a r t i s t o f t h e m o n t h
Interview with Eric Gustafson
by Barbara Tampieri
When was the first time you were really satisfied with the result of your work? I mean, is there any of your photos you consider the best you ever made?
One of the first street photos that I ever took entitled "Caught In A Moment" is definitely something I always look back on and know helped to further my passion for photography. But in all honesty, I enjoy most everything I've done for different reasons. They are almost like children to me! I don't think I could ever say I liked one best, regardless of how much time was spent putting into some more than others..they each have something unique and special that I think they present to me and have in terms of what it will communicate to someone else.
You are also a digital artist. How do you feel working with pixels instead of film is changing the traditional concept of photography nowadays?
It is absolutely changing the world of photography. Again, you may be getting me into hot water with some people..but I don't think anyone can really deny the opportunities and possibilities that digital offers compared to film. And of course, this is only from the perspective of someone who has basically seen and grown up with BOTH types. People will always stick (for the most part) with what they know best and work best with. A lot of photographers come from the film era where transferring to digital is SO new and SO much more complicated, and will thus continue working with what they started learning. I am also incredibly glad that they choose to remain dedicated to it, too. While I am always on the lookout and eager to particpate in new advancements, there is a certain esthetic quality that film produces and to loose that specific style due to everyone moving on would be a shame! This is something I have thought about before, and can imagine that if you were to ask me this question 20 or maybe even 50 years from now when imagery is revolutionized by something new..I would probably be one of the old timers sticking with the digital format! There will always be change, and the only way it will be for the better is if you choose to understand and learn from it.
Some purists say traditional photography is the most immediate way to depict reality while digital photography with all the enhancement and retouching stuff is somehow tricky. Do you agree with this statement?
This is something I really have a problem with some people believing. Absolutely not! The so-called "purists", to me, are just those who are unable to accept something new. Whether it is because they are unwilling to learn how it is done or that they simply believe one style is personally more successful is irrelevant. The fact to me is that art will always take many, many different forms and depicting 'reality' (the term 'reality' is a pretty abstract term on its own anyway!) and should never be referred to as being best in one certain format, style, or medium over another. Art is a reflection of each of our own, individual, realities. How a person chooses to best create, represent and express that is neither better or worse then any another's technique. Simply different. The only real variation in terms of the subjective merit a work holds is how effective that person has learned to communicate the message or emotion to someone else.
Which programs and/or dark room techniques do you use for elaborating your images?
I use Adobe Photoshop exclusively for the majority of my image editing. I've developed so many different esthetic techniques and tricks to achieve the result I imagine beforehand, that it almost sometimes feels like painting through clicks and tool strokes. A dance, even! Notable adjustments that I make on most post processed images are the Unsharpen Mask, Overlay Layers, Hue / Color Balance Adjustments, Levels, and Channel Mixer to name a few. Selective dodging and burning are also very effective at creating a unique atmosphere that I've truly had to develop an eye for to notice where and how heavily it should be applied. It seems like every time I sit down to work on something I always discover something new in Photoshop, too. Such an amazing piece of software!