Photographer Dennison Bertram: “I think imagery has moved away from being intertwined with words. We never bother to describe anything anymore, we just show people the picture again”
07 Feb, 2011
He took a lot of inspiration in the Czech Republic
Growing up, I was always into artistic expression, I come from a family of artists and writers. I first really started taking pictures in Costa Rica when I was 15, but it wasn’t until I was about 20 or so that I realized one could do it as a full-time thing. It takes a while to make the transition from being interested in something to making a career out of it, but once I got started I was hooked. At the start of college I moved to the Czech Republic, where I took a lot of inspiration from the Czech long line of really amazing photographers. I spent a lot of time in old underground darkrooms, shooting on Czechoslovak cameras and Fomei film. Great memories.
The digital era: quality and tecnology helping the photographers?
Yes and no. Digital is a lot harder then most people realize. It’s harder then shooting film, for example. And it’s hard to shoot right and make an image look really good- mostly because the ease of technology allows much greater room for sloppiness in skill and technique. A lot of people think digital has made photography more democratic- but I disagree. Digital has killed a lot of choice in photography- medium and large format photography are mostly dead, not to mention polaroid. People who start with digital and grow with digital really are at a loss for the great fantastic variety that photography used to offer.
So many formats are dead now- I started with 110 for instance. The other day I took a picture on an old olympus 35mm and the model was confused when she couldn’t see the picture immediately on the back. Digital is different. Before digital if you wanted to shoot medium format, you could buy a Pentacon 6×6 for 100 dollars in a used shop and roll of 120 film for a couple dollars. It will cost you 10,000 dollar minimum if you want to try the same thing with digital. And with digital larger formats still aren’t even possible (for the fashion shooter at least).
Worldwide economic crisis and the fashion photography
Well, the industry is suffering for sure. Fashion is a luxury for many people, and when times are tight it’s the first thing to go. Just look at magazines. Stocking up on all the new issues easily costs a few hundred euros, and people just stop doing it. Blogs are cheaper- faster to consume, faster to make. And I think photography reflects that. The Terry Richardson style of photography is very affordable when you compare it to photographers like Annie Leibowitz. They are both great artists, but one style is a power of ten more expensive then the other. And because of that I think magazines/blogs/new media are unwittingly picking a style of photography that simultaneously matches the current economic straights we’re in. Do I think it will change in the following years? Sure- everything always changes, but I doubt it will go back to the way it once was.
The actual projects
Right now I’m working a lot with Marie Claire Czech, they’re great to work with. As for models, before the holidays I had a chance to work with Mereth Hopland before she went to New York and she was a real stunner. I’m friends with her agents and they are all such great people.
The special moments, models, unusual backstages…
Honestly- if I’ve ever felt this way it was the moment right before I took the picture, not after. I don’t spend much time looking back on my work. I think Karl Lagerfeld is famous for saying, “on to the next”. It’s not art after all. Its art meets commerce.
I used to run a model agency so I know the business from a number of different sides. I think it’s great. A photographer really liking a model can do wonders for their careers. Good photos are everything.
Concerning the funny backstage moments, there must be tons of them, but honestly nothing in particular comes to mind. The business is pretty funny and unusual by default, so it’s hard to think of things that really stand out without sounding like a parody of the fashion business.
Top cool places for a shooting
Paris- because it looks like Paris. London because it looks like London and New York because it looks like New York. It sounds simplistic, but where you shoot is 90% of the picture. It sets the mood and defines the images you’ll make. I’ve never worked in LA but imagine it looks like LA and that would be awesome to shoot. Other then that- Barcelona is perfect.
IMAGE worth a THOUSAND WORDS?
I think imagery has moved away from being intertwined with words. We never bother to describe anything anymore, we just show people the picture again. Even when organizing shooting with people, it’s impossible to talk about the image. People just throw around images. These days and image is worth a thousand images. But words don’t seem to fit anymore.
The Upcoming projects and an unforgettable moment
Top secret! mystic is very important in this business.
Photographers have very long, many decade careers. I like to think that special moment is still coming.
Motto: “Don’t be Tricky.”
When you´ll come to my world to have a real good time under the brazilian tropical sun?
I’ll brush up on my Capoeira. Belezza!