photography?

i've been photographing all my life without really thinking about it. when i was a little i found an old canon that my dad used for travels and one day picked it up and started shooting what i liked in the environment, but it was when i signed up for a photography class in my freshman year of high school that really did it. i'll never forget the impressed jaw-dropping reaction my professor had in response to the first roll i brought into class (mostly cheesy abstracts tbh), but that's when i really started to recognize photography as something i was doing, and could keep doing with intention.

What's your day job?

i work at a furniture shop doing finishing! i mostly do metal patina and resin finishing, but occasionally some wood staining and oxidizing, and occasionally some other various construction.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

banana split!

IG @casualscience

Volunteer Spotlight: Monique Islam

What artists inspire you? 

Lizania Cruz, Monica Canilao, Jason Fulford, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Brenda Obregon, Jose Luis Iniguez

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

Ojos del Sol by Y La Bamba

How did you get into photography?

Collecting moments has been with me for sometime, I carried around a disposable camera everyday starting in middle school.

What's your day job?

After school Kindergarten Art teacher and dog walker

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor? Spumon

IG @m0_rentia

Volunteer Spotlight: Kristie Chua

What artists inspire you?

While I think all art is personal, I'm a big fan of artists that make work that explicitly seeks to be read as very personal. 

I think about Ren Hang, Nan Goldin, Claude Cahun, Chan Chao, and Tracey Emin a lot. 

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

Blink 182 - "I miss you" Tom's verse 10 hour loop. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50ncnomRZO8)

How did you get into photography?

Myspace, mirror selfies, using a digital point and shoot to get better mirror selfies, and then using that camera to take photos of things that weren't just my mirror selfies.

What's your day job?

I work as a lab supervisor at the New School EQC. 

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

Pistachio or butter pecan.

@krstchua

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Miller

What artists inspire you?

Laurie Simmons, Diane Arbus, Ethan Hill, Daryl-Ann Saunders, Peter Hujar, Richard Avedon, Gordon Parks, Alastair Thain, William Eggleston

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

Magnolia Soundtrack by Aimee Mann

How did you get into photography?

Taking senior portraits of friends and desolate Sunday's in my small Kansas town. But In the last three years taking on photography more seriously after a very long hiatus.  

What's your day job?

Freelance Graphic Designer

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

Mint

Website: michaelmiller.co

Volunteer Spotlight: Pongsakorn Neton

What artists inspire you?

Bruce Davidson, Walker Evans, James Nachtwey, and Jimmy Nelson.

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

I'm not sure what soundtrack would be.

How did you get into photography?

It started later after I moved to New York where I decided to study photography instead of computer engineer which was my major in high school in my hometown.

What's your day job?

Well, I kind of don't have full-time job right now.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

My favorite ice-cream flavor is cookie and cream, chocolate and chocolate chip.

IG @p.neton37

Member Spotlight: Corey Torpie

What artists inspire you?

I'm inspired by the work of Larry Fink and Mary Ellen Mark

What would be the soundtrack to your portfolio?

The Good, The Band and The Argyle by the Bouncing Souls

How did you get into photography?

High School

What's your day job?

Wedding Photographer

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

Mint Chocolate Chip

IG @coreytorpiephotography

Member Spotlight: Ali Rashti

1. Whats your favorite camera & why?

The Mamiya 6 is a really special camera. I'm completely in love with the square ratio and what is there not to like about a bigger negative. 

2. What type of photographer would you describe yourself as/how would you describe your photographic style?

I would describe myself as a documentary photographer. I really enjoy candid/natural moments. They're rare and almost impossible to capture due to the photographers' presence but sometimes lightning strikes and you get lucky.

3. Whats your dream photo shoot?

I love film sets. I'm a film junkie. I work in film and I've always wanted to direct movies for as long as I can remember. I think the stills photographer on film sets has the coolest job.

4. Whats the longest you've spent on a project/most in-depth you've gone?

Not long. I have a short attention span. This Christmas I took a trip to Atlantic City to find out who spends their Christmas gambling in the casinos of Atlantic City. That's probably the longest project, 3 days.  

5. How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

I'm going on five years strong in Brooklyn. It doesn't seem long but that's the longest I've lived in any place. I'm nomadic like that.

IG @rshty

Member Spotlight: Elizabeth Lopiccolo

1. Whats your favorite camera & why? 

My favorite camera is my Rolleiflex which once belonged to a great uncle whom I never met. He started up a photography business somewhere in New York but his partner ran off with most of the equipment, leaving the Rolleiflex behind. It sat in my grandparents’ cabinet in Florida until a couple years ago. 

2. What type of photographer would you describe yourself as/how would you describe your photographic style?

In general I am interested in people and their connections to the spaces they inhabit. Abstractions of form and light, whether natural or experimental, are important to me as well. Photography, for me, can become an act of empathy through which I aim to explore the poetics of anyone’s daily life. 

3. What’s your dream photo shoot?

Currently I am planning a series about home ownership in Bed Stuy. I’m hoping to photograph as many homeowners in their homes as possible in an attempt to understand this neighborhood on the terms of those who have long-planted roots, as well as those who have recently chosen to buy and to live here.

4. How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

I’ve lived in Brooklyn for eight years and in Bed Stuy (Ocean Hill) for three years.

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5. What’s your day job?

I am a bartender at Bar Lunatico in Bed Stuy which has live music every night. I am also a singer and musician. 

Member Spotlight: Beatrice Helman

1. Whats your favorite camera & why? 

My Mamiya 645 medium format camera is my favorite, despite how particular and finicky it is, and despite the fact that it usually breaks on me at the worst times ever, the large rectangular negatives are so beautiful and so clear and for some reason let me get close enough to the subject of the photo in a way that’s intimate and familiar. And I love the chunk of it - it’s super heavy, but I love the whir and purr and feel of the machinery.

2. What type of photographer would you describe yourself as/how would you describe your photographic style? 

I’m definitely a moody photographer. I like feelings, I like trying to understand how I feel through the things that I make, and so I’m almost always somehow trying to understand my inner life through my outer art. I’m in graduate school for creative writing, and stories and photographs have always been completely intertwined in my brain for as long as I can remember. Fiction doesn’t exist without photography, for me, and vice versa. I prefer projects, or even singular photoshoots, that feel like they’re telling a story, however small, and even if it might not seem so, I always have some narrative in my head.

3. Whats your dream photo shoot? 

My dream photoshoot is a recreation of my parents wedding, white lilies, white gloves and all. They’re divorced, but my mom still has her dress, and for my birthday I begged them to just let me have one project revolving around them this year. Fingers crossed it happens! I’m fascinated by their relationship and it’s definitely one of the largest influences in my life, personal and professional.

4. Whats the longest you've spent on a project/most in depth you've gone? 

The longest I’ve ever spent on a project is probably a few months, but usually projects start to collect and brew in my brain for a few months before they happen, so in total six months probably. I usually fill pages and pages of my notebooks with ideas and research, so it really takes a while for ideas and photographs to come to life.

5. How long have you lived in Bushwick/Brooklyn/New York?

I’ve lived in New York since 2010! I went to college here and stayed.

IG @beahelman