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Friday, June 15, 2007

Bob O'Connor - Echoes

A young professional who was raised in the digital age prefers film and available light when he's behind a camera and goes high-tech in post

EchoesThe MTV generation is all grown up. The young punks are now doctors and lawyers—and professional photographers with blossoming client lists that grow as fast as their reputations. For these Gen-Xers, television has always been in color, computers have always been personal and technology usually holds an answer for everything.

But for Boston-based photographer Bob O'Connor, a 29-year-old who grew up in the heart of the Information Age, the high-tech approach isn't his approach. Instead of complex lighting and expensive digital cameras, O'Connor prefers working with the tools from previous generations—available light and large-format print film. Why?

“Because I can,” O'Connor says. “I really love the 4x5. I think it's kind of a workflow thing at this point. I should say that I certainly have nothing against digital, but I feel like there's a certain look to it. Some of the stuff I do with lights blowing out or including the light source in the shots, it's been my experience that it doesn't look the same.

“The highlight will still blow out, but the transition from density to highlight is really sharp and clips instead of having the smooth transition that film does. Regardless of the fact that I'll get twice as much detail as I would in a digital shot with the same light source, I find that my biggest concern at this point of switching over is the way that highlights blow out, which, I guess, perhaps I shouldn't be blowing out highlights.”

O'Connor gets to blow out highlights because he gets to shoot what he wants to—at least sometimes. This is the work that he shows in his portfolio and on his Website, but it's only part of his repertoire. O'Connor also shoots commercial and editorial assignments in addition to the stock and personal work he prefers, but he wisely markets himself solely as the kind of photographer he wants to be. What that is, though, even he's not sure.


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