Something fun today on this dreary Thursday: an interview with up-and-comer Elizabeth Weinberg, who has a very versatile fast and loose style that has allowed her to shoot all sorts of editorial and commercial projects. From concert shoots for Rolling Stone to fashion for NYLON to product work for Sony Ericsson, she has a very interesting career. Let’s have a chat!
Hi, Elizabeth! I’ve been a fan of your work for ages, so I’m very excited to do a little interview. First, some background info– how did you start shooting?
I started shooting as a teenager, taking pictures of my youngest sister, who was born when I was a freshman in high school. It was sort of crazy having a baby in the house while I was doing algebra homework. I started documenting her growing up and running to the hour photo lab to get the film processed as soon as I finished a roll. I sort of fell in love with the suspense. At the same time, I became heavily interested in music and would shoot live at concerts I attended, mainly as an excuse to get up front. I’m not quite sure when photography became an addiction, but that’s the closest I can pinpoint!
Flaming Lips in Concert
What subject matter did you start with? You seem to have several specialties (music, fashion, lifestyle). Did one get the ball rolling on the others?
Music was always first, and portraits of my friends were a constant as well. The lifestyle stuff has come about more recently, when I realized I could funnel the real-life type photography I do on a regular basis into a specific market that has the possibility for commercial appeal.
Budos Band / RE:UP Magazine
We’ve been talking a lot on the blog lately about film versus digital. I would never guess a large portion of the work on your site is digital. It’s so filmlike. Tell us all your processing secrets! Okay, maybe just a tip or two?
I won’t divulge all of my processing secrets, but I will give some advice: Shoot RAW. Pay attention to the color of light; in the late afternoon shade, peoples’ skin looks almost cyan! Highlights and shadows have different colors at different times of the day or under different kind of light. Film yields deep blacks, so emulate that in your digital processing.
I’d prefer to shoot film all the time but it simply isn’t practical, financially or time-wise. The pain is lessened by the fact I’m often told my digital photos look like film!
What’s the best/most enjoyable editorial assignment you’ve had?
Hmm, this is a hard one. One that sticks out is recent: I just shot the Mighty Boosh for the September issue of NYLON. I knew little to nothing about them so I went to their Bowery Ballroom show the night before the shoot to get a sense of what they were all about, then I watched a bunch of stuff on YouTube. It was their first American performance so shooting them the next day was pretty sweet. They were really hungover and exhausted so we bought them a bunch of beer and we shot out on the street in SoHo as they heckled passers-by. I didn’t realize they had such a rabid following here in the States, so I’m glad I got a chance to shoot them when they first got here. They took direction really well and just ran with it.
Earlier this year I did a campaign for Sony Ericsson in Los Angeles and Mammoth Mountain. The product was a new 8 megapixel cameraphone, and they wanted me to shoot the entire thing with the phone itself, to prove that it was superior image quality. So here you have an assistant, art directors, account managers, models, the client, etc. all standing around me while I’m holding one phone in each hand, running around and shooting them alternately, side by side. Not your typical advertising job. There was little to no production involved: just me, the phones and a reflector. The entire experience was so freeing and really really fun. I had a huge amount of creative control. They hired me for my lifestyle eye and I just went to town.
What’s next for you, what work are you hoping to make in 2010?
I would love to shoot more documentary projects and assignments. I just did a reportage series on the Michael Jackson birthday celeration that Spike Lee put on in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It’s on my blog. I went to school for photojournalism, and that itch for reportage has stuck with me since I started my career. I’d also love to work on more lifestyle campaigns, be it for catalogs or print advertising.
Michael Jackson birthday celeration