EJ Camp | The Interview November 06 2013

Gearing up for EJ Camp's gallery reception this Friday at Leica Store Miami, we had a chance to catch up with the artist about her show Sand & Water and the experience of shooting with the Leica S-System.

Q:  How does your new show Sand & Water with the Leica S differ from your career photographing for clients such as GQ, Elle, Esquire, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and other top magazines / commercial clients? Does this landscape work show us a more personal side to your photographic career?

A:   With both my landscapes/ seascapes and portraits, light plays an important part of the photograph. Capturing the “right” moment also is the key element in each. Because the landscapes are shot without the confines of an assignment, yes, this work is infinitely more personal. These images are shot to solely please me, only. Ultimately, my hope is that they will find a secondary market in someone else who appreciates what I shot.


Q:   What are some advantages of the Leica S in terms of creating the images you have in mind? Is it comforting to use a system that you know is durable enough to withstand the often-demanding conditions landscape photography entails so that you can concentrate on getting the image and not worry about the ocean’s crashing waves and salt spray?

A:   I had already been shooting personal work before the advent of the Leica S2. I was shooting with a 4x5 Linhof field camera. I almost strictly used B&W film because I was not satisfied with the results I was getting with color film. Once I started shooting with the S2 the colors recorded were amazing and, of course, the files so large I could make huge prints. The largest print I’ve made with great results was 120 inches wide. And the camera is lighter and more water resistant that the 4x5, so I can be more adventurous.

Q:   How do you go about selecting a single scene to photograph from a coastline that is so vast? One of the questions we hear frequently from new photographers is how to narrow down their focus so they don’t just have 1,000 snapshots of a place and can instead focus on creating a small series of meaningful images.

A:   I look for locations on the coastline where I know the light will be passing through the back of the waves at either sunrise or sunset. I also look for areas where the waves will crash close to the shoreline or where the rock formations are close enough to wade to.

Q:   There seems to be an air of serenity to your landscape work. How do you capture that so perfectly? 

A:   Just by nature of being alone on location, waiting patiently for an image or moment to present itself photogenically, creates a serenity in myself that is transferred into the image. This is what a call recording the “flux” in the scene.

Q:   Some photographers are all about the concept and others are all about technical skill in creating their images. Do you place more of an emphasis on the technical or the creative aspects of your work?

A:   When I teach workshops at the International Center of Photography in NYC, I impress upon my students you cannot have creative control without the control of your tools. One begets the other.


Q:   Do you find that the Leica S system allows you the creative freedom as well as the technical performance to deliver the images you envision? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of working with the Leica S?

A:   A few years ago, I was shooting portraits of baseball players in their homes for a book and I had very little time to setup and shoot. I needed a camera that was fast- a 35mm on steroids. I quickly sold all my Hasselblad gear and switched to the Leica S2. No regrets!

My least favorite aspect of the camera is the frustration of not owning the entire system.

Q:   What inspires you most in photography? Was there any specific inspiration for your landscape work with the Leica S along the coastline, or was the feeling of those places the actual inspiration for as well as the subject matter of your images?

A:   What inspires me in my portrait work is people. I want to capture the feeling that takes me further into that person. And all people interest me.
I also love being outdoors and on or near the water. These are also elements I want to share through my photography.


Q:   Your landscape work in this gallery is mainly photographed under overcast conditions with heavy elements of clouds and fog. Was this more of an artistic choice or a technical one? Did the work require the use of neutral density filters, polarizer, etc. or were the overcast conditions sufficient to preserve the look you wanted?

A:   I prefer the darker, brooding character of the sea portrayed through mottled light. I also find, compositionally, the strong modeling happening at the lower portion of the photograph, in the water, needs to be complimented in the upper portion of the photograph, the clouds. If the sky is clear, the images tip down instead of into the center.

I rarely used filters; I wa­­nt nature to adjust the light. Filters make it look false.

Q:   What is your newest project? Will you continue to work with these serene yet powerful images of the coastline or is something new on the horizon?

A:   I will always be passionate about the water. I have been drawn to it since I was a little girl setting out on my sailboat alone.
I am currently playing with flowers and other objects in a water tank. But this continues my use of motion, time lapse and water. Who knows what next after that? I have morphed my photography career constantly over the years. I just love putting a lens before my eye and framing what I see.


To RSVP to EJ's gallery reception this Friday at 7pm, please email info@leicastoremiami.com